"Since the First World War Americans have been leading a double life, and our history has moved on two rivers, one visible, the other underground; there has been the history of politics which is concrete, factual, practical and unbelievably dull; and there is a subterranean river of untapped, ferocious, lonely and romantic desires, that concentration of ecstasy and violence which is the dream life of the nation."

Norman Mailer
"The whole work of healing Tellus depends on nursing that little spark, on incarnating that ghost, which is still alive in every people, and different in each. When Logres really dominates Britain, when the goddess Reason, the divine clearness, is really enthroned in France, when the order of Heaven is really followed in China--why then it will be spring."

"This new history of yours," said McPhee, "is a wee bit lacking in documents."

C.S. Lewis

Synchronicities this week

  • June 24 Midsummer/St. John’s Day
  • June 24, 1947 The first flying saucers are sighted over Mount Rainier by pilot Ken Arnold.
  • June 24, 1542 St. John of the Cross, Spanish Carmelite mystic and poet, is born.
  • June 24, 1938 500 ton meteorite lands near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
  • June 24, 1717 First Free Masons' grand lodge founded in London.
  • June 24, 1374 A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.
  • June 24, 1314 Battle of Bannockburn; Scotland regains independence from England.
  • June 24, 843 Vikings destroy Nantes.
  • June 23 Midsummer’s Eve
  • June 23, 1972 Nixon & Haldeman agree to use CIA to cover up Watergate.
  • June 23, 1942 Germany's latest fighter, a Focke-Wulf FW190 is captured intact when it mistakenly lands at RAF Pembrey in Wales.
  • June 23, 1888 Frederick Douglass is 1st African-American nominated for president.
  • June 23, 1848 Workers’ insurrection in Paris.
  • June 23, 1713 The French residents of Acadia are given one year to declare allegiance to Britain or leave Nova Scotia, Canada. They choose the latter, migrate to Louisiana, and become Cajuns.
  • June 21 Summer Solstice (11:28 a.m.).
  • June 21, 1964 Three civil rights workers-Michael H. Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James E. Chaney-are kidnapped and murdered by the Klan in Mississippi .
  • June 21, 1948 The 33 1/3 RPM LP record is introduced by Columbia Records.
  • June 21, 1944 Ray Davies of the Kinks born in London.
  • June 21, 1916 Mexican troops beat US expeditionary force under Gen Pershing.
  • June 21, 1877 The Molly Maguires, ten Irish immigrant labor activists, are hanged in Pennsylvania prisons.
  • June 20, 1947 Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, gangster, the “man who invented Las Vegas,” shot dead in Beverly Hills, Cal.
  • June 20, 1909 Errol Flynn, greatest of the swashbucklers, born in Hobart, Tasmania.
  • June 20, 1944 Congress charters Central Intelligence Agency.
  • June 20, 1943 Detroit race riot kills 35.
  • June 20, 1893 - Lizzie Borden acquitted in murder of parents in New Bedford Mass.
  • June 20, 1871 Ku Klux Klan trials began in federal court in Oxford Miss.
  • June 20, 1837 Queen Victoria at 18 ascends British throne ; rules for 63 years ending in 1901.
  • June 20, 1756 146 British soldiers imprisoned in the "Black Hole of Calcutta." Most die.
  • June 20, 1631 The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
  • June 20, 1214 The University of Oxford receives its charter.
  • June 20, 451 Germans & Romans beat Attila the Hun at Catalarinische Fields.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Week in the Secret History: The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels (September 29)

"Autumn is poignant. It belongs to the angel who carries a point, the Archangel Michael, who wields sword and spear for the people of God against the powers of darkness. The point of Michael’s spear is the poignancy of autumn that pierces our hearts and wakes us from drowsy summer, calling us away from our summer home with a sharp longing for something else.

We humans see the spiritual beauty of a thing most clearly when its time is passing or past. Nothing becomes sacred or legendary until it dies. In autumn, nature’s time is passing. The world is at its most beautiful and poetic because it is passing away. The natural world lingers for a moment on the brink of
this transformation into legend or holiness. It has the bittersweet beauty of something that we are losing. The light turns from the clear, practical white light of summer into the mellow gold that we call antique—like the yellowed pages of an old book, the sepia of old photographs or tarnished brass. Old light; legends of the fall; Indian summer. Nature has one foot over the threshold of eternity and glows with a slant of light from the other side of the door.

Michael is the angel of this transition from time to eternity. The point of his spear is the point where eternity breaks into time and transforms it—both “now, and at the hour of our death,” as the Rosary says. The death of the year, beginning at Michaelmas, acts out this transformation sacramentally.

At the same time, there’s a new kind of life in the air. As dead leaves and withered plants shrivel back toward the ground, it’s as if their summer life is transformed into the tingling energy of the fall air. This combination of the beautifully dying and the bracingly awake is the unmistakable spiritual atmosphere of autumn. Michael is the patron
of the process. The flaming trees say it all. They are a last flare up of gorgeousness before death and, at the same time, a signal fire, a wake-up call to the soul. Michael, whose feast is celebrated one week after the autumnal equinox, is the lord of autumn, the angel of the flaming trees.
" Michael presides over the equinox, the time of the equal night and day, when things hang in the balance. Medieval art often shows Michael holding a pair of balancing scales—just like the Egyptian god Anubis, another lord of transitions and guide of the dead. Those balancing scales are the astrological sign of Libra, which begins a week before Michaelmas."

from Holidays and Holy Nights
by Christopher Hill
copyright 2003

Friday, September 18, 2009

This Week in the Secret History: Carter Files Report of UFO Sighting

On September 18, 1973, future President Jimmy Carter files a report with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), claiming he had seen an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) in October 1969.

During the presidential campaign of 1976, Democratic challenger Carter was forthcoming about his belief that he had seen a UFO. He described waiting outside for a Lion’s Club Meeting in Leary, Georgia, to begin, at about 7:30 p.m., when he spotted what he called "the darndest thing I’ve ever seen" in the sky. Carter, as well as 10 to 12 other people who witnessed the same event, described the object as "very bright [with] changing colors and about the size of the moon." Carter reported that "the object hovered about 30 degrees above the horizon and moved in toward the earth and away before disappearing into the distance." He later told a reporter that, after the experience, he vowed never again to ridicule anyone who claimed to have seen a UFO.

During the presidential campaign of 1976, Carter promised that, if elected president, he would encourage the government release "every piece of information" about UFOs available to the public and to scientists. After winning the presidency, though, Carter backed away from this pledge, saying that the release of some information might have "defense implications" and pose a threat to national security.

from www.History.com

This Week in the Secret History: Ken Kesey, the Indiana Jones of Consciousness

September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001

Farmer, wrestler, author, Intrepid Traveler

“To hell with facts! We need stories!”

“The answer is never the answer. What's really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you'll always be seeking. I've never seen anybody really find the answer -- they think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”

“Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing.”

Monday, September 7, 2009

This Week in the Secret History: The Still-Smoking Gun

Richard Helms, Director of the CIA

Richard Nixon, President of the United States

Excerpts from the Nixon White House Tape dated June 23, 1972, subsequently known as "The Smoking Gun Tape" in which Nixon and his aide John Haldeman discussed blacmkailing the CIA into intervening in the FBI investigation of laundered Nixon campaign funds. Richard Nixon resigned the presidency within four days of this tape being made public in August 1974.

Haldeman: ... they'll stop if we could, if we take this other step.

Nixon: All right. Fine.

Haldeman: And, and they seem to feel the thing to do is get them to stop?

Nixon: Right, fine.

Haldeman: They say the only way to do that is from White House instructions....

Nixon: All right, fine.

Haldeman: and say, ah...

Nixon: How do you call him in? I mean you just, well, we protected [CIA Director Richard] Helms from one hell of a lot of things.

Of course, this is a, this is a hunt, you will--that will uncover a lot of things. You open that scab there's a hell of a lot of things and that we just feel that it would be very detrimental to have this thing go any further. This involves these Cubans, Hunt [E. Howard Hunt, ex-CIA and Cuban exile case officer], and a lot of hanky-panky that we have nothing to do with ourselves.


Nixon: When you get these people in, say: "Look, the problem is that this will open the whole, the whole Bay of Pigs thing, and the President just feels that" ah, without going into the details... don't, don't lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, "The President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again. And, ah because these people are playing for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case", period!

Haldeman: OK

Nixon: That's the way to put it, do it straight (Unintelligible)

In 1978, Haldeman published The Ends of Power , in which he explained Nixon's statement that Watergate could "open up the whole Bay of Pigs thing". Haldeman said that "Bay of Pigs" (the failed 1960 attempt by CIA-backed exiles to topple Castro) was Nixon's code for CIA/Mafia plots to assassinate Fidel Castro, as well as the CIA's general sponsorship of violent, ultra-right wing, heavily armed and virulently anti-Kennedy Cuban exile groups in the southern United States. The CIA had not revealed any of this to the Warren Commission, the commission that investigated the Kennedy assassination. Haldeman eventually speculated that the "Bay of Pigs" was Nixon's way of referring obliquely to the Kennedy assassination itself.

When Haldeman did as his boss had ordered, and told CIA Director Helms that "the Bay of Pigs may be blown," according to Haldeman the reaction was galvanic. "Turmoil in the room, Helms gripping the arms of his chair, leaning forward and shouting, 'The Bay of Pigs had nothing to do with this. I have no concern about the Bay of Pigs.' " Recalls Haldeman: "I was absolutely shocked by Helms' violent reaction. Again I wondered, what was such dynamite in the Bay of Pigs story?"

In the wake of this meeting, CIA officials did, in fact, ask Acting FBI Director Pat Gray to slow the FBI's money tracing.

The tape was damning for Nixon because it was clear evidence of the president ordering the obstruction of the government's Watergate investigation. But it was apparently considered a matter of secondary importance to pursue the question of just exactly what Nixon was talking about. And, after Gerald Ford's blanket pardon of Nixon, no-one would ever be able to question the president under oath. And so the matter rests to this day, with Nixon in his grave.

The Watergate Burglars

  • Bernard L. Barker - Former Central Intelligence Agency operative. Said to have been involved in Cuban exile paramilitary action.
  • Virgilio R. Gonzales - Involved in Cuban exile politics.
  • James W. McCord - Former CIA agent.
  • Eugenio R. Martinez - CIA contract agent. Worked with militant anti-Castro Cuban groups
  • Frank A. Sturgis - Former CIA contract agent working with anti-Castro exile groups.
  • Howard Hunt - Former CIA case officer for the most radical Cuban exile paramilitary groups

Friday, September 4, 2009

In Music: Lords of the Highway

Lost Highways: American Road Songs 1920's to 1950's
Various Artists

In Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, the Kid, played by Kris Kristofferson, is preparing to leave the Lincoln County Jail, having just disposed of two of Pat Garret's deputies assigned to guard him. In his leg irons he's shuffling around the second story room where he's been held, gathering up guns, ammo and blankets. He starts to hum, then sing, a little tuneless song, a list of places he's been. The list grows, the song lengthens, getting louder as the Kid piles on towns, landmarks, rivers. People in the street outside stop to listen; and when Billy realizes it, he starts to shout his silly tuneless song out at them, until he's gathered a silent, watchful audience and we've temporarily left the land of narrative realism for the country of folklore and ritual. Billy the Kid's Song of the Open Road is an American incantation. Call it singing the travels-it is a stock device that American storytellers can use to touch base with the roots of their subject, highway being to American story what the sea is to Homer's.
Read the rest at The Bluegrassspecial.com.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This Week in the Secret History: Do the Horn Dance

The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance is generally accepted as the oldest continuously performed folk ritual in Britain, and one of the oldest in all of Europe. Six dancers in Elizabethan dress each carry on their shoulders an enormous set of reindeer antlers. Three of the sets are painted white; three are painted brown. They are accompanied by the Hobby Horse (a man with a small effigy of a horse resting around his waist, so he seems to be galloping); Maid Marian, a young man in women's clothing, and a traditional Fool. Musicians generally bring up the rear, in recent years being an accordion player and a young boy chiming in on the triangle. The dance involves the hornsmen weaving in and out of each other in a figure eight pattern. They then split into two opposing lines --white vs brown-- and do mock battle with each other.

There is documentary evidence that the Horn Dance goes back to the 16th Century--it was observed by contemporary diarists. But Abbot's Bromley locals have always said it was older than that. They were right. Chemical dating in the 1980's put the horns firmly on the heads of domesticated reindeer that lived in the 11th Century. So that the 21st Century marks at least the one thousandth birthday of the Horn Dance. (To make things more mysterious, reindeer were extinct in England at that time.) But there's some indication that these were not the original set of Horns used in the rite. Which, if the "old horns" were in use anything like as long as the "new" ones, sends us spinning back into the days of the Roman Invasion of Britain.

Or, as Nigel Tufnel put it, "The Druids...who were they...and...what did they do?"

The Horn Dance takes place on Wakes Monday, the day following Wakes Sunday, which is the first Sunday after September 4. In practice, this means that it is the Monday between between September 6 and September 12. It was originally a ritual of the Christmas season, but the date was shifted to autumn in the 18th Century.

Without further ado, England's longest running performance...

And here's the original Horn Dance tune...