Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The New Seven Wonders of the World

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So you think it's fun voting for an American Idol?

How would you like to vote for seven international idols, er, for the Seven Wonders of the World?

Yes, there were seven wonders of the ancient world, but six of them have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Only the Pyramids of Giza remain.

The other six? The Lighthouse of Alexandria was leveled by an earthquake; so was the Colossus of Rhodes. The Temple of Artemis was burned, the razed by Goths. Knights destroyed the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus to build a fortress. Caligula tried to steal the Statue of Zeus, and broke it. And the Hanging Gardens of Babylon... probably never even existed.

Swiss-born adventurer/filmmaker/entrepreneur Bernard Weber decided to a new list was needed. In 2000 he started the New 7 Wonders foundation, and by the end of this year, his dream will become a reality.

His idea has led to a movement involving engineers, academics, architects and former government officials, as well as 19 million Earth citizens who wanted to vote on something.

After preliminary nominations of manmade sites, 77 top vote-getters advanced to the second round. In January the list was narrowed to 21 by a panel of seven world-famous architects.

Now, you get to vote. For the price of a two-minute international phone call, you get to help decide the Seven Wonders of the World.

On January 1, 2007, the new list of the Seven Wonders of the World will be announced during a live, televised event.

The growing promotional effort has raising a lot of money. At least half the income from the project is earmarked to protect the final picks and some runners-up.

Top 21 contenders [photos]:

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This article is cross-posted on The Burning Taper.




Sunday, February 26, 2006

Princess Diana's driver a French spy

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You tend to think of political and diabolical intrigue among royal families as something that happened hundreds of years ago. Jousting and Renaissance festivals come to mind.

But royal intrigue is still with us. Diana, Princess of Wales, was certainly one of the 20th century's most memorable Sacred Fems. Today's Sunday Times of London reports that the chauffeur of the car in which Diana died was working for the French secret service. This is not idle supposition; the French secret service has admitted this to the British investigators still looking into the 1997 accident.

Lord Stevens, head of the inquiry, has requested the driver's files from French intelligence, wanting to know what if any assignment he was on on the day he died. The French bureaucracy is refusing to cooperate.

So far the investigation has indicated that Henri Paul, the chauffeur, crashed the car, killing Princess Diana, her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, and himself in a tunnel in Paris.

The official cause of the accident, which was investigated by the French police, was that Paul, under the influence of drugs and alcohol, crashed the Mercedes-Benz in the tunnel while traveling at a high speed to escape paparazzi.

The father of Diana's boyfriend Dodi, Mohamed al-Fayed, is convinced that Diana and his son were murdered by British intelligence agents, and that the blood from his son's body was replaced with alcohol-contaminated blood from a suicide victim whose body was in the morgue when Dodi's body was brought in.

Scotland Yard has known for quite some time that Paul was employed by the Fernch government, but only released that information last week.

Lord Stevens says that French authorities have withheld several key witnesses from his investigation. Stevens says he still believes the deaths were an accident.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Last of three to see Virgin Mary at Fatima laid to rest

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On May 13, 1917, three children's lives changed forever.

Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto came face to face with the Virgin Mary in a cove on a mountaintop in Fatima, Portugal. For the next six months the Lady of the Rosary appeared in the cove, each time on the 13th of the month, and revealed to the children three divine secrets and provided instructions to rid the world of sorrow and restore Christian devotion. By October 13, the Lady's final appearance, over 50,000 people had joined the children in the cove to see Her. Not everyone saw the Lady, but they did claim to see lights and rainbows.

After the apparitions stopped, the children were hounded and ridiculed, and even imprisoned for a brief time.

The Lady told the Marto siblings that She would return for them soon. Jacinta died in
1919 and Francisco in 1920 in an influenza pandemic.

Their cousin survived until a year ago. She died on Febrary 13, 2005, at the age of 97. She was buried at the convent she had served as a nun for most of her life. She became a nun shortly after having the visions.

In 2000, her cousins were beatified, the last step before becoming saints.

Sister Lucia had wanted to be buried for a year at her convent in Coimbra. Once that year was up, last Sunday, her remains were removed and transported to her final resting place, the Shrine of Fatima, where she and her cousins had seen the Virgin Mary. She was re-buried in the Basillica alongside the sepulchre of her cousins.

Church officials said around 100,000 people from all over the world packed the Fatima sanctuary, about 95 miles north of Portugal’s capital Lisbon.

“Fulfilling her profound wish we will give her body to the [Fatima] sanctuary,” said the Bishop of Coimbra, Albino Cleto, during a mass held at the local cathedral.

The ceremony ended with a "farewell procession," with pilgrims waving white handkerchiefs.

Sister Lucia said she had also seen the Lady on June 13, 1929, and afterwards waged a campaign to have the Pope consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in order to save that country from atheism and communism. In 1984, Pope John Paul II did just that, consecrating Russia. Within a year, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbechev visited the Pope in Rome, and within five years, the Berlin Wall fell. Sister Lucia wrote soon after the consecration: "The terms for the conversion of Russia have been met. God will not let us down."

Sister Lucia also once said she had a vision that foretold the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul on May 13, 1981. Pope John Paul later placed one of the bullets that nearly killed him in the crown of the statue of Fatima.

Dos Santos was said by believers to have received prophecies from the Virgin about a
vision of hell and the outbreak of World War II.

The Vatican originally interpreted the Virgin's prophecies to the children as foretelling Communism’s persecution of Christianity. The apparitions took place the same year as the Russian Revolution.

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Indigos: Children of the New Earth, or New Age Bunk?

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Autumn Sage Hands, age eight, paints and writes with the depth of a 50-year old. One painting, "full of blasts of color and crosses, displays a forlorn woman standing naked and alone, one tear rolling down her cheek."

Autumn describes her painting: "I let it just be what it was." Since age five, she has also been a writer. "Many peepl yel for the love of ther life,” she once wrote. "Do many people cry for the lost of ther life.

Staring into a campfire at age three, she calmly told her mother, "Our dreams are alive in our hearts."

Autumn and countless other children have been refered to as Indigo Children, "children of the new earth," children or now young adults mostly under 20 who are especially spiritually attuned. Said to radiate indigo auras, these young people, it is said, have come to help advance human consciousness toward peace and understanding."

"New Age bunk! Woo woo stuff!" cries professional crabby magician James "The Amazing" Randi. Randi has made a name for himself not as a stage magician but as a debunker of mystical claims of the supernatural and paranormal.

He calls the whole Indigo phenonena nothing more than a mystical rip-off which plays to every parent's desire to see their children as extraordinary.

"They don’t know the difference between fantasy and reality," Randi said of the parents. "This is woo woo stuff. People just love it."

"These kids are leaders,” said Amy Jin Schmelzer, 27, a lecturer from Dubuque, Iowa. “They show us our potential in human form.”

Nancy Ann Tappe, a San Deigo parapsychologist, first described the Indigo phenomena , according to the book The Indigo Children. Tappe claimed to be able to see auras, those glowing lights or emanations from the body. The color of the aura is said to describe or define the nature of the person.

In the late 1970s Tappe says she noticed a new color surrounding a growing number of children — indigo, the color of enlightenment, had “entered the Earth plane.”

In Indigo Children, Carroll and Tober offer a checklist of attributes that Indigos share. Among them:[Mary is leaning over my shoulder as I write this, and just said, "That sounds just like you, Mr. Indigo! But you're a bit older than 20!"]

Some people claim that the phenomenal increase in the number of children with ADD and ADHD is a result of this influx of enlightened Indigo children, and that drugging the over-activity out of them is wrong.

“It’s all a bunch of hand-waving,” said critic and Dallas physician Timothy Gorski of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Not only can the list of Indigo “traits” fit virtually every child on the planet, he said, but believing the hype could keep children with ADD or ADHD from getting needed help.

"Who cares if scientists protest? Belief is belief," Autumns mother said. “A long time ago, the Earth was also flat, according to a lot of people.”


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Idea and quotes from Kansas City Star




Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Ex-stripper buys lap dances for Jesus

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She's a self-proclaimed Holy Hottie. Ex-stripper Heather Veitch still works the topless bars, but not as a dancer. She works for Jesus now, you see, witnessing to sex workers and porn addicts.

Vietch, a 31-year-old married mother of two, is a co-founder with two other women, Tanya and Lori, of her own ministry, J.C.'s Girls Girls Girls. Veitch even pays for lap dances, so she can talk to the strippers about God.

A former Las Vegas stripper, when Veitch became a Christian she started sharing her faith with her former co-workers.

Her ministry's website features glamour shots of Veitch and her two partners, taken by a porn director. The website “almost” looks like a porn site; some of the shots of the three women are quite provocative, but they appear clothed, some shots showing a bit of cleavage, some shots in very tight T-shirts with the JC's Girls Girls Girls logo imprinted.

They attend porn conventions, where they pass out Bibles wrapped in T-shirts that read Holy Hottie.

The 1,700-member Sandals Church of Riverside, California has donated $50,000 to the JC's Girls Girls Girls ministry.

In addition to visiting strip clubs and porn conventions, the ministry operates Matthew's House in Riverside, a ministry for sex industry workers and those “addicted to pornography.”

Veitch said strippers and porn stars don't have to quit their jobs before entering a church. She said, "Do we ask gluttons to stop eating too much before they come to church?" She added, "sin is sin."

Photos: Heather, Lori and Tanya, in that order.


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A sicko's marriage contract

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Travis Frey is on trial for attempted kidnapping of his wife, and has also been charged with counts of child pornography.

His wife has turned over to prosecutors a "marrige contract," or more specifically, a "Contract of Wifely Expectations," that Frey created. His wife never signed the contract.

The contract lays out rules that he wanted his wife to obey, regarding hygeine, manner of dress, sleeping arrangements, and sexual activity. Certain hours of the day were designated as "my time" by Frey.

Provisions in the contract provide for "good behavior days" granted the wife, meaning that if she followed the rules of the contract, she earned points towards getting to ignore one of his demands.

Take your digestive enzymes or Dramamine before you read this one. It's sick.




Goddess blogger Nicole quoted in Washington Post

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Congratulations to Goddess and Sacred Fem Nicole, whose blog "Stuck in a..." was mentioned in the features section of the Washington Post's "The Blog Log" in today's (Tuesday, Feb. 21) edition, page 37.

She was quoted saying, "I didn't think I would have ever imagined that many 18-24-year olds... interested in the redneck, redundant left-turn that is NASCAR." What a great turn of phrase, the "redneck, reduntant left-turn...."

Nicole's blog is always witty, wacky or warm. Bookmark her.




Now we must dance....

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Jessica Vale's name may not yet be known across the world, but the sound effects she's put on her new album "The Sex Album" are universal, and as old as time.

Called a "catchy coital anthem," the song "Disco Libido" has debuted at Number 37 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. [Listen to a sample.]

The sound effects on the song are of couples having sex. Jessica herself is one of the recorded participants.

In the sample I've heard, the men sound like Darth Vader breathing fast, and the women sound like baaah-ing sheep, but maybe there's more to it if you listen to the whole song. Or maybe that's just what we sound like when we're having sex....

The driving, pulsing dance beat sounds to me like every other driving, pulsing dance song I've ever heard, but this one keeps you going with Jessica singsonging in your ear, "Now we must dance... so later we f**k."

"People have gotten over the fact that it's made out of sex," says Vale, 27, who heard about her chart position while vacationing with boyfriend and co-producer Ivan Evangelista at Graceland. "Now they can just listen to music and move on."

"I mean, I think by now we all know where the microphones went," she adds with a laugh, referring to the intimate recording sessions she had with seven couples she met in New York fetish and dance clubs. "I just want to focus on the music."

You can read more about "The Sex Album" at the New York Daily News, and at Jessica's website.

The album's existence pretty much proves the point of the previous post, that we live in a "pimp and whore" culture.


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It's a "pimp and whore" culture

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It's a "pimp and whore" culture, complains multi-millionnaire Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, a 300-store chain of health-and-body boutiques.

Lashing out at pop such as such as Beyoncé and Britney Spears for celebrating the sex industry, Dame Anita recently told a reporter, "A lot of people seem to think it's cool to be a pimp or a whore. It's not cool. The reality is dark and evil and appalling and unregulated. The reality is sexual trafficking, which is about young women being forced into rooms to have sex however many times a day so the pimp can take all the money. I don't get it."

Dame Anita bemoans the imagery and message the pop culture and the advertising industry are sending to girls and young women, saying it makes growing up with high self-esteem virtually impossible.

She said: "There are thousands of ads mostly focused on women and young girls that say you are not attractive, you are not sexy, you are not intelligent unless you look like this... [in] kids' magazines there is a passivity and a stupidity that is seen as the great way forward.

"And then you hear the statistics that we have the most violent young women in Europe because of binge drinking. I haven't got much hope. Something's gone very wrong."


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Monday, February 20, 2006

March 20th is Steak and Blow Job Day

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Okay, Girls — get a load of this!!

At the top of the first page of Google listings for "March 20th" today was an urgent call by men for a nation-wide mobilization to create a new national holiday specifically addressing mens' needs.

Yes, of course this takes major precedence over all global issues and crises — Iraq, the Phillipines, by Gosh, even Dick Cheney's "unfortunate" accident. This urgent call, which is truly a "hot button" (so to speak) issue for men of the global community, involves the sacred and precious issue of that wonderful celebration of love and commitment between two abiding souls — the issue of the joint celebration of Valentine's Day.

Well, it appears there's much disguntled-ness about the imbalance of gift-giving on that romantic-of-all-holidays — Cupid's day. Men seem to think that we women are getting all the attention. And gifts. From flowers, to chocolates, to dinners, to abject wining and dining, etc... ad nauseum.

And what, pray tell, are the men receiving?? Bubkas!!... well, according to the authors of this indiginous movement. To wit, they claim, months and months of long, hard (so to speak) thinking and conspiring have gone into creating just the perfect ambience or perfect gift for this special day.

So, feeling left out of the gift-payback spirit, these men have decided to create a movement for a new national holiday, which one could embrace with the import of Martin Luther King's birthday.

March 20th is the day, and it will be officially known as the "Steak and Blowjob Day." Yep, that's right. And, there might even be a presidential advisor on the committee. Impressive, no? So, the concept is to "allow ladies to finally have a day to show your man how much you love him. No cards, no flowers, no special nights on the town; the name of the holiday explains it all. Just a steak and BJ. That's it."

Just goes to show you... whoever said a man couldn't express his true feelings?

— Wittychic


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SacredFems.com appreciates Wittychic guestblogging for us this afternoon.




Pissy priest calls for Dan Brown boycott, blasts nun for dissing the new Pope

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Here they come. The naysayers, religious zealots, kooks, nuts and conspiracy theorists.

Catholic priest John Trigilio has called for a boycott of the upcoming film of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, calling the Da Vinci Code "... offensive, sacrilegious, blasphemous and historically inaccurate, as well as incredulous."

His main complaint seems to be that Brown isn't always historically accurate. Like TV westerns were. Like movies about World War II were.

The good Father loads up his diatribe with such buzzwords as ludicrous, boycott, erroneous, utter nonsense, incredulous, sloppy research, manipulating, distorting, and of course, crackpot. He manages to make references to the Nazi propaganda of Hitler and Goebbels, too, and insults his readers with references to UFO conspiracies and Elvis sightings.

Why? Because "poor scholarship discourages [him]; manipulating and distorting history annoys [him]. Oh, crap... Father John is annoyed.

He claims Catholicism has been kicked in the groin by the book.

On his own website, Father John tells that he was suspended from the rights of priesthood by the Catholic Church during 2003-2004 in matters relating to the priest sex scandals, but was later reinstated. Father John was not accused of sexual misconduct. Au contrair. Apparently, he's a bit of a malcontent. He was quoted on NewsMax.com and in other sources accusing the Catholic Church of openly supporting a "Nazi- or Stalinist-like totalitarian gay subculture in the seminary that included the faculty [that] made his 12 years in the schools something out of Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago. He wrote in the New York Daily News that "...the tragic pedophile scandal involving some priests is not the issue here...," instead blaming problems in the Cathlolic Church on too many gays slipping into seminaries undetected. Clearly, the man has issues. Clearly, also, he has strong opinions, right or wrong, and a good publicity agent. There are dozens upon dozens of Google references to Father John Trigilio.

On his website, Papa John uses the same smear tactics he used against the upcomnig Da Vinci Code film in an attack on a nun, Sister Joan Chittister, who he says made an "obscene" comment about the new Pope. You can see his penchant for using inflammatory words for getting his point accross.

The Good Father John wrote, with a minimal use of paragraphing and an overuse of venom and vitriol:
The notorious dissenter Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, made this obscene statement (April 20th, 2005) in the National Catholic Reporter:

"We’ve been living in an ecclesiastical tsunami this week. The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope Benedict XVI has had all the force of a universal avalanche."

She should be grateful that this was not the Middle Ages when the Holy Office of the Inquisition would have turned her over to civil authorities for trial on the charges of slander, sacrilege and apostasy. Instead, the Benedictine nun lives in the 21st century where enemies of orthodoxy, the Magisterium and the Roman Pontiff can openly attack the Vicar of Christ with impunity, vitriolic rhetoric and diabolical motivation since Satan wants nothing more than to divide and conquer; to destroy the unity of Holy Mother Church. Pope John Paul II was and now Pope Benedict XVI is the personal sign of unity in the church as chief pastor, teacher and shepherd. He possesses full, supreme, immediate and universal authority the moment he became pope and that has been consistently taught by Vatican II, Canon Law and the Catechism, if Sr. Joan ever bothered to read any of those official documents. UBI PETRUS IBI ECCLESIA said Saint Ambrose, so an attack on Pope Benedict XVI is an attack on the Catholic Church. As Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger staunchly defended the infallible teachings of our holy religion as taught by the Magisterium. Imagine a grammar school teacher instructing her students that there were only 20 letters of the alphabet instead of 26. Would parents tolerate such academic pluralism? Or a geography teacher telling his class the world is really flat. Truth is the conformity of the intellect (mind) to reality and not vice versa. Laws of grammar, physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc., are like divinely revealed truths: immutable. Water is H2O whether on earth or on Mars. The immorality of abortion and euthanasia is as perennial as the immorality of adultery and murder. No exceptions. The error of female ordination is as untrue as 2 + 2 = 5 but in Sr. Joan's universe, doctrinal and moral truths are changeable and that would make as much sense as a physician who thinks open heart surgery can be done with a local anesthetic or that cigarette smoking is non-lethal. If recalcitrant miscreants like Chittister don't like the truth, they can deny it but do so OUTSIDE the church. At least Martin Luther, John Calvin, Zwingli and Cramner had the decency to leave the Roman Catholic Church when they disavowed her doctrines and disciplines. Radical feminists who spew their heretical rantings can start their own church and religion and leave ours.

Father John is the co-author of Catholicism for Dummies and Women in the Bible for Dummies. No comment.

The whole world is gonna go see the movie, no matter what the Priest of Pissiness has to say.


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The photo is of Sister Joan Chittister.




Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Lost Weekend instant film contest

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Our California friends at the SoCal Film Group are hosting the Lost Weekend Instant Film Contest next month. If you're a film-maker, or a film-maker wannabe, or even a film-maker groupie, this post's for you.

The press release goes like this:

The Lost Weekend instant film contest at the 2006 Silver Lake Film Festival

Taking place the first weekend of the Silver Lake Film Festival (March 24-26), the "Lost Weekend" short film competition gives teams of contestants 48 hours to conceive, write, cast, film, edit, and premiere a short film, based on specific parameters assigned at the beginning of the contest.

The contest will officially begin the evening of Friday, March 24th when the filmmaking teams receive their instructions. Teams then have until the evening of Sunday, March 26th to complete their films.

The completed films will be shown at a special Silver Lake Film Festival screening at the Monte Cristo club (3100 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles) on March 28th. Prior to the viewing, all films will be reviewed and judged by a special panel appointed by SoCal Film Group. At the screening, the “Lost Weekend” awards will be announced, along with prizes provided by participating sponsors.

Lost Weekend entry spaces are limited.

Information on The Lost Weekend Instant Film Contest timeline, prizes, and rules now available! To register, contact us at lostweekend@socalfilm.com. Please include "Lost Weekend" in the subject.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for interested companies and individuals. For more information, please email Steve Barr or Tim Clark.

SacredFems.com would love to see some camera-savvy Goddesses take this challenge. Who knows what parameters will be assigned that weekend, but you can put the Goddess spin on pretty much everything. Pack up your equipment and your crew and "move to Beverly.... Hills, that is."

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Even if romance ran out of rhyme

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One of our SacredFem.Bloggers wrote a nice piece on Valentine's Day yesterday. According to her profile, Goddess Nicole, age 23, is "boring [her] life away as an office rat by day, a Hooters' Girl by night."

In her Valentine's Day post in "Stuck in a..." she wrote:
For those who like today, you don't need anything from my post, aside from the reference in the title to the cheesiest Valentine's Day song ever. You've already got your flowers, chocolate, and great plans for tonight whether it's with someone special, or just with your bestest friends. For those who are apathetic, I've got nothing for you, and that’s all you wanted anyway. And for those who are bitter about today, masochistic and would rather listen to depressing, reminds-you-of-the-love-lost, sorts of songs today, here’s an anti-Valentine's Day list for you, ranging from wistful, come-back-I-love-you songs to I’m-better-off-without-you-so-there! songs.

There follows a long list of song titles and song lyrics that drive home the loneliness of love.

Her comments section is filling up with Valentine wishes and additional song suggestions. Why not leave Nicole a Sacred Fem note of holiday cheer, to help pull her out of her funk. The best thing she said about her Valentine's Day yesterday was, "and this year at the least it’ll mean candy’s on sale starting tomorrow."




Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Paris Hilton to play Mother Teresa in Bollywood epic?

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T. Rajeevnath, one of India's best known film directors is making a movie about the life of 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace winner Mother Teresa, and he wants Paris Hilton to play her, WebIndia123.com reported on Sunday.

Ms. Hilton moved onto Raj's short list after being impressed by her refusal to appear nude in Playboy magazine.

Rajeevnath, 54, has won a national award for direction, besides quite a few international awards. His popular films include Moksham, Janani and Thannal.

Mother Teresa will be his 11th commercial film and he has already sold this idea to a few international production houses including the U.S.-based First Serve International.

The rest of the cast will be natives of India.

Rajeevnath said he hoped to secure the Pope's blessing for the project. He also indicated he was pursuing sitar maestro Ravi Shankar as music director.

Paris Hilton was unavailable for comment, but she has said some really cute things in the past, such as:

Mother Teresa was unavailable for comment, but said this in a speech in 1994: "The poor are very great people. They can teach us many things."

The film has a budget of around $13 million.

Paris Hilton is expected to inherit at least $50 million of the Barron Hilton estate.

Mother Teresa ate rice most of her life.


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I ♥ Valentine's Day

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You've heard the story, I'm sure. A priest named Valentine secretly continued to marry young lovers after the Roman Emperor Claudius banned marriage because he couldn't get married men to go off to war. Valentine was executed on February 14 for his crime.

As a "martyr to love," the Catholic Church quickly made him a saint.

And as they did with Easter and Christmas, the Church quickly appropriated already existing pagan festivals and superimposed a Christianized version over the original. In this case, mid-February had long been festival time regarding procreation, in preparation for the coming fertile growing season.

Nice story. Only trouble is, there's no evidence that Saint Valentine ever existed. And so what if he did? That's not what this story is about.

Mid-Febrary mating has been traced back to ancient Egyptian rites, where men and women of the lower classes determined their marital partners by the drawing of lots.

However, it is quite possible that the idea of lovers ceremonially pairing up in mid-February comes down to us from ancient Greek and Roman times, perhaps into pre-history, even.

The Greeks and Romans called the Wolf Charmer the Lupicinus. The Lupicinus was a man skilled in singing to or communicating with wolves, convincing them not to attack domesticated animals and livestock. OVer time, mythology evolved that the Lupicinus could actually turn into a wolf.

Eventually, an annual Lupercali festival developed among the Romans, celebrated on February 15, as a perpetuation of "blooding rites" in which the novice hunter is smeared with the blood of his first kill. At the Lupercali festivals, two noble-born children were blooded with the mixed blood of a sacraficial she-goat and a sacrificial dog. The blood of the she-goat represented the flocks that nourished the community and the dog's blood represented the watchful protector of the flock who would be the first to die if wolves attacked.

The children's foreheads were smeared with the blended blood, which was then wiped off with wool. As they were being cleaned, they were expected to laugh, showing their fearlessness and their belief that they were protected by magic against wolves and wolfmen.

The god Lupercus inspired men to dress and behave as wolves at the festival.

Somewhere in time Roman secret fraternities arose known as the Luperci, who sacrificed she-goats at the entrances to their "dens." For centuries, the Luperici held annual rituals of chasing women through the streets, beaing them with leather thongs.

Eventually this violent expression of eroticism mellowed into a man binding his chosen woman wrist to wrist and leading her away to his "den."

Obviously, something had to change to turn this wolf-frenzy of lust into the Christian "knot" of marriage. Enter the story of Saint Valentine, who bound his parishoners not wrist to wrist but in Holy Matrimony.

Into the Middle Ages, Christians in England, Scotland and France celebrated St. Valentine's Day with each young woman putting her name or mark on a bit of cloth and after mixing them well having the young men draw out the name of the woman who would be his sweetheart for the coming year. If they two youngsters hit it off, or if their parents wanted them to, they would then bind themselves in a church-sanctioned union.

The custom eventually spread to the young mena and women of the aristocracy and the landed gentry. By the late 1400s, the upper classes of Europe and England had developed the tradition of allowing their young men to draw a “valentine” with the name of a member of the opposite sex, beside whom he would be seated at a lavish, highly decorated dinner party.

Gradually, the parties gave way to a general exchange of fancy sentiments, writen in flourishes and decorated with hearts, arrows, doves and cupids and cherubs, left-over deities and icons from a more primitive time. By the 1850s, valentine cards were a commercial success, leading to the vast greeting card, jewelry, flowers and candy industry we know today.

According to Wikipedia:

"The heart (♥) has long been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral, and in the past also intellectual core of a human being. Since the heart was once widely believed to be the seat of the human mind, the word "heart" continues to be used poetically to refer to the soul, and stylized depictions of hearts are extremely prevalent symbols representing love."

The Bible and other early writings ascribe to the heart a mystical significance, attributing spiritual or divine traits to the physical organ.

The Book of Jeremiah refers to God as the judge who tries the human heart, and in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the heart was weighed in the balanace against the feather of Maat, who symbolized Truth.

Aristotle and other classical and medieval philosophers and scientists considered the heart to be the seat of thought, reason or emotion.

Wikipedia continues:
The Roman physician Galen located the seat of the passions in the liver, the seat of reason in the brain, and considered the heart to be the seat of the emotions. While Galen's identification of the heart with emotion were proposed as a part of his theory of the circulatory system, the heart has continued to be used as a symbolic source of human emotions even after the rejection of such beliefs.

In European traditional art and folklore, the heart is drawn in this shape: ♥

This shape is typically colored red, suggesting both blood and, in many cultures, passion and strong emotion. It and diamonds are the two red suits in most playing card decks.

What the traditional "heart shape" actually depicts is a matter of some controversy. It only vaguely resembles the human heart. Some claim that it actually depicts the hearts of cattle, a more readily available sight to most people in past centuries than an actual human heart. However, while beef hearts are more similar to the iconic heart shape, the resemblance is still slight. The shape does resemble that of the three-chambered heart of the turtle, and that of the human male prostate gland, but it is very unlikely that the image was patterned after either of these organs.

There are many claims that the "heart" shape actually depict features of the human female, such as the female's pubic mound or vulva. A Sumerian cuneiform symbol for "woman" closely resembles the heart shape, and is believed to directly depict the pubic mound. Others maintain that the heart resembles the shape of the female breasts or the female buttocks, especially when bent over in readiness for copulation. Any of these origins would indicate that the heart was originally a symbol of fertility and sexuality, explaining its current association with love.
The heart shape may also represent a perfectly formed and spread labia.

The piercing of a heart or valentine with an arrow, an obvious phallic symbol, then becomes a straightforward representation of "act of love" — penile-vaginal penetration. You'll never look at the heart-shaped logo on the opening and closing credits of I Love Lucy quite the same way again. "Oh, Luuuu-cy! I'm home!"



Design your own candy heart

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This article is cross-posted on the Burning Taper




Monday, February 13, 2006

The Eternal Virgin

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Was Mary a Virgin? Did she stay one? Was Mary the Mother also Mary Magdalene also Mary the sister of Lazarus? Did any of those Marys actually exist? Should Mary be taken literally or metaphorically? Is Mary another manifestation of all the other Virgin Queens mothers of saviors/gods? Is she a variation or extension of Isis, Hera, Juno, Aphrodite, Ishtar, Esther, Persephone, and other Mother Goddesses? Is she the Statue of Liberty?

Mary and the Widow's Son will write on this topic soon, but til then, here's the syllabus. Do your homework.


The Eternal Virgin is cross-posted on The Burning Taper.

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Massive women's tomb unearthed in Greece

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A massive tomb has been unearthed by archeologists in Pella, Greece, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, some 370 miles north of Athens.

Pella was the birthplace of Alexander the Great, whose empire came to stretch from Greece to Asia. It broke into several empires after his death in 323 B.C.

The tomb, which has eight chambers dates to the time of Alexander, and is the largest ever found in Greece.

Cut into rock, the 678-foot tomb was discovered by a farmer.

The 678-square-foot tomb hewn out of rock was discovered by a farmer plowing his field on the eastern edge of the ancient cemetery of Pella, some 370 miles north of Athens, archaeologists said. The large size of the tomb indicates it belonged to a wealthy Macedonian family.

"This is the largest and most monumental tomb of its kind ever found in Greece," said Maria Akamati, who led the excavations.

The tomb appears to have been plundered two thousand years ago, as artifacts have been strewn about the site.

A central area is surrounded by eight chambers, all died in red, blue and gold. Stone slabs inside are inscribed with the names of their female owners — Antigona, Kleoniki and Nikosrati. A relief on one of the slabs depicts a women and her servant.



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Photo of Roxanne, beloved of Alexander the Great, from Silk Road Dance Company's "Remembering the Legends"




Friday, February 10, 2006

Disco Madonna

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Madonna, the 47-year old pop superstar self-named Goddess, is still going strong. In the video for her latest single, "Sorry," she bends over backwards, tying herself in knots to show off her gymnastic skills.

Dressed like a disco queen in white corset and leotard, silver platform boots and 70s-retro hair, the mother of two, she shows amazing flexibility and strength.

Said a British commentator: "Madonna was cutting the most incredible shape across the dance floor. Some of her moves were gravity-defying, let alone age-defying. She was dancing solidly but didn't once look even remotely out of breath."

Madonna, who opened Wednesday night's Grammy Awards, also recently released a critically and commerically acclaimed new album, Confessions of a Dancefloor.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Get "Sacred Fems" in your emailbox!

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You can now get the Sacred Fems blog delivered directly to your emailbox each day! Simply enter your email address into the field on the right and click "subscribe me!" You'll get a confirmation email so you can verify you really want to receive the blog. Click that when you get it, and you're all set. Once a day you'll receive this blog via email. For more frequent updates, read it here online!

Other features we've just added include that silver rectangle just above the subscription form. Recent headlines from BurningTaper.com will crawl across the box. Just click on the rectangle to go to BurningTaper.com.

Do you use a newsfeed reader? Look for the new orange universal newsfeed logo down the page on the right. Click on it and you'll receive this blog regularly. No more worrying about whether you use ATOM or XML or any of those branded newsreaders. The new format handles them all without you having to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.

Another new feature is the ClustrMap. Click on it to see a map representation of where our visitors are coming from.

Thanks for reading and participating!

— Mary and the Widow's Son

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Galactic Spinout 2012

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The Mayan calendar abruptly ends on December 21, 2012, the Winter Solstice. Many people believe this is a prediction of the end of the world. Others think this is the day when Jesus, or Krishna, will return, or that in some other way, Life as we know it will Cosmically Change.

The "post-modern in a pagan kind of way" Goddess worshippers in the film The Spring Equinox Celebration at the Goddess Festival think the day will mark the beginning of the "Galactic Spinout." Til then, they're partying in the Santa Cruz mountains overlooking California's Silicon Valley. Join the experience with your "biophysical gadgetry."

Just as the Beatles' first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1962 marked the begining of the Age of Aquarius, so shall the year 2012 mark the initiation of the Cosmic Beam Experience as the Earth passes closest to the Galactic Equator. Or so they say.

Don't ask. Just smile and "visit the emotional galaxies." Do you know where your holon is?


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Music encrypted in Rosslyn stones may lead to states of altered consciousness

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Last year Scottish composer Stuart Mitchell discovered musical codes embodied in the 213 stones in the ceiling of the Midlothian chapel at Rosslyn. Described as "sounding like a nursery rhyme," the notation was designed to be performed by medeival players.

Mitchell has dubbed the music "The Rosslyn Canon of Proportions." He has kept the music itself a secret, while admitting the cubes contain "a lot of symbolism and decoys to throw people off."

Brian Allan, co-director of Scotland’s Paranormal Encounters Group (PEG), has been researching Rosslyn Chapel with his wife Ann since 1992. He has his own opinion about the music: It's diabolical!

“I’ve no doubt [Mitchell] is a very knowledgeable man who knows what he’s talking about but some of the cubes were missing,” he said. “I think the true secret is not the musical score. I think what the cubes represent is something called the Devil’s chord, which is in fact an augmented fourth.”

The Devil’s chord — a low frequency sound in the range of 80 to 110 hertz — was forbidden to be played by the Catholic Church in the middle ages. It was believed that people exposed to the chord for prolonged periods of time would start to achieve altered states of consciousness.

Allan, who is also Scottish director of the Strange Phenomena Investigation (SPI) group, believes the chord was incorporated in the chapel’s design by its architect William Sinclair as a snub towards the Vatican. Sinclair was believed to have been a member of the Knights Templar, a monastic military order outlawed under the reign of Pope Clement V in the 14th century and made famous by Dan Brown’s bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code.

“He may have felt an antipathy to the Church which he couldn’t express openly — hence he might have done this in a manner that wouldn’t have been detected," said Allan. "What he was showing with the cubes was this beautiful music being carried up to Heaven but carrying with it the Devil’s chord.”

Stuart Beattie, of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, said the enigmas of the chapel would continue to attract researchers. "We neither agree with nor discount any of these interesting theories. We merely add them to Rosslyn’s history.”

The screen version of The Da Vinci Code is expected to be released in May. It stars Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou. Several scenes were shot at Rosslyn Chapel.

Source: London Sunday Herald


This article is cross-posted on BurningTaper.com

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Acheologists uncover headless sphinx

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After more than a year of digging at the villa of Roman Emperor Hadrian in Tivoli, Italy, archeologists have unearthed a huge staircase, a statue of an athlete, and a sphinx without a head.

Government officials announced the discoveries Tuesday, hailing the findings as a key to understanding the layout of the Tivoli ruins. The villa was built in the 2nd century A.D.

So far, 15 steps, each 27 feet wide, have been identified.

Hadrian was Emperor of Rome from 117 to 138 A.D. He was a patron of the arts, and his villa at Tivoli was the greatest Roman example of an Alexandrian garden, recreating a sacred landscape, lost now in large part to the despoliation of the ruins by the Cardinal d'Este who had much of the marble removed to build his gardens. In Rome, the Pantheon, Rome built by Agrippa was enriched under Hadrian and took the form in which it remains to this day.

From 119-121 A.D. Hadrian spent time in Britain, and was responsible for the building of Hadrian's Wall there. More than half of Hadrian's mostly peaceful reign was spent traveling; he visited Greece, Parthia, Persia and Ephesus.

Hadrian was a mystic, and took part in the Eleusian mysteries.

He died at the age of 63. His body was cremated, with the ashes buried on the grounds of the Tivoli villa, alongside his wife and son who died the same year, 138 A.D.




Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Tour of the Masonic Lodge

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On April 12, 2005, in my role as Director of Masonic Education for my lodge, I presented to my Blue Lodge the following talk I wrote, called "A Tour of the Lodge." Based primarily on my understanding of W. L. Wilmshurst's book "The Meaning of Masonry," I attempted to explain the Greater and Lesser Lights, the stations of officers, and other symbols found in a Masonic Blue Lodge. Nothing here is a "secret" — Wilmshurst's book is over 80 years old. The meanings Wilmshurt assigned to the various symbols of Freemasonry reflect his opinions, and perhaps the opinions of his day, and not any "official doctrine" of Freemasonry, and may or may not be what those two centuries before Wilmshurst had in mind when they established the modern lodge system.

My talk was met with mixed response. Though my talk was based on Wilmshurst's much longer piece orginally written as a lecture meant to be given in a lodge meeting, I was told after the fact it was "much too long" to be given in today's lodge meeting. As I was giving the talk, I noticed a number of the older Masons in attendence were, shall we say, resting their eyes, while several of the younger men there, those under 40, were literally on the edges of their seats. One of the younger men was a visitor from another lodge, and invited me to repeat the talk at his lodge. A month later I did so, and that lodge's members kept me after the talk, discussing Freemasonry until nearly midnight.

Get yourself a cup of coffee, kick back, and take a Tour of the Lodge with me.

— The Widow's Son


You've no doubt heard of Masonry spoken of as “an art founded on the principles of Geometry,” and as “a science dealing with the cultivation and improvement of the human mind.” It has also been said to have down to us “from ancient Egyptians whose philosophers, unwilling to expose their mysteries to vulgar eyes, conceal their principles and philosophy under signs and symbols.”

Some among us refer to our catechisms for each degree as “lessons.” What is it that we learn in these catechisms, other than how to memorize unusual words and turns of phrase? We hear more about signs and symbols, but they are still in need of interpretation.

Those learned men who established modern Freemasonry took great pains to conceal their philosophy and beliefs from the profane world. They hid their meanings in the signs, symbols, steps, stations and furniture of a lodge.

Tonight and at our next meeting we will explore our Craft and our Lodge with an eye to understanding the signs and symbols which we either take for granted, or, in some cases, barely notice.

Keep in mind as we take this tour that, according to the words given by the Senior Deacon to all new candidates, “Freemasonry is a peculiar system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols.”

Geometry

We said earlier, “Masonry is an art founded on the principles of Geometry” — the entire system of Freemasonry is built upon geometry.

To the profane man, geometry is simply the branch of mathematics associated with the problems of Euclid. What does Euclid and high school math have to do with Masonic ideas and rituals? There must be something more here than meets the eye.

Geometry was considered one of the “seven noble arts and sciences” of ancient philosophy. “Geo” means “earth.” To the ancients, earth did not mean simply our planet. Earth referred to the primordial substance, the stuff our souls are made of, the “mother-earth” from which we have all arisen and to which we shall return. Does not the Bible say that we are made of the dust of the ground? A builder must know what materials he is working with.

Geometry, then, refers to the measurement of our fundamental substance, the building materials of ourselves. I do not refer to flesh and bone, but to the essence — the being — of man. Geometry is synonymous with self-knowledge, with the understanding of what we are made of, what we are and what we can become. “Know thyself” was a phrase often etched into ancient temples. Sometimes it was written as, “Know thyself and thou shalt know the Universe and God.”

Thus, the study of Geometry tells us that the uninitiated man has no knowledge of himself, and that when he obtains that knowledge, through enlightenment, he will realize that he is no longer a separate, distinct individual, but rather a microcosm, a summary, “a summary of All That Is, and to be identified with the Being of God.” Showing you how to attaining this knowledge is the point of Masonry.

The Form of the Lodge

What is the Masonic Lodge? Officially, it's “an oblong square, in length between East and West, in breadth between North and South, in depth from the surface of the earth to its center, and even as high as the heavens.”

This doesn't describe a room. This describes the human individual. The Lodge represents you. The Lodge is “an assemblage of brethren and fellows met to expatiate upon the mysteries of the Craft,” an old manuscript states. It's really describing you. You are a being that consists of various properties, characteristics, and faculties assembled together in a harmonious design, meant to work together making you a total human.

Always remember that everything in Masonry represents man and his human constitution and spiritual evolution. Everything.

Man is symbolized by a four-sided building. The number four has long been a symbol for everything that is manifest or in physical form. The non-physical, unmanifest Spirit is represented by the number three, or the triangle. Look at your apron. From above, the three-sided triangle, representing Spirit has come down onto the four-sided quadrangle, representing physical Man.

The number four is also seen in four cardinal points of earth — north, south, east and west, and in the four basic metaphysical elements of the ancients called fire, water, air and earth. The four sides of the Lodge represent those same four elements: Water, which represents our psychic nature; Air, our mentality; Fire, our will; and Earth, the condensation of the the other three into one Being.

The Lodge is not a square, however, but an elongated square, duplicated, twice as long as it is wide. This represents our physical body merged with our ethereal or astral body.

The sides of the Lodge also represent man's faculties. The East represents our spirituality; the West, its opposite — normal, rational, day-to-day understanding, our normal consciousness, our “common sense.” In the South, spiritual intuition merges with rational understanding, developing our intellectual power to its highest potential, just as the Sun rises highest “at the beauty and glory” of the day. The North is the opposite of this; the North represents ignorance and the physical senses.

Note the compass point where the candidate enters from the Preparation Room: the Northeast, where the rational, day-to-day mind represented by the West merges with the spiritual ignorance but sense-endowment of the North.

We all use these four modes of consciousness, but some of us seem to live in just one or two, maybe three, of these modes. Seldom do we meet a man who has the full and perfect knowledge of living in all four of these modes at once. But that is what we are to strive for, as Masons.

The lodge was described as “in depth from the surface of the earth to its center.” This refers to the difference in degree between our earthly mentality and the divine consciousness in man's spiritual center once he has learned to open his Lodge upon that center and function in it.

“Even as high as the heavens” is how we described the height of the Lodge. This indicates that our raised consciousness has no limits, that we have unlimited potential, that our ability to grow spiritually is infinite.

To climb up, to reach this consciousness, we may use the ladder of many steps, a symbol sometimes seen in Lodges. Three rungs of this ladder are “Faith, Hope and Charity.” Innumerable other rungs represent innumerable other ways of developing our consciousness to higher degrees, but the three listed may be the chief methods. We have Faith in the possibility of its attainment; we have Hope for its fulfillment, and we have Love — the real meaning of Charity — which takes us to the ultimate Good which we seek.

This expansion of consciousness is not reliant upon intellectual attainment, or book knowledge. As St. Paul said, “Though I have all knowledge and not love, I am nothing.” Reaching the height of the Lodge — enlarging your consciousness — is done through faith, or belief; through hope, or expectation; and through charity, or love.

The Lodge is supported by three pillars called “Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.” These are properties of the human soul, which become more apparent as you progress through the Masonic philosophy. As you expand your consciousness, you will become more perceptive and more understanding. You will become aware of having tapped into a source of power that gives you enhanced mental strength and self-confidence. Others will observe in you the graces of character, speech and conduct that were formerly absent in you.

The floor of a Lodge is a checkerboard of black and white squares. This pattern denotes the dual quality of the world, of everything about our physical life, our groundwork. Everything on the material plane has a duality about it, interblended good and evil, light and shade, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, positive and negative. This same duality is described in other cultures and religions, most notably in the Taoist Yin-Yang symbol, the two intersecting black and white teardrops endlessly chasing each others' tales.

This dualism governs everything. As the Taoist eventually comes to learn that the two aspects Yin and Yang merge into one unitary Reality, so the Mason learns after contemplating the checkerboard floor that the dualism in his Life can become unity, synthesized into a greater whole known as the “peace that passes understanding.”

The British version of the Third Degree uses this phrase: “The square pavement is for the High Priest to walk upon.” As every Mason is the High Priest of his own personal temple, the checkerboard floor becomes a place where Man meets God, while still living in the material, dualistic world. In other words, the Man who would be the “master of his fate” and “captain of his soul” must transcend and dominate these opposites, rising above good and evil, becoming superior and indifferent to the ups and downs of life, overcoming the fears and attractions that so deeply affect the common man.

As Wilmshurst writes, “... the Mason who seriously yields himself to the discipline of the Order is not merely improving his character and chastening his thoughts and desires. He is at the same time unconsciously building up an inner ethereal body which will form his clothing, or covering, when his transitory outer body shall have passed away.... And the celestial body must be built up out of the sublimated properties of the terrestrial one. This is one of the secrets and mysteries of the process of regeneration and self-transmutation, to promote which the Craft was designed. This is the true temple-building that Masonry is concerned with. The Apron being the Masonic symbol of bodily organism, changes and increasing elaborateness in it as the Mason advances to higher stages in the Craft symbolize in theory the actual development that is gradually taking place in his nature.”

In our physical heavens the sun, moon and stars exist. In our personal heavens metaphysical forces inherent in Man operate, and are known by the same terms. There is a psychic magnetic field in each of us, determining our individual temperaments and tendencies, and influencing our future. We call those forces “the sun,” “the moon,” and by the names of the planets. The interaction between these forces was once called astronomy, and is now known as astrology, which is one of the liberal arts and sciences recommended to the study of every Mason during the Fellowcraft degree.

The Officers in the Lodge

There are seven officers in a Lodge — the Worshipful Master, the two Wardens, the two Deacons, the Inner Guard known together as the Stewards but comprising only one office, and the Outer Guard or Tyler. These seven positions represent seven aspects of consciousness psychologically co-ordinated into a unity known as a “just and perfect Lodge.” Just as a Man without all of these seven faculties would be considered insane, so a Lodge would be imperfect and unable to perform proper and effective work without its seven officers.

The number seven represents completeness. Creation took place in seven time periods. There are seven colors in the rainbow, seven notes in a musical scale, seven days in a week.

The Master of the the Lodge represents man's spiritual principle, his highest level of consciousness, to which all other faculties are subordinate. When this Divine Principle speaks, or raps its gavel, the other portions respond and reverberate in sympathy.

The Senior Warden personifies the soul, the psychic or animistic principle in man. It has no inherent light of its own. The West reflects and transmits the greater light from the East, just as the moon reflects a greater light. Just as the Moon appears to be invisible to us in the night sky when the sun isn't shining on it, so is the Senior Warden all but invisible to us in the Lodge when he is not speaking. Similarly human intelligence is either apparent or negligible, depending on its state of enlightenment. When light shines upon the West it is the chief executive faculty or transmitting medium of Spiritual Wisdom; without the Light it can express nothing but brute reason.

The Junior Warden in the South represents the mid-point between the Master's Light in the East and the Moon in the West. The Junior Warden symbolizes the lesser light, the Sun. In Masonry, the Sun represents illuminated human intelligence and understanding, which comes from having the brain and mind being thoroughly enlightened by the Spiritual Principle. The South station denotes the harmonious balance between the Divine Light from the East and natural reasoning powers from the West.

In Masonry, the first and second degrees are associated with the Wardens, and the Master's degree associated with the Worshipful Master. Recall that during Raising, the Lights of the Wardens are extinguished. By this I mean in the work of self-transformation the Master's candidate has undergone before his raising, the Wardens have been beneficial. However, there comes a point when they are of no further avail; the grip of each of them fails, and the Master's grip, the Light from the Divine Principle, alone is able to complete the regenerative change symbolized by Raising.

The lesser officers — the Deacons, Stewards and the Tyler — represent the three greater Officers' energies reflected into the lower faculties of man. The Senior Deacon forms the link between East and West. The Junior Deacon forms the link between the West and the South. The Inner Guard — the Stewards — acts under the immediate control of the Junior Warden and in reflex action with the Outer Guard — the Tyler — the contact with the outer world of sense impressions.

Together the seven officers represent how human consciousness works. They represent the co-ordinated parts connecting Man's outer nature with his inmost Divine Principle. They provide the necessary channels for the various spiritual and material levels to maintain contact.

To summarize: The Master represents the Spirit. The Senior Warden represents the Soul, or Psyche. The Junior Warden represents the Mind. The Senior Deacon represents the link between Spirit and Soul. The Junior Deacon represents the link between Soul and Mind. The Stewards represent the inner senses, the astral body. The Tyler represents the outer, physical senses.

The Greater and Lesser Lights

Quoting Wilmshurst: “The purpose of Initiation may be defined as follows: It is to stimulate and awaken the Candidate to direct cognition and irrefutable demonstration of facts and truths of his own being about which previously he has been either wholly ignorant or only notionally informed; it is to bring him into direct conscious contact with the Realities underlying the surface-images of things, so that, instead of holding merely beliefs or opinions about himself, the Universe and God, he is directly and convincingly confronted with Truth itself; and finally it is to move him to become the Good and the Truth revealed to him by identifying himself with it.”

The restoration to light in the First Degree is especially important. It is the first time the Candidate's perception, thanks to his own aspirations and to the Brethren present, is enlarged. Initiation reveals to him the three great though emblematic lights in Masonry — the Holy Bible, Square and Compasses conjoined together, the Square and Compasses resting upon the Volume of Sacred Law as their ground or base. These physical objects are the first things the Candidate sees upon enlightenment. Their meaning — what they emblematize — should be the first truth his inward eye recognizes and contemplates.

The emblematic three lesser lights — the burning tapers — are pointed out to the newly enlightened Candidate as well. These three lights, as we have already seen, refer to the Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden, and the Junior Warden.

It is most interesting to note that without the lesser triad the Candidate would not be able to see the greater lights. The three burning tapers illuminate the Great Lights. This represents his own less evolved consciousness, his own normal finite intelligence, looking out onto something larger than itself, something it can hope to achieve and to incorporate into his own as yet undeveloped being.

The Candidate is thus encouraged to lose himself to find himself, to unify his own lesser lights with his greater lights, so that he no longer functions with his normal consciousness but allies himself with the All-Conscious All That Is with which he has become identified.

What do the Three Greater Lights emblematize, and what does their conjunction represent?

The Volume of Sacred Law is the emblem and external expression of the unwritten Eternal Word, the Logos or Wisdom of Deity from which we all spring. It is the base of human life. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God; without Him was not anything made that was made; in Him was life and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” This passage from the Gospel of St. John, the patron saint of Masonry, should be the words the candidate sees when he is first brought to light, to remind him that the basis of his being is the Divine Word that lives and shines from within his own darkness and ignorance, which realize and comprehend not that fact. The Candidate has before now lost all consciousness of that truth, and this is the “lost Word” of which every Mason is theoretically in search and which with due instruction and understanding he hopes to find. When he finds that lost Word, he shall have found God within himself. It is this Word that has always been there, inside himself, that prompted him to enter the Craft and to seek initiation into Light. He was prepared in his heart, and he desired that Light which is now shining upon him and from him.

The Square is the symbol of the human soul, created “square” or perfect. The Square also approximates a triangle, with its point downward and its base upward. This is a very ancient symbol of the soul and psychic constitution of Man known as the Water Triangle.

The Compasses represents the Spirit. It also approximates a triangle, its point upward and its base downward. Interlaced with the Square it means the Spirit of the Soul, Energy, or Fire. Together the Compasses and the Square produce the fiery energy of Man, a good or evil force depending on how Man shapes it.

The three greater lights emblematize the interwoven groundwork of Man's being — a passive Soul emanating from the Divine Word or Substance, activated or energized by Spirit generated in the Soul.

In the First Degree, the points of the Compasses are hidden by the Square. In the Second Degree, one point is revealed. In the Third both both points of the Compasses are resting above and upon the Square. What point does this teach? That “as the Candidate progresses the inertia and negativity of the Soul becomes increasingly transmuted and superseded by the positive energy and activity of the Spirit. The Fire Triangle gradually assumes preponderance over the Water Triangle,” signifying that the Candidate is becoming a more vividly living and spiritually conscious being that he was before being Initiated.

Opening and Closing the Lodge

The lodge and its officers as we have seen represent a sacramental figure of oneself. Opening the lodge and giving the due guards and signs while doing so implies ability to expand, open up and intensify our consciousness in three distinct stages.

The opening and closing of the lodge are ceremonies of distinct and high purpose. They should not be profaned by casual performance or without understanding what they mean.

As the substitute is transmitted, each station involved in the transmission enacts due guards and signs of all three degrees. The first one is appropriate to the apprentice stage of development, a call to “lift up your hearts” above the everyday level of external things. The second set of motions signify that we are more advanced into the science and more capable than when we were simply apprentices. The third motions point to the opening up of consciousness to the very center and depths of one's being.

These motions signify that as we are opening a lodge meeting, we are opening our hearts and consciousnesses, expanding from our normal consciousness of “brute reason,” as signified by the West, to the god-consciousness of the East.

Our steps, due guards, signs and passwords are part of the Mysteries tradition dating back to the beginning of time. Quoting H. E. Sampson, from pages 171-174 in Progressive Redemption: “The symbols of the Mysteries embodied in the sign of the Square and Circle constitute the eternal language of the gods, the same in all worlds, from all eternity. They have had neither beginning of years nor end of days. They are contemporary with time and with eternity. They are the Word of God, the Divine Logos, articulate and expressed in forms of language. Each sign possesses a corresponding vocal expression, bodily gesture or mental intention. This fact is of great importance to the student of Wisdom, for in it rests the main reason of the secrecy and the intense watchfulness and carefulness of the stewards of the Mysteries lest the secret doctrines find expression on the lips or through the action of unfit persons to possess the secrets. For the secret power of the Mysteries is within the signs. Any person attaining to natural and supernatural states by the process of development, if his heart be untuned and his mind withdrawn from the Divine to the human within him, that power becomes a power of evil instead of a power of good. An unfaithful initiate, in the degree of the Mysteries he has attained, is capable, by virtue of his antecedent preparations and processes, of diverting the power to unholy, demoniacal, astral and dangerous uses.... The use of the signs, the vocal sounds, physical acts and mental intentions, was absolutely prohibited except under rigorously tested conditions. For instance, the utterance of a symbolical sound, or a physical act, corresponding to a sign belonging to a given degree, in a congregation of an inferior degree, was fatal in its effects. In each degree no initiates who have not attained that degree are admitted to its congregations. Only initiates of that degree, and above it, are capable of sustaining the pressure of dynamic force generated in the spiritual atmosphere and concentrated in that degree. The actual mental ejaculation of a sign, under such circumstances, brought forth of an occult power corresponding to it. In all the congregations of the initiates an Inner Guard was stationed within the sanctuary, chancel or oratory at the door of entrance, with the drawn sword in his hand, to ward off unqualified trespassers or intruders. It was no formal or metaphorical performance. It was at the risk of life of any man attempting to make an entrance if he succeeded in crossing the threshold. Secret signs and passwords and other tests were applied to all who knocked at the door, before admission was granted. The possession of the Mysteries, after initiation, and the use of the signs, either vocally, actionally or ejaculatorily, with “intention” in their use, not as mere mechanical repetition, were attended by occult powers directed at the subjects of their special intention, whether absent or present, or for purposes beneficial to the cause in contemplation.”

Opening the lodge of one's own being is not easy for those who have closed and sealed it by the own habitual thought-modes, preconceptions and distrust of whatever is not seen by the senses. These negative traits have no place in the heart of the inner Man. Stability of mind, control of emotion and thought, inner stillness and harmony are needed. Just as the physical opening of the lodge cannot be done without the organized cooperation of all the officers, so the opening of our inner Man to God can only occur when all our parts and faculties cooperate. If any part is missing, it just doesn't work. The Worshipful Master cannot open the lodge; he can only invite his brethren to assist him to do so by uniting their wills. Opening your inner self to God requires the same cooperation and attention — you must see that “none but Masons are present” by making sure that you thoughts and motives in approaching God are pure. The Master then calls to order the brethren, testing their qualifications for the work at hand. Only when he sees that the lodge is properly formed does he invoke the descent of the Divine blessing.

This article has been cross-published today on BurningTaper.com.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Betty Friedan, author of "The Feminine Mystique," passes away

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Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique changed the world forever, died Saturday, Feb. 4, her birthday, at the age of 85, CNN reports.

Her 1963 "feminine manifesto" became a best seller by inspiring women to ask, "Who am I, and what do I want out of life?" She asserted that women should aspire to separate identities as individuals, while telling them "...don't get into the bra-burning, anti-man, politics-of-orgasm school."

As the first president of NOW in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on such issues as abortion, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay, promotion opportunities and maternity leave.

In her book The Feminine Mystique, Betty wrote: "The problem that has no name — which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities — is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease."

Her funeral will be held today (February 6) in New York City.




Sunday, February 05, 2006

Mother of the Universe

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I came across an interesting exchange of ideas on a blog the other day. As the subject matter got a bit blurred and great men got mired down in details, I noticed an interesting story emerge.

It started with the discussion on Jesus's "missing years" and the validity of The Life of Saint Issa, translated by Nicolas Notovitch. As I read through some passages from this book, I came across quotes supposedly by Jesus as he was speaking with a group of spies.

As he was speaking a woman tried to get closer to him so that she could hear him better. As she attempted, a spy pushed her back so he could be closer to Jesus. Jesus abruptly spoke up on the subject of women and the reverence they deserve:
8 At this juncture, an old woman who had approached the group, the better to hear Issa, was pushed aside by one of the spies, who placed himself before her.
9 Then Issa held forth: "It is not meet that a son should set aside his mother, taking her place. Whosoever respecteth not his mother, the most sacred being after his God, is unworthy of the name of son.
10 "Listen, then, to what I say unto you: Respect woman, for she is the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation lies in her.
11 "She is the basis of all that is good and beautiful, as she is also the germ of life and death. On her depends the whole existence of man, for she is his natural and moral support.
12 "She gives birth to you in the midst of suffering. By the sweat of her brow she rears you, and until her death you cause her the gravest anxieties. Bless her and worship her, for she is your one friend, your one support on earth.
13 "Respect her, uphold her. In acting thus you will win her love and her heart. You will find favor in the sight of God and many sins shall be forgiven you.
14 "In the same way, love your wives and respect them; for they will be mothers tomorrow, and each later on the ancestress of a race.
15 "Be lenient towards woman. Her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the brute in him, and makes of him a lamb.
16 "The wife and the mother are the inappreciable treasures given unto you by God. They are the fairest ornaments of existence, and of them shall be born all the inhabitants of the world.
17 "Even as the God of armies separated of old the light from the darkness and the land from the waters, woman possesses the divine faculty of separating in a man good intentions from evil thoughts.
18 "Wherefore I say unto you, after God your best thoughts should belong to the women and the wives, woman being for you the temple wherein you will obtain the most easily perfect happiness.
19 "Imbue yourselves in this temple with moral strength. Here you will forget your sorrows and your failures, and you will recover the lost energy necessary to enable you to help your neighbor.
20 "Do not expose her to humiliation. In acting thus you would humiliate yourselves and lose the sentiment of love, without which nothing exists here below.
21 "Protect your wife, in order that she may protect you and all your family. All that you do for your wife, your mother, for a widow or another woman in distress, you will have done unto your God."
It was clear to me I have never read this in the Bible I grew up with. These may or may not be Jesus's words, but it's certainly what my God would want the world to know about a woman's nature and significance in the order of the Universe.

— Mary

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