Tue, 15 Jan 2008 11:23 EST
It was a warm, clear afternoon in the capital. The bustle of
metropolitan commerce and tourism filled the streets. Small sailing
vessels dotted the sheltered waters within sight of the government
buildings, riding on a soft southerly breeze. The Sun sparkled on the
gentle swells and wakes, lending a luminous glow to the poppies and
tulips nodding in the parks along the water's edge. All was in order.
But suddenly, the sky brightened as if with a second, more
brilliant Sun. A second set of shadows appeared; at first long and
faint, they shortened and sharpened rapidly. A strange hissing, humming
sound seemed to come from everywhere at once. Thousands craned their
necks and looked upwards, searching the sky for the new Sun. Above them
a tremendous white fireball blossomed, like the unfolding of a vast
paper flower, but now blindingly bright. For several seconds the fierce
fireball dominated the sky, shaming the Sun. The sky burned white-hot,
then slowly faded through yellow and orange to a glowering copper-red.
The awful hissing ceased. The onlookers, blinded by the flash, burned
by its searing heat, covered their eyes and cringed in terror.
Occupants of offices and apartments rushed to their windows, searching
the sky for the source of the brilliant flare that had lit their rooms.
A great blanket of turbulent, coppery cloud filled half the sky
overhead. For a dozen heartbeats the city was awestruck, numbed and
Then, without warning, a tremendous blast smote the city, knocking
pedestrians to the ground. Shuttered doors and windows blew out;
fences, walls, and roofs groaned and cracked. A shock wave raced across
the city and its waterways, knocking sailboats flat in the water. A
hot, sulfurous wind like an open door into hell, the breath of a cosmic
ironmaker's furnace, pressed downward from the sky, filled with the
endless reverberation of invisible landslides. Then the hot breath
slowed and paused; the normal breeze resumed with renewed vigor, and
cool air blew across the city from the south. The sky overhead now
faded to dark gray, then to a portentous black. A turbulent black cloud
like a rumpled sheet seemed to descend from heaven. Fine black dust
began to fall, slowly, gently, suspended and swirled by the breeze. For
an hour or more the black dust fell, until, dissipated and dispersed by
the breeze, the cloud faded from view.
Many thought it was the end of the world...
[Reconstruction of events in Constantinople, AD 472, "Rain of Iron
and Ice" (1996) John S. Lewis, Professor of Planetary Sciences at the
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Codirector of the NASA/University of
Arizona Space Engineering Research Center, and Commissioner of the
Arizona State Space Commission. ]
As I have continued to dig into this subject triggered by reading Victor Clube's paper: The Hazard to Civilization from Fireballs and Comets,
it sure appears that I have opened a can of worms. I can report two
things at this point: 1) there is a lot of covert research going on
about this subject; 2) Victor Clube, himself, seems to have
disappeared. We've got some researchers digging on that right now and
I'll report back later. It could be the guy just retired, but for the
moment, it does seem a bit mysterious considering the things he has
written on the topic to hand.
In any event, once you pull one worm out of the can, a whole bunch
of others that are tangled up together come out too, and you start
getting a bit discombobulated wondering which one you should pull on
first! And the things you find out when you start on a subject like
this! Amazing! I've got a stack of books and papers on my desk two feet
Anyway, according to Dr. Lewis, whose fanciful scenario of what it
might be like to witness an overhead cometary fragment explosion is
quoted above, our Earth actually experiences these types of events
rather often, even if somewhat irregularly. Explosions in the sky -
some of them enormous - have, according to him and many other
scientists, profoundly affected the history of humanity. Strangely,
historians, as a group, don't speak about such things. That is one of
the things that is making this research so difficult. It's not just a
matter of going and reading a history book and the author saying
something like: Well, in 325 AD Constantine was terrified by an
overhead cometary explosion and decided to adopt Christianity as a
consequence, and to make it the state religion.
How did this affect history?
The conversion of the Emperor to Christianity certainly couldn't
change the beliefs and practices of most of his subjects. But he could
- and did - choose to grant favors and privileges to those whose faith
he had accepted. He built churches for them, exempted the priesthood
from civic duties and taxes, gave the bishops secular power over
judicial affairs, and made them judges against whom there was no appeal.
Sounds like a Fascist regime, eh?
Early Christianity had very distinct and novel ideas that were
grafted onto Judaism. Christianity retained and passed on in a virulent
way, certain ideals of Judaism which have produced the foundation upon
which our present culture is predicated.
The main template of Christianity - received directly from Judaism - is that of SIN.
The history of SIN from that point to now, is a story of its triumph.
Awareness of the nature of SIN led to a growth industry in agencies
and techniques for dealing with it. These agencies became centers of
economic and military power, as they are today.
Christianity - promoting the ideals of Judaism under a thin veneer
of the "New Covenant" - changed the ways in which men and women
interacted with one another. It changed the attitude to life's one
certainty: death. It changed the degree of freedom with which people
could acceptably choose what to think and believe.
Pagans had been intolerant of the Jews and Christians whose
religions tolerated no gods but their own. The rising domination of
Christianity created a much sharper conflict between religions, and
religious intolerance became the norm, not the exception.
Christianity also brought the open coercion of religious belief. You
could even say that, by the modern definition of a cult as a group that
uses manipulation and mind control to induce worship, Christianity is
the Mother of all Cults - in service to the mysogynistic, fascist
ideals of Judaism!
The rising Christian heirarchy of the Dark Ages was quick to
mobilize military forces against believers in other gods and most
especially, against other Christians who promoted less Fascist systems
of belief. This probably included the original Christians and the
The change of the Western world from Pagan to Christian effectively
changed how people viewed themselves and their interactions with their
reality. And we live today with the fruits of those changes: War
Now, on what basis can we relate the ascendancy of Christianity to overhead cometary explosions?
In a recent issue of New Scientist, (vol 178 issue 2400 -
21 June 2003, page 13) there is an article that reports on the
discovery of a meteorite impact crater dating from the fourth or fifth
century AD in the Apennines. The crater is now a "seasonal lake,"
roughly circular with a diameter of between 115 and 140 meters, which
has a pronounced raised rim and no inlet or outlet and is fed solely by
rainfall. There are a dozen much smaller craters nearby, such as would
be created when a meteorite with a diameter of some 10 meters shattered
during entry into the atmosphere.
A team led by the Swedish geologist Jens Ormo believes the crater
was caused by a meteorite landing with a one-kiloton impact--equivalent
to a very small nuclear blast--and producing shock waves, earthquakes
and a mushroom cloud.
Samples from the crater's rim have been dated to the year 312 plus
or minus 40 years, but small amounts of contamination with recent
material could account for a date significantly later than 312.
The legend of a falling star has been around in the Apennines since
Roman times, but the event that it describes has been a mystery. Other
accounts from the 4th century describe how barbarians stood at the
gates of the Roman empire while a Christian movement threatened its
stability from within. The emperor Constantine saw an amazing vision in
the sky, converted to Christianity on the spot, and led his army to
victory under the sign of the cross. But what did he see?
Could the impact of a meteorite hitting the Italian Apennines have
been the sign in the sky that encouraged the Emperor Constantine to
invoke the Christian God in his decisive battle in 312 when he defeated
his fellow Emperor Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge?
This reminds us of the report of the historian Herodian who
described the siege of Aquileia by Maximinus in the 230s during which
operation the soldiers saw "the god Apollo" appearing "frequently"
above the city and fighting for it. Herodian wasn't certain whether the
soldiers REALLY saw it, or whether they just invented it to explain
their defeat. The standard explanation is, of course, that it was
common for generals to claim "appearances" in order to give heart to
their troops. But maybe, sometimes, they DID see something?
This reminds me of something else: I recently read a news article
about a fellow who had a meteorite come through the roof of his house
while he was at work. His reaction was extremely interesting: he
announced that this was a "sign from God" that he needed to go to
church and renew his faith.
What is up with that?
Clube writes elsewhere:
...[W]ithin these last few years, it has been found that there is a
great swarm of cosmic debris circulating in a potentially dangerous
orbit, exactly intersecting the Earth's orbit in June (and November)
every few thousand years. More surprisingly, perhaps, it has been found
that the evidence for these facts was in the past deliberately concealed. When
the orbits exactly intersect however, there is a greatly increased
chance of penetrating the core of the swarm, a correspondingly enhanced
flow of fireballs reaching the Earth, and a greatly raised perception
that the end of the world is nigh. This perception is liable
to arise at other times as well, whenever fresh debris is formed, but
deep penetrations occurred during the fourth millennium BC, again
during the first millennium BC, taking in at their close the time of
Christ, and will likely take place yet again during the millennium to
Christian religion began appropriately enough therefore, with an apocalyptic vision of the past, but in the aftermath of the last deep penetrations, once
the apparent danger had passed, truth was converted to mythology in the
hands of a revisionist church and such prior knowledge of the swarm as
existed, which now comes to us through the works of Plato and others,
was later systematically suppressed.
Subsequently the Christian vision of a permanent peace on
Earth was by no means universally accepted, and it was to undergo
several stages of "enlightenment" before it culminated with our present
secular version of history, to which science itself subscribes, perceiving little or no danger from the sky. The lack of danger is an illusion, however, and the long arm of an early Christian delusion still has its effect. [...]
The idea of a terrible sanction hanging over mankind is not, of
course, new. Armageddon has been widely feared in the past and it was a
common belief that it would arrive with the present millennium. During
the last thousand years, moreover, it has usually been the reforming
church that revived the fear. But such ideas, whenever they have
arisen, have always met with fierce opposition. Sometimes the
proponents of such ideas escape to new found new lands where in due
course they meet opposition of a homegrown kind. In the United
States for example, despite freedom of speech, old traditions of cosmic
catastrophe have recurred from time to time, even in the present
century, only to be confronted by Pavlovian outrage from authorities.
That being the case, it is perhaps ironic that elections in the United
States are generally held in November following the tradition of an
ancient convocation of tribes at that time of the year, which probably
had its roots in a real fear of world-end as the Earth coincided with
In Europe the millennium was finally dispensed with when an official
"providential" view of the world was developed as a counter to ideas
sustained during the Reformation. Indeed to hold anything like a
contrary view at this time became something of a heresy and those
who were given to rabble-rousing for fear of the millennium were
roundly condemned. To the extent that a cosmic winter and Armageddon
have aspects in common, therefore, authoritarian outrage is nothing new. [...]
Enlightenment, of course, builds on the providential view and treats
the cosmos as a harmless backdrop to human affairs, a view of the world
which Academe now often regards as its business to uphold and to which
the counter-reformed Church and State are only too glad to subscribe. Indeed
it appears that repeated cosmic stress - supernatural illuminations -
have been deliberately programmed out of Christian theology and modern
science, arguably the two most influential contributions of western
civilization to the control and well-being of humanity.
As a result, we have now come to think of global catastrophe,
whether through nuclear war, ozone holes, the greenhouse effect of
whatever, as a prospect originating purely with ourselves; and because
of this, because we are faced with "authorities" who never look higher
than the rooftops, the likely impact of the cosmos figures hardly at
all in national plans. [...]
A great illusion of cosmic security thus envelops mankind,
one that the "establishment" of Church, State and Academe do nothing to
disturb. Persistence in such an illusion will do nothing to
alleviate the next Dark Age when it arrives. But it is easily
shattered: one simply has to look at the sky.
The outrage, then, springs from a singularly myopic stance which may
now place the human species a little higher than the ostrich, awaiting
the fate of the dinosaur. [Clube, (1990)The Cosmic Winter]
In Cosmic Turkey Shoot, we had a look at Victor Clube's summary statement of conclusions based on his longer report entitled: Narrative Report on the Hazard to Civilization due to Fireballs and Comets which he wrote under the sponsorship of the US Air Force and Oxford Department of Physics. In the summary Clube writes:
Every 5-10 generations or so, for about a generation, mankind is
subject to an increased risk of global insult through another kind of
Every 5 to 10 generations? That's a pretty shocking statement. If it
is true, then why don't we know about this? Why don't historians know
about it? Why don't average people who learn history (one is told) in
school, know about these things?
I dug around a bit, following references from Clube, and found that
there is, in fact, a group that is looking at these things, but I don't
think they are doing it to inform the general public, nor do they have
the best interests of the public in mind. Have a look at the INSAP website and follow some of their links. Their first conference, attended by Clube and referenced obliquely in his report on the Hazards to Civilization,
was held at the Mondo Migliore, under the sponsorship of the Vatican
Observatory, Rocco di Papa, Italy, from 27 June - 2 July 1994. Their
INSAP conferences explore the rich and diverse ways in which people
of the past and present incorporate astronomical events into literary,
visual, and performance arts. This emphasis distinguishes INSAP from
other conferences that focus on archeoastronomy, ethnoastronomy, or
cultural astronomy. INSAP provides a mechanism for a broad sampling of
artists, writers, musicians, historians, philosophers, scientists, and
others to talk about the diversity of astronomical inspiration.
This, of course, reminds me of the strange recent news item about
the new Pope evicting the Jesuits from the papal summer palace. See: Pope tells astronomers to pack up their telescopes
Following that story, one then finds this: Italian scientists attack Pope's equivocation on Galileo trial
Pope Benedict XVI has been forced to cancel a visit to the
prestigious La Sapienza University in Rome after lecturers and students
expressed outrage at his past defence of the Catholic church's actions
The Pope had been due to make a speech at the university on Thursday 17 January 2008. [...]
Sixty-seven academics have said that the Pope effectively condoned
the 1633 trial and conviction of the astronomer Galileo for heresy, in
remarks he made while head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith, the successor to the notorious Inquisition.
As Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict said that Galileo had
turned out to be correct about the earth revolving around the sun, and
that subsequent biblical scholarship had rejected literalist readings
of texts that had been taken by the Church to deny this.
Nevertheless, he said, Galileo had been dogmatic and sectarian in
his statements at the time, and the Church authorities had acted
reasonably given the levels of knowledge available then.
But the scientists say that this is "insulting" and unacceptable
equivocation. The Church was unjust, irrational and unfair in its
treatment of their predecessor and its outright rejection of Copernican
theory, they say.
My, my! Well, anyway, before Ratzinger was selected to run the
Catholic Fraud Factory, apparently the Jesuits were pretty interested
in figuring out what was going on here on the BBM - for what purposes,
we may never know.
Clube was there at one of their meetings and presented a paper which
is so interesting that I have taken the time to covert it to text and
put it in the Sott database: The Nature of Punctuational Crises and the Spenglerian Model of Civilization
Parts of it are a bit rough, but it is well worth the trouble of
reading it all the way through - maybe more than once - and giving a
lot of thought to the implications of what he writes there especially
in regard to any group of people who are trying to dig out this kind of
information and present it to the public. Clube makes it abundantly
clear why this must be considered a revolutionary activity!
Getting back to the narrative report he wrote for Oxford and the USAF, he says:
The sequence of events affecting involved generations is potentially debilitating because, whether
or not the risk is realised, civilization commonly undergoes violent
transitions e.g. revolution, migration and collapse.
In short, whether or not there are any impacts during those periods
when "something is out there, rather close and threatening," people go
crazy when they get the feeling that they are living on a target in a
cosmic shooting gallery. Yes, indeed, the knowledge that the earth
beneath our feet may not be so firmly and peacefully fixed in space
assaults our deepest feelings of security. It's almost as if Clube is
saying that there is some sort of contagious madness, a stampeding of
human beings, almost, like a herd of cattle stampeding over a cliff
because someone accidentally (or on purpose) shoots a gun into the air.
That's not even a bad metaphor because, as we are going to see in
today's installment, it seems that the ruling elite DO tend to take
advantage of such conditions for their own purposes which are usually
to grab more power and plunder.
Subsequently perceived as pointless, such transitions [revolution,
migration and collapse] are commonly an embarrassment to national
elites even to the extent that historical and astronomical evidence of
the risk are abominated and suppressed.
Indeed, when the madness dies down and the people begin to realize
what fools they have made of themselves and, more importantly, what
fools their leaders are, when they view how much death and destruction
has occurred for no good reason at all except a form of madness, I'm
sure that the elites do want to just shove it all under the rug and try
to make everyone forget that it ever happened so as to keep their hands
on the reins of power. As we will see, this isn't how it always turns
out. Sometimes, the people are so hostile when they see how they have
been abused by their leaders, the leaders pay a rather high price...
sometimes their very heads!
Upon revival of the risk, however, such "enlightenment" becomes an
inducement to violent transition since historical and astronomical
evidence are then in demand.
Such change and change about in addition to the insult is evidently
self-defeating and calls for a procedure to eliminate the risk.
The term "enlightenment", used above, is a reference to people
waking up to what is possibly going on out there in space. Turning to
the full-text report, on page 2, discussing potential impacting giant
comet remnants, we read that...
...their presence is readily enough betrayed by the zodiacal dust
which continues to accumulate in the ecliptic and by the rather sudden
encounters which the Earth makes every other century or so, for several decades... These encounters produce an overabundance of fireballs penetrating the Earth's atmosphere implying both an increased probability of bombardment by sub-kilometre debris AND an increased risk that the Earth will penetrate the core of a minor disintegration stream a la Shoemaker-Levy.
An abundance of fireballs and repeated comet sighting apparently
excites a lot of "eschatological" activity - predictions that the world
is gonna end - that can lead to all kinds of social unrest which is, as
Clube points out, highly undesirable to the ruling elites. After all,
if people are thinking the world is going to end, they generally blame
it on their rulers for being so corrupt and evil! The way they usually
handle that sort of thing is to create an ostensible enemy who is
responsible for it all, get a war going that satisfies everyone's "end
of the world blues" and kills of most of them in the bargain! Clever,
Right now, however, I want to come back to that "every other century
or so" comment where Clube says this has been happening and then
covered up by "governing elites" who are embarrassed. What the heck? As
it happens, further on in the narrative we find out just what periods
he is referring to:
There have been five extended epochs since the Renaissance
when the Earth apparently encountered the fragmentation debris of
previously unsighted comets.
Well, we know from the work of Mike Baillie that the period around 540 AD is highly suspect as the period around the Black Death
is also. The events that Baillie suggests were happening during those
periods are backed up by very strong scientific data. But those aren't
the periods that Clube is talking about here. He is saying "since the
Renaissance." The Renaissance, of course, followed closely on the heels
of the Black Death which Baillie considers to have been a period of
cometary bombardment that killed almost half of humanity! (Or so it
seems from the statistics given for those areas where statistics were
obtainable.) In the broadest of terms, the Renaissance covers the 200
years between 1400 and 1600, although specialists disagree on exact
dates. The Black Death began in 1347/1348, 50 years earlier, so it
could even be inferred that the Black Death was the gestational period
for the Renaissance, or that the Renaissance occurred as a reaction to
the Black Death.
Anyway, what we now see is that Victor Clube is suggesting that
there was a lot more going on in our recorded history than we know
about, and that the rise and fall of nations and civilizations may be
closely related to what is going on out there in space! To continue:
During these epochs, broadly coinciding with the Hundred Years' War,
the Reformation, the Thirty Years' War (including the English Civil
War), the French Revolutionary Period (including the American War of
Independence) and the mid-nineteenth century Revolutionary crisis in
Europe [including the American Civil War], the various national
authorities could do very little to restrain public anxiety in the face
of the perceived danger.
Okay, we now have some specific periods where Clube, et al,
believe that strange things were going on in the space around our
planet. It might help us to better understand our own time period to
take a look at times past.
The Hundred Years War covers the 116 year period from 1337 to 1453,
the Black Death 1347/48 - 1351, and then the Renaissance: 1400 to 1600.
Some really ugly stuff was going on back then! Anyway, as for the war
itself, it was a conflict between France and England, over claims by
the English kings to the French throne. It was punctuated by several
brief and two lengthy periods of peace before it finally ended in the
expulsion of the English from France, with the exception of the Calais
Pale. We notice that this state of conflict was already in motion about
ten years before the Black Death fell on Europe. If you were of a
strong religious bent, you might even want to say that the Hand of God
punished mankind for being warlike! That is probably what the people of
the time thought and I suspect that this was not a favorable view for
the masses to take toward their leaders.
The Hundred Years' War was also the time of Joan of Arc who was
running around hearing voices and rallying people to an apocalyptic
|Joan of Arc, Witch and Heretic|
There was unbelievable devastation in France, and the end result of
this war was that it helped to establish a sense of nationalism in
France, ended all English claims to French territory; and made possible
the emergence of centralized governing institutions and an absolute
monarchy. One commentator notes:
The Hundred Years War was actually dozens of little wars and
hundreds of battles and sieges that went on for over a century
(1337-1453), until both sides were exhausted. While neither side won in
any real sense, the end result was that while there were two kingdoms
at the beginning of the war, there were two nations at the end of it.
When one studies the history of the Black Death and the Hundred
Years War side by side, the thing that stands out is that whatever was
going on then, there were conscienceless people taking advantage of the
situation of confusion and terror. For example, we read the following:
This would be a war of devastation. Villages and crops were burned,
orchards were felled, livestock seized and residents harried. On
Edward's entry into France he spent a week torching Cambrai and its
environs. More than 1,000 villages were destroyed. France did what it
could in England, at the war's onset seamen ventured to the
southeastern coast of England to burn and ravage there. Much plunder
was taken back to England and the thought of acquiring ill-gotten gain
enticed many to support the war. Ransom was another was of monetary
gain and a king, nobles, knights and even citizens were taken hostage.
Cruelty abounded. After the city of Limoges was captured and burned,
Edward ordered the townsmen executed. Much of Artois, Brittany,
Normandy, Gascony and other provinces were reduced to desolation (circa
1355 to 1375) and France did the same to the provinces that sided with
England. Walled towns were safe during the early period of the war, but
churches, monasteries, villages and rural areas were ruined.
Truce and treaty were not observed. The "Free Companies" went into
action, bandits of Either, English, French or hired mercenaries led by
captains that dominated large areas and levied tribute on towns,
villages and churches. They also seized women, took clergymen as
accountants and correspondents, children for servants and plundered. (
Edward P. Cheney, (1936)The Dawn of a New Era 1250-1435)
Another source tells us:
For the first few years of the war there wasn't much happening
except English raids into France and Flanders. Then, in the 1340s,
England and France took opposite sides in the long-running civil war
over who should be the duke of Britanny. In 1346 this resulted in a
French invasion of Gascony and the shattering French defeat at Crecy.
The English then rampaged through western France, until a truce was signed in 1354 (brought on by the devastation of the Plague, which hit France heavily in 1347-48)
The truce didn't last. In 1355, the war began again. In 1356 another
major battle was fought at Poitiers and the French king was captured.
English raids continued until 1360, when another truce was signed.
In addition to all the warring going on, the plague, etc, the weather was going crazy! Clube writes:
One chronicler at least reports of the most immediate cause of the
plague in 1345 that "between Cathay and Persia there rained a vast rain
of fire; falling in flakes like snow and burning up mountains and
plains and other lands, with men and women; and then arose vast masses
of smoke; and whosoever beheld this died within the space of half a
day..." There seems little doubt also that a worldwide cooling of the Earth
played a fundamental part in the process. The Arctic polar cap
extended, changing the cyclonic pattern and leading to a series of
disastrous harvests. These in turn led to widespread famine, death and social disruption.
In England and Scotland there is a pattern of abandoned villages and farms, soaring wheat prices and falling populations.
In Eastern Europe there was a series of winters of unparalleled severity
and depth of snow. The chronicles of monasteries in Poland and Russia
tell of cannibalism, common graves overfilled with corpses, and
migrations to the west.
Even before the Black Death came, then, a human catastrophe of great
proportions was under way in late medieval times. Indeed the cold snap
lasted well beyond the period of the ... plague. A number of such
fluctuations are to be found in the historical record, and there
is good evidence that these climatic stresses are connected not only
with famine but also with times of great social unrest, wars,
revolution and mass migrations. (Clube, The Cosmic Winter)
It sounds surprisingly like our own era, doesn't it? There are
differences in detail and scale, but the dynamics of a world gone mad,
and incredible cruelty running rampant, and global climate fluctuations
are the same as we see before us now.
One naturally wonders why the masses of people would put up with
such a state of affairs since it was they - and not the elite - who
took the brunt of the horrors. The answer then is the same as it is
now. The masses of ordinary people support their leaders in war because
of propaganda. During wartime, church and state generally form an
alliance and patriotic statements are used in church sermons to support
the ruling elite. The goal of the government is always to make the
masses hate the enemy that the leaders wish to destroy (or at least to
take their attention off their own depredations on the body social). In
addition to the propaganda of church and state, governments will offer
increased wages and new opportunities to those who fight in the war
(mercenaries like Blackwater today). Criminals are often released from
prison to fight. Then and now, people are promised lands, goods,
benefits of all kinds, if they join the war effort. In some cases, what
is offered to the common man is just to be left alone in their "normal
life" and not hounded or ridiculed. All of this has been how wars have
been supported since time immemorial, and nothing has changed. The
lures of power and goods make people who have no conscience, or who are
low on the social totem pole enthusiastic to join in killing other
people just like themselves.
Calvinism was one of the developments that came out of this period.
As Clube notes, the Protestant reformation was partly due to the fact
that the Powers of the Time, the Catholic Church, had built their
control system based on the Aristotelian system of "God is in his
heaven and all will be right with the world if you are a good
Christian." Obviously, they didn't want to talk about a cosmos run amok
over which their vaunted god had no control. And the fact that things
were running amok and the church couldn't do anything about it (not to
mention the corruption of the church that was evident to the masses)
gave ammunition to the Reformers who then were able to attract many
followers just as Christianity attracted Constantine at a time when the
pagan gods didn't seem to be able to help in the face of cometary
The Protestants thus were able to use the situation to advantage,
suggesting that it was "The End of Times" and that this was all part of
the plan and people would be saved if they would only come over to the
Of course, once the Protestants had "won their place," so to say,
they, too, had to establish authority and adopt the Aristotelian view!
"NOW, God is in his heaven and all will be right and there won't be any
more catastrophic disruptions as long as everybody goes to church,
tithes, and obeys the appointed authoritie!"
Another bizarre thing that came out of this time period was witch persecutions. From
the early decades of the fifteenth century until 1650, continental
Europeans executed between two and five hundred thousand witches
(according to conservative estimates), more than 85 percent of them
being women. (Ben-Yehuda, 1985) People of the time - and
even later - really did believe in the reality of witchcraft and evil
demons. Men like Newton, Bacon, Boyle, Locke and Hobbes, firmly
believed in the reality of evil spirits and witches. As Russell said:
Tens of thousands of [witch] trials continued throughout Europe
generation after generation, while Leonardo painted, Palestrina
composed and Shakespeare wrote." (1977)
In order to understand this part of what was going on throughout those troublesome times, we have to back up a bit.
Witchcraft and witches have existed throughout history though in a
context completely different from that which came to be understood
during the crusade against witches. The Old Testament pretty much
ignores the topic except to report an encounter between King Saul and
the witch of Endor and to include a law: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch
to live." But, other than that, in a way that seems to bizarrely
contradict that law, stories of witches in the Bible are surprisingly
neutral. There is no conceptualization or elaboration of witches,
devils, or any kind of demonic world.
In ancient Greece and Rome, magic was used to produce rain, prevent
hail storms, drive away clouds, calm the winds, make the earth bear
fruit, increase wealth, cure the sick, and so on. It could also be used
against one's enemies to deprive them of those desirable effects. These
beliefs were widespread in the ancient world and generally, "good
magic" was lawful and necessary, and "bad magic" was condemned and
punished. The state even supported those who could purportedly do "good
magic." It depended on perspective whether you were a "good magician"
or a "bad" one. That's probably why the English condemned Joan of Arc
for being a witch and France turned around and canonized her.
The Graeco-Roman religious universe - the supernatural world - was
not divided into extreme good and extreme evil. It was occupied by
every shade and combination of all qualities exactly as existed in
human society. (It was only in the Judeo-Christian religion that God
becomes the very image of absolute goodness and purity, and the devil
was invented to be his opposite.) For the ancient world, magic was
simply an attempt to harness the power of the Unseen while religion
occupied itself with respect and gratitude to Nature and its
representatives for results. In this way, prayers and spells could be
The witch or sorcerer was a person who had a method - a technology -
that could be used to harness and activate supernatural powers on
behalf of himself or others. He could "control" the forces of nature.
(At least, that is what they believed.)
So, two points are important here: 1)witchcraft/sorcery was a
technology and 2) there was a definite distinction between good magic
and bad magic.
This changed drastically during the fifteenth century, the time when
the forces of nature ran amok, and most certainly, someone had to be
blamed when it was all over! Protestantism was on the rise and it was
not seen as politic to go after the Mother Church which still held a
great deal of power, so some other sin-bearer had to be found. The
distinction between good and bad magic vanished and witchcraft became
something purely evil. The pluralistic conception of the supernatural
world also vanished and we were left with only a very good god who was,
however, seemingly impotent in the face of evil mankind in cahoots with
a very evil devil. Well, not exactly "mankind," mostly "woman-kind"!
One of the results of this change in attitude was the creation of witchcraft as a systematic anti-religion;
it became the opposite of everything that Christianity - both Catholic
and Protestant - stood for. Witchcraft as an elaborated system of
religion was unknown before the fifteenth century. This was a period in
which a theory of supernatural demons was invented and crystallized as
an explanation for the evils that fell upon mankind. How else to
explain the Black Death which killed indiscriminately in spite of the
prayers and supplications of the priests of the Christian church, both
Catholic and Protestant?
Another point to note is that witches were no longer thought of as
beings that could use a technology to control the powers of nature;
they became beings that channeled evil into the world because they were
under the control of the Evil One. They were all purely Satan's puppets
and no good could ever come from them. The Malleus Maleficarum
specifically mentions that "witchcraft is chiefly found in women"
because they are more credulous and have poor memories", and because
"witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable".
(Sprenger and Kramer, Malleus Maleficarum, 1968, pp. 41-48)
In short, "witch myth" was created in the late 1400s in reaction to
the Black Death which consisted of a whole, coherent system of beliefs,
assumptions, rituals, and "sacred texts" that had never existed until
this time. The Dominicans developed and popularized the conceptions of
demonology and witchcraft as a negative image of the so-called "true
faith" and the Protestants were just as busy!
When Kramer and Sprenger (both members of the Dominican Order and
Inquisitors for the Catholic Church) wrote the Malleus Maleficarum and
submitted it to the University of Cologne's Faculty of Theology on May
9, 1487, seeking its endorsement, it was roundly condemned as unethical
and illegal. The Catholic Church banned the book in 1490, placing it on
the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. In order to understand why, again we have to back up a bit.
After the disintegration of the Roman Empire and the rise of
Christianity, many missionaries, on finding that the pagans had their
own spectrum of local deities and beliefs, often sought to convert them
by the simple expedient of canonizing the local gods so that the
natives population could continue to worship them under the aegis of
Christianity. They became "Christian saints" complete with invented
hagiographies. The old temples were converted into churches so that the
pagans would come to familiar places of worship to hear mass and pray
to their "saints" just like always. Magical practices were tolerated
because it was felt that the people would give them up naturally over
time once they had become truly Christian.
Official church policy held that any belief in witchcraft was an illusion. In the famous, but mysterious, Canon episcopi, we read:
Some wicked women, perverted by the devil, seduced by illusions and
phantasms of demons, believe and profess themselves in the hours of
night, to ride upon certain beastes with Diana, the goddess of pagans,
and an innumerable multitude of women, and in the silence of the dead
of night to traverse great spaces of earth, and to obey her commands as
of their mistress, and to be summoned to her service on certain nights.
But I wish it were they alone who perished in their faithlessness and
did not draw many with them into the destruction of infidelity. For an
innumerable multitude, deceived by this false opinion, believe this to
be true, and so believing, wander from the right faith and are invalued
in the error of the pagans...
Wherefore the priests throughout their churches should preach with
all insistence ... that they know this to be false and, that such
phantasms are imposed and sent by the malignant spirit... who deludes
them in dreams...
Who is there who is not led out of himself in dreams, seeing such in sleeping which he never sees [when] waking? ...
And who is so stupid and foolish as to think that all these things, which are only done in spirit happen in the body?
It is therefore to be proclaimed publicly to all that whoever believes such things... has lost his faith.
(Translated by Kors and Peters, pp. 29-31. The origin of this
document is not clear. Kors and Peters (1972) date it to 1140. It has
been attributed to an obscure meeting, the Council of Anquira, held
possibly in the 4th century. Although there is no record of this
council, the statement on witchcraft was adopted by later canonists as
official policy. Ben-Yehuda, 1985)
So, for more than six centuries, this was the official attitude of
the church toward witches - that it was an illusion or delusion or just
the product of dreams. It was even declared:
"Whoever was 'so stupid and foolish' as to believe such fantastic tales was an infidel."
In 1450, 100 years after the Black Death had destroyed about half of
Europe's population, the Hundred Years' War was coming to an end and
someone had to be blamed, (definitely NOT cometary explosions!), and
the so-called Renaissance was kicking off, Jean Vineti, Inquisitor at
Carcassone, identified witchcraft with heresy. In 1458, Nicholas
Jacquier, Inquisitor in France and Bohemia, identified it as a NEW form
of heresy. When Jacquier wrote his book on witchcraft, he had to
dispose of the Canon episcopi first. Other writers of the
time also found it necessary to diminish this official church policy in
order to even have a "witch craze." So, the first attacks were made on
the validity of the document itself. Then, contemporary witches were
claimed to be different from the ones that the document was about. In
1460, Visconti Girolamo, Inquisitor professor, Provincial of Lombardy,
stated that the act of defending witchcraft (or witches) was itself
heresy. In 1484-86, Sprenger and Kramer published the Malleus
which explicated a crystallized theory of witchcraft which held sway
for three hundred years. Johannes Gutenberg's printing press - a
product of the Renaissance - allowed the work to spread rapidly
throughout Europe. This crystallization is what resulted in the
beginning of the witch craze itself.
Taking into account the wars of the time killing off so much of the
male population, one might suppose that there was in increase in
unmarried women. In short, women were becoming autonomous widows as a
consequence. So, a couple of psychopathic types (psychopaths always
seem to really hate women - dunno why, but there it is) - Sprenger and
Kramer et al - came along and got hostile about it and wrote a book
describing a healthy, competent, intelligent woman as a witch, and
presto! Problem solved. All the excess women can be gotten rid of; all
the autonomous women with property can be done away with and their
property confiscated; and, at the same time, the psychological control
of men over women, re-establishing the subservience of women and the
Church, can all be accomplished in one fell swoop! I think a strong
factor in the witch trials was also psychopathy - Ponerology. Those
guys who wrote the Malleus sound like your typical schizoidal
psychopath. Devilishly clever, I say! (One also has to consider the
destruction of many genetic lines of powerful women in this process
which has been ongoing, so it seems.)
Again, we note that the most spectacular "witch" was Joan of Arc who
was tried, condemned, and burned in 1431, three years before Europe's
mass panic over witches started in Valais where over 100 people were
tried by secular judges - not religious - for "murder by sorcery." As
the craze spread over Europe, literally hundreds of thousands of women
were burned at the stake. Children, women, and even whole families were
sent to be burned. The historical sources are full of horrifying
descriptions of the tortures these poor people were subjected to.
Entire villages were exterminated. One account says that all of Germany
was covered with stakes and Germans were entirely occupied with
building bonfires to burn the victims. One inquisitor is reported to
have said: "I wish [the witches] had but one body, so that we could
burn them all at once, in one fire!" (Trevor-Roper 1967, p. 152).
In the 1580s, the Catholic Counter-Reformation became dedicated
witch hunters, going after Protestants, mainly. In France, most witches
happened to be Huguenot. There were many cases of "political"
executions in the guise of witch burnings. One victim was a judge who
was burned in 1628 for showing "suspicious leniency". As the craze
spread, the viciousness and barbarity of the attacks increased. The
judge just mentioned, a Dr. Haan, under torture, confessed to having
seen five burgomasters of Bamberg at the witches Sabbath, and they, too
were executed. One of them, a Johannes Julius, under torture, confessed
that he had renounced God, given himself to the devil, and seen
twenty-seven of his colleagues at the Sabbath. But afterward, from
prison, he contrived to smuggle a letter out to his daughter, Veronica,
giving a full account of his trial. He wrote:
"Now my dearest child, you have here all my acts and confessions,
for which I must die. It is all falsehood and invention, so help me
God... They never cease to torture until one says something. If God
sends no means of briging the truth to light our whole kindred will be
burnt." (Trevor-Roper 1967, p. 157)
Protestants and Catholics accused each other and the early decades
of the 1600s were infected by a veritable epidemic of demons! This
lasted until the end of the Thirty Years' War. It is said that if the
publication of the Malleus Maleficarum was the beginning of
the terror, the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 was the end. In recent
times, the Malleus has been examined critically, though not by
individuals with any awareness of the cosmic events of the time.
Nevertheless, what they have observed has a bearing on our subject
here: Sexy Devils
One evening 10 years ago, Walter Stephens was reading Malleus malificarum. The Malleus, as scholars refer to it, would not be everyone's choice for a late-night book. Usually translated as The Hammer of Witches,
it was first published in Germany in 1487 as a handbook for witch
hunters during the Inquisition. It's a chilling text - - used for 300
years, well into the Age of Reason -- that justifies and details the
identification, apprehension, interrogation, and execution of people
accused of consorting with demons, signing pacts with the devil, and
performing maleficia, or harmful magic.
"It was 11 at night," Stephens recalls. "My wife had gone to bed, and on the first page [of the Malleus] was this weird sentence about people who don't believe in witches and don't believe in demons: 'Therefore
those err who say that there is no such thing as witchcraft, but that
it is purely imaginary, even although they do not believe that devils
exist except in the imagination of the ignorant and vulgar, and the
natural accidents which happen to man he wrongly attributes to some
That convoluted sentence dovetailed with a curious line Stephens
knew from Il messaggiero, a work from 1582 by the Italian poet Torquato
Tasso: "If magicians and witches and the possessed exist, demons
exist; but it cannot be doubted that in every age specimens of the
former three have been found: thus it is unreasonable to doubt that
demons are found in nature."
Stephens, the Charles S. Singleton Professor of Italian Studies in
the Hopkins department of romance languages, is a literary critic, and
he sensed that something intriguing was going on beneath the text on
the page. Tasso, and especially the Malleus' author, a Dominican theologian and inquisitor named Heinrich Kramer, had in their works invested a striking amount of energy in refuting doubt about the existence of demons. What was that about?
For the next eight years Stephens read every treatise he could find
on witchcraft, as well as accounts of interrogations, theological
tracts, and other works (his bibliography lists 154 primary and more
than 200 secondary sources). Most of the 86 witchcraft treatises he
cites had been written in western Europe in the 15th, 16th, and 17th
centuries, and one after another (including the Malleus) contain
accounts of sexual intercourse with satanic spirits. Why? Were the
authors remorseless misogynists hellbent on portraying women in the
worst possible light? Were they lurid, repressed celibates who got off
by writing accounts of demon sex? Stephens didn't think so; the texts,
in his view, didn't support that reading. Elsewhere in the Malleus he
had found a key reference to accused witches under torture as being
"expert witnesses to the reality of carnal interaction between humans
and demons." These guys are trying to construct proofs that demons
exist, he thought. They're trying to convince skeptics. And then he
thought, They're trying to convince themselves.
Stephens' thesis profoundly revises the conventional wisdom about
centuries of cruelty and injustice. The great European witch hunts, he
says, were the outgrowth of a severe crisis of faith. The men who wrote books like the Malleus, men who endorsed the torture and burning of tens of thousands of innocent people, desperately
needed to believe in witches, because if witches were real, then demons
were real, and if demons were real, then God was real. Not just real
but present and attentive. Carefully read the works composed by the witchcraft authors, Stephens says, and you will see how
profoundly disturbed these educated, literate men were by their
accumulating suspicions that if God existed at all, He wasn't paying
much attention to the descendants of Adam. [...]
The sanctioned, organized pursuit and persecution of witches, which
peaked from 1560 to 1630 and was almost entirely a western European
phenomenon, began during a time of grave concern in the Roman Catholic
church. The European world in the early 1400s was a wreck.
The preceding century has been labeled by historian Barbara Tuchman as
"calamitous," and she does not overstate. Starting around 1315, a great
famine ravaged much of western Europe. From 1347 to 1352, the Black
Death killed more than a third of the continent's population. Other
diseases and additional outbreaks of the plague scourged the weakened
survivors. As if natural catastrophe weren't enough, England and France
chose to fight the Hundred Years' War from 1337 to 1453, the longest
war in history. The Church itself fractured, riven by massive
organized heresies, and by a schism that led to as many as three men
simultaneously laying claim to be the true pope. How could a world created by a watchful, benevolent, and engaged God be such a mess?
Indeed. The calamities of that time - of ANY time - assault
religious faith. And anyone who talks about such calamities in a
reasonable and factual way as just what Nature does, and who back it up
with scientific data, MUST be silenced because they threaten the very
foundation of Western Civilization: Christianity and Uniformitarianism
and Fascist control of humanity!
It seems that such persecutions may very well have been initiated as
a way of controlling those who uttered "heresies" against the
"providential" order of the universe established by the Church and
State, like pointing out that an increased number of fireballs and
comet sightings may very well suggest that the planet and its
inhabitants are in potential danger. This was the period of Galileo,
after all, and he was accused of being a "heretic" for not supporting
the potency of God Almighty. Nowadays, that's the same as being accused
of being a "cult". We notice, also, as mentioned above, that the Church
is regressing into the same mindset that held sway during other
What strikes me as particularly funny is the way the US school of
Asteroid Impacts is going about this. Apparently, under the influence
of the British school of cometary bombardment, they are thinking about
all of these things. It also seems highly likely that the entire War on
Terror is a distraction from what is really going on "out there."
Anyway, from a recent conference: AIAA 2007 Planetary Defense Conference we note what is agitating them most:
An asteroid impact could occur anywhere on the globe at any time, so
planetary defense has implications for all humankind. All nations on
Earth should be prepared for this potential calamity and work together
to prevent or contain the damage. That said, there is currently very
little discussion or coordination of efforts at national or
international levels. No single agency in any country has
responsibility for moving forward on NEO deflection, and disaster
control agencies have not simulated this type of disaster.
Providing funding over the long term was also seen as a challenge.
Much of the work in virtually all areas of planetary defense has been
done on individuals' own time and initiative. There is a need for
ongoing studies and peer-reviewed papers to improve our knowledge in
this area, as well as to increase the credibility of the issue and the
public's trust in our ability to respond. The reality is that NEO
deflection or disaster mitigation efforts may not be required for
decades or longer, so governments, which are focused on more immediate
concerns, may not be willing to commit sufficient recourses to this
type of work. Determining the appropriate level of this work and
funding such activities over the long term is seen as a major issue.
In addition, major legal and policy issues related to planetary defense need to be resolved. An example is liability for predictions that prove false or deflection missions that only partially work or fail completely, resulting in an impact. Other examples include:
· A prediction is made that an impact may occur in a
specific area, and residents and businesses that might be affected
leave. Are there liabilities associated with the loss in property
values if the prediction is wrong?
· A nation makes a deflection attempt, but it fails to
change the object's orbit enough to miss Earth. Is that nation now
responsible for the damage inflicted?
· A NEO threat demands the nuclear option, but public perception is
that the possibility of a launch failure and subsequent damage is more
acute than the threat from the NEO. What are the liabilities and
political and policy implications associated with a launch failure
during a deflection mission?
These types of issues should be discussed and resolved before they are raised by a serious threat.
Yup, that's what they are worried about! Legal liability!
Well, anyway, at the end of the Hundred Years War and the Black
Death, the Witch Persecutions were utilized to hush up completely any
hint that the Earth was not securely hung in space, and history and
truth was suppressed with blood and burning human flesh.
Comment: Continue to Part Five: Thirty Years of Cults and Comets