Jun 18, 2020

Esoterica



Stonehenge will livestream its summer solstice celebration for the first time ever

The ancient, mystical site typically hosts one of the world’s most popular summer solstice celebrations, attracting thousands of people, including the druid and pagan community, on the longest day of the year to watch the sun rise behind the Heel Stone.

This year, however, the usual celebration won’t be possible. The English Heritage organization, which manages Stonehenge, is asking people not to visit the site, and is instead offering a livestream of the sunrise.

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The summer solstice at Stonehenge will stream live on Sunday morning, June 21 (local time), on English Heritage’s social media accounts.




Oldest and largest Maya structure discovered in southern Mexico


Scientists using an aerial remote-sensing method have discovered the largest and oldest-known structure built by the ancient Maya civilization – a colossal rectangular elevated platform built between 1000 and 800BC in Mexico’s Tabasco state.

The structure, unlike the soaring Maya pyramids at cities like Tikal in Guatemala and Palenque in Mexico erected some 1,500 years later, was not built of stone but rather of clay and earth, and was probably used for mass rituals, researchers said on Wednesday.

Located at a site called Aguada Fénix near the Guatemalan border, the structure measured nearly a quarter-mile (400 meters) wide and nine-tenths of a mile (1,400 meters) long and stood 33 to 50 ft (10 to 15 meters) high. In total volume, it exceeded ancient Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza built 1,500 years earlier.

There were no signs of sculptures depicting high-status individuals, suggesting Maya culture at this early stage was more communal and only later developed social inequality and a hierarchical society led by royalty, the researchers said.

U.S. Authorities Say Hobby Lobby's Gilgamesh Tablet Is 'Stolen,' Must Go Back To Iraq

U.S. federal prosecutors are seeking the return to Iraq of a roughly 3,500-year-old clay tablet purchased by the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts store chain for display in the Washington, D.C.-based Museum of the Bible. The cuneiform tablet is described as "stolen Iraqi property" in a civil complaint filed Monday.

The complaint details part of the journey of this fragment of the oldest known creation tale — from a palace library in ancient Mesopotamia to its present location in a Department of Homeland Security warehouse in Queens, New York.

It alleges that a major international auction house, unnamed in the complaint, obscured the provenance of the tablet, known as the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, when it sold the tablet to Hobby Lobby in 2014.

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The Gilgamesh epic is a Sumerian poem believed to have been written at least 4,000 years ago. Sections of it mirror details of the Great Flood and the Garden of Eden stories from the Old Testament, which it predates. A 12-tablet version of the poem, written in the Akkadian language, was discovered in the ruins of the library in a palace of Nineveh in present-day Mosul, Iraq.

Georgia pastor draws backlash after suggesting slavery was a ‘white blessing’

A Georgia pastor is apologizing for comments he made during what was billed as “an open and honest conversation around how racism has plagued” the Peach State’s capital.

Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, was met with criticism this week after citing “the blessing of slavery” for providing the framework for the privileges white Americans enjoy today. Giglio also suggested using the phrase “white blessings” instead of “white privilege.”

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Giglio has since tried to clarify his statements, admitting his “word choice wasn’t great.”

“Not seeking to refer to slavery as blessing - but that we are privileged because of the curse of slavery,” he wrote on Twitter. “In calling it a privilege/benefit/blessing — word choice wasn’t great. Trying to help us see society is built on the dehumanization of others. My apology, I failed.”

A bishop in El Paso kneeled in prayer for George Floyd. Two days later, Pope Francis called

Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz had no idea that his act of solidarity in El Paso, Texas, would be met with a phone call of gratitude from his boss, Pope Francis.

With eyes closed, masks covering their faces, white roses in hand and handwritten signs that read "Black Lives Matter," Seitz and 12 other priests from the Diocese of El Paso knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on Monday.

They were praying in silence for George Floyd, a black man who died in the custody of Minneapolis police after an officer knelt on his neck for that same amount of time.

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Two days after the clergy's prayer, Seitz had just finished celebrating Mass when he got a call on his cellphone from the pontiff himself.

The Holocaust Survivors Who Had 'Psychic' Experiences, and the Man Who Documented Them

One day in late 1942, in the predawn hours, the writer Shea Tenenbaum was jolted out of his sleep. In a dream he heard his niece, Chayale, cry out. Tenenbaum, a well-known figure in American Yiddish circles, had been living in New York since 1934. Chayale had stayed behind in Lublin with her family. “She stayed there, across the sea, in Hitler’s hell,” Tenenbaum recalled. He broke out in a cold sweat and knew something terrible had befallen his relative.

“I also saw multitudes of camps of Jews, shouting, falling, being pushed, trampled, choking. Fear of God!” he wrote in his diary on the morning of November 9.

At the time, almost no one knew in America about the scale of the Nazis’ crimes. But a few years later, at the end of the war, his nephew, Chayale’s brother, told Tenenbaum about the murder of members of their family in the Majdanek camp. He afterward discovered that the last Lublin Jews were murdered on November 9, 1942.

Tenenbaum’s testimony was incorporated into a now-forgotten work published in two volumes (“The Other Dimension,”1967; “Expanded Parapsychology,” 1973; both in Hebrew) by the New York-based Jewish journalist and writer Aaron Zeitlin. In a note he appended to the book, Zeitlin noted that Tenenbaum (who passed away in 1989) was not alone in having experiences of this kind during the Holocaust.

We can no longer ignore the potential of psychedelic drugs to treat depression

There hasn’t been a breakthrough in mental healthcare for some time, and psychedelic therapy works very differently to current treatments. Conventional drug treatments have dominated psychiatry for decades, and although many people prefer psychotherapy, it is more expensive, harder to access and arguably no more effective than the drugs.

These drugs haven’t changed much since their discovery, and come with side effects that put people off taking them. Where SSRIs are concerned, their antidepressant action seems to rely on a moderation of the stress response – but it is a palliative rather than curative action, which requires having the chemical in the body for several months or longer.

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The impact of successful psychedelic therapy is often one of revelation or epiphany. People speak of witnessing “the bigger picture”, placing things in perspective, accessing deep insight about themselves and the world, releasing pent-up mental pain, feeling emotionally and physically recalibrated, clear-sighted and equanimous. This is very different from people’s descriptions of the effects of SSRIs, where a contrasting feeling of being emotionally muted is not uncommon. It would be premature to disclose the findings of our head-to-head trial prior to proper scientific review, but on top of impressive tolerability and antidepressant effects with psilocybin-assisted therapy, we are seeing remarkable changes in patient-relevant outcomes. These include increased quality of life, “flourishing” (feeling well rather than just “not depressed”), the ability to feel pleasure again and normal sexual functioning. The value of something new and different is often hard to gauge until it is placed alongside something more familiar, and our new study does this.

DMT drug study investigates the ‘entities’ people meet while tripping

The psychedelic drug DMT can produce powerful visions. In low doses, people often hallucinate fractal patterns, geometric shapes, and distortions in the physical space around them. But things get much stranger with higher doses.

When people consume enough DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) to have a "breakthrough" experience, they often encounter beings that seem autonomous, existing in a reality separate from our own.

The form and nature of these beings vary in reports, but one thing remains curiously constant: People tend to rank these encounters among the most meaningful experiences of their lives. For some people, these encounters change their beliefs about reality, the existence of an afterlife, and God.

A recent survey provides some of the most detailed information about these encounters to date. Published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the survey includes responses from 2,561 adults about their single most memorable encounter with a being (or beings) after smoking or vaporizing DMT. (DMT is an endogenous chemical, meaning the body produces it naturally, though it's currently a Schedule I drug in the U.S.)

There Could Be 36 Intelligent Alien Civilizations in the Milky Way, Study Says

In a study published in The Astrophysical Journal, researchers led by Christopher Conselice, from the U.K.'s University of Nottingham, examined limits for intelligent life. This included the age of the planet and the composition of their host star. Assumptions were made on what we understand about intelligent life on Earth—that it took about five billion years to get us to the point we are at now and that the environment is rich in metals.

"The idea is looking at evolution, but on a cosmic scale," he said in a statement. "We call this calculation the Astrobiological Copernican Limit." Their calculations showed there should be 36 planets in the Milky Way with intelligent civilizations.

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They say these 36 hypothetical civilizations are spread evenly across the galaxy, the closest would be around 17,000 light years away. One light year is around 5.88 trillion miles. Radio waves travel at the speed of light, so any radio communication sent from Earth would take 17,000 years to reach that civilization, " making interstellar communication impossible," the team wrote.

Earth’s Magnetic North Pole Is Shifting Dramatically From A Powerful Tug Of War

It’s become increasingly clear in recent years that Earth’s magnetic north pole has been moving towards Russia at rather fast clip.

Now a team of researchers believe they’ve identified the forces that are causing the shift, which has implications for everyday navigation and mapping systems, among other things.

Earth’s magnetic field is governed by the flow of materials in our planet’s core, and it seems that two competing magnetic “blobs” along the outer core are pulling at the magnetic north pole.

One magnetized patch is beneath Canada while the other is under Siberia. In the past few decades, the Siberian patch has begun to overpower its opponent in dramatic fashion. The planet-scale battle has resulted in the magnetic north pole migrating towards Russia with a quickness.

How foxes are domesticating themselves

Just as dogs descended from a wolf-like ancestor to become man's best friend, so it would seem wild foxes are doing the same.

Indeed, a new study reveals that foxes in London appear to be inadvertently developing signs of domestication. The reason is that living in such close proximity to human beings has altered their evolutionary path.

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The researchers found that there were major differences in skull shape between rural and urban foxes, with the latter "having a noticeably shortened wider snout with a reduced maxillary region relative to rural foxes." Urban foxes also tended to have wider snout tips and, in terms of their brains, "the braincase appeared to be smaller in the urban habitat." This does not necessarily mean that urban foxes are dumber than rural foxes, however; as the authors explain, "it could possibly reflect changes in biomechanical forces on the skull." Notably, the same pattern has been observed among dogs as compared to their wild coevals, the wolf: scientists note that dogs' brains are about 30% smaller relative to wolves' brains.

As Kevin Parsons, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Glasgow, told the BBC in a video, "What's really fascinating here is that the foxes are doing this to themselves. This is the result of foxes that have decided to live near people, showing these traits that make them look more like domesticated animals." He speculated that urban foxes may have smaller braincases because, while their rural counterparts need advanced intelligence to track down prey which is trying to escape, urban foxes tend to scavenge and therefore deal with food sources that are more likely to be stationary.

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