SIS Autumn Meeting 2014

26 Oct 2014

The SIS 2014 Autumn Meeting took place on October 25th, staged at the Quaker Meeting House in Watford, a fine venue. The Quakers, and various other non-conformist denominations, including the first Baptist groups and the Congregationalists, were especially strong in the Chilterns and adjacent regions. Watford sits on the cusp of the London Basin, on the edge of the Chilterns. No doubt it had a role in the process of keeping non-conformism alive during the reign of Charles II when rivals to the Anglican Church were discouraged. The church of the nobs didn't like the chapels of the lower classes - and were even afraid of them as they had played an active role in the rebellious spirit that had been rife during the Civil War period (which ended with the restoration of the monarchy, and the enthronement of Charles II). As a result of all this non-conformism was kept alive by secret meetings in peoples houses and after the death of the king the law was amended and they were allowed to build chapels. Many of the Quaker meeting houses have an origin in the early 18th century - when the ban was lifted.

It was during the reign of Charles II that the Royal Society cut itself from the umbilical cord of the Church and became an embryonic secular organisation - and science came of age, if you like. Various other institutions were given birth at this time, possibly a product of the rebellious state of mind that existed a few years previously. A can of worms was opened in the civil war as Charles I was beheaded in part because he was unable to forsake the idea that monarchy had a divine right to rule without an upstart parliament questioning his judgements. In spite of the restoration of the monarchy free will became part of the way the country thereafter worked - and the Royal Society was all part of this societal revolution. Freedom from monarchy was juxtaposed with freedom from the Church and its influence on science, and eventually, freedom to worship in the way you wanted - hence the lifting of the ban on non-conformist denominations. The Quakers were in the vanguard of all this.

The Watford Meeting House is a modern building and I will get around to looking at its history in due course. Fine examples of old meeting houses exist at nearby Amersham, Chesham, and Aylesbury, and of course at Jordans in Penn country (with its links to the Pilgrim Fathers and the state of Pennsylvania). Quakers were also big in northern Britain and it has its origins in Lancashire and a vision or light show (earth light phenomena) witnessed on Pendle Hill, see Paul Devereux, Earth Lights and Earth Lights Revelation. Friends Meeting Houses are common from the Malverns to Yorkshire, and their industrial enterprises from Rountree's chocolates to Quaker Oats revolutionised the way workers were treated by their employers. Quakers became especially influential in the 19th century and were involved in many social reforms and even developed housing projects, such as the village without alcohol, Jordans. Later, it had a link with the foundation of the National Trust (the preservation of buildings and scenic landscapes) and various other social enterprises right up to WWII. At that point the socialists introduced their own state run reforms and groups such as the Quakers ceased to be of importance. The rise of the state machine went hand in hand with the decline of all church denominations as sermons by themselves were of little usefulness to the sick and the disadvantaged - or come to that, the more comfortable sections of society as well as good works were all part of the developing Christian ethos. 

Having noted some of the history of our hosts we can move on to the three speakers. It may seem strange that they are all sceptical in some way, even to Velikovsky who inspired the setting up of our society. However, it was not in order to lavishly promulgate Velikovsky's ideas but instead, from the very beginning was designed to investigate his theories. If they proved to be flawed - so be it. Daphne Chappell's subject was Biblical numbers and how it is an important aspect of the chronology, an undercurrent projected into the Biblical narrative. Velikovsky did not critique Biblical numbers or the chronology behind them and this is why it is very often avoided by Velikovsky inspired revisionists. In the past the society has flirted a little with the subject. John Crowe wrote about the use of 40 year units and Anthony Rees developed a model based on Manetho's dynasties and its embedded numerical system. Unfortunately, he did not employ much in the way of source references so evaluations of the work were hampered by not knowing what was fact and what was fiction. It was very quickly left behind - but what a mind he had if he had made it all up.

In contrast Daphne Chappell has concentrated on Biblical numbers from the perception of Knut Stendring, 'The Enclosed Garden' (1965) and Gerhard Larsson, 'The Secret System', a later evaluation of the work of Stenring. The former is heavy going and the latter is suitably constructed for a general readership. All the talks will be up on the web site within a couple of weeks, on video (courtesy of Chris Phillips and his expertise) and possibly duplicated in print next year. Hence, no point in reciting anything of substance apart from adding a few comments on what they are all about - from a different angle. Stenring associated the numbers with three calendars as used by the Hebrews - a lunar, a solar (365 days) and a proto-Julian calendar. He discovered there were 300 events spread over 12 books of the Old Testament (those that were concerned with chronology) spanning 3600 years. The latter equals 12 times 300. He then went on to find a variety of other number associations which clearly could not be accidental in total and suggested a purposeful construction. Nailing when this occurred involved the calendars.

All this smacks of human invention which implies the true date of the Exodus (event number 100), the Flood, and Creation (or a re-creation post catastrophe situation) cannot be securely dated using Biblical numbers. This is the important point to bear in mind. Any revision that ignores the artificial nature of Biblical numbers is proceeding on a false assumption - and that includes the arrangement and order of the events as laid out in the Biblical narrative. Revising history by situating Biblical events in a more laudable position in the historical past largely involves bringing down orthodox chronology in order to match Biblical numbers. Perhaps this is not the way to look at it. Perhaps the numbers (prior to shall we say the Omride dynasty) need to be abandoned and the Biblical events reconsidered and reset in a more likely context. Of course, orthodox historians themselves use Biblical numbers - in different ways. They are prepared to accept the connection between Shishak and Shoshenk, a key interconnection within the mainstream framework, yet at the same time scoff at other Biblical events just because the numbers don't fit the historical chronology they have developed. These are very often dismissed as fables or myth with no substance in reality. Simply saying we should downdate chronology by 300 to 500 years, or any other figure, in order for a few Biblical events to correspond with the orthodox framework has not proved to be too successful - as yet. The whole idea is hampered by the fact that C14 and dendrochronology calibration contradict the proposals - and even if we accept there are anomalies and some problems with the methodology that is hardly likely to amount to such big figures. Therefore, it might be useful if revisionists watch and listen to what Chappell has to say when the video is eventually uploaded.

Other interesting numbers are that there are 20 kings of Israel and 20 kings of Judah which is another example of the use of the number 40. We might add to this the 480 years from Exodus to Solomon and from Solomon to Nebuchadnessar and the sack of said temple, all too clearly an entirely artificial construct with no basis in reality. 480 is of course 12 times 40. The meaning of the use of such numbers is lost in the mists of history - we have no way of knowing what was in the heads of the compilers. The reality is that in the later Greek era numerology gained momentum, mixed up with various Hermetic ideas that read like nonsense in the modern world. The system was devised, according to Chappell, in the 3rd century BC, contemporary with Manetho and Berossus, and understanding those constructs would go some way to understanding Biblical chronology and what the editors had in mind. Why a system devised in Alexandria, which had a large Jewish population, should have been adopted in Jerusalem, is an unknown, or how much numbers may have already influenced the narrative prior to the reign of Ptolemy II. Up to the 2nd century BC and the rebellion of the Maccabees, we might imagine Judaism was heavily influenced by Greek ideas. It was this that sparked the Maccabees revolt and it is not  surprising therefore to note the oldest copy of the Bible is the Septuagint, a Greek translation from the Hebrew. Obviously, there is more to this subject than first meets the eye.

The second talk was by Don Mills, a computer troubleshooter, and he continued to outline some of his researches into Velikovsky's sources as given in Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos. Velikovskians, catastrophists as well as revisionists, have relied on the integrity of Velikovsky when quoting sources and Don Mills and others, such as Eric Aitchison, have shown that some of those sources are sometimes strained and somewhat tenuous, if not downright impossible. This is perhaps because Velikovsky was faced with a problem. He realised the Exodus story contained the vestiges of a catastrophic event but over the years the severity and magnitude of it had been watered down and almost eroded out of the account. The narrative had been changed to accommodate an evolving religious agenda. As a psychologist by training he realised that cultural amnesia could perhaps be at play. In addition, we may note that divinity could hardly be worshipped if divinity was responsible for said catastrophe (and the deaths of many people). Hence, the ingenuity of the human mind turned things upside down and divinity became a benign deity (a periodic object in the sky that was largely at arms length from Earth, an orbit that only now and then came close to the planet). Instead, the  disaster was attributed to the dark side of divinity, namely Satan (and his many names and manifestations in different cultures). The cultural amnesia, or the collective consciousness, is still able to reproduce remnants of the adulation accorded deity - and one only has to ponder on the words during a Christmas carol service. They are nonsensical unless you think in terms of an object in the sky, enthroned in all its glory - such as a comet, exalted in excelsior (and so on) and the light show produced as it interacted with the atmosphere of the Earth (various transient phenomena, meteor streams left in the wake, and aurora etc).

The references to catastrophism in the Bible can be substantial at times (in Psalms, the books of Isaiah and Amos) and at other times they are negligible bordering on the absent, having been readapted to changing circumstances. This was essentially the problem faced by Velikovsky. At times he had to cling to the tenuous quote as he could not tease out anything substantial. In the Avestas, for example, the links are there but polished and truncated by successive revisions, and can be interpreted in a non-catastrophist manner. There is nothing unusual in that as religions don't stand still and they adapt in different generations. The disasters did not come thick and fast but were spaced out in the manner of a periodic orbit. After the major catastrophic event the danger came from the dust and debris left in its wake - in the context of a Clube and Napier scenario this would involve the Taurid meteor streams. In the early stages these would have been thick and somewhat narrow bands of debris but as time progressed the streams widened and stretched across space and whereas Earth encountered Taurid debris over a longer period of the year there was less danger attached to it - until another passage of the comet laid down a fresh accumulation of debris. Over the course of time the meteor streams dissipated into a largely harmless encounter with the odd shooting star and the comet itself was reduced in size and visibility, and like Samson (aka Herakles) shorn of his hair, they lost all virility and became a relic of the former frightening manifestation. Velikovsky pictured this all somewhat differently, the said comet he thought was the planet Venus after reading about the oddities associated with that body. Hence, rather than meteors and fragments of comets he continued to visualise planets interacting with Earth right down to the 8th century BC. This appears to be refuted by the nature of catastrophism, which was muted, at that late date, but once given the bit he was away. Their was no reining in.

Velikovsky made use of meagre source material and read into some texts words and meanings that are ambiguous at best, and completely absent in some cases. Rens van der Sluijs on the other hand is able to present source material all the time on plasma events and auroral phenomena in historical records and tribal myth which comes across in a convincing manner. Velikovsky reinterpreted myth and attempted to prise it out of the hands of intellectuals with peculiar ideas on how the minds of our ancestors might work. It is all theory and can never be proved one way or the other - and contrasts strongly with the interpretation of taking people at face value and accepting that what they say is more or less what happened. In that sense Velikovsky was able to show the reality of catastrophe at some point in the past. Reinterpreting myth however does not count as firm evidence of such.

If you take the Matter of Britain as an example of myth that preserves catastrophic detail within it you are faced by the fact it was re-worked and modified in order to suit a medieval view of the world, namely the body of material known as Arthurian Romance. Prior to this it had been reworked by early Christian monks and many of the most obvious parallels had dissipated - somewhat like all the Taurid dust and fragments as described by Clube and Napier. It was altogether diluted. Therefore, in the course of time that dilution became weaker in substance with each generation and in the end pagan ideas were left meaningless and prey to new more virile religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The heart of these religions involved an invisible deity. Instead of the idea of divinity disappearing and failing to turn up, sailing into the sunset never to be seen again, they came up with the novel idea that deity was actually an unseen entitity - and had always been so. Pagan stories of visible features of deity were therefore to be expunged - which is why graven images were given such a bad press by later Biblical editors (and by the likes of the Puritans, and modern day Taliban etc). The unseen god became an all encompassing god - responsible for everything that happened and controlling the fate and hopes of mankind. The messiah concept, an expectation of the return of the missing deity (from out of the far reaches of the sky) was retained - but this was subsidiary to the main deity. Messiahs and prophets were envisaged as messengers of deity. The spirit of the messiah however retains the idea of a periodic comet - and the eventual return of deity. This is all bound up in millleniallism and the idea of destroying the present in order to create a utopian style future, and has been adopted since the collapse of religion in the West into a variety of secular belief systems such as Marxism and the Green dream machine.

Legend and myth itself is subject to change in another way in which deity is transformed into a human character with human emotions. The connection with a cosmic body is lost in entirety. It becomes a tale of heroes and villains and humans that have strange capabilities, such as razing towns with one throw of a rock or striking down their enemies with a baleful glance of their eyes. In one tale concerning a general of David, he is propelled into the air and then falls on a town and manages to kill most of the inhabitants in the process. In Greek legend it is not Herakles that destroys the LB world but the Heruclidae - pieces of the Herakles object (meteors and comet fragments). Likewise, the god Finn is accompanied by the Fianna - the bits and pieces associated with the passage of Finn in the sky. They cause mayhem - which is why they are developed into a human war band.

From this short foray one can see Velikovsky had a real problem in presenting proof to support his idea that a major catastrophic event had occurred in the recent past. Whether that was around 1500BC or much earlier is based on how much you might rely on Biblical numbers. For these reasons we might take some of the criticisms concerning the veracity of his sources with a pinch of salt - but again, it is easy to read things into texts that are not really there and have never been there and no doubt Velikovsky did this on occasion. Can we excuse that as he was presenting a big picture. Some people can - but others can't.

Don Mills has picked up on Velikovsky stretching the facts. Most people would then go on to ditch his work in its entirety. Don Mills doesn't do this - but simply seeks to weed out the facts and how they may affect the Velikovsky narrative. On this occasion his talk centred on those Islamic historians quoted by Velikovsky in Worlds in Collision and Ages in Chaos, bearing in mind that Velikovsky could not read Arabic but could read German translations of them. These historians lived somewhat after Mohammad and the beginnings of Islam and were divorced entirely from and without knowledge of the pagan period prior to AD632. They had not even heard of the Nabatean Kingdom, contemporary with Rome, and he goes on to argue there is no way they could have retained knowledge of the Amalekites yet alone a foray into Egypt as described by Velikovsky. This is the gist of his argument. Islam had expunged itself of its pagan past - and all the legends associated with it. Various fundamentalist Islamic groups, even in the modern world, claim the Haj retains remnants of pagan beliefs, which they would eradicate if they could. In the case of throwing stones and  touching the black meteorite embedded in a wall of the Kaaba at Mecca no doubt there is a pagan leftover involved - it fits into the catastrophist menu (but one that has been modified by early Islamic revisionists). However, this is not a trait peculiar to Islam as both Judaism and Christianity retain many pagan embellishments or adaptations. For example, Velikovsky's catastrophic scenario revealed that in all likelihood the pagan Canaanite religion prevailed all the way down to the 7th century. It was subject to change in the reign of Josiah but it was essentially the Exilic community that formed Judaism in the round - an explanation to account for their captivity. They had displeased deity in some manner and this had to be rectified - and required change to ritual and their approach to the idea of God itself. Perhaps there was Persian influence, as theorised in respect of the Book of Daniel, but Canaanite religion already involved fire and burnt offerings - as did many other cultural belief systems. How much influence Zoroastrianism may have had is open to  debate. They may have completely ignored it as irrelevant and kept strictly to the Judaistic line. Would Cyrus have been so keen on them rebuilding their cult temple at Jerusalem if they had remained aloof - big question. Whatever happened the temple never materialised as a fully built structure until after the Persians experienced a period of weakness and recession in fortunes in the late 5th century BC. It seems something occurred in the natural world that encouraged them to reinvigorate their energies and complete the temple building - which had somewhat languished as a result of other priorities (unknown). Possibly the dispute over cult between the returning Exile community and the peasant population that remained behind and still clung to their Canaanite leaning version of religion prevented the temple being completed. Therefore an event that was interpreted as inspired by deity, a bolide or strange portents in the sky, even an epidemic of some kind, may have reunited the Exiles with those people not taken into captivity, and in the process the temple was finished (or that particular version of the temple). In addition, it is possible the Babylonians replaced the Hebrews with another group of people in the manner of the Assyrians, severing vassals from their homelands (and deity) which had the effect of making them less inclined to rebel or cause trouble. Alternatively, if the exiles returning were infested with Persian and Babylonian ideas the people left behind may have resisted them for that reason rather than the orthodox view as presented by Ezra etc. Jews that had fled into Egypt at the time of Jeremiah may have retained a more home grown version of the Hebrew faith but at the same time would have been influenced by Egyptian ideas. This scenario would place fully developed Judaism late and therefore very close to the Greek era as Alexander defeated the Persians in the 4th century BC. In these few centuries the history of the Jews has been disappeared, only to re-emerge with the Maccabees. Somewhere along the line it was embellished with numbers. It may be that the diaspora community in Alexandria and Elephantine were able to influence the people living in and around Jersualem - but it is all conjecture as the Bible does not record anything of importance during this period. A large dollop of history is missing.

The first two talks were sceptical of Velikovsky, the man that was responsible for inspiring the setting up of the society. The third talk, surprisingly, turned out to be sceptical of certain features of the Electric Universe model, in particular those parts based on Jeurgens ideas as outlined in the journal Pensee in the 1970s and developed later by Wallace Thornhill. However, Johnson was at pains to say that Thornhill is in the process of updating and changing the EU model. There were a couple of momentary nodding heads during the first  two talks but there were none during Bob Johnson's talk - people were straining their necks and listening intently. Basically, he favours ditching the anode Sun model, mainly because scientists in recent space missions have discovered no evidence of an electric Sun of that kind. Instead, he envisages a plasma Sun model that dispenses with the need of electrical currents in space and basically involves Birkeland Currents, the heat of the Sun created by a kink or z-pinch and the creation of a sort of Birkeland Current coil within the Sun's body. He has even considered retaining the fusion model but bringing it towards the photosphere rather than in the core. Eric Lerner's experiments in plasma have influenced these revisions of the Electric Universe model. The model is an ongoing construction and modifications are occurring all the time but the main one has yet to abandon the concept of an anode Sun. I'm loathe to get into detail with this description of the 3rd talk and all will be explained when his  talk appears as a video on our web site. The audience was so impressed by his talk that he was immediately invited to speak at the next SIS meeting, at the Spring AGM. He will be on the same bill as Piers Corbyn so we can expect a cracker. He will also write up his talk and the article will probably be published in the new year - but that will be up to the editor, professor Trevor Palmer.