A Stroll Along The Continuum of Probabilities

I’ve been thinking a lot about probability lately.  That’s probability as it pertains to physics, not the likelihood that this post will be read.  No, I’ve been thinking about the ‘all histories’ principle or as some call it, Many-Worlds Theory.

The story begins with an explanation of the ‘double slit experiment’.  First postulated by English Polymath Thomas Young, the double slit experiment is used to demonstrate and study the wave theory of light[1].

Essentially, a beam of light is aimed at a plate which has two identical vertical slits cut into it.  Common sense tells you that light should travel through both slits and should create an image of two slits on the wall behind the plate.  However, this is not what happens when you carry out the experiment.  Instead of two slits projected beyond the plate, you end up with a classic interference pattern[2], or a band of alternating light and dark lines where intuition says there should be just two lines of light.

Unfortunately, at least for the layman, you need a laser or photon cannon to reproduce these results, but you can see the effect when you shine a cheap laser pointer onto the surface of a CD and let the light reflect onto a nearby wall.  All this is caused by the duality of light, this is the idea that light is both a particle and wave at the same time, and it’s a fairly weird thing to get used to.

Modern physicists have advanced the methodology of the double slit experiment and set it up using particle emitters –devices that emit a single particle at a time, rather than a stream of millions- and photosensitive screens that record the impact of each particle.  Amazingly enough, the same interference pattern is achieved when the experiment is done this way too.  This means that even single particles –photons of light- which should travel through one slit or the other, actually travel through both slits at the same time!

This curious idea has been the object of much study in the last 100 years, and the obvious question it begs is, can we measure and predict the path a particle will take on its way from the emitter to the screen?  What physicists found when they tried to measure the path of the photon, was that the interference pattern disappeared!  The act of measuring the particle caused it to travel along a definite path, but more specifically, it caused the particle to behave as a particle, rather than a wave.

This is a direct demonstration of the idea that the particles emitted exist at all points along the experiment path simultaneously, or in other words, that every particle –not just the ones used in these experiments but all particles in the universe- exist in multiple, if not infinite states of probability, as waves of probability.  That is to say that there is an equal probability that the particle can be found at any given point along a continuum at any given time.  The effect of measuring the position of the particle is to cause that continuum to collapse into a single reality.

A representation of the Double Slit Experiment

You might be wondering how this relates to ‘all histories” or Many-World theory, and quite simply, both ideas are a common sense extension of the double slit experiment effect.

Both schools of thought suggest that, as all particles hold a potential to be anywhere at any time, all states of matter all possible histories and futures exist all at once.  This is not a new idea -in fact the Many-World Interpretation was first postulated by Hugh Everett in 1957- but my thoughts have been gravitating toward it for some time nonetheless.

What’s attractive to me, intellectually speaking, is the idea that in all the chaos of the universe the element that brings coherence to reality is consciousness.   I realise that this may be a stretch, but some thought may bring you around to my side.

There are many ways to measure the attributes of a system, such as the universe, but the one constant in all measurement is the observer.  In fact that is the definition of measurement in terms of quantum mechanics, a sampling of variables by the senses of an observer.

Think of a circle with lines drawn through it in such a way so that all of the lines connect perfectly in the absolute centre of the circle. Envision that all of the lines on the left side of the circle are paths into the present, and all of the lines on the right side of the circle represent pathways into the future.

The circle represents a model of existence, permeated with potential timelines.  In the past there are an infinite number of histories –or paths into the present, some are more likely to be realised than others, but only one is the actual history of the present.  Extending into the future there are an equal number of choices –or paths out of the present.  Again, some are more likely to be realised, but only one will prevail and become reality.  The possibilities begin spread out, then they converge into a single reality at the present and again spread out as time moves forward, and it’s no coincidence that all of the possible paths converge at the present…at the observer.  It is the observer who collapses the entire field of possibilities into a single path.

Essentially, what I’m saying is that our consciousness is the defining element of reality.  You’ve all heard of Philosopher George Berkely’s most famous thought experiment; if a tree falls in the forest and no being is there to hear it, does it make a sound?  That same sentiment is reflected in renowned physicist Erwin Schrodinger’s “cat” thought experiment[3]; wherein a cat is placed inside a box with a vial of poison and a mechanism for breaking the vial at random.  Once the box is closed, since one cannot know if the poison has been released or not, the cat must exist as both a live cat and a dead cat.  It is only upon the opening of the box that our observation causes the cat to be either dead or alive.

A representation of the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment

The morbid nature of the thought experiment notwithstanding, the basic punch line is that the particles that make up the atoms that make up the cells that make up the cat exist as a wave of probability and it is our observation of their position etc that causes that wave to collapse into a solid state of reality. But the experiment goes further than that, it says that both states are a reality, and this means that all realities exists simultaneously.  All particles exist at all points along the continuum, and therefore all histories must exist.

I realise that this is difficult to understand, and I also realise, all too well, that my explanation of the concept leaves something to be desired.  Nonetheless, my own mind wrestles with the idea that every history that could ever exist does exist, and since we’re talking about particles, particles that permeate the entire universe, every possible history (and future for that matter) in the entire universe also exists simultaneously.  There are infinite worlds in infinite galaxies in infinite universes.  And there are infinite you’s and me’s in infinite states, in all those worlds, galaxies and universes.

It’s a big idea that is born of such a simple idea, consciousness is the one element of our universe that has the power to snap particles into place, to form a coherent reality in the present.  When you combine this with such ideas as akashic records and even presentiment effect, you end up with some mind blowing conclusions.  But I digress and I leave you to ponder the consequences of the above discussion on your own.


[1] See Young’s Experiment via Wikipedia

[2] An interference pattern is the result of combining two superposed waves with similar or the same frequency that come together and reinforce each other.  When combined the two waves create a completely new wave that will present the pattern of interference referred to above.

[3] Widely known as “Schrodinger’s Cat

Laser Pointers: The New UFO Menace

There’s a new menace in the sky these days, and considering the state of the old menaces, you’d think this would be a big headline.  There are a lot of things floating above our heads at any given time; airplanes – both commercial and military – drones, birds, even chunks of meat sometimes, and of course, the ever popular yet elusive UFO.

In recent years, the study of and search for UFO’s has become a national obsession in the US and other countries.  So much so that amateur sky-watchers are gathering in droves to, well…look up.

There are upwards of 50 professional UFO networks or groups operating around the world, and probably many thousands more amateur UFO groups seeking evidence of UFO’s.  MUFON, or the Mutual UFO Network is the largest self-managed UFO group today and through them thousands of would-be investigators are documenting and actively seeking encounters with and sightings of unexplained objects in the air.  There appears to be no shortage of related phenomena to experience, though some people are trying to hedge their bets a bit and take things into their own hands.

When a UFO enthusiast or UFOlogist ventures out into the night (or day really) to search the skies for UFO’s, they’re at the mercy of unknown forces.  Will they see something?  Will the night be a waste?  Who knows?!  Some people, however, are trying to tip the odds in their favour by attracting or enhancing UFO’s with the use of simple consumer electronics.  They’re using laser pointers to target objects in the sky, and in some cases to “power up” UFO’s.

On January 7th 2014, Australian UFOlogist Alan Ferguson posted a video to his website wherein a fellow UFO enthusiast, Peter Slattery, used a consumer grade laser pointer to “power up” an unidentified object in the sky over Albury, Australia.[1]  Ferguson’s associated commentary tells of a similar experience he had himself a week earlier, noting that in his case the object increased in size by five times when he targeted it with a laser pointer.  Ferguson claims that this practise of pointing lasers at UFO’s is a part of a shift in understanding about such phenomenon and that the video is an example that progress is being made.

There are some problems with this approach, not the least of which is the apparent lack of understanding of how light interacts with objects of different opacity and density, thereby making the video and Ferguson’s direct experience interesting to look at, but hardly helpful in terms of evidence.  More importantly though, this practise is potentially dangerous, and some are speaking out to condemn it.

In response to Ferguson’s post, pilot and retired president of an Australian pilot’s association, Barry Jackson expressed his concerns to NT News, claiming that such efforts could potentially have catastrophic effects if the laser beam interferes with the operation of an airplane.[2]

Laser pointers, like any laser, use electricity to generate a coherent beam of light.  In the case of consumer grade pointing devices, they have limited power.  In the US such lasers are limited to 5mW of power, while in the UK, Australia and some other countries they’re limited to 1mW by law.  As a result of this low power, the average laser pointer is extremely unlikely to do direct harm to an aircraft or to affect its operation in any way, except if the beam happens to penetrate the cockpit and temporarily blind the pilot.

This danger has been known for some time, and laws are in place to protect people from the potential hazards.  Even low-power laser pointers can cause temporary injury to the retina if the beam is directed into the eye for a prolonged period and the person actively resists the blinking reflex.  Though the higher the laser power, the greater the potential for damage.

All is not safe though.  Even with regulatory laws in place to limit the power of consumer grade lasers, it is possible to obtain higher-powered lasers with little effort.  Such “burning lasers”, with power exceeding 5mW and often requiring AC power rather than batteries, are marketed as tools for cutting light plastics and paper, and their appearance can be very similar to the low-power units.  This of course, gives rise to the potential for accidental exposure to higher-powered lasers.

The issue isn’t really as cut and dried as that though, in spite of many people and organizations trying to make it so.

As mentioned, lasers are coherent beams of light, or electromagnetic radiation.  This means that they emit photons in a straight, tightly packed beam.  This cohesion gives the beams the ability to travel large distances without losing appreciable amounts of energy.  But they don’t travel forever.

A standard consumer grade laser pointer can generate a beam that is capable of travelling over 50 feet before it very gradually starts to lose cohesion.  Beyond that point, the further it travels the less cohesive the beam will be at its terminus.  You can see this in action when you point one at an object at great distance; if you can still see the dot, you’ll notice it’s bigger than it was when pointed at closer objects.  Higher power lasers have greater cohesion and therefore can travel further while retaining that cohesion.  The less cohesion, the less dangerous the beam will be in terms of damage to the human eye.

Some simple math should tell you that a consumer grade laser pointer isn’t going to have a big effect on a commercial airliner travelling at 500mph at 30,000 feet.  Even if you were lucky enough to hit the cockpit and the pilot’s eye, the plane would likely be on autopilot and the resulting disaster would be avoided.  Planes don’t stay at 30,000 feet all the time though, and it’s when they’re closer to the ground that the problem exists.

According to Jackson, many airplanes don’t have automatic landing systems, therefore the pilot is in full control of the craft as they land.  A stray laser beam at this time could indeed be disastrous.  While damage to the pilot’s eyes is still unlikely at that distance, distraction during a period when they require total focus would be the likely outcome.  Obstructing glare and temporary night-blindness could also result.

So it’s clear that laser pointers and landing aircraft are a terrible mix, but is the call to alarm over this issue really necessary?  There is much to read about the dangers of laser pointers, and while there is a sensational story out of JFK airport in New York – wherein a JetBlue pilot sustained retinal damage from a laser pointer being aimed at his plane during a landing attempt – and several stories exist about people being arrested and jailed for similar attempts, to date, not one aircraft has been brought down because of a laser pointer.

The potential remains, so it’s a good idea to not flash laser pointers into the sky, and of course, the benefits of doing so also remain unclear.  Are there really that many UFOlogists targeting aircraft with lasers of any power level?  Seems unlikely that this is happening as often as some think.  As such the underlying point of all this furor is valid, but the hype may not be necessary.

A Review of Periphery by Alexx Bollen

18127917This book will change you. You may question your sanity before the end, and you will certainly question the author’s.

Periphery is a complicated book, but therein lays its charm. Alexx Bollen is a masterful wordsmith, and the prose of this story is surpassed only by its, sometimes very subtle, layering. The use of metaphor and the duality of, not only the language, but the very nature of this world, creates a compellingly weird drama with the central theme that all experience is dependent on the perspective of the observer.

This book inspired me to think of alternate dimensions (as inaccurate as that term is), and pulled me into an all too familiar dervish of existential confusion and ponderance about the nature of reality.  The observer effect has long been an interest of mine and I suspect the idea will remain at the forefront of my mind for some time to come, all thanks to Periphery

Small orange plastic dinosaurs notwithstanding, there is much you can miss if you lack the correct vision.

Buy the book and check out Alexx’s other work at his website, and follow him on Twitter.

A Series of Cryptic Letters Turn Up at a Canadian University: Can You Crack the Code?

An edited image of one of the Weldon Letters

Most of you know that I’m a Cannuckian (A.K.A Flannel Shirt Wearer, A.K.A Neighbour to the north, A.K.A Resident of America’s Hat)  Much of my writing though, focuses on locales far from my little hometown.  Weird stuff happens all over the world, some places more than others (looking at you Australia), and it’s relatively rare that I get to report on a story that originates in Canada, let alone from the region in which I live.  Today is such a day however!

This one is particularly weird, even among the stories already covered on this website.  It’s the case of the Weldon Notes.  I’m sure you are, as yet, unfamiliar, so read on!

The Weldon Notes are a series of letters that have been found hidden between the pages of various books in the D.B. Weldon Library at London, Ontario’s Western University.  That might not strike you as all that weird, but it gets weirder.

The 18th Weldon Letter

The letters, of which there are now 18 confirmed examples, are cryptic messages printed in an unidentified script similar to the wingdings font.  They are comprised of some 40 different colour pictographic symbols.  The message is, as you might expect, a complete mystery thus far.  But that’s not the end of it.

Western University’s assistant professor of business, economics and public policy, Mike Moffatt, is credited with finding the first official letter, as he was browsing the library’s economics and political science section.  When he picked up a copy of International Economics: Trade and Investment, written by Soren Kjeldsen-Kragh – a book one would think holds few surprises – he opened its cover and a plain white envelope fell out from its pages, landing at his feet.

Thinking that perhaps the book’s last reader had left it as a bookmark, he scooped it up and flipped it open, only to find a seriously strange correspondence inside.

The 17th Weldon Letter


The letter, as with all subsequent letters, was accompanied by an object, in that case a small, green, plastic leaf.  The leaf had been marked with two small blotches of paint, but was otherwise unmarked.  On the reverse of the letter was a reference to a website: 000xyz.blog.ca.  You’ll note that this website, which sports a .ca domain registration, is nothing more than an empty and unused blog.

Moffatt explains, on his personal blog, that all of the letters have been found under similar circumstances.  Each one was accompanied by a single item, such as the leaf, or a feather, and on the reverse side held a picture of an object like a vase or table or some such thing.  Since finding that first example, Moffatt has offered a small reward for anyone who can crack the code of these letters, and through that effort, many other people have come forward claiming to have found similar letters as long as two years ago.

Moffatt has documented all of the letters, their accompanying accoutrement, and their envelopes, as well as information about where and when they were found, and by whom, all in an effort to solve this mystery.

Theories thus far have been somewhat mundane, which is atypical of such a mystery, were it not for the fact that this is Canada.  The leading hypotheses are that the letters are remnants of a student organised scavenger hunt, and were simply never found during the game.  Others think it might be an artistic stunt being perpetrated by someone affiliated with the library or school.  The more fanciful among the sleuths suggest it could be an elaborate publicity stunt.  Either way, the mystery endures.

Of course, there’s no shortage of similar stories that have engendered all kinds of mystery mongering, to coin a phrase.

Kryptos in Langley, Virginia

As was forefront in Dan Brown’s novel Digital Fortress, there are whole organizations in place, dedicated to finding and cracking so-called undecipherable codes.  Kryptos, a memorial sculpture that sits in a courtyard outside of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, is one of the most enigmatic codes currently known.  Of the four encrypted messages carved into its surface, only one has been solved since it was erected in 1990.

In the form of undecipherable letters though, perhaps the most famous, and most gruesome examples are the Zodiac Killer’s letters.  These infamous correspondences were sent to several newspapers at the time of the murders, claiming responsibility for the crimes and taunting authorities.   They also included a 408-symbol cryptogram, which went unsolved for several years.  The killer claimed that the cryptogram contained his identity, but when it was solved in 1969, it was found to be more of a manifesto of sorts, wherein he claimed that he was collecting slaves for the afterlife.

The Zodiac Killer, of course, was never identified or caught, but his letters exist as a sort of morbid reminder of his dark skills and twisted mind.

The Zodiac Killer’s Cryptograph

Now, I’m not suggesting that the Weldon Letters have anything to do with a serial killer or even a crime of any sort, but the mind does conjure some interesting scenarios when one considers the potential of the messages.

Is it a secret communiqué between nefarious parties?  Is it perhaps an innocent game between students, or perhaps a messaging system between star-crossed lovers?  Or is it just a meaningless prank by someone with too much time on their hands?

We don’t know, and Mike Moffatt is prepared to offer $100 to anyone who can crack the code contained in the Weldon Letters.  Give it a shot, everything you need can be found on Moffatt’s website.

The Nain Rouge, The Scourge of Detroit

A Screen Capture from a video supposedly showing the Nain Rouge

Does the Mothman have a rival, or is the Nain Rouge just another incarnation of the apocryphal winged man who foretells of doom?

The Nain Rouge –which translates from French as “The Red Dwarf” or “The Red Goblin”- is a little known legend originating from Normandy France in the mid to late 17th century.  It is said that the Nain Rouge foretells of impending doom, though some accounts have this little devil taking an active part in the outcome of various disasters.

Its legend derives from the French fairy tale “Le Prince Lutin”, written in 1697 by Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy. In it she describes the Lutin –otherwise known as a brownie, elf, fairy, gnome, goblin, hobgoblin, imp, leprechaun, pixie, puck or sprite- as a gnome like creature with the power to travel anywhere, take multiple forms (including a saddled horse), and to be invisible/visible at will.

You are invisible when you like it; you cross in one moment the vast space of the universe; you rise without having wings; you go through the ground without dying; you penetrate the abysses of the sea without drowning; you enter everywhere, though the windows and the doors are closed; and, when you decide to, you can let yourself be seen in your natural form.

An Artists rendering of “The Red Dwarf”

The list of disasters associated to or blamed on the Nain Rouge is long indeed, from famed attacks on the first settler of the Detroit region in 1701, to the frightening tales of the Battle of 1812, to a 1996 account from the Michigan Believer, where “two admittedly drunk nightclub patrons who claimed to both have heard a strange ‘cawing sound, similar to a crow,’ coming from a ‘small hunched-over man’ who was fleeing the scene of a car burglary. The creature was described as wearing ‘what looked like a really nasty torn fur coat.’”

The common theme among all Nain Rouge reports is the foretelling of disaster, whether man-made or natural, which is a similar Modus Operandi to the famed Mothman. Though instead of being feared, the little Lutin is being venerated as a city wide mascot in the annual Marche de Nain Rouge, a yearly costumed parade that seeks to take advantage of the long history of the Detroit Dwarf by bringing much needed tourism and foot traffic to the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighbourbood.

Though Detroit isn’t so lucky as to have an exclusive relationship with the Nain Rouge, accounts have been reported in Quebec, Canada, and there are stories that may connect it to the legend of Père Noël in Lapland, Sweden; making the “Red Dwarf” out to be one of Santa Claus’ elves.

Like any such legend, there are believers and there are sceptics, though it seems that both sides of that coin can enjoy the tales of Nain Rouge in the Detroit area.  Cryptozoology can be big business, especially for regions that are under the financial stress that the city of Detroit has felt over the last few years.   It seems that citizens may be taking advantage of the legend, much the way local leadership in Mexico have taken advantage of the Chupacabra legends in South America.  But any way you slice it, there seems to be something strange going on in and around the Great Lakes of North America.

The New Jersey Devil

Next to Bigfoot, there aren’t many cryptid legends with the staying power of the New Jersey Devil.  Famous for its connection to various people of some historical provenance, the Jersey Devil is one of the world’s oddest tales.

Said to be a mix between a horse and a bat, the Jersey Devil is among the weirder cryptids in the field. The origins of the legend point to witchcraft and devil worship, attributing the birth of the creature to “Mother Leeds” in the Pine Barrens of Southern New Jersey.  Mrs. Leeds is said to have been a promiscuous woman of the night and upon the birth of her 13th child, she is said to have uttered the curse: “let it be the devil”.  The story differs from telling to telling, sometimes claiming that the newborn infant transformed in front of the vile Mrs. Leeds, into a winged beast with the hooves of a cow and the head of a horse, whereupon it flew out the window screeching into the night.  Other tellings purport that Mother Leeds abandoned the child, who thereafter grew fur and contorted into the form known as the New Jersey Devil.

Perhaps it’s most famous adherent is none other than Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Joseph.  He claimed to have seen a bizarre looking creature while hunting on his estate in Bordentown New Jersey and the sightings have been pouring in ever since.

The Jersey Devil has been blamed for any number of atrocities, from livestock deaths and mutilations, to strange tracks and sounds in the night.  While the devil has been reported many times, no one has ever managed to snap a photograph, which does raise a flag or two in the sceptical mind.  Regardless of the nefarious nature of the beast, locals have taken to the story like moths to a flame; they even named their National League Hockey Team the Devils.

Though there’s no need to be afraid, while you sit at your desk or at your stand up deskbehind your computer. It is not the type of creature that breaks into your house, it is the type of creature that you may see outside in the woods, while you are all alone.

Does the New Jersey Devil exist? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, but one thing is for sure, its reputation will be here for a long time coming.

The Devil is in the Details…or is He?

“An apology for the devil: it must be remembered that we have heard one side of the case. God has written all the books.”  – Samuel Butler

What really do we know about this character, Satan, whether by another name or face?

A red skinned imp, sporting short stubby horns and spaded tail, and carrying the trident of Poseidon; a mighty demon, winged and menacing, wreathed in fire and who, with the power of the Almighty, casts his will upon the earth and below.

Some say he’s a figment of our imagination, or is that, as Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) mused, the punch line of his finest trick?

Lucifer, Beelzebub, Bael, whatever name he may be known by, he remains the embodiment of sin, evil, pain and malice; he is the fallen angel and reigning King of Hell.

But isn’t all of this just dogmatic semantics?  Isn’t it just watering down the real issue?  When we mention his name or acknowledge his influence, are we paying homage to an antiquated idea of damnation, or are we in fact, referring to a known entity, with a real history and a legacy that will live on well past the last breath of man?

Though many learned men and women believe they know the answer to these questions, as they recite chapter and verse, and regurgitate passed down seminal teachings and warnings of damnation and sin, what really do we know?

As is the mantra of the creationist view of history, the earth is said to be only 6000 years old (give or take a decade), and in the apologist view of Christianity, the Devil is just as real as their One True God.  Theisticaly speaking, regardless of one’s personal belief as it relates to creationism or Christianity, one must acknowledge the fact that, without exception, every religion on earth, now and in the past, has had some incarnation of Satan in its teachings or lore.

Though, as many of my fellow atheists would hastily point out, mass belief in an idea, does not make proof of the idea’s merit or existence.  And in the same breath I must acknowledge that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence (as much as I loath to provide ammunition for the apologist agenda).

Where is all this going you ask? (Yes, I know you’re asking.)

Some 15,000 years ago in a remote cave, known to palaeontologists as Lascaux, one of the three brothers, or Les Tres Frere (a grouping of deep Palaeolithic caves located in what is now southern France, specifically in Montesquieu-Avantès, in the Ariège département) an ancient artist rendered what may be the first depiction of the character known to us as Satan.

Before I explain myself, let’s let that sink in a minute.  15,000 years ago, somewhere around 13,000BC, well more than twice as old as any Creationist theology can account for, and yet, as some claim, there exists a clear depiction of the Devil in the form of a charcoal drawing with etched detail; part man, part beast, hoofed feet and a horned crown of antlers.

Discovered in 1914, the cave contains over 280 drawings and engravings, and deep in an interior chamber called the “Sanctuary”,  protected from the elements and preserved for posterity for many an era, is this posthumous illustration of what scholars regarded as the earliest known depiction of any deity in any form.

Some of you are already picking apart my dialogue, some of you picked up on that subtle hint of uncertainty, and I promise I’ll get to that, but first, let’s explore what the discovery of this Devil Drawing means.

A detailed drawing of Satan, carved into the wall of a cave 15,000 years ago, 13,000 years before the birth of Christ, and nearly 7,000 years before the so-called creation of the universe.  The artist known only by the epic scale of his life’s work, saw fit to devote more than 15 feet of granite, in the deepest, darkest and most protected part of the entire cave network, to the masterpiece of his fresco; a hunched, grotesque and oddly familiar figure.

Henri Breuil’s drawing of “the Sorcerer”

Henri Breuil, a turn of the century Renaissance man, archaeologist, anthropologist, ethnologist and geologist, endeavoured to reproduce the cave drawing on canvas.  His drawing, known as “the Sorcerer” was regarded as solid evidence of early man’s awareness of deity relationships, and with that assumption came wild assertions that the artist was indeed paying homage to the Devil, and/or providing warning to those who would come after.

Breuil initially regarded the cave drawing as a depiction of a shaman or magic man, and later adopted the deity explanation at the behest of Margaret Murray, a prominent British anthropologist; though Murray’s motives were less than academic, in at least this one instance.

Recent studies of both the cave drawing and of Breuil’ sketch have cast doubt on that original assessment, and as promised, we’ll get to that in a moment.

It should first be noted that Murray, once famed for her academic mastery in archaeological study, eventually became an aggressive proponent for the early horned man neo-pagan religious trends of the early 20th century, a movement which eventually evolved into what is now known as Wicca.

One can surmise that either Murray was struck with spiritual inspiration through her study of “the Sorcerer”, or, that her own growing religious predilections at the time of Breuil’s sketch, were her motivation for convincing Breuil to abandon his initial assessment, in favour of her deity explanation, thus adding to her own professional credibility at the time.

This leads us back onto the path of reason and logical evaluation.  What lies inscribed on the wall of the “Sanctuary”, deep in the bowels of Lasceux, is a Palaeolithic depiction of a tribal shaman.  Features of the drawing are easily, or at least relatively easily, explained as part of communally important ritualistic practises of a wizened and mystical shaman.  This character would have been critically important to its tribe and thus regarded with higher status than typical citizenry.

The man-beast depiction is likely a literal telling of the typical connection between shamanism and animal spirits.  Even today, shamanism widely makes use of animal skins, horns and animal behaviours in ritual and in practice.  This may have been an early, if not the first, example of spiritual worship, but it was certainly not worship of the Devil, or of a God for that matter.

So what does that mean for the ideas that brought us this far?

Think about that for a moment…for some of you at least, my earlier remarks were enough to send your idea’s of religion, God and the Devil into a spinning confusion (ok, maybe I’m kidding myself), and whether or not you were following me into that dark corner, anyone can see how a convincing story backed up by minimal facts can be taken too far, and ultimately adopted as gospel.

An actual photograph of the cave drawing

What if there was this type of evolution in the deities we currently know as God and Satan?  The horned man idea has been prevalent in most neo-pagan religious teachings since before Margaret Murray, though she certainly helped the cause along; and since her time, the stories, legends and rumours of the horned man have evolved, many believe that the Wiccan deity Green Man is a variation of the horned man archetype.  And even as I lay that idea before you, many of you are accepting the idea that pagan cultures have adapted their beliefs over time, but isn’t the same true for the monotheistic religions as well?

Isn’t it possible that our current idea of Lucifer is actually an amalgamation of many, many different folk lore depictions of similar shamanistic rituals?  Apologists and Creationists (if there is any separation between them), will loudly oppose that idea, but if we understand the corruptions of pagan and neo-pagan ideals that took place over the last 1000 years of Christianisation, can we not see how ancient ritual lore could have been adopted, perverted and distorted into the epitome of evil in our culture?

In the end, I’m not sure I even understand where I was headed with this, except that I hope to call for people to begin opening their eyes; opening their minds and realising that some of the proverbial sketches they may be shown, could in fact be misinterpreted cave drawings in the hands of those with religious agendas.


Editor’s Note: The following post, written by Guest Author Dr. Vhitz of Monster Digest (drvhitz.com), is a rebuttal to the speculation presented in our previous post The Many Faces of the Derenberger Incident, wherein a connection was drawn between the characters Indrid Cold and the Grinning Man.  Dr. Vhitz is a popular blogger at Monster Digest and is something of an authority on characters such as are included in these tales.

For at least six months I have been studying everything I can find dealing with the Point Pleasant Mothman case for a project I’m working on.  I read John Keel’s “The Mothman prophecies” years ago and thought I had a good understanding of the story, but there is much more to the Mothman mythos than just the Keel book, and there are many questions and misunderstandings.  One of these issues involves the connection between the so-called “Grinning Man”, and the strange man who seemed to come from nowhere, “Indrid Cold”.

John Keel was traveling around the country interviewing UFO witnesses for a series of articles he was writing for Playboy magazine when he learned about a story involving two boys in Elizabeth, NJ.  The boys had reported an encounter with a very large Grinning Man.  The tip came from a guy named Gray Barker.  Barker was an early UFO investigator and a known hoaxer, Barker was also the one who investigated the Flatwoods Monster case back in the 1950′s.  After hearing of the story Keel and two others traveled to NJ to interview the two boys, Martin Munov and James Yanchitis.  The boys said that they were walking near the NJ Turnpike at about 9:45 pm on October 11th, 1966, when they saw a man standing behind a tall chain link fence.  At first the man had his back towards the boys, but then he turned around and the description given by the two is bizarre.  The Grinning Man was said to be very tall, over 6ft 2in, with a broad build and wearing a sparkly green one piece jumpsuit with a big black belt.  Strangest of all however was his face, the man had a broad ear to ear grin which the boys said appeared to be permanently fixed and did not seem to have ears or hair, just broad set beady eyes.  Keel seemed to have been impressed with Munov and Yanchitis and believed they were relating a real event as they had experienced it.  The John Keel account of the Grinning Man is the beginning and the end.  If you search for more you will find no other story of the Grinning Man, only a retelling of Keel’s story and perhaps recent urban myth that has no connection to the original report.

About three weeks after the Grinning Man report, a man named Woodrow “Woody” Derenberger was returning to his home in Mineral Wells, West Virginia, after a successful sales trip to Athens, Ohio, it was about 7:30 pm on November 2nd, 1966, Derenberger was driving on Interstate 77 and he could see the lights of Parkersburg in the distance.  Derenberger then noticed a vehicle approaching from behind at a high rate of speed and as it passed he could see that this was no ordinary vehicle, it had no wheels, it was floating a short distance above the road.  The strange-looking craft was like a cylinder with a big bulge in the middle and fire shooting out both ends according to Woody.  The craft moved over into Derenberger’s lane and forced him to stop.  A man then exited the craft and approached Derenberger’s truck.  Woody described the man as being close to 6 ft tall with dark brown hair combed straight back and having a good suntan.  Woody said the man had a smile on his face and was wearing a dark overcoat and a dark blue suit that was somewhat shiny.  Derenberger made it clear that the man whom he would later call Indrid Cold was a very normal looking guy.  John Keel spoke with Derenberger on several occasions and did not believe his story and I would have to agree with Keel.  Woody’s story continued to grow, eventually Woody even claimed to have been taken by Indrid Cold to a non-existent planet called Lanulos.

As you can see the Grinning Man and Indrid Cold are not related in any manner.  In the end I think while both stories are interesting, there’s really not a lot of substance.  Munov and Yanchitis saw a big strange-looking man and got scared.  Woody Derenberger either made up a story or was suffering from some rather serious mental illness.

Unexplained Booms, The Mystery Continues

boomIf you’ve been following the news in the last while, you may have read about the recent unexplained booms in Flint, Michigan, among other places around the world.  The sound, likened to thunder or a sonic boom, is described by witnesses as loud and startling, and it has the world scratching its proverbial head.

These mysterious and thunderous sounds are nothing new however, in Flint –where they’ve been heard on a weekly basis for over a year now- and all over the world.  Reports of loud unexplained booms date back to the mid 1800’s and earlier; early white settlers in North America were told by the native Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) that the booms were the sound of the Great Spirit continuing his work of shaping the earth.  The booms have garnered a few nick names, from Seneca Guns to Mistpouffers, Moodus Guns and Fog Guns, but the phenomenon has never officially been named.  These terms generally come from the geography of the place they are experienced, while others (especially in foreign countries) are named for traditional superstitions and culture.

sonic boomThe mystery boom phenomenon has been experienced all around the world, from the US and Canada, to islands in the Adriatic Sea, Australia, Ireland, Belgium and many other countries.  In the more recent occurrences, people have described the sounds as loud enough to shake windows and dishes in cupboards, though no damage has been attributed to the phenomenon to date.

Aside from native spirit gods, there have been many theories put forth to explain the phenomenon and some instances of the boom have been labelled as solved (though some argue with that status).  Some of the more obscure explanations range from such mundane ideas as exploding gas tanks -as cars are crushed at junk yards close to the areas of the booms- to erupting gas pockets under deep lakes and in sewers and solar or magnetic resonance in the upper atmosphere (how that would work is beyond my scientific knowledge).  The more mainstream explanations and the ones most widely accepted are:

  • Sonic booms caused by military aircraft (though this doesn’t do much to explain those occurrences before the invention of the aircraft, let alone the first supersonic flight)
  • High altitude or distant lightning (though this fails to account for booms heard on cloudless days)
  • And even meteors entering Earth’s atmosphere.

Low-magnitude earthquakes are the leading explanation (possibly).  This theory suggest that quakes of a low magnitude, around 1.5 on the Richter Scale, cause low frequency vibrations, called infrasonic booms, that can cause intermittent high volume booms.  Volcanoes and deep level tectonic movement can also cause this kind of low frequency sound.[1]

Of course, the paranormal community, which is largely responsible for the collection of unexplained boom data, has its own theories to share.  As you would expect, aliens and UFOs are prominent in this discussion, but the most oft cited culprit is HAARP or the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program.

HAARP, as I’ve previously written, is based in Gakona, Alaska and is funded by The US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA, which, I might add, garners its own fair share of conspiracy attention).  HAARP’s official function is to analyze the ionosphere and investigate the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for radio communications and surveillance.[2]  But as all conspiracy theorists know, that’s just a front for all manner of nefarious and covert scientific-military operations; from a targeted earthquake generating machine to a base for chemtrail population (or mind) control programs.

Despite having a website that fully explains their mission and purpose, in a culture of government mistrust, HAARP is widely blamed for much of the domestic military-industrial subterfuge, and, as mentioned, is the leading suspect in the unexplained booms phenomenon.  Some believe that the booms are a bi-product of HAARP surveillance efforts while others are convinced it’s the result of some kind of weather control device (as many booms are heard in advance of large storms).

Having never heard a boom, either sonic or unexplained, I’m not really in a position to debunk or support any of these explanations, but I think the likelihood that the US Government has the technical ability to make such a ruckus is slim at best.  But hey, I’ve been wrong before.

What do you think…about the booms or about HAARP?  Let me know in the comment section below.


[1] A good explanation of infrasonic booms, can be found at: http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/3674-earthquakes-infrasound.html

New Stonehenge Theory Unveiled

A time portal, an inter-dimensional rift, a spiritual mecca; what exactly is the purpose of this strange collection of standing stones in the English county of Wiltshire?

I am of course referring to the world famous prehistoric monument known as Stonehenge.  Mystery has long surrounded this spectacular example of prehistoric ingenuity; how was it built, when was it built, who built it?  All these questions are still very much up-in-the-air.

Located approximately 3 kilometres west of Amesbury and 13 kilometres north of Salisbury in southern England, Stonehenge has been the focus of much speculation and examination. Many theories have been put forward to explain its many features, and few scholars are able to agree on points of construction techniques and technology, and purpose.

The leading theories regarding construction describe the use of rolling logs, shear legs and sledges, all of which were available to prehistoric populations of England.  Some of these techniques were tested by a retired construction worker from Michigan, one Wally Wallington, who, in 2003, achieved some measure of success in building his own version of Stonehenge using only materials and techniques available at the time.  It is thought that the large stones were floated up the river Avon until reaching Salisbury, where they were then transported, possibly using woven wicker rollers, to the site at Wiltshire.

N061044Of course, conspiracy theorists and ancient alien advocates have their own fair share of theories about how it was constructed.  Aliens, acoustic and/or magical levitation, ancient power tools and even divine intervention top the list.  Though no one theory holds any more water than the next.

What is known with a reasonable amount of accuracy is its age: the result of at least seven periods of construction, the early site is believed to have consisted of wooden posts and possibly a thatched roof.  The first period of construction took place circa 3100 BC, consisting of a circular bank and ditch enclosure made of Late Cretaceous Seaford Chalk.  The next period was circa 3000 BC wherein several post holes indicate an intricate system of wooden posts.  Next, circa 2600 BC, came the first examples of igneous rock used on the site.  The next phase, circa 2600-2400 BC, saw the erection of the 30 enormous Oligocene-Miocene sarsen stones.  The final three periods of construction were largely rearrangements and small additions to the site.

What Stonehenge was used for is another story entirely.  Over the years hundreds of theories have been proffered to explain its purpose, ranging from an elaborate calendar to an astronomical observation tool and even to a place of worship for the Druids.  But all of these theories are based more on speculation than fact.  It is curious how accurately the layout conforms to both astronomical and seasonal events, such as the winter and summer solstice, and in light of that, some of these theories seem more plausible than others.  In celebration of the so-called ancient pagan rituals of the solstice many people embark on an annual pilgrimage to Stonehenge, paying homage to its builders and the sacred air the location is said to embody.

Recently however, a new theory has been suggested for the purpose of Stonehenge.   Roughly 500 years prior to the construction of the Stonehenge monument, a larger circle of stones was erected around what researchers now believe was a massive community burial ground.  The site is thought to have been large enough to hold the bodies of nearly 300 individuals.  Researchers from more than a dozen universities across Britain concluded that the original ancient Stonehenge structure was used as a grave site for entire families based on the study of cremated human remains excavated from the site.

Mike Parker Pearson

According to Mike Parker Pearson, of the University College London, the remains, thought to have been buried at the site around the time of its construction, were found to be that of men, women and children.  So it’s safe to conclude that this was a community based burial site, rather than that of a dynasty of kings, as had previously been asserted.

In addition to this revelation about its purpose, the group of researchers believe they have explained, at least in part, the construction of Stonehenge.  They assert that more than 4000 individuals participated in the construction effort, living in a nearby settlement, also recently unearthed near Durrington Walls.

By analyzing the teeth and bones of livestock brought to the settlement, researchers concluded that the animals born in springtime were typically slaughtered between the ages of nine and 15 months. Suggesting that food consumption took place in the settlement, in the mid-summer and mid-winter months, which would support the idea that construction efforts took place in seasonal spits and spurts over the span of a decade. Parker Pearson concludes: “It’s not that they’re coming to worship, they’re coming to construct it.”

Read more at The Inquisitr.