Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Charm of Early Faith and Everlasting Life

Image Source: ReJesus.

Mysterious Universe reports on the discovery this September of a sacred charm, which demonstrates the earliest known use of magic in the Christian religion. (Hat tip: Graham Hancock). The spell is written in Greek on a 1,500 year old papyrus and dates between 574 CE and 660 CE. It was uncovered by researcher Roberta Mazza among other papyrii in the archives of the Library at the John Rylands Research Institute in Manchester, UK. Mazza assumed that folds in the papyrus indicate that the charm was likely worn inside a locket for protection. She remarked:
"The almost illegible text says that it was  released in the village of Tertembuthis (modern el-Ashmunein [in Egypt]) and is a receipt for the payment of grain tax which was certified by the tax collector from the village. Therefore we may reasonably guess that the person who re-used the back for writing the amulet was from that same village or the region nearby, although we cannot exclude other hypotheses. ... The amulet maker would have cut a piece of the receipt, written the charm on the other side and then he would have folded the papyrus to be kept in a locket or pendant. It is for this reason the tax receipt on the exterior was damaged and faded away."
Earliest known Christian magical spell refers to the bread at the Last Supper as manna from heaven. Image Source: Capital OTC.

The amulet links the Jewish Old Testament idea of manna, or food from heaven created at twilight on the sixth day of Creation, to the sacred bread eaten at the Last Supper, as described in the New Testament. This connection suggests that manna was the bread at the Last Supper, and it granted everlasting life to those who consumed it because it came from a celestial and sacred source. Manna is a curious symbol which bridges the physical and the metaphysical. As a charm, the papyrus embodies and coveys to its bearer some of that transitional power:
Whether or not it is overtly acknowledged as such, modern Christianity certainly maintains many of the primary components that could allow us to make such comparisons; namely that of prayer, and belief in its healing power as wrought by a merciful creator of all existence. And although it is aged by some 1500 years, the papyrus charm newly rediscovered at John Rylands Research Institute in the UK signifies the earliest known instance of such superstitions being observed in conjunction with a physical token of some kind.
The charm's text combines words from Psalm 78:23-24, Matthew 26:28-30 and other Biblical passages and reads:

“Fear you all who rule over the earth.
Know you nations and peoples that Christ is our God.
For he spoke and they came to being, he commanded and they were created; he put everything under our feet and delivered us from the wish of our enemies.
Our God prepared a sacred table in the desert for the people and gave manna of the new covenant to eat, the Lord’s immortal body and the blood of Christ poured for us in remission of sins.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

Small Worlds

Rotifer showing the mouth interior and heart shaped corona (40x) by Rogelio Moreno (2014). 1st Place.

Here are some of the winners from Nikon’s annual Small World microscope photography contest. (Hat tip and Images Source: Wired.)

Rhombohedral cleavage in calcite crystal (10x) by Alessandro Da Mommio (2014). 2nd Place.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Feast of the Faithful Departed

Image Source: Salt and Light.

Today is All Souls' Day, when Catholics and other Christians celebrate the souls of the faithful departed. Salt and Life blog summarizes the meaning of this feast:
All Souls are our family and relatives, our neighbors and friends, our ancestors, that “cloud of witnesses” who accepted the godly realism of their lives, shared it with others already on earth, and continue to do so now before the throne of the Lamb in heaven. For this reason, they are truly blessed, and give us a reason to hope, to believe, to struggle and to live. The feast of All Souls and the month of November is a source of consolation for each of us.
All Souls follows the carnival of the dead in October, when unsettled and unforgiven spirits are freed to bewitch and unnerve, to drag away unsuspecting people and seduce them with the pleasures of the world and ensnare them in purgatorial diversions. What follows Hallowe'en's excesses is the celebration of All Saints on 1st November. And then on the 2nd of November, All Souls, a renewal of perspective, a pulling together, a recollection of what really matters.

The Christian feasts incorporated pre-Christian holidays, creating a yearly calendar that is a moral and psychological journey, bound up with the cycles of nature. Just as it is normal to go through periods of self-doubt, to lose one's way, it is natural, having found a new path, to experience a sense of renewed direction and purpose.

While this psychological journey is represented in other religions, the central challenge of the Christian tradition has always incorporated a tension between the individual and the collective. The historically Christian societies seek to resolve this central paradox: how can one battle to achieve the greater good in individualistic societies, which abhor an all-dominant collective? Which comes first: the individual or the community?

If Hallowe'en is a voyage into the excesses of the self, then All Souls is a reminder that there is a departed, silent collective, whose journey was somehow victorious. These souls still bear witness on the living. Even from a non-Christian or secular perspective, the symbolic message of such a journey is epic and compelling. Will the ghosts of 107 billion people bring counsel to those who are living stewards of reality?