Ancient Wisdom — That Isn’t???

fortune-telling

For the last couple of decades, our world has been awash with Ancient Wisdom.  Everybody and his sister seems to think they’ve discovered the kickass cure for contemporary society in the texts and teachings of long, long ago.  It’s only natural.  In troubled times, people long for a simpler life and usually go looking for it in the shifting echoes of half-forgotten time.  Whether it’s a paleo diet, aura energy, herbal remedies or smelly candles, we tend to believe that this “lost” knowledge will provide signposts on the road to enlightenment.  I’m not saying it will or it won’t – honestly, I don’t know – however, we do need to remember a couple of things.  First of all, by definition, ancient wisdom comes from a time of superstition and ignorance when germs were God’s punishment, life expectancy was 35 and you could die from a broken finger.  Secondly, some of this ancient wisdom isn’t actually all that ancient.  Here are a couple of blatant examples of ancient arts that aren’t!

Tarot cards – Everybody knows that the Tarot is as old as the sands of Egypt.  It was the tool of soothsayers and astrologers who used its power to seek metaphysical guidance and, perhaps, glimpse into the future.  And today, only a select few occult scholars have the wisdom to unlock its secrets.  Nope!  The truth is, Tarot cards were developed in the early Renaissance by a bunch of northern Italian gamblers.  They used them to play games very similar to poker and gin rummy.  That went on for about three centuries until the 1780s, when a popular French magician, Jean-Baptiste Alliette (whose stage name was Etteilla) began claiming the Tarot was full of psychic energy.  On the verge of revolution, the Parisian upper classes were eager to grasp at spiritual straws, and the Tarot cards looked like a good one.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the Rue de Fake News, a semi-intellectual, Antoine Court, wrote a history (without documentation, BTW) which traced the Tarot back to the pre-pyramid Nile.  Since everyone already knew that anyway, it became (and still is) the accepted history of the Tarot.  In fact, Tarot cards are actually younger than the ordinary “according to Hoyle” playing cards we use every day!

Wicca – For millions of its followers and most of the rest of us, Wicca comes from a time before history when Mother Nature spoke to her children from the rivers, mountains and meadows of the natural world.  It is a religion of the Goddess whose power comes from the living Earth.  A spirituality of standing stones, sacred trees and healing crystals that was suppressed for centuries by the Christian church and the woeful myopia of modern science.  Guess again!  Actually, Wicca (and all its various offshoots) was invented by Gerald Gardner, a retired British civil servant, sometime in the late 1940s.  It’s basically a one-size-fits-all cauldron full of folklore, legend, superficial history and amateur anthropology — all stirred together with Aleister Crowley magic, make-believe rites and rituals, a Druid or two and nudity.  When Gardner went public with his mystic concoction in 1954, the Cold War was chilly enough to attract a good number of devotees, but, when the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile crisis put the world into a deep freeze, people all over the West started seriously looking for a reasonable alternative to nuclear holocaust.  During the late 60s and 70s, Wicca became the “religion de jour” to a host of bored students, disenchanted activists and aging hippies — each with their own interpretations, teachings and texts.  These days, the many faces of Wicca are everywhere from occult bookstores to suburban diets — colleges teach its practices and rock stars wear its symbols.  However, the painful truth is … Wicca is about the same age as Oprah Winfrey.

Cult Of Celebrity!

red-carpet

It may be too much to hope for, but it looks as if the terrible, terrible plague that has gripped our planet for far too long may be over.  … SERIOUS PAUSE … Uh – no – not that one, the other one: the soul- eating Cult of Celebrity.  Maybe — just maybe — our unholy obsession with celebrities could be in its final days.

It all started in March when Wonder Woman and her tone deaf (that works on so many levels!) choir trotted out John Lennon’s ode to hypocrisy, Imagine.  Although they meant it as feel-good manna from the ruling class, it didn’t take the peasants more than a few minutes to “imagine” Gal and the gang were a bunch of assholes.  After all, millionaires telling a bunch of people who are having trouble paying the rent to “imagine no possessions” is kinda adding insult to injury.  And from there, it just got worse.  Ellen DeGeneres, the world’s mightiest sycophant, told us that living in her multi-million dollar mansion was like “being in jail.”  Clearly, Ms. DeGeneres has never been in jail, seen a jail or even had a jail carefully described to her.  And of course, since then we’ve all learned that, even as she spoke, her smiles and chuckles production company was treating the staff as if Ellen was the warden.  Then along came Madonna, the Queen of Pop, and named Covid-19 the “the great equaliser.”  Oddly enough, she did it stark naked in a bathtub that probably cost more than my car!  Apparently, some of us are more equal than others, huh, Madge?  Then there was Jennifer Lopez frolicking in her huge backyard; Pharrell Williams, asking for money; Katy Perry, bored out of her mind, and on and on and on.  But for sheer audacity, nothing beats the crew of really, really white people on Twitter, celebsplaining how much Black Lives Matter in their “I Take Responsibility” campaign.  These Malibu militants were giving it their best shot, but it was almost impossible not to laugh at their “Dammit, I’m sincere!” sincerity.  First of all, they’re actors – Duh!  Secondly, we all know their only brush with black anything is probably Will Smith.  And finally, aside from wearing a T-shirt and maybe giving the housekeeper a Christmas bonus, these folks were done.  When they shut off the camera, they were going back to their enormous homes, their manicured lawns, their nannies, their drivers, their personal assistants and a little Grey Goose by the pool.  The message might be “We’re all in this together,” but anyone who’s watching knows we aren’t.

The truth is without Award Shows, Red Carpets, parties, photo-ops and the Late Night Jimmies (Kimmel and Fallon) the celebrity emperor has no clothes.  When push comes to shove and serious stuff is on the table, it’s painfully obvious that celebrities are less than useless.  In fact, they’re part of the problem, because they insist that fame somehow makes them relevant — that their political insights, their social awareness and – OMG! — their medical advice actually means something.  It doesn’t.  It’s just muddying the water.  Personally, I’m praying that, as more and more people discover this, when the New Normal finally gets here, there won’t be any room for these parasites.  We can only hope!

Clickbait History!

clickbait

One of the latest trending convulsions of our troubled times is the girls and boys down at the “cancel culture” collective.  They’ve spent the last few months in an orgy of indignation, replacing place names and knocking down statues.  Their idea is – uh – I’m not really sure what their idea is, aside from the childish notion that if you don’t say it or see it, it will magically go away.  (Nobody’s ever going to accuse the 21st century of being sophisticated!)  However, in the short term, revisionist history is a pain in the ass, so responsible people need to find a way to safeguard the facts from these zealots.  Simple solution?  Clickbait!  If we turn history into clickbait (the heroin of social media) not only will people get exposed to history without them even knowing it, but it will also preserve the truth until this modern day “Reign of Terror” burns itself out.  Here are just a few examples to get the ball rolling.  (And thanks so much to AJ for being the inspiration behind this post.)

1 — Disabled man brutally shot in front of his friends and co-workers.

Admiral Horatio Nelson dies at the Battle of Trafalgar — 1805

2 — Privileged British healthcare worker shuns traditional healing and medicine.

Dr. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin — 1928

3 — Over 250 illegal immigrants killed by angry local militia.

The Battle of the Little Big Horn — 1876

4 — After years of frustration, displaced migrants lash out, topple statues and burn public buildings.

Barbarians destroy Rome – 410 A.D.

5 — Tyrannical leader announces a controversial wall to keep out illegal immigrants.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang builds The Great Wall of China – 221 B.C.

6 — After years of struggle, ridicule and even imprisonment, a man with mental health issues is finally accepted by society.

Adolf Hitler elected Chancellor of Germany — 1933

7 – Teenage girl who gained fame and a huge following when her activist message changed government policy, convicted of terrible crimes.  Guilty or not?  You decide!

Joan of Arc burned at the stake — 1431

8 — 95 reasons your parents’ religion sucks.

Martin Luther nails his Ninety-five Theses on the door of Wittenberg church – 1517

9 – Jaw-dropping evidence that an unemployed Italian sailor scammed millions out of a Spanish royal.

Queen Isabella finances Christopher Columbus’ voyage to America – 1492

10 – Charismatic leader caught in sex romp with steamy Middle Eastern beauty.  Senate takes decisive action to remove him from office.  Read the startling details.

Julius Caesar assassinated – 44 B.C.

11 — Photographic evidence of a strange “craft” in the skies over North Carolina.  You won’t believe your eyes!

Wright brothers fly the first airplane at Kitty Hawk – 1903

12 – 56 wealthy landowners, businessmen and lawyers who used their influence to manipulate the government and get massive tax breaks.  You’ll never guess who’s on the list?

American delegates sign the Declaration of Independence — 1776

13 — US military man ruins pristine wilderness.  Experts say damage could last 1,000 years!

Neil Armstrong steps on the Moon – 1969

14 — Disturbing play glorifies teen suicide.  You won’t be able to hold back the tears.

Shakespeare writes Romeo and Juliet — 1595

15 — Sex worker dies in prison.  You won’t believe her shocking ordeal.

French execute Mata Hari for spying – 1917

16 — New technology destroys ancient storytelling industry.  Folklore threatened!  Thousands of jobs lost.

Johannes Gutenberg invents moveable type – 1450

17 — In a tirade of hate, an elderly man threatens violence against home invaders.

Churchill’s “We will fight on the beaches” speech – 1940

18 — Corrupt leader admits he used public funds to buy an extravagant gift for his wife.  Refuses to apologize!

Shah Jahan builds the Taj Mahal – 1643

19 — Radical religious cult denounces modern society, defying local authorities to open a well-armed wilderness “colony” on private property.

The Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock – 1620

But I think my favourite is:

20 – College students across the country take action to remove offensive material from their campuses.

Nazi youth groups burn thousands of books at several German universities – 1933