Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!

The real meaning of Easter. From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets" Easter Springtime sacrifical festival named for the Saxon Goddess Eostre, or Ostara, a northern form of Astarte. Her sacred month was Eastre-monath, the Moon of Eostre.(1) Saxon poets apparently knew Eoester was the same Goddess as India's Great Mother Kali. Beowulf spoke of "Ganges' waters, whose flood waves ride down into an unknown sea near Eostre's far home."(2) The Easter Bunny was older than Christianity; it was the Moon-hare sacred to the Goddess in both eastern and western nations. Recalling the myths of Hathor-Astarte who laid the Golden Egg of the sun, Germans used to say the hare would lay eggs for good children on Easter Eve.(3) (See Cat.) Like all the church's "movable feasts," Easter shows its pagan origin in a dating system based on the old lunar calendar. It is fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, formerly the "pregnant" phase of Eostre passing into the fertile season. The Christian festival wasn't call Easter until the Goddess's name was given to it in the laste Middle Ages.(4) (See Menstrual Calendar.) The Irish kept Easter on a different date from that of the Roman church, probably the original date of the festival of Eostre, until the Roman calendar was imposed on them in 632 A.D. Nevertheless, the Columban foundation and their colonies in Britain kept the old date for another fifty years.(5) The Persians began their solar New Year at the spring equinox, and up to the middle of the 18th century they still followed the old custom of presenting each other with colored eggs on the occasion.(6) [See post on Persian New Year]. Eggs were always symbols of rebirth, which is why Easter eggs were usually colored red - the life-color - especially in eastern Europe. Russians used to lay red Easter eggs on graves to serve as resurrection charms.(7) In Bohemia, Christ was duly honored on Easter Sunday and his pagan rival on Easter Monday [which would actually be the third day after death on "Good Friday"], which was the Moon-day opposed to the Sun-day. Village girls like ancient priestesses sacrificed the Lord of Death and threw him into water, singing, "Death swims in the water, spring comes to visit us, with eggs that are red, with yellow pancakes, we carried Death out of the village, we are carrying Summer into the village."(8) Another remnant of the pagan sacred drama was the image of the god buried in his tomb, then withdrawn and said to live again. The church instituted such a custom early in the Middle Ages, apparently in hopes of a reportable miracle. A small sepulchral building having been erected and the consecrated host placed within, a priest was set to watch it from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Then the host was taken out and displayed, and the congreagatin was told Christ was risen.(9) A curious 16th-century Easter custom was known as "creeping to the cross with eggs and apples," a significant use of the ancient female symbols of birth and death, beginning and ruition, the opening and closing of cycles. The Ceremonial of the Kings of England ordered carpets to be laid in the church, for the comfort of the king, queen, and courteriers was they crept down the aisle on hands and knees.(1) The penitential implication of the creeping ceremony is clear enough, but the female-symbolic foodstuffs are a bit mysterious. Germany applied to Easter the same title formerly given to the season of the sacred king's love-death, Hoch-Zeit, "the High Time." In English too, Easter used to be called "the Hye-Tide."(11) From these titles came the colloquial description of any festival holiday as "a high old time." Notes: (1) Knight, D.W.P., 157. (2) Goodrich, 18. (3) de Lys, 117. (4) H. Smith, 201. (5) de Paor, 70. (6) Hazlitt, 201. (7) Gaster, 603. (8) Frazer, G.B., 362. (9) Hazlitt, 281. (10) Hazlitt, 153. (11) Hazlitt, 316.

Women in Archaeology: Kathleen Mary Kenyon

From "Kathleen Mary Kenyon [1906-1978]" By K. Kris Hirst, Definition: English archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon is perhaps best known for excavating at Jericho, although she worked at the Great Zimbabwe site with Caton-Thompson, and excavated at Jerusalem. She was a student of Mortimer Wheeler's, working with Wheeler and his wife Tessa at the Roman site of Verulamium. Kenyon was associated with the University of London Institute of Archaeology, the British School of Archaeology at Jerusalem, and St. Hugh's College, Oxford. She is also known for her work on what is now called the Wheeler-Kenyon excavation method (where you leave balks standing between units to better understand stratigraphy). Brief (very) Bibliography
  • Kenyon, Kathleen Mary, Dame. 1987. The Bible and recent archaeology. Atlanta : J. Knox Press, 1987.---1974.
  • Digging up Jerusalem. London, Benn ---1967 Jerusalem: excavating 3000 years of history. [London] Thames and Hudson ----1960-1983.
  • Excavations at Jericho. London : British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology. Any mistakes are the responsibility of Kris Hirst.

Cave sculptures go on display for first time in 15,000 years

From The Independent online - By John Lichfield in Paris Friday, 21 March 2008 Prehistoric cave sculptures never seen by the public will be revealed today thanks to the most advanced, computerised techniques of laser-copying and visual display. A museum to open near Poitiers, in western France, will span one-a-half millenniums of human image-making, from stone chisels to computers. The star of the show, at Angles-sur-L'Anglin, in the département of Vienne, will be a 60ft-long frieze of bison, horses, cats, goats and erotic female figures, carved into the limestone of western France 15,000 years ago. The caverns containing the frieze were discovered by French and British archaeologists in 1950 but have never been opened to the public. The Roc-aux-Sorciers (witches' rock) caves are the only site of their kind in Europe: a two-dimensional, carved equivalent of the celebrated cave paintings at Lascaux in Dordogne, 120 miles farther south, which were created 1,000 years earlier. From today, the public will be able to visit a €2.7m (£2.1m) visitor centre where the original sculptures, and the contours of the cavern sides, have been precisely recreated to full size by computerised, laser-copying techniques. At intervals a half-hour son-et-lumière display will be projected on to the frieze, suggesting how the carvings may have been created and how they were discovered 58 years ago. Oscar Fuentes, the director of the centre, says the intention is to go beyond the full-size replica – Lascaux II – built in 1983 to preserve the Lascaux caves from exposure to human breath and body heat. "We want to make the frieze into a place of scientific discovery in which the visitors are doing their own discovering," he said. "We want them to reach their own conclusions and understand that their interpretation is as good as that of anyone else." The Roc-aux-Sorciers caves were first explored by a French archaeologist, Suzanne de Saint-Mathurin, and her British assistant, Dorothy Garrod. They found one cave in which the roof had collapsed, dislodging the sculpted animals and human figures from the cavern sides. Fifty of these images are now on display at the national archaeology museum at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris. In another cave, thought to have been occupied in the Magdalene period, 15,000 years ago, the archaeologists found a 20-metre frieze of beautifully finished, bas-relief, wall sculptures. They include human silhouettes, horses, bison, wild cats, goats and three explicit images of the lower part of the female anatomy. The cave was never opened to the public, to preserve the works of pre-historic art and to allow exploration to continue. The Lascaux caves, and other similar sites, are thought to have been sanctuaries, visited only for religious purposes. The Roc-aux-Sorciers cave seems to have been a dwelling place. Geneviève Pinçon, the chief archaeologist at the site, points out that the south-facing cavern was exposed to the sun for large parts of the day in pre-historic times. France had a Siberian climate 15,000 years ago. The cavern would have had a pleasant micro-climate, ideal to live in. "But what do all these carvings mean?" she asks. "What is the meaning of the human profile which seems to smile down on us? What is the symbolic significance of the three women, with realistically carved sexual parts, beside a sitting bison? Do they represent life and death?" ************************************************************************************ Why call the cave complex "The Witches' Rock?" As to what the carvings "represent," this is what I think. In other similar cave paintings and rock carvings discovered all around the world, as well as the persistence of such motifs from prehistory all the way into written history, the bison represents the male principle and the sexually explicit female figures represent - JUST THAT! The two symbols in close conjunction represent the power of creation and life. The bison also might represent a symbol of sacrifice and renewal. The bison's shed blood would be the male equivalent of the female's shed menstrual blood that flows with the waxing and waning of the Moon every month. The females bleed but they do not die - what a powerful magic that must have seemed to the first humans! The most ancient use of the symbol of crescent horns was lunar - not solar, tied to the feminine principle, not the masculine "sun god." Website (in French). Fascinating photos, but not always the clearest!

SCT International “Ladies Open 2008”

Thanks to Susan Polgar's blog for information on this event. I've been kind of out of it since coming down sick Thursday night. Official website. Photo: IM Anna Zatonskih (USA 2458), one of the participants in the Ladies Open.

March 20 - 25, 2008
Scandinavian Chess Tournament (SCT) & Täby Chess club
In co-operation with Stockholm Chess Federation

In conjunction with the "main" event there is also a Ladies' Junior Tournament, March 20 - 23, 2008. I could not find a list of players for the Junior Tournament.

Complete list of players for the Main Event (it's huge! Great to see so many women participating.)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Night Miscellany

Hola! I've been home all day, posting away (in between naps). I developed a horrid sore throat and ear-aches yesterday and, despite my best care last night and going to bed at 9 p.m. for a long and fairly good night's rest was for the naught this morning when I woke up with nothing but a "croak" for a voice! Fortunately, the fever I was running last night has disappeared along with the various body aches and pains; now I'm left with this annoying "frog in my throat" and plugged up, achy ears, and nothing for a voice. We've also been the recipient of - thus far - a good 10-11 inches of snow. A couple more are expected before it's all over. Sigh. After most of the season's snow had already slowly (ever so slowly) melted away, leaving behind tons of debris and snow-mold (yech!) The winds are strong and the snow is whipping about, creating very large drifts and hazardous driving conditions. We have now passed the 4th and 3rd snowiest Wisconsin winter on record, and are fast moving into the #2 spot. Dozens of cars have experienced spin-outs and landed in ditches or, worse, expressway concrete sidewalls. CRUNCH! The airport closed down before 10 this morning. It's reopened now, but the first flights won't be going out until about 7 p.m., an hour from now. Hundreds of people were stranded, waiting to fly out for the Easter holiday. Of course, Milwaukee isn't the only city affected by this early spring snowstorm. There are thousands of people all across the country who have been affected. I haven't checked the latest news, but I expect that Chicago, 90 miles to my south, got hammered a lot worse than we did here! Since I've been posting a lot today, I'm going to skip the usual Friday Night Miscellany, and go take a long hot soak in the tub, scented candles burning and homeopathic remedies circulating in my bath water. Ah ha - faked you out! I can't say good night without just a few more tidbits. First off, 10,000 year old "structure" found in Canadian Lake. Is it real or a put on? The mystery of "ball lightning" - see my comments about balls of fire (oh my!) etc. in the entry on Mari below. I don't remember if I posted about this earlier or not - it's from a story that first appeared in November, 2007 and has cropped up again: Music encoded in Leonardo's "The Last Supper" painting. This may be a story we posted at Random Round-up at Goddesschess. Anyway, enjoy! Scary stuff: Imagine this: You’re lying on the operating table, apparently unconscious. The surgeon is cutting. But you’re still awake. Not only that, you’re paralyzed by the anesthesia and can’t speak out. That horrifying experience happens to between 20,000 and 40,000 Americans every year, leaving many severely traumatized. Severely traumatized? I'd say! Ohmygoddess! I swear to Goddess I will NEVER voluntarily submit myself to a major operation! Geez, I had a mole removed from the back of my neck a few months ago and THAT was traumatic! Even though the doctor shot me up with enough local anesthetic to knock out an elephant, I could still feel her scraping away with the scalpel (it took forever) at that darn mole (turned out it was a slow-growing, common skin cancer). It would be just my luck that I'd be one of those 20,000 to 40,000 people who would be left wide awake but paralyzed by the anesthetic and unable to scream out as the unbearable pain from the scapel flashed through hundreds of thousands of nerve endings....

Goddess Mari (known by many names)

From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets." Mari Basic name of the Goddess known to the Chaldeans as Marratu, to the Jews as Marah, to the Persians as Mariham, to the Christians as Mary; as well as Marian, Miriam, Mariamne, Myrrhine, Myrtea, Myrrha, Maria, and Marina. Her blue robe and pearl necklace wre classic symbols of the sea, edged with pearly foam.(1) Many place names evolved from Marian shrines. Among them were Amari or Ay-Mari, the Cyrprian home of Aphrodite Marina; Marib, City of the Moon, seat of the queens of Sheba; Marea in western Egypt; Maronea near Lake Ismaris; Maru, mother-city of the Medes; Sa-Maria, a country whose name meant literally "holy blood of Mary." (2) One of the entrances to her underworld womb, a sacred cave accessible only by sea, was Mar-Mari, "Mother Sea."(3) The Goddess's Amorite city of Mari was one of the wonders of the ancient world. Its six-acre temple-palace astonished archeologists who uncovered i in the 1930s. Mari dominated the area now known as the Holy Land until it fell to the armies of Hammurabi in 1700 B.C.(4) Semites worshipped an adrogynous combination of Goddess and God called Mari-El [biblical Mariel] (Mary-God) corresponding to the Egyptian Meri-Ra which combined the feminine principle of water with the masculine principle of the sun.(5) Sometimes the deity was named simply Mere, an Egyptian word for both "waers" and "mother-love."(6) Mer was also a component of the names of Egyptian queens in the first dynasty. One of Egypt's oldest names was Ta-Mera, Land of the Waters, which could also be interpreted as Land of the Great Mothers.(7) The Syrian version of Mari or Meri was worshipped in combination with her serpent-consort Yamm, derived from Yama, the Hindu Lord of Death. Yamm alternated with Baal, "the Lord," as the Goddess' favorite and a sovereign over heaven and the abyss. Indian Yama was one of the consorts of Kel-Mari, as Kali was called in the south.(8) Tantric Buddhists still speak of the "Slayer of the Death King," Yama-Mari, who was identified with the Dalai Lama.(9) [The Dalai Lama is currently in the news because of the riots in Tibet and environs peopled by ethnic Tibetans in China, and the brutal Chinese suppression of the "unrest."] Jews and early Christians used the smae combinatin of names, Mari-Yamm or Mariam, for the mother of Jesus.(1) The spirit of the archaic Mari entered into Bablonian diviners known as mare baruti, sea-mothers, who operated in the bit mummu or womb-chamber, where statues of the gods were said to be "born" (made animate).(11) In similar womb-chambers the Hindu goddess was worshipped as Kau-Mari or Kel-Mari.(12) She is still invoked as Marici-Tara, the Diamond Sow on the lotus Throne, "Glorious One, the sun of happiness." She is the Goddess "whose mayik vesture is the sun," forerunner of the Gospels' "woman clothed with the sun' (Revelation 12:1), who was identified with the virgin Mary.(13) Northern Europe knew the same Goddess as Maerin, wedded to Thor at her shrine in Trondheim.(14) To the Saxons she was Wudo-Maer: literally, a Wood-Mary, or Goddess of the Grove. To the Celts she was Maid Marian, beloved by Robin, the witches' Horned God. Their greenwood cult caused church authorities considerable trouble in the 14th century.(15) Mari was the same Merian or Merjan worshipped in Persia as Queen of the Peris (Fairies).(16) Iran had its mother goddess Mariana from very ancient times.(17) She might be traced to the land of Akkad, created by a Goddess called the Lady Marri, Mother of the World.(18) A king of Mari in 2500 B.C., united with the Goddess, took the royal name of Lamki-Mari.(19) She was also the Great Fish who gave birth to the gods, later the Mermaid, Mare-mynd, mareminde, marraminde, maraeman, or mereminne.(20) [Also the "Great Fish" that symbolically swallowed Jonah in the biblical account, where he stayed for parts of 3 days and nights, just as Christ spent parts of 3 days and nights in Hell talking with the lost souls after his death]. In short, she was always Mother Sea. Her Latin name was Maria, "the Seas." ["Mare" - "sea of" - was used extensively in naming various sections of the Moon, a rather appropriate usage, I must say.] St. Peter Chrysologus [Peter Golden-word, 5th century bishop of Revenna, friend of Pope Leo the Great] called her Christian incarnation, the virgin Mary, "the gathering together of the waters."(21) But she was also the earth ahd heavens, since her earliest form was a trinity. She was worshipped in pre-Roman Latium as Marica, mother of the first king Latinus, who was also her priapic goat-footed consort Faunus. She was probably the same Goddess worshipped by the Slavs under the name of Marzanna (Mari-Anna), who "fostered the growth of fruits."(22) Mari and her pagan consort were incongruously canonized as a pair of Christian saints, Addai and Mari (Adonis and Aphrodite-Mari). Their legends called them "bishops" dispatched to Aphrodite's cult center at Edessa, probably because their portraits appered there, and it was easier to Christianize them than to destroy them. Their cult began with Nestorian Christians who called them "Holy Apostles Addai and Mari."(23) Another Christianization was St. Maura, from the Goddesses' Fate-name Moera, "older than Time."(24) As the Fate-spinner who held men's denstines in her hand, she generated a taboo: on St. Maura's day, women were forbidden to spin or sew.(25) [My guess is that Moera, Fate-spinner, is a direct link to the old proto-Indo-European and later Hindu belief about an astral Spider spinning out the creation of the Universe and its fate. I believe this concept is directly related to the "ashtapada" (eight limbs) game board on which some say proto-chess was first invented]. Medieval Spain knew the Goddess Mari as a "Lady" or "Mistress" who lived in a magic cave and rode through the night sky as a ball of fire.(26) This may have meant the red harvest moon, or possibly the moon in eclipse - always a dire omen. [Or possibly literal balls of fire - meteors, or the more mysterious "light balls" that appear hovering above the horizon, similar to but not satisfactorily explained as "St. Elmo's Fire."] The Goddess Mari was said to give gifts of fairy gold and precious stones, which might turn into worthless lumps of coal by the light of day.(27) In later centuries, the same worthless gifts were given to "bad" children by St. Nicholas at Christmas. The island of Inis Maree had a ruined temple, sacred to a certain "St. Mourie" - none other than the Goddess Mari for whom the island was named. In 1678 the Presbytery of Dingwall "disciplined" some people who sacrificed bulls to the divinity of Loch Maree on the 25th of August, a day dedicated to Aphrodite-Mari for more than 1500 years.(28). Notes: (1) Graves, W.G., 438. (2) Graves, W.G., 410-11; Assyr. & Bab. Lit., 179; Herodotus, 41, 400. (3) Hughes, 159. (4) Keller, 46-49. (5) Budge, G.E., 1, 86; Book of the Dead, 602. (6) Budge, E.L., 76. (7) Budge, D.N. 160. (8) Briffault, 1, 474. (9) Waddell, 364. (10) Ashe, 48. (11) Lindsay, O.A., 41. (12) Mahanirvanatantra, 149. (13) Waddell, 218, 361; Mahanirvanatantra, x1. (14) Turville-Petre, 91. (15) Graves, W.G., 441. (16) Keightley, 22. (17) Thomson, 135. (18) Assyr. & Bab. Lit., 287. (19) Albright, 98. (20) Steenstrup, 105. (21) Ashe, 147. (22) Larousee, 208, 291. (23) Attwater, 31. (24) Bachofen, 57. (25) Lawson, 175. (26) Lederer, 210. (27) Baorja, 238. (28) Spence, 37.

Templars Back in the News

Those pesky Templars just won't go away! One reason I've been intrigued with the Templars (aside from their fascinating history) since I first started looking into the origins of chess is because of the battle flag they adopted early on in their formation: the "beauseant." It's a square divided one-half black, the other half white. Simple. Elegant. Reeks of chess.

So, whenever I see news about the Templars, I publish it here, or at Random Round-up at Goddesschess, or at our discussion board at Delphi (which isn't very active these days, unfortunately). No, I do not think the Templars had anything to do with the origins of chess - the game goes back far before the Templars were a gleam in St. Bernard's eye, who saw to it that the Order was officially endorsed by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Troyes in 1129 (and no, St. Bernard is not a dog). I do think the Knights Templar had something to do with the dissemination of chess throughout Europe.

From The
The last charge
Almost 700 years after the Pope burned their leader at the stake, the Knights Templar are back. Or are they? Patrick Barkham tries to find out why the long-vanished order of Crusaders might suddenly be advertising in the press

Patrick Barkham
March 19, 2008

The accountancy firm that looks after children's entertainers the Wiggles is not an obvious place to search for the Holy Grail, but that's where the trail led last night. It started with a simple quest - what on earth is a large advertisment headlined "The Ancient & Noble Order of The Knights Templar" doing in the Daily Telegraph? - and it led your intrepid investigator to the wilds of west London and then all the way back to the 12th century.

It was around 1118 when the order of the Knights Templar was founded in the Holy Land by Hughes de Payens and eight other French knights to protect pilgrims and defend Jerusalem, which had been captured by the Crusaders in 1099. Over almost two centuries, the order grew into one of the most rich and powerful institutions of the era. It all came crashing down when the Pope burnt the Templars' last grand master at the stake in Paris in 1314. The order seemed to have disappeared - until yesterday, when this tantalising advertisement appeared.

Apart from the odd misplaced apostrophe and various arcane references to "annulling the bull", the advert gravely announced that the Knights Templar would petition the Pope to "restore the Order with the duties, rights and privileges appropriate to the 21st century and beyond". It called on all Templar groups and "brothers in arms" around the world to get in touch, either via its website,, or an address in west London, which could clearly become a mecca for long-lost Templars and baffled Telegraph readers alike.

My quest was to decipher this advertisement and find out why someone would pay several thousand pounds to place it in the press.

Historians agree that the Knights Templar were a powerful military order of warrior monks charged with defending the Holy Land. They amassed great wealth, although their prestige was damaged when the Christians were driven out of Jerusalem in the 13th century. King Philip IV "the Fair" of France is also said to have become indebted to the Templars, and in 1307 ordered the arrest of the grand master of the order, Jacques de Molay, and other key leaders, who were hit with the usual concoction of lurid charges: heresy, sodomy and devil worship. Philip persuaded his pal Pope Clement V to issue a bull suppressing the Templars in 1312. Two years later, Molay was burned at the stake on an island in the Seine.

That, you might think, was that: the cruel destruction of a religious order in the Middle Ages. But this particular nasty, brutish and short episode in medieval history has spawned long centuries of rumour about the Templars. "They have become a kind of mosaic of mythology and conspiracy, secrecy and survival and anti-papacy right across Europe and into North America," says Martin Palmer, a theologian and religious historian.

A popular myth is that the Templars lived on - in Scotland and secret rooms in Paris - hoarding their riches (one cup, used by Christ) and guarding their secrets (Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene). And since the 19th century, all kinds of new Templar groups, often loosely connected to the Masons or taking on familiar Christian rituals, have popped up, claiming to recapture the spirit of the original order.

Last year, the Vatican felt so besieged by the weight of conspiracy and conjecture drummed up by Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code that it took an unsual step: it released a document from its archives called the Chinon parchment, which shows that Pope Clement V's investigation into the Templars in 1308 actually cleared them of the heresy charges that led to many being put to death. Members of Templar groups have called on Pope Benedict to make a formal apology; the Vatican instead issued a collector's edition of the documents for £4,000 a pop.

Why did Rome take such a step? "The Catholic church has been shaken by The Da Vinci Code et al," says Palmer. "It was trying to put its side of the story and quash the idea that the Knights were Satanists conspiring to overturn Christendom. It's a full-frontal assault on the conspiracy theorists, and that's why the document was published with considerable fanfare."

What the advert demands is a formal restoration of the Knights Templar. Such a move would not be without precedent: the Jesuits were suppressed by the Catholic church in 1773 before being formally restored by Rome in 1814. "In the background is a mix of Da Vinci Code nonsense and a hard-headed real estate issue," says Palmer. "The consequences of the papacy restoring the Knights would be to open up an enormous can of worms."

One of the worms is property. While Palmer dismisses contemporary "orders" that claim lineage back to 14th-century Templars, he believes modern Templars could in theory claim rights to property seized by the Catholic church. There could, for instance, be a dispute over the ownership of the Temple Church in London (which passed to the Church of England).

Another possible worm is the reaction that the restoration of the Templars would cause among some Islamic groups who associate the Templars with the Crusades. Palmer believes the Pope, who has worked hard to build bridges between Islam and Christianity after several gaffes, would be wary of triggering more conflict with the Muslim world.

And so I find myself in west London, at the address given in the advert. It turns out to be the offices of Sloane & Co, a small accountancy firm set up by David Sloane in 1974. Sloane is no boring bean-counter - he's a rock accountant. Over the years, he's done the books for INXS, Maxi Priest, Mark Morrison and even Melinda Messenger. His top clients today are the Wiggles, the Australian preschool entertainers who sport primary-coloured turtlenecks and have made millions from selling CDs of songs about Dorothy the Dinosaur.

The connection between turtleneck-wearing entertainers and a secretive group of warrior monks has me stumped. At Sloane & Co's offices, the stairs are being redecorated. Hang on: is that an image of the Turin Shroud in undercoat? Only kidding.

According to the Charities Commission, Sloane is the official representative of the Knights Templar Trust charity, which is listed on the advertisement. Sadly, Sloane is not at his office and does not return my calls. All he will say is the Ancient & Noble Order of the Knights Templar "is a client of Sloane & Co". Why does the client want to reinvigorate and restore the Knights Templar? Apparently a press release in a couple of days will reveal all.

The Templars' website is registered under the name of another accountant. Are the Templars a group of accountants? Sadly, this man is said to have left the company of tax accountants on the Isle of Man three years ago and he eludes my attempts to find him. Still, if the Templars hid from us for 700 years through a combination of secret trap doors and shy accountants, it's probably no disgrace that I can't locate them in one afternoon.

"Were there a serious attempt to re-establish the order, we would see all kinds of funny creatures coming out from under the stones," predicts Palmer. "This could be an interesting meeting of mysticism and Mammon."
*********************************************************************************** the Scottish Rite Masons know about this? I thought they were the descendants and rightful "heirs" of the Templars. What's next - law suits? Liens filed against Rosslyn Chapel and Templar Church London? Stay tuned...

China Tightens Rules on Heparin

Well, darlings, of course, it is (giggle and smirk into your left hand while winking with your right eye). From The New York Times By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: March 21, 2008 Filed at 7:29 a.m. ET SHANGHAI, China (AP) -- In a reversal of its earlier stance, China's drug safety agency is ordering local authorities to tighten controls on production of heparin, a blood-thinner linked to 19 deaths in the United States and hundreds of allergic reactions. The State Food and Drug Administration issued the order in a notice, seen Friday on its Web site, that requires heparin producers to obtain the raw chemicals used to make the drug from registered suppliers. Raw heparin suppliers, meanwhile, are required to improve their management and tests on their products, it said. Earlier, the Chinese drug agency had insisted that ensuring the quality of exported chemicals like heparin was the responsibility of importers and importing countries. Heparin is derived from a mucous obtained from pig intestines and other animal tissues, often processed by small, unregistered workshops. Investigations following the reports of sometimes fatal adverse reactions in the United States, and of similar allergic reactions in Germany, prompted China's new crackdown on unlicensed production. Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified the contaminant in heparin batches from a Chinese supplier to U.S. pharmaceuticals company Baxter International Inc. as oversulfated chondroitin sulfate. Baxter recalled nearly all its U.S.-sold heparin injections after some patients experienced extreme allergic reactions to the products. There have been similar recalls of Chinese-sourced heparin in Germany and Japan. Drug safety officials say they have not confirmed yet if the contaminant, which chemically mimics heparin, caused the dangerous allergic reactions. [Well - DUH!] But both the U.S. and Chinese drug agencies said they were investigating how the oversulfated chondroitin sulfate, which does not occur naturally, got into the heparin batches. [Well, perhaps the USFDA is investigating on its end, but do I believe the Chinese government is seriously investigating anything? Not for a second. They'll end up chopping some other unfortunate schmuck's head off as a scape goat and call it a wrap, and the same contaminated and adulterated crap will continue to be shipped to the United States and other countries while those in the power look the other way.] The heparin probe, coming just a year after the toxic chemical melamine was found in a pet food ingredient from China, has refocused attention on various problems with safety and quality of Chinese-made drugs, foods and other products. [Attention refocused until the bribes start...] China's drug agency has often failed to adequately regulate the country's medicine supplies, and an explosion of production capacity has resulted in numerous reports of adulterated, counterfeit and otherwise unsafe pharmaceuticals. Last year, China executed the drug agency's director for taking bribes to approve unqualified medicines. China so far has not reported any adverse allergic reactions to heparin products used in the country. [Oh please! Would you really expect China to report anything that happens over there truthfully? They're probably glad to get rid of some of their excess population!] But the Chinese drug safety agency [an oxymoron if I ever heard one] ordered heparin makers to closely monitor reactions to their products and immediately halt production and recall any products with safety problems. Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International was buying its heparin through a Wisconsin-based producer, Scientific Protein Laboratories, or SPL, which in turn owns a Chinese factory -- Changzhou SPL -- and buys additional raw heparin from other Chinese suppliers. SPL says that the contamination occurred earlier in the supply chain. *************************************************************************************** Yes of course the contamination occurred in China. That's where the raw "product" comes from. And guess what, folks. We're sitting ducks here in the USA. We have no idea when we're taking our prescription pills and our over-the-counter remedies what the heck is in them or where the ingredients came from. There's no label on the drugs saying MADE IN CHINA, which in the case of other products has heretofore been a joke because of their inferior quality - but now has become a matter of life and death. I have hypertension (high blood pressure). I take two different kinds of blood pressure medication in addition to a water pill and a low dose of aspirin every day. I also take a multi-vitamin and a calcium with Vitamin D supplement. Am I a racist because I do not want any Chinese-made "goo" in any of my medications and supplements?

Confession of a Suburbanite: I Joined a Gang!

I went for tradition and joined the gang my dad belonged to when he was growing up on the mean, rose-bushed streets of suburban Chicago – the chess club. The Christian Science Monitor By Chuck Cohen from the March 21, 2008 edition We have all been shocked by the revelations of untruthful memoirs. The most recent is "Love and Consequences," the book by Margaret B. Jones supposedly about her life as a drug-running member of the Bloods gang in South Central Los Angeles. In fact, she grew up Margaret Seltzer in the middle-class San Fernando Valley. Nonetheless, true gang stories exist out there. Like mine, which, until my book contract came through, I never intended to release, hoping to spare my family. But a contract is a contract. It was about as tough a neighborhood as they come. And they come pretty tough in Highland Park, Ill. Sure, the houses look big on the outside, and inside, but that is only the outside and inside. Once you walk away from the six-car garages, once you get past the illegal immigrants cutting the grass – and I do mean grass – the violence is ready to boil over into our half-caf caramel macchiatos with soy milk toppings. I was a kid when I was born. And I guess you could call the people who lived in my house my family. Other people, and the census takers, did. There was Momma, we called her 'Mom,' and Dad, who wasn't around a lot between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Said he had to go to work "downtown." We all knew what that meant. When he would come back was always a question: If he missed the 5:48 would he be on the 5:49? Then there was my brother Alan or Al or Ace ... we never could figure out a nickname for him, so we called him Alan. He laid low for most of his youth. Mom kept him indoors and out of the sun. (He had very white skin.) I didn't live on the worst block in town. Or the best. Just the nosiest. If Mrs. Simon got a new Cadillac every other month, we all knew where it came from (Rogers Park Cadillac). And if my neighbor Bud Herzog came home at 2 a.m. in June dressed in a white jacket and black pants with a black bow tie, we knew what that meant. He'd had a really good time at what the Future Engineers Club (the toughest gang of all) called a "Prom." I used to think that it was short for "promiscuous," which I had hoped to be but never was. The most important moment in our lives was joining a gang to watch out for us when we got to what the College Boards called high school. So I went for tradition, the gang my Dad belonged to when he was growing up on the mean, rose-bushed streets of Highland Park – the Chess Club. But the gang at the Model U.N. was not thrilled. They had been recruiting me since day camp, telling me there were branches of the gang everywhere: Harvard, Amherst, Alcatraz. The local U.N. boss, Kazakhstan Phil, told me after I joined up as a pawn in the Chessies that my family should stay out of The House of Chan and never order the orange beef or I would pay for it. I won't frighten you with all the details of what it was like to survive the turf wars in the Chessies. (Black versus white took on new meaning when they brought out the chess pieces.) But I made it through and even had time to take the notes for this tough, but mostly true, memoir. If you don't believe it, that's your problem. You probably think Roger Clemens wasn't telling the truth either.

2008 Ataturk International Women Masters Chess Tournament

Coverage at Chessbase. Final standings after Round 9: No. Name FED Rtg Pts Rtg+/- 1 WGM Hou Yifan CHN 2527 7.0 17 2 GM Pia Cramling SWE 2524 6.0 7 3 WGM Zhao Xue CHN 2517 5.5 3 4 IM Ekaterina Atalik TUR 2408 5.0 13 5 IM Lela Javakhishvili GEO 2470 4.5 -1 6 IM Harika Dronavalli IND 2455 4.0 -4 7 GM Zhu Chen QAT 2548 4.0 -16 8 IM Anna Ushenina UKR 2484 3.0 -18 9 IM Irina Krush USA 2473 3.5 -11 10 WIM Betul Cemre Yildiz TUR 2207 2.5 15 Hmmm, not a good event for Harika (-4), Zhu Chen (-16!), Ushenina (-18! - a nasty fall from her excellent play at Aeroflot) and Krush (-11 - maybe she needs to put back some of the weight she lost, I think she looks a bit too thin to be comfortable sitting on a chair for long periods of time). Contrats to Hou Yifan, and to Atalik, who gave a very good performance on her adopted home turf.

How About Some Fair Press Coverage For This Story!

Oh my goddess, the hoo ha about Barrack Obama's passport records being breached at the State Department. Oooooh, a big political conspiracy put into move by - whom? The President? John McCain? Hillary herself (gasp!) Oh pullllease! How about some equal coverage for the now breaking story that HILLARY CLINTON'S PASSPORT RECORDS WERE ALSO BREACHED!!! Gasp! By DESMOND BUTLER, Associated Press Writer 11 minutes ago [about 11:00 a.m. my time ] WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that her passport file was breached in 2007. In a statement from her Senate office, Clinton said she had been contacted by Rice. The State Department plans to brief Clinton's staff Friday about the unauthorized breach. The development came just hours after the State Department fired two contract employees and disciplined a third for inappropriately examining the passport file of Clinton's Democratic rival, Sen. Barack Obama. What does it all mean? Only this - that there are nosy people working at the State Department with more time on their hands than common sense! Taxpayer money hard at work supporting the numbnuts of the world - they all go to work for the federal (and state and local) government! Updated 2:29 p.m. my time: The New York Times is now running a story that the passport records of John McCain as well were "improperly accessed," as well as Clinton's and Obama's. Tsk tsk, those nosy employees.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Threats from Hawi Zahass

Oops - I always get his name wrong. It's actually Zahi Hawass (I used to call him something else much more unflattering :)) Egypt threatens to pull out of Swiss antiquities show Wed. March 19th 2:36 p.m. CAIRO (AFP) - Egyptian antiquities chief Zahi Hawass threatened on Wednesday to withdraw archeological items on show in Switzerland because of a parallel picture exhibition he deemed offensive to Egypt. Hawass, the charismatic and controversial head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told AFP he had sent a letter of protest to the Pierre Gianadda Foundation in Martigny, Switzerland. Egypt has loaned the museum around 70 bronze, copper, gold and silver sculptures for the "Gifts of the Gods: Images from Egyptian Temples" antiquities exhibit which runs until June 8. Pictures "undermining Egypt and its civilisation" by Swiss photographer Monique Jacot are on show alongside the Egyptian antiquities, Hawass said. Hawass has urged foundation official Leonard Gianadda to pull down the pictures, including one showing a dead cow near the Nile, which the Egyptian antiquities chief claims is offensive to his country's image. "If this is not done, we will withdraw the Egyptian antiquities from the show," Hawass said, adding that he was confident that the Gianadda foundation will heed his request. Contacted by AFP, Leonard Gianadda was unavailable for comment. The pro-government Egyptian daily Rose el-Yussef reported on Tuesday that Jacot's pictures "portray the Nile as a swamp full of dead animals and waste..." "Despite all the beautiful places she visited (Jacot) found nothing better than to display these pictures which are prejudicial to Egypt," the newspaper said. ***************************************************************************************** Well for goddess' sake, if you don't like someone taking photos of dead animals by the Nile River, clean up the carcasses! Duh! Another take on the story - in this one the quotes from Hawi don't sound nearly so blustery and obnoxious!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Goddess Anahita

Related to some information contained in the post below, about the traditional (i.e., pre-Islamic) Persian celebration of the New Year. From Barbara Walker's "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:"

This and its variations Anahita and Anitis were the Persian and Armenian names for Venus, the star of Ishtar and Astarte, Mother Goddess of the Zend-Avesta; ruler of waters, stars, and Fate. The Mithraic Mysteries, though strongly male-oriented, retained Anahita as the necessary female principle of creation.(1)

(1) Cumont, M.M., 180.

Nowruz, New Year in Iran (well, some parts, anyway)

Nowruz, the Iranian New Year Wed, 19 Mar 2008 22:22:22 By Patricia Khashayar, MD., Press TV, Tehran The Iranian New Year, Nowruz, which coincides with the astronomical Vernal Equinox Day or the first day of spring, falls on March 21. While the term Nowruz first appeared in Persian records in the second century CE, there is evidence suggesting that the celebrations may be much older. Tradition takes Nowruz as far back as the time of King Jamshid when the life of Indo-Iranian settlers depended on farming and spring, when nature awakened once again and flowers bloomed. Legend has it that after defeating the demons (daevas), King Jamshid had them lift his throne into the sky. His subjects who were in awe of his might showered him with gifts and the auspicious day was named Nowruz and recognized as the first day of the year. In Zoroastrian cosmology, after Ahura Mazda created the Universe he assigned six holy immortals (Amesha Spenta) as protectors of the world: Khashtra (Sharivar), the protector of the sky; Asha-Vahishta (Ordibehesht) the protector of fire; Vahu Manah (Bahman) the protector of animals, Haurvatat (Khordad) the protector of water, Spenta Armaiti (Esphand) the protector of earth and Ameratat (Amurdad or Mordad) the protector of vegetation. Ahura Mazda himself became the protector of humans and the Holy Fire. The architect of this cosmology, Zoroaster, introduced many feasts, festivals and rituals to honor the seven creations, the holy immortals and Ahura Mazda. Nowruz, the most elaborate one, was to celebrate Ahura Mazda and the Holy Fire at the spring equinox. The Nowruz festival as celebrated today dates back to the Sassanid era. Sassanid celebrations began ten days prior to the New Year when it was believed that the guardian angels (Farvahars) and the spirits of the departed came down to visit humans on earth. To welcome these spirits from the netherworld, a major spring-cleaning along with feasts and celebrations were carried out. At night, bonfires were lit on rooftops to inform the spirits and angels that humans were ready to receive them. This festival was called Suri. Nowadays, although the festival has changed name to Chahar-Shanbeh Souri, it is still held on the eve of the last Wednesday of the year and is the celebration of the triumph of light over the darkness. Iranians believed they could pass through this unlucky night, to the arrival of spring's longer days, with the help of fire and light, the symbols of good. On this night, bonfires are lit in public, and while leaping over the flames, any remaining paleness and evil (pain and sickness) is cleansed with the warmth and vibrancy of fire (strength and health). The tradition is also to show gratitude for the previous year's health and happiness. Children banging on pots and pans with spoons go trick or treating from door to door, a ritual known as Gashog-Zani (spoon beating). A mixture of seven dried nuts known as Ajil-e-Moshkel Gosha (problem-solving nuts) and fruits are distributed in hopes of making wishes come true. Gereh-goshai, is another tradition, in which individuals make a knot in the corner of a handkerchief or garment and ask the first passerby to untie it, symbolically unwinding twisted fate. Kuze Shekastan, is another ritual in which Iranians believed that by breaking the earthen jars used in the previous year, they could rid themselves of their prior misfortunes. Haji Firuz is the traditional herald of Nowruz; he dances through the streets to the sound of tambourines and trumpets and spreads the news of the coming New Year. [Note: is this related to the much later European tradition of the "dancing fool?"] Nowruz preparation begins early in March with khane tekani (house cleaning). This tradition stems from the Zoroastrian concern with cleanliness as a means to keep Evil away. As Nowruz is a feast of hope and renewal, Iranians greet the New Year freshly showered and garbed in new clothes. An important part of the New Year rituals is setting the Haft Seen, a table containing seven items starting with the letter 'S', which each represent one of the seven creations and their holy protectors. The seven items of the Haft Seen are: - Sabzeh or Freshly grown greens The color green was the national and religious color of Persians; therefore, wheat, barley or lentil sprouts were grown in a dish to symbolize rebirth and prosperity. Sabzeh also stands for Hoomet (good thoughts), Hookht (good words) and Hooveresht (good deeds). In royal palaces twenty days before the New Year, cereal grains (wheat, oat, rice, beans, lentils, millets, lima beans, peas, and sesame seeds) were grown on twelve (the number of holy months) clay pillars. The good growth of each grain was considered the sign of abundance in the coming year. - Samanoo Samanoo, a pudding made of germinating wheat or malt mixed with flour and brought to a consistency, is a representation of the excellence of Persian cuisine. It was believed that consuming the sprouts fertilized by Farvahars would bring strength and fertility in the years to come. Some maintain that Samanoo replaced Haoma, a scared herbal drink known for its healing properties. - Senjed or Jujube Jujube, the Lotus tree berry, represents love. It was said that when the lotus tree is in full bloom, its fruit and fragrance make people fall madly in love. The tree symbolizes shelter and security and senjed is placed on the New Year table to motivate nature's rebirth. - Seeb or Apple In Iranian folktales, medicine men often split an apple in halves, giving one to each spouse to prevent infertility. Apple also represents beauty and health. - Seer or Garlic Fresh garlic is used to ward off evil omens and represents medicine (as it lowers blood pressure) and peace. - Sumac Sumac is said to be the spice of life. Sumac berries bring to mind the color of sunrise and with the appearance of the sun, Good conquers Evil. - Serkeh or vinegar Vinegar is a symbol of fermentation, having originated as grapes and undergone many transformations. It symbolizes a tasty preservation and represents age and patience. Apart from the seven main Haft Seen items, other elements and symbols are sometimes placed on the table: - Bowl of fire: Wild rue and other sacred herbs are burnt in a bowl of fire to ward off evil spirits. - Holy Book: Each family places a Holy Book on the table; many also put the book of poems by the celebrated Iranian poet Hafez. - Water and Bread: Water and bread are also placed as traditional symbols and sustainers of life. - Milk: In Iran, fresh milk was considered sacred as food for the newly born. - Eggs: Painted eggs are a symbol of fertility corresponding to Sepanta Armaiti, or mother earth. The eggshell symbolizes the sky and the boundaries of the universe. - Mirror: Mystical Iranian literature extensively refers to mirrors as a representation of self-reflection. The word Ayneh (mirror) comes from Advenak, one of the aiding forces in the creation of man; therefore, Persians believed mirrors represent the images and reflections of creation. - Candlestick: Iranians believed Ahriman (the devil) could not enter wherever there was light; therefore, candles came to represent enlightenment and happiness and a flickering candle was placed for each child in the family around the bowl of fire or mirror. - Fish: The last solar month, Esfand, is in the Pisces period and on the eve of the New Year, it gives its place to Aries; hence, goldfish represent an image of the changing of the year. Fish are also one of the symbols of Anahita, the goddess of water and fertility. - Coins: Coins represent prosperity and wealth. They are also a symbol of Shahrivar, the Amshaspand which represents metals. - Sour Oranges: A sour orange placed in a bowl of water symbolizes the revolving Earth or the twelve months of the year. - Hyacinth: A pot of flowering hyacinth or narcissus heralds the rebirth of nature and the coming of spring with its strong fragrance. For the ancient Iranians, Nowruz was a celebration of life; for modern Iranians, Nowruz is a feast of renewal and change; a time to visit relatives, friends and pay respect to older family members. Family members dressed in their best, sit around the Haft Seen table listening to the head of the family recite the Nowruz prayers and eagerly await the announcement of the arrival of spring. Once the New Year is announced, people exchange presents called Eydi, sweets are passed around and wild rue is burned to keep the evil eye away. Families then eat Sabzi Polo Mahi a special rice dish cooked with fresh herbs and served with fish. The first few days following the New Year are spent visiting relatives and friends. The sixth day of Nowruz is of great importance to Zoroastrians whom celebrate this day as the birthday of Zoroaster. The thirteenth day of the New Year festival is called Sizdah Bedar when families attend picnics or parties to avoid the bad luck associated with the number thirteen On this day, Sabzeh, which has symbolically collected all the sickness and bad luck, is thrown into running water. Iranians believe an individual's conduct in Nowruz will affect their lives throughout the year; therefore, they abstain from fights and disagreements to ensure a good year.

2008 Foxwoods Open

One of only a few giant opens in the USA (the Europeans seem to specialize in them), Foxwoods starts tomorrow and runs through March 23rd. There are always several sections and usually several chess femmes playing. This year is no different (thank the Chess Goddess). I'm a fan of WFM Alisa Melekhina (USA 2247) - but she's paired against one of the top 8 players in Round 1 and, frankly, I expect she's going to get smushed. I hope I'm wrong! But she's playing GM Ildar Ibragimov (2656) - more than a 400 point discrepancy in their ELOs. Oh my. HINT TO FOXWOODS WEBMASTER: How about a list of players playing in each section, with chess femmes denoted by "F"? I have no idea who is playing in this event until AFTER the event and the results are published at The Week in Chess. Not the best way to present a website for one of the biggest events in American chess! You can do better. Starting in Round 3 (I've no idea why not earlier) Monroi will have live games.

Volcanic Eruptions Caused Climate Disruption

We've published several articles about this subject in Random Round-up at Goddesschess. It's a topic I find fascinating, especially through analyzing ice cores. This is from the National Geographic: Ancient Global Dimming Linked to Volcanic Eruption Ker Thanfor National Geographic News March 19, 2008 A "dry fog" that muted the sun's rays in A.D. 536 and plunged half the world into a famine-inducing chill was triggered by the eruption of a supervolcano, a new study says. The cause of the sixth-century global dimming has long been a matter of debate, but a team of international researchers recently discovered acidic sulphate molecules, which are signs of an eruption, in Greenland ice. This is the first physical evidence for the A.D. 536 event, which according to ancient texts from Mesoamerica, Europe, and Asia brought on a cold darkness that withered crops, sparked wars, and helped spread pestilence. Scientists had suspected the dry fog was caused by a volcanic eruption or a comet strike, but searches had failed to uncover evidence for either catastrophe—until now. "There is no need at the moment to invoke a large-scale extraterrestrial event as the cause, because the evidence is conclusive enough to say that it is certainly consistent with it being a large volcano," said study team member Keith Briffa of the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. The discovery is detailed in a recent issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Global Ashfall Tests show the Greenland sulphate molecules were deposited sometime between A.D. 533 and 536. This date correlates well with a sulphate peak found in an Antarctic ice core. The team suspects the eruption occurred near the Equator, since its ash fell on both ends of the globe. The Greenland evidence is also consistent with tree-ring data from around the Northern Hemisphere that show reduced growth rates lasting more than a decade starting in A.D. 536. Curiously, the eruption's cooling effect did not extend to the southern hemisphere, the scientists say. Together, the tree-ring and acid evidence suggest the sixth-century eruption was even bigger than Indonesia's Mount Tambora eruption of 1815, which also dimmed the sun. Ken Wohletz, a volcanologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said that while the new evidence strongly supports a large volcanic eruption, a space impact can't be ruled out yet. "Over two-thirds of Earth's surface is covered with water, and because erosion so quickly wipes away evidence of impacts, the knowledge of when large-scale impacts have occurred in the past is still very incomplete," said Wohletz, who was not involved in the study. To cement their case, volcano advocates will need to find ash layers deposited by the blast, Wohletz said. William Ryan, an oceanographer at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, believes it is only a matter of time until ash layers are found. "I suspect we haven't searched adequately, but this paper will start a hunt," Ryan said. Indelible Mark According to written records, the dry fog lingered for just over a year—leaving an indelible mark on human history. Chinese historians recorded famine events and summer frosts for years after the event. It was also around this time that a band of Mongolian nomads called the Avars migrated westward toward Europe, where they would eventually establish an empire. The group may have left home when grasslands that their horses grazed on withered under the darkened skies, historians say. More controversially, some historians claim that drought caused by the fog contributed to the decline of the Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan. (Related story: "New Digs Decoding Mexico's Pyramids of Fire'" [October 21, 2005].) The spread of bubonic plague throughout Europe and the Middle East, the rise of Islam, and even the fall of the Roman Empire have also been controversially tied to the event. Still Vulnerable If a similar volcanic eruption were to occur today, the effects could be just as devastating, experts say. The reduced sunlight and ashfall would affect agriculture worldwide, and the thick veil of dust and ash could cripple transportation and communication systems. "Most aircraft cannot fly in [volcanic] dust clouds," Los Alamos's Wohletz said. "And these dust clouds have a large electrostatic potential that disrupts radio communication." "And these dust clouds have a large electrostatic potential that disrupts radio communication." To make matters worse, there is practically nothing humans can do to prevent such a catastrophe from happening again—or to lessen its effects. "In today's society, we're no less independent of nature than humankind has ever been," Wohletz said. "In fact, we might even be more dependent on it."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Rimmon" - Pomegranate - Symbol of the Goddess

See my prior post regarding the discovery of a carved ivory pomegranate at the Temple in Jerusalem.

From "The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends," Barbara G. Walker:

Rimmon, "pomegranate," was a biblical name of the Goddess's genital shrine (2 Kings 5:18) from rim, "to give birth."(1) The pomegranate with its red juice and many seeds was a prime symbol of uterine fertility. Therefore pomegranates were eaten by souls in the underworld to bring about rebirth. Hellenic mythographers said both Kore and Eurydice were detained in the underworld because they ate pomegranate seeds there. Nana, virgin mother of the savior Attis, conceived him by eating either a pomegranate seed or an almond, another yonic symbol.

The Bible says the pillars of Solomon's temple were ornamented with the female-genital symbols of lilies and pomegrantates. (1 Kings 7:18-20). Solomon himself impersonated the phallic god Baal-Rimmon, "Lord of the Pomegranate," when he was united with his divine bride, the mysterious Shulamite, and drank the juice of her pomegranate (Song of Solomon 8:2).

Argive Hera was worshipped as Our Lady With the Pomegranate at Capaccio Vecchio near Paestum, formerly a Sybarite colony called Poseidonia. In ancient times the people laid at the Goddess's feet offerings of little boats filled with flowers, as she sat enthroned with her cild on one arm, a pomegranate in her other hand, inviting contemplation of the miracle of her bringing forth life. About the 12th century A.D. the people of Paestum built her a new shrine, to which pilgrimages are made to this day. There sits Our Lady With the Pomegranate still, enthroned with her child on one arm, a pomegranate in her other hand.(2) The people lay at her feet offerings of little boats filled with flowers.

Hera was Mother Earth, and the suit of pentacles in the Tarot pack represented the earth element. Therefore it is not surprising to find this suit transformed in some medieval packs into a Suit of Pomegranates, the fruit always opened in an oval orifice to show its most red interior.(3)

(1) Graves, W.G., 410.
(2) J.H. Smith, D.C.P., 244.
(3) Cavendish, T., 155, 170.
Interesting scriptures cited by Walker. All of the scriptures quoted here are from "The Book", by Tyndale Publishers, which is a reprint of the 1988 edition of "The Living Bible." In other words, it is a modern-English paraphrase that translates from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.

2 Kings 5:18. A bit of background, this relates to the account of the Syrian general Naaman, who was stricken with leprosy. Naaman's wife was served by a young slave girl - a Hebrew - who said that her God could cure Naaman if he sought out the God's prophet. In due course, Naaman meets with God's prophet, Elisha, who effects a cure of the leprosy. Afterwards, Naaman begs forgiveness for future sins to be committed against the God who cured him of his leprosy - the God of Elisha: 2 Kings 5:18: "However, may the Lord pardon me this one thing - when my maste the king goes into the temple of the god Rimmon to worship there and leans on my arm, may the Lord pardon me when I bow too."

Elisha says, in verse 19: "All right."

Now if that ain't an interesting exchange, I'll eat my black wool beret! What? Jehovah God forgives a sin before hand - and that sin the WORST POSSIBLE SIN - worshipping in a PAGAN TEMPLE? Oh my!

Notice also the reference to the "god" Rimmon. Well, I guess the guys would have to call the pomegranate after a male, wouldn't they, since the sacred scrolls of the Torah itself are flanked on the right hand side by a scuplture of a pomegranante! I mean, they would never in a million years confess that the symbol was actually female!

1 Kings 7:18-20. Background: talking about the plans of Israelite King Solomon in the construction of the First Temple:

"At the tops of the pillars he (Hiram, the worker in bronze from Tyre who, according to the biblical account, was "half-Jewish" because his mother, a widow, was of the tribe of Naphtali) made two lily-shaped capitals from molten bronze, each 7 1/2 feet high. The upper part of each capital wa shaped like a lily, six feet high. Each capital was decorated with seven sets of bronze, chain-designed lattices and four hundred pomegranates in wo rows. Hiram set these pillars at the entrance of the Temple. The one on the south was named the Jachin Pillar, and the one on the north, the Boaz Pillar."

Well, I guess Hiram wasn't so Jewish after-all. Or the biblical re-writers were trying to pull a fast one on us! Lilies and pomegranates have long been associated with the goddess - there isn't any way around that!

2008 Ukranian Under 20 Championships

The Ukrainian under-20 Championships for boys and girls took place in Odessa 5th-15th March 2008. Girls' final standings (from The Week in Chess): 1. Muzychuk, Mariya wg UKR 2357 9½ 2427 2. Dolzhikova, Kateryna wm UKR 2308 9 2385 3. Huda, Maryana wg UKR 2278 8½ 2336 4. Andrenko, Irina UKR 2216 6½ 2196 5. Maiko, Alina UKR 2053 6 2182 6. Chulivska, Vita wm UKR 2291 5½ 2124 7. Zingaylo, Anastasiya UKR 2090 4½ 2077 8. Tsirulnik, Maritsa UKR 2060 4½ 2080 9. Kalinina, Marianna UKR 1717 4½ 2111 10. Stasenko, Julia UKR 1961 2½ 1943 11. Kalinina, Olga UKR 2231 2½ 1919 12. Orlyanskaya, Darya wf UKR 2100 2½ 1931

2008 Ataturk International Women Masters Chess Tournament

Standings after Round 8: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Res. SB. vict 1 7 WGM YIFAN Hou 2527 CHN 6½ 0 22,75 5 2 6 GM CRAMLING Pia 2524 SWE 5½ 0 21,00 4 3 2 IM ATALIK Ekaterina 2408 TUR 5 0 15,00 4 4 8 WGM XUE Zhao 2517 CHN 4½ 0 15,75 3 5 3 IM JAVAKHISHVILI Lela 2470 GEO 4 0 16,75 2 6 9 IM DRONAVALLI Harika 2455 IND 3½ 0 13,25 2 7 1 IM KRUSH Irina 2473 USA 3 1 11,50 1 8 10 GM CHEN Zhu 2548 QAT 3 0 11,25 2 9 4 IM USHENINA Anna 2484 UKR 2½ 1 7,50 1 10 5 WIM YILDIZ Betul Cemre 2207 TUR 2½ 0 8,75 2

Does an organ transplant change your personality?

From the New kidney 'changed my whole personality' Last Updated: 2:38am GMT 16/03/2008 A woman claims to have undergone a complete "personality transplant" after receiving a new kidney. Cheryl Johnson, 37, says she has changed completely since receiving the organ in May. She believes that she must have picked up her new characteristics from the donor, a 59-year-old man who died from an aneurysm. Now, not only has her personality changed, the single mother also claims that her tastes in literature have taken a dramatic turn. Whereas she only used to read low-brow novels, Dostoevsky has become her author of choice since the transplant. Miss Johnson, from Penwortham, in Preston, Lancs, said: "You pick up your characteristics from your donor. My son said when I first had the transplant, I went stroppy and snappy - that wasn't me. "I have always loved books but I've started to read classics like Jane Austen and Dostoevsky. I found myself reading Persuasion." The former Preston North End football steward's life has been turned round since her successful operation. After developing kidney problems in 1998, she had previously undergone every available form of dialysis as well as a failed transplant in 2001. Miss Johnson added: "It's given my 16-year-old boy his mum back. "I totally respect the family who gave me this kidney. They have given me the best thing they can - a chance for a normal life. I am forever grateful to them."' Academics in America have developed a theory called cellular memory phenomenon to explain the personality changes that are allegedly experienced by some transplant recipients. Examples include a Massachusetts woman with vertigo who became a climber; a Milwaukee lawyer who began eating Snickers, having always hated chocolate; and a seven-year-old girl who had nightmares about being killed after being given the heart of a murdered child. However, the only case recognised by the scientific community is that of a 15-year-old Australian girl whose blood type changed following a liver transplant. UK Transplant also remains sceptical about the phenomenon. A spokesman said: "While not discarding it entirely, we have no reason to believe that it happens. We would be interested to see any definitive evidence that supports it." ********************************************************************************** I think this is a lot of nonsense. If a person has a soul (a subject not addressed by science with anything other than a sniff), the soul isn't a physical part of the cells within one's body. The soul is the life force, and when the life force leaves the body, the body dies. End of story. Where the soul goes and what happens to it - that is what religion addresses. There are lots of stories about so-called personality take-overs after people have had organ translants. Well then, why doesn't this happen when one has a blood transfusion? Blood is the biggest organ of the human body. And yet, we don't here stories about personality changes after a blood transfusion, do we? How many blood transfusions have there been - millions? A billion? Hundreds of thousands of organ transplants have been made since they became techologically feasible (not to mention blood transfusions, which first became common practice during WWII). But, very few have resulted in this so-called "personality change," which is just another description for soul migration! So what does that mean for all the hundreds of thousands of transplant recipients that have not resulted in a "soul transplant?" One other thing that always bothers me about these accounts - what happened to the former soul whose body has been taken over by the "transplanted personality"? Did the former personality just roll-over and let the other "soul" take over the body's life? Would YOU be that wimpy? Would you give up fighting for your life because some bit of someone else's soul that didn't know it had croaked was taking over your body? Would you not mind being a zombie?

Older than the pyramids, buried for centuries – found by an Orkney plumber

Published Date: 17 March 2008 Source: The Scotsman Location: Scotland By Tristan Stewart-Robertson A RARE piece of Neolithic art has been discovered on a beach in Orkney. The 6,000-year-old relic, thought to be a fragment from a larger piece, was left exposed by storms which swept across the country last week. Local plumber David Barnes, who found the stone on the beach in Sandwick Bay, South Ronaldsay, said circular markings had shown up in the late-afternoon winter sun, drawing his attention to the piece. Archeologists last night heralded the discovery as a "once-in- 50-years event". But they warned that a search for other fragments in the area would be hampered by a lack of funds. "At first, I just thought it was an interesting pattern from the erosion," said Mr Barnes, 44. "Then I knew it was fairly rare. It's a miracle I spotted it." He said he realised the find could be significant after he read more about the local history of the area. Archaeologists compared the discovery to the Westray Stone, a Neolithic carved stone discovered in 1981 during routine quarrying work. It has been in Orkney Museum for more than 25 years but is due to be returned to the area this week and exhibited in the new Westray Heritage Centre in Pierowall. The Westray Stone was once part of a Neolithic chambered cairn which is thought to have been destroyed in prehistory. A second part, and two smaller carved pieces, were found the following spring in a dig led by Niall Sharples, of the University of Cardiff. Mrs Julie Gibson, Orkney county archaeologist, said the latest discovery must be the result of erosion from recent storms, as the carved patterns would not have successfully survived so many thousands of years' exposure on soft sandstone. She said: "This piece is really a once-in-50-years discovery. I was very pleased to find out David really had such a piece of Neolithic art. It's not something that happens every day." Natural stones always have patterns in them and quite often people mistake patterns for art. It was surprising David was able to see this on the beach. "The stone is perhaps from a chambered tomb and could be as old as 5,000 or 6,000 years, and would have possibly been used as a ceremonial, sacred object. This is art made in the same style as art from the Newgrange stone tomb in Ireland or tombs in Brittany. It's part of this Neolithic world linked by the Irish Sea." The world heritage site at Newgrange in County Meath is estimated to be 600 years older than the Giza pyramids in Egypt. The concentric circles in the latest find indicated "something special", said Mrs Gibson. She added that the Sandwick Bay beach now warranted more investigation but she feared that would be constrained by a lack of resources. She said: "The budget for 'rescue' archaeology has been flat-lined since Margaret Thatcher's time, and it's gone down since then by £200,000 a year, down to £1.5 million in Scotland each year for all rescue archaeology. We would like to do more, but the chances are pretty slim." The stone will now be passed to Orkney Museum and brought to the attention of the Queen and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer to determine if it is a treasure trove or not. Ancient objects without an owner are automatically property of the Crown. But Mrs Gibson added: "An object like this becomes the property of everyone." TREASURES FIND THEIR WAY TO THE CROWN ALL historical finds – whether made by chance, fieldwalking, metal detector or archaeological excavation – are subject to the laws of Treasure Trove in Scotland. The objects become the property of the Crown and may be claimed as treasure trove, and must be reported so they can be assessed. The Queen and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer is the Crown Office employee responsible for claiming objects for the Crown under the law of Treasure Trove. The role of the QLTR also includes deciding on the allocation of objects to museums and the payment of rewards to finders. The Crown Office, on behalf of the Scottish Government, is given the first chance to claim the object for the overall benefit of the nation. Small museums, including Orkney Museum, can also bid for the found objects to stay in the area where they were found. Finds not claimed by the Crown are returned to the finder along with an individually numbered certificate stating that the Crown is not exercising its right to claim. The full article contains 767 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper. Last Updated: 17 March 2008 12:04 AM

The Iranian Cultural & Natural Heritage Year

Press release from CAIS, March 18, 2008: By Amil Imani LONDON, (CAIS) -- According to the World Encyclopedia, 'cultural genocide' is a term used to describe the deliberate destruction of the cultural heritage of a people or nation for political or military reasons. Since coming to power twenty-nine years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been in a constant battle with the Iranian people as well as her culture and heritage. Over its life span, the Islamic Republic zealots have tried innumerable times to cleanse the pre-Islamic Persian heritage in the name of Islam. First, they declared war against the Persian New Year or “Nowruz”, and then, they attacked other Persian traditions and customs. In 1979, Khomeini's right-hand man, the Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, tried to bulldoze Iran’s greatest epical poet Ferdowsi's tomb and Persepolis palace. Fortunately, the total bulldozing of the relics of the palace was averted by Iranian patriots who wished to preserve their heritage; who literally stood in front of the bulldozers and did not allow the destruction of this heritage of humanity. The Islamic Republic of Iran, which holds in great contempt any non-Islamic belief or heritage, has embarked on destroying many pre-Islamic archaeological sites in Iran such as Pasargadae and Persepolis -- some of humanity's most prized cultural heritage, on the pretext of building a dam. The heinous destruction of the two Buddha statues by Afghanistan's Taliban pales in comparison to the present barbaric designs of the Islamic Republic. Pasargadae and Persepolis are more than a mere collection of ancient structures. They are embodiments of humanity's historical respect for liberty and tolerance of diversity. For 2,500 years, the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great has stood on the plain at Pasargadae, a simple but dignified monument to a revered king. Many fear the newly built dam and reservoir, so close to Pasargadae, will pose a great threat to the tomb of Cyrus the Great, despite numerous reports that are coming from the Islamic Republic News Agencies stating otherwise. These archaeological sites are nonrenewable resources and each contains unique information about the human past. The loss of these precious and irreplaceable archaeological sites would forever seal our understanding of the world's cultural heritage that can never be recovered. We look at archaeology as a necessary and important endeavor that can reveal information essential to self-knowledge and also provide lessons for our future successes in managing ourselves and our uses of the planet we inhabit. The worldwide people of our planet are fascinated by archaeology and the secrets of our past. It creates wonder, enigma, delight, and surprise. There is a natural human curiosity and captivation about the past within most of us. We want to know more about it, to understand it, and perhaps to try to experience it. Archaeology is one way to do these things. They are our treasures left behind by the dwellers of the past. The Iranian culture and archaeology are so rich almost no place that one could say is devoid of interest. And certainly a list must be compiled of the sites which merit the most consideration. For the above reasons, 'The International Committee to Save the Archeological Sites of Pasargad' has proposed that the year 2567 of the Persian calendar (or March 20th, 2008), be named 'The Year of Iranian Cultural and Natural Heritage'. 'The International Committee to Save the Archeological Sites of Pasargad' has invited every concerned citizen to join forces with them in an innovative, grassroots, public-private partnership to offer research and interest in Persian cultural heritage. It is their goal and intention that people everywhere learn about the human origins and achievements. They hope that this would also increase awareness among the general public with respect to the cultural liabilities incurred by improper treatment of the archaeological heritage and degradation of archaeological resources through the looting of sites, theft of artifacts, and illicit international trade in antiquities. We were reminded by the events during the Persian Gulf War in 2003 which generated increased awareness of the vulnerability of Middle Eastern archaeological resources. Alexander H. Joffe, from the review of Managing Archaeology and Archaeological Remains, in Situ Preservation, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 1999 Vol. 58, No. 2, p.137 has noted: “The question is not if the battle to preserve archaeological sites and landscapes will be lost but how fast and how badly. When the last dam is flooded, the last minefield laid, and the last factory/strip-mall/apartment block finished, and when the few remaining big-name archaeological sites are fenced in and prettied up as “parks,” will more than a few people notice or care? Probably not! And that is a sad commentary on society at large and on us." The upcoming observance of The Iranian Cultural and Natural Heritage Year in the spring of 2008 is not just an Iranian event; it is humanity's most precious heritage event -- your and your descendents' heritage. It is an event of great value which is in dire need of your support. Generations of humanity will bemoan the loss of this living testimony to the nobility of mankind. The destructive hand of any kind of zealots must be stayed. Stand up, raise your voice and do what is in your power to preserve what is rightfully yours.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Swan Knight

What could be more chessly than a knight - this one in swan's feathers. First, the "traditional" take on the Swan Knight, a brief summary from Wikipedia: The story of the Knight of the Swan, or Swan Knight, is a medieval tale about a mysterious rescuer who comes in a swan-drawn boat to defend a damsel, his only condition being that he must never be asked his name. Today, the story is probably best known as that of Lohengrin, son of the Grail knight Percival. The Lohengrin version forms the plot of Richard Wagner's opera of that name, which is based on the medieval German romance Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach. However, the Knight of the Swan tale was originally attached to the family of Godfrey of Bouillon, first conqueror of Jerusalem in 1099, in the French chansons de geste known as the "Crusade cycle".[1] In Brabant the name of the Knight of the Swan is Helias. Notes: 1. Holböck, Married Saints and Blesseds, p. 147. ************************************************************************************** Now, from "The Woman's Encyclopedia" - the real scoop, not watered down poop! Swan An ancient, universal shamanic practice of wearing swan-feather cloaks created numerous muths of deities ableto transform themselves into swans. The Heavenly Nymphs (Apsaras) of Hindu mythology were swan maidens. As a phallic god sporting with these sexual angels of the Vedic heaven, Krisna became a swan knight. Multiplied forms of his Goddess were sometimes swan-houris, sometimes milkmaids, the Gopis. Kalmuck tales of the Siddhi Kur, translated from Sanskrit, made Krishna a swan knight who courted the Triple Goddess in the guise of three milkmaids, daughters of the Old Woman (Kali).(1) [Notes: for triple goddess, see prior post on the Hind of Hinds and the shrine to the triple goddess at Mecca; see post on Kelle earlier this evening for information on Kali.] The same Indo-European lore surfaced in Scandanavian myth as the swan incarnations of the Valkyries, who wore magic swan-feather cloaks to transmorm themselves. Kali or Kauri became the Valkyrie Kara, who flew in her swan feathers above battlefields and sang magic charms to deprive the enemy of strength. Legends insisted that if a man could steal a Valyrie's costume of swan feathers, she would be forced to grant his every wish.(2) The swan knight Krishna reappeared in classic Greek myth as Zeus in swan feathers, disguising himself as a swan to seduce the Goddess Leda, who gave birth to the World Egg, which suggests that she too was a totemic swan. Sometimes she was confused with the Goddess Nemisis to whom Zeus's very life was subjec: Leda or "Lady" being only her title.(3) Northern mythology also identified her with the Valkyrie Brunnhilde, whose seven children or Seven Dwarves were transformed into the seven swans of the fairy tale.(4) Zeus's swan form can be traced also to the Vedic image of Brahma in his special vahana ("vehicle," animal incarnation): a swan.(5) Swan maidens and swan knights associated with the Old Religion were common in European folklore throughout the Christian era. A certain order of knights connected with the legendary Temple of the Grail and the defense of women claimed descent from a divine swan-hereo. The families of Gelders and Cleves bore a san on their arms, to honor their ancestor "the Knight of the Swan, servant of women," in whose memory Duke Adolph held a tournament in 1453.(6) This Knight was sometimes called Lohengrin, a savior of women like the British hero Lancelot-Galahad. After the classic pattern, Lohengrin floated in a mystic vessel on the sea in his infancy, and was found and raised by a great queen in a foreign land. After his death he was reborn or reincarnated as his own son.(7) When Lohengrin became one of the Knights Templar of the Grail, he was sent from the Grail castle at Montsalvatch to champion the cause of Duchess Else of Brabant, who had been unjustly imprisoned for exercising the ancient right of noblewomen to choose a lover from among men of inferior rank. [Note: Wow! I have heard of the droit du seigneur. So, this is sort of the reverse practice! Hear hear! Information at Brittanica online: (Droit du Seigneur: French: “right of the lord”), a feudal right said to have existed in medieval Europe giving the lord to whom it belonged the right to sleep the first night with the bride of any one of his vassals. The custom is paralleled in various primitive societies, but the evidence of its existence in Europe is all indirect, involving records of redemption dues paid by the vassal to avoid enforcement of some lordly rights. Many intellectual investigations have been devoted to the problem. A considerable number of feudal rights were related to the vassal’s marriage, particularly the lord’s right to select a bride for his vassal, but these were almost invariably redeemed by a money payment, or “avail”; and it seems likely that the droit du seigneur amounted, in effect, only to another tax of this sort.] Having overcome Else's enemies, Lohengrin married her. According to one version of the story, probably drawn from the myth of Psyche and Eros, Else was forbidden to ask her husband's real name, but couldn't help insisting on it; so, sorrowfully revealing his name, Lohengrin was obliged to leae Else and return to the Mount of Paradise. Other versions of the story said he took her with him to Montsalvatch, where they lived happily ever after.(8) Other stories said Lohengrin appeared in his swan-feather costume to defend Clarissa, Duchess of Bouillon, against the Count of Frankfort, who tried to steal her duchy. Or, he took up the cause of Beatrice of Cleves, whose property rights wre threatened by hostile barons.(9) Though he salled forth to the rescue of several ladies in distress, the Swan-knight's real home was always "the mountain where Venus lives in the Grail."(1) Notes: (1) Baring-Gould, C.M.M.A., 568. (2) Larousse, 278-79. (3) Baring Gould, C.M.M.A., 579. (3) Graves, G.M. 1, 207-8. (4) Baring Gould, C.M.M.A., 571, 579. (5) Ross, 36. (6) Baring-Gould, C.M.M.A., 600. (7) Rank, 62. (8) Guerber, L.M.A., 202-3. (9) Baring-Gould, C.M.M.A., 600. (10) Jung & von Franz, 121. **************************************************************************************** I remembered some remnants of this fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm that I read as a child - most of the tales were more like nightmares, including this tale about a devoted sister and her six bewitched brothers. The Six Swans.

The Goddess Kelle, also known as Kelly

Ahhhh, a strong good Irish name, it is! And what a background! From The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets: Kelle (var. Kelly) Irish-druidic priest-name, derived from pre-Christian holy harlots of the Goddess Kelle, Kale, or Kali. Irish writings described the divine harlot Mary Magdalene as a kelle.(1) The medieval term Kele-De was considered somewhat mysterious, translated "Bridge of God" if a woman, "Servant of God" if a man.(2) These translations were inaccurate. Kele-De meant literally the spirit of the Goddess Kele, evidently identical with the Goddess Kali of the original Indo-European Celts. Votaries of the Goddess Kele stressed the search for inward perfection through meditation, yogic style.(3) Her gods assumed the lotus positin like eastern yogis. Her primitive Grail hereo, Peredur, experienced her as the "most beautiful woman in the world," represented by the three colors of the Divine Prakriti, still known as the Gunas, standing for her powers of creation, preservation, and destruction.(4) The mythical "St. Kilda" seems to have been another version of the Goddess Kele, dwelling on a remote rocky islet once identified with the western paradise of the dead. St Kilda's Isle still exists, but the origin of its name has been forgotten. The ubiquitous Irish word kill, a cell or cave, once meant a shrine of Kele, whose holy men called themselves Culdees, Colidees, Cele-De, Keledio, etc. Some where described in Christian histories as monks, though they wre obviously married.(5) Kildare ws a major shrine of the Goddess Kilda-Kele, or Brigit, identified with the virgin Mary after Christian monks appropriated the site. But the guardianship of the sacred fire at Kildare had long been a perogative of priestesses; the shrine ws forbidden to men.(6) Confusion of Kilda-Kele-Brigit with Mary was not too far-fethed, as they had been aspects of the same Goddess for thousands of years in India as Kali-Mari or Kel-Mari, the Pot Goddess who made human forms out of clay.(7) (See Kali Ma). Notes: (1) Malvern, 117. (2) Joyce, 352. (3) de Paor, 72. (4) Goodrich, 63-66, Avalon, 328. (5) Brewster, 130-31. (6) Briffault 2, 540. (7) Briffault 1, 474.

2008 Ataturk International Women Masters Chess Tournament

Sponsored by Isbank Standings after Round 7: Rank SNo. Name Rtg FED Pts Res. SB. vict 1 6 GM CRAMLING Pia 2524 SWE 5½ ½ 19,00 4 2 7 WGM YIFAN Hou 2527 CHN 5½ ½ 15,25 4 3 2 IM ATALIK Ekaterina 2408 TUR 5 0 12,50 4 4 8 WGM XUE Zhao 2517 CHN 3½ ½ 11,25 2 5 9 IM DRONAVALLI Harika 2455 IND 3½ ½ 10,25 2 6 1 IM KRUSH Irina 2473 USA 3 ½ 9,50 1 7 3 IM JAVAKHISHVILI Lela 2470 GEO 3 ½ 9,25 1 8 5 WIM YILDIZ Betul Cemre 2207 TUR 2½ 0 7,75 2 9 10 GM CHEN Zhu 2548 QAT 2 0 5,75 1 10 4 IM USHENINA Anna 2484 UKR 1½ 0 4,00 0

Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament

Although this article is dated March 18th, it seems to be a bit dated, since the event has already begun! However, it contains lots of good information about the Ataturk International Women Masters as well as women's chess in Turkey. Enjoy! New women’s chess tournament seeks to get girls into the game The Turkish Chess Federation and İş Bank are organizing the first of what is hoped to be a tradition of major international women's events in İstanbul, aiming in the long run to become one of the most renowned tournaments in women's chess and also help promote women's chess in Turkey and raise more talented females to win medals in the Chess Olympiads. Some of the world's best chess players were in İstanbul to compete in the first Türkiye İş Bank Atatürk International Women Masters Chess Tournament on Tuesday. Ten female players with ELO ratings -- the system of grading in chess -- above 2460 will be competing for 10 days in İstanbul. İş Bank, one of Turkey's oldest banks, and the Turkish Chess Federation believe that the tournament will become one of the world's most esteemed in no time. Two players in the tournament are Grand Masters (GM), three have Women Grand Master (WGM) titles, one holds a WGM and an International Master (IM), three hold the title of International Master and one holds Women's International Master (WIM). Some of the world's best female chess players, including GM Pia Cramling of Sweden and GM Zhu Chen of China, are competing in the tournament. İş Bank has been sponsoring the Turkish Chess Federation's activities since 2005 and is now very proud to be hosting this particular tournament, said Suat Sözen, İş Bank's public relations manager, in a speech made to the press on opening day. "The tournament title bears Atatürk's name, and it is important for us. We think of it as an important opportunity to remember one more time the value he gave him to women," he said. But is it not humiliating for women to have these separate chess championships? "I think there is absolutely no difference between men and women in chess," says Cramling, who was also the first woman ever to qualify for the ("Men's") World Championship cycle. "However, the problem is there are so few women chess players. Only 5 percent of the world's [registered] players are women," told Cramling who regularly plays on the Swedish ("Men's") team in the World Chess Olympiads, told Today's Zaman. She started playing chess at the age of 10 after she saw her brother play and says these women-only tournaments bring together female players, who are grossly outnumbered by their male counterparts, giving them the opportunity to meet each other and also making for good practice, giving women twice as many changes to play in tournaments. Cramling said that for now, there are benefits to these women's tournaments. However when there are more women chess players, such tournaments will no longer be necessary, she said. Cramling ties the recent success of Chinese women in chess to the increasing popularity of the sport to Xie Jun, a Chinese GM who became the Women's World Chess Champion in 1991 and repeated the achievement in 1996, making her only the second woman to hold this title twice. Her success worked wonders in popularizing chess in China. Ten players from eight countries are competing in the tournament being held on the 41st floor of İş Towers in İstanbul. The players in the tournament are Sweden's (GM) Cramling, China's (GM) Zhu Chen, (WGM) Xue Zhao, (WGM) Hou Yifan, Georgia's (WGM-IM) Lela Javakhisvili, Ukraine's (IM) Anna Ushenina and (IM) Irina Krush, India's (WGM) Harika Dronovalli and Turkey's (IM) Ekatarina Atalık, who holds the 2006 Europe Championship title and (WIM) Betül Cemre Yıldız, who placed third at the 2007 World Youth Chess Championship. On Tuesday, the players played the first round after drawing lots. The games can be viewed online on the Chess Federation's Web site at The federation certainly hopes that the İş Bank Atatürk tournament will work to popularize chess in Turkey. Federation head Ali Nihat Yazıcı said at a press conference on the tournament's opening day that Turkey, with 137,000 licensed chess players, was doing increasingly well in the younger age categories. "One-third of the licensed players are girls and women, something that is very pleasing," he said. Turkey's women chess players Women have been doing increasingly well in international tournaments in the past few years. In fact, Turkey's two best chess masters are currently two young women. These stars are WIM Betül Cemre Yıldız and WFM (Women's FIDE Master, FIDE is the World Chess Federation) Kübra Öztürk. Betül is now 18 years old and has been playing chess since she was eight. She has three elder brothers, all of whom play chess, and together they run a chess center in İzmir. Betül is studying both law and management at two different universities, thanks to chess scholarships. Once a prodigy in Turkey, she won the Turkish title in her age group just one year after she started playing chess. Betül won five Turkish Women's championship titles in a row, between 2001 and 2006. Kübra, who is only 16, has already become one of the sports celebrities of Turkey. She won two consecutive European titles in the Under 16 section, which attracted great attention in the media. She started playing chess at the age of seven. She says that it was a very instructive experience to go abroad for the first time in 1999 for the World Youth Championship in Under 10. Kübra's story makes her very popular in Turkey. Born and raised in an Ankara shantytown, Kübra is now a rising star of the chess world and has already won scholarships to US universities due to her success in the game.
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