"The dreamers of the day are dangerous men" - dreamers down from the mountains - part v
“I will open my mouth with a parable, I will utter enigmas hidden from the beginning - stories that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have handed down to us.”
“History never repeats itself, but the Kaleidoscopic combinations of the pictured present often seem to be constructed out of the broken fragments of antique legends.”
- Mark Twain
Robert Stethem’s body slapped against the pebbled macadam of Beirut’s International Airport as the engines of TWA Flight 847 were brought to a whirring stop by the dark Mediterranean air. Stethem, a diver in the United States Navy, had been a passenger on the Boeing 727 when it was hijacked en route from Athens to Rome by two terrorists tied to some of the various factions within Lebanon.
Stethem was already in bad shape when Flight 847 landed in Beirut. Earlier during a refueling stop his hands were bound with bungee cords and he was dragged from the airplane for a beating by his ski-masked captors severe enough to break every one of his ribs, a successful attempt to persuade the authorities to refuel the terrorist-controlled plane.
After Stethem’s beating the authorities caved, allowed the plane to be refueled, and it proceeded to skip around the Middle East and North Africa before finally coasting to a stop around two in the morning on one of Beirut International Airport’s runways. At this point the terrorists demanded that reinforcements be allowed to board the plane, but Lebanese officials balked. To prove that they were serious about getting their reinforcements, one of the terrorists pulled Stethem from his seat near the front of the airplane. Moaning from the agony caused by his shattered ribcage being dragged across the floor to an open door on the aircraft, Stethem was shot in the back of his head and tossed onto the tarmac waiting below.
The brutal public disposal of his executed body was enough to convince Lebanese authorities to allow the reinforcements to board the idling Boeing 727. A dozen men got on the plane, but of the twelve bearded borders - only one really bears mentioning.
Imad Mugniyah, who’d been instrumental in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks not even two miles away, pulled off his ski-mask and ordered the seven passengers who’d been identified by their IDs as members of the American military to be shanghaied out the back of the plane into trucks along with four more who had Jewish-sounding names. The trucks slipped into the Beirut suburbs, TWA Flight 847 slipped into the early-morning light, and Robert Stethem’s life slipped into memoriam - mostly forgotten victim of the cataclysmic wave of modern fundamentalist terrorism that seemed prepared to engulf the modern world throughout the 1980s and into our modern era.
Although terrorism is generally regarded as a tool of the weak, resorted to when a fair fight is not an option. But this is an incomplete characterization, so it is far more telling to examine terrorism as a tool of the resourceful, the sly, and the inventive.
And, perhaps most importantly, as the little brother of warfare.
It is no coincidence that Winston Churchill classified the Allied commandos deployed deep inside occupied Europe as “specially trained troops of the hunter class who can develop a reign of terror down these coasts.” These commandos were able to harness various forms of asymmetric warfare and stir up the insurgency that helped tip occupied Western Europe in the Allies’ favor.
When these commando operations began, the Allied forces in Europe were demoralized and nearly defeated. They had been pushed back to the coasts and were at risk of being overrun. But when the Allied commando actions ended, it was the Axis powers who were in full retreat, and the war was all but over.
The asymmetric is synonymous with the unconventional: Any means of violence that somehow steps outside the box of traditional conflict, or incinerates the box entirely. Commandos, then, are military men who use asymmetric means to drastically magnify the perceived potential of the forces they’re allied with. Sometimes they use subterfuge, sometimes sabotage, sometimes assassination – but always using dissimulation and always coming at the enemy from an angle left unprotected and unguarded. And they always seek to stoke fear and unease within the groups they target.
So where does the commando begin and the terrorist end?
It is always a matter of context and perception – not one of morality. The line between the terrorist and the commando will never be stark, but always blurred and shifting depending on your angle of perception. The Allied fire-bombing of Dresden is often cited as an example of a state acting as a terrorist, since those attacks intentionally targeted civilian areas and killed untold thousands of German citizens. Modern warfare is replete with examples of “systematic large bombings of civilian populations,” attacks which are always “explicitly intended to spread fear among the targeted populations.”
However little objective insight into the machinations and inner workings of terrorism can be revealed by comparing that attack with an event like 9/11, so subjective ideas of morality – although important to debate and consider on their own – only work to confuse this discussion, after all: Innocents and innocence alike are lost in the stench of terror’s breath. And over the millennia, this moral ambiguity around the necessity of different sorts of violence has always been interwoven with another great testament to moral ambiguity: Organized religion, humanity’s first flavor of social and eventually political control, and often the driving force behind acts of terrorism.
But good news for us is, understanding the complex webs of coercive influence and institutional order that get woven in different ways around the totems and patterns of religion, politics, and violence by different human societies also opens the final cataract that guides this tale back through the Doorway to the Deep. Back to our collective beginnings as a species up on the Roof of the World - looking out together at the miasma of darkness uncoiling across the sky following the eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera over two-million years ago.
And this final journey down through the deepest layers of our consciousness and all the nightmares of our past ties all of our ancient stories and fables to a city on a hill - to the fate of Jews, Christians, Muslims and everyone else alive today.
Because one ancient, troubled, warswept city - host to all three great Abrahamic monotheistic faiths - has come to contain touchstones for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike. And its stones would be dreamed into a Wall, a Dome, and a Temple in a place that has delineated not just the wholeness of peace – but the oneness that intertwines our consciousness with violence – as no single city ever has.
To be able to follow the unbreaking line that can be drawn from our beginnings on the Roof of the World over two-million years ago all the way across Jerusalem’s timeless stones before finally describing the dynamics behind the emergence of modern fundamentalist terrorism and the dreams those attacks attempt to shake us awake from – we must hold our breaths and return back through the Doorway to the Deep, and into the rivers of bloodshed that have so often delineated our shared histories.
Back across the footsteps of the world’s most ancient revolutionaries and the first true assassin to the banks of the Sea of Galilee, where the history of violence has flowed in unison with time. Through the deepest canopied rainforests, over the bloodied sands of Africa, and into pedagogical explosions muffled at the turn of the century by weary Russian snow. Muffled, yet still echoing across the media every time we are gathered by horror together in front of our televisions.
Because it is only in the stories of our past that we can begin to find the answers to what is happening to us now, and understand why our civilizations always end up exactly where they began - starting with dreams of utopia but inevitably devolving into the continual revolutionary nightmares of violence and rebirth that have constrained our species from the start - often described as the work of terrorism in the modern era.
In the broadest sense, one thing that “sets terrorism apart from other acts of violence is that terrorism is carried out in a very dramatic way to attract attention and create an [illusion] of fear that goes far beyond the actual victims of the violence.” But there is much more to it than that, because after all: The unreal is more powerful than the real … But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.
“Terrorist” has been the label used for insurgents, rebels, ideologues, guerrillas, militants, extremists, heads of state, commandos, and anyone else who uses violence that is novel or unexpected and who is inspired by an idea that he holds more dear than his own life – or the lives of strangers. The word “terrorist” alone is a troublesome over-application, and so categorizing a terrorist’s actions both by the context they occur in and by the perceptions they create is imperative both to understanding and to defusing the threat they pose – increasingly important steps to be able to take.
Because the emergence of al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other modern Islamic terrorists onto the world stage at the turn of the 21st century is symptomatic of a larger disorder: the metastasis of hopelessness across millions and millions of lives. And although this disease has primarily been spreading overseas for the past few generations, if you live in America or anywhere else in the West it’s becoming more and more apparent that it was only be a matter of time until it arrives on our shores.
The catabolic destruction beginning to unfurl across the face of the entire world isn’t anything new. It’s simply manifesting a zeitgeist that’s always summoned into existence by fear and violence, by hopelessness and inequity. By placing this zeitgeist into modern circumstances it gains a sheen of novelty. It shouldn’t. When forgotten precedents are brought into the present, the sinister mystery of what’s occurring now fades back into the past - you’ll be able to rub your eyes and awaken from that nightmare.
Tracing back to its beginnings as simple tyrannicide when killing one person would often collapse a society, as our societies evolved so too did the methods of the terrorist: Assassinating a king sends an unmistakable message, however as kings gave way to dictators repacking the message became necessary - and tyrannicide became reshaped as terrorism on the dusty streets of Jerusalem by the blades of the first zealots, which eventually gave way to modern more symbolic attacks on important military and economic targets.
And so in many ways all these attacks are simply echoes of violence long past, since along those same streets the exact same story was told many, many millennia ago.
Our societies have always progressed cyclically, periods of stability and order inevitably lead to the formative anarchy of the masses. Communal human expression at its awful finest. Sometimes those involved in an uprising are described as revolutionaries or insurgents, at other times they’re called terrorists – but that distinction isn’t a matter of absolute truth so much as context and perception. Like the draconic ouroboros, the ancient symbol of a snake forever consuming its own tail, we are inextricably caught in the same gyre of destruction and renewal as our ancestors.
However figuring out exactly how the proverbial shit will go down isn’t just a matter of identifying the forces and concepts that were at work as past societies spiraled horribly towards entropy, we must also come to terms with our own shortcomings and mistakes. The bloody road we will travel on is one that has been well-taken before us, the road is not what’s different this time.
What’s different this time is us, the traveler.
And there’s just one last thing you need to ask yourself: Are you ready to take that first nibble, and dine on the skin of the Leviathan?
To answer the question of how warriors conquer “that most primordial of terrors, which resides in our very blood, as in all life, beasts as well as men,” it’s been offered that this is most reliably achieved through the fact that “fear conquers fear.”
We all like to tell ourselves that there exists a cause in this world that we would unflinchingly and heroically die for. But the reality isn’t that sexy. If we are willing to put our lives on the line, this eventuality is – perhaps more so than anyone likes to admit – highly dependent not so much on our own ideals and internal strength.
But on the strength of our ties to those around us.
Because it’s only through “counterpoising to fear of death a greater fear” that “dogs in a pack find courage to take on a lion.” That greater fear is the fear of dishonor. Of losing the love and respect of those around you. There’s a simple calculus for solving the problem of fear. “Each hound knows its place. He fears the dog ranked above and feeds off the fear of the dog below.” And humans have long shown they share this willingness to give up their lives for the greater social group when the fear of their death is trumped by the fear of other fates.
Such as exclusion from the pack.
Letting your buddies down and being extricated from the support and meaning their lives give you is understood to be a fate worse than death, and so we humans have spent our entire existence willingly sacrificing our lives for the communities we belong to, and for the ideals that hold our societies together.
And it’s far from a coincidence that no animal embodies this sense of duty to the people around us more than our dogs, another highly-social altruistic species that wants one thing more than anything else in the world: Simply to be by our sides for as long as they possibly can.
Our dogs will unthinkingly throw themselves at anything they perceive to be a threat, and if they have enough sense to realize they’re physically outmatched or that they’re unable to neutralize it - nothing can stop their barking if they think it’s protecting us. And so if nothing else, having dogs around functions as a very reliably biological alarm system. Humans and dogs effortlessly and immediately form packs together whenever they intersect, and often it is our pooches’ steady presence by our sides that keeps us going long after the humans in our lives have given up on us.
And so in recent decades a fair amount of scientific research has been dedicated to exploring the mutualism, the mutually beneficial ties, that must’ve existed between our canine companions and early humans - in our earliest days long before we managed to master agriculture and animal husbandry, and still felt like Nature was an ever-present threat, as it always was before civilization provided the walls and hearths that kept us safe and warm in our cities.
Since starvation was very much on the table before cities were really a thing, dogs would’ve provided invaluable assistance with tracking and bringing down prey, and then dragging it back home - even on primitive woven stretchers which were likely used before the invention of the wheel and wherever snow wasn’t available. And these stretchers could’ve been used for transporting wood and stone as well, providing tireless labor at a time when calories would’ve been at a premium.
But this obvious mutualistic interaction - which may have begun impromptu back in the time when massive cave-bears, dire-wolves, and saber-toothed nightmares would’ve been the real alpha predators, threatening both species’ existence and causing opportunistic cooperation long before any sort of formal domestication - is only scratching the surface of exactly how intertwined the canine and human fates have really been for these two-million years.
Because their domestication is generally dated to some point in the past few tens of thousands of years or so, the canine role in our story is assumed to be relatively recent and modern. However that assumption rests on the Neutral Theory’s broken clock that tries to explain the only heat-snakes in the world existing on two separate plateaus separated by half the globe as a matter of shared heritage instead of independent adaptation, and so maybe things go a bit farther back than we’ve been taught.
After all, our dogs are the only animals on Earth who follow the human gaze, watching not where our bodies or heads are pointed, but locking eyes with us and moving theirs to see where we look. Maybe that’s about coordinating during the hunt, or maybe there’s more to see when you look into a dog’s eyes and wonder who exactly is locking their eyes with yours.
And yet perhaps the most profound and inarguably kind of mutualism occurs when the relationship can be seen within our genetic code, which was exactly what was beginning about 2.4mya when our homo ancestors began to see their jaws begin to change shape - losing biting power to make room for larger brains. Back in the last years before the Yellowstone Caldera rolled-coal all over our bucolic existence on top of the Roof of the World, this change may have been necessary to make room for the expanding braincases required to make room for bulging cerebellums responding at higher altitudes like a balloon.
And so especially during the intergenerational winter that followed Yellowstone’s cataclysm, although they would’ve had their Oldawan tools with them, the Hamarcas distinct lack of biting power would’ve placed them at an immediate disadvantage against all of the primate ancestors and the other predators we’d left behind and encountered again scrambling off of the Tibetan Plateau and back into the jungles and veldts below - hominid and fully-fanged alike - opening a niche that ancient canines would’ve been all-too happy to fill for us, assuming we shared some of the results of the hunt.
This differentiated and weakened jaw morphology, which may have been the first evolutionary niche our dogs filled, is also apparent when the dates of human teeth emergence is compared to chimps, further delineating it as a defining part of our common humanity:
Six, 12, and 18. These are the ages that most people get their three adult molars or large chewing teeth towards the back of the mouth. These teeth come in at a much later age than they do in our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, who get those same adult molars at around three, six, and 12 years old. Paleoanthropologists have wondered for a long time how and why humans evolved molars that emerge into the mouth at these specific ages and why those ages are so delayed compared to living apes.
This is just one example of many examples linked to the homo genus having a much longer and leisurely childhood compared to our furrier brethren, the neoteny that helps define us as a species and also correlates with high-altitude adaptation since puberty is significantly extended at altitude. And not only do our teeth help define our humanity, all these dental arrangements also reveal a concordance with canines.
Right around the same epoch of roughly 1.8mya when our ancestors’ brains began to demonstrate the ability for the modern thought necessary to make Acheulean tools, is also when our canine companions were experiencing a genetic change of their own. Within the Caucasus Mountains of modern-day Georgia, a kingdom once perhaps not coincidentally known as The Land of the Wolves, at the gateway between Africa and Eurasia is found one of the first fossilized examples of a sociable and hypercarnivorous canine, resting forever among his friends.
This ancestor of our four-legged friends spread out from the Caucus Mountains into the rest of Eurasia and Africa, and although it likely responded to many different names, for now we can call it by its scientific name, Xenocyon lycaonoides. However since they’re using the broken Molecular Clock of the Neutral Theory, today scientists argue that they dispersed in the opposite direction as humanity did, if we’d been heading out of Africa and into Eurasia. And so these long lost mutts aren’t thought to have interacted with us any more than any other predator out on the veldt, and aren’t viewed with any particular reverence.
And yet if we really are dreamers down from the mountains and fled the Tibetan Plateau out into the rest of the world roughly 2mya, we would’ve been following the same trajectory as the canine companions who found themselves on the western portion of the Roof of the World, largely penned in by the gargantuan now-desiccated lakes to the northeast and the Himalayas to the south - right around a time when our dentition and jaw morphology was becoming smaller and less powerful to make room for our bigger homo brains, making the benefit of a hunting partner with a powerful bite even more amplified out in that long dark intergenerational winter.
But our dogs do far more than bite with their mouths, and it turns out that when they’re trying to give you kisses - that maybe they’re doing much more than looking for food or showing affection, but also aiding us in the most ancient conflict of them all.
Within the past several years everyone from Cosmo to Nature has reported on the results of a surprising study: women can, it would seem, smell who they’re attracted to. Bags containing t-shirts that various men had worn while exercising served as sweaty glass slippers, women were asked to rate the attractiveness of the scent contained in each bag – every white t-shirt was exactly the same except for the odor of the man who’d worn it.
Women rated each bag and went on their way, never to learn anything more about the prospective mates than what their used laundry smelled like. And when researchers went to work trying to figure out why women made the choices they did, a surprising and consistent link was found: women are attracted to men whose major-histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes best complimented theirs:
Women’s preference for MHC-distinct mates makes perfect sense from a biological point of view. Ever since ancestral times, partners whose immune systems are different have produced offspring who are more disease-resistant. With more immune genes expressed, kids are buffered against a wider variety of pathogens and toxins.
MHC genes are the gatekeepers of our immune systems, they determine white blood cell function and decide whether or not organs will be accepted for donation – regulating whether or not a new host will accept a donor organ as its own or attack it as an outside contagion. The better suited your MHC genes are to fighting the pathogens present in your environment, the healthier you’ll be.
And not only healthier, but more intelligent too. A study of IQ scores and infectious disease found that both internationally between nations and nationally between states, IQ levels correlate more closely with the rate of infectious disease than any other factor. Given how biologically taxing it is for children to fight off disease, and the fact that our brains suck up 90% of our energy as newborns and one-quarter of our energy as adults, it stands to reason that healthier societies end up more intelligent on the whole and that instincts which select for healthy progeny would emerge.
So when it comes to picking a mate who will pass half of their MHC genes onto your child and largely decide the suitably of their immune system to the environment, the trick is determining exactly what “compliment” means, as researchers found that “women are not attracted to the smell of men with whom they had no MHC genes in common. ‘This might be a case where you’re protecting yourself against a mate who’s too similar or too dissimilar, but there’s a middle range where you’re okay.’”
Who would have MHC genes that would complement yours? Members of a population that underwent similar immunological pressures as your ancestors – but not exactly the same. Not a nuclear family member, but maybe a close-ish relative like a second or third cousin – certainly someone whose ancestors adapted to similar pressures created by the diseases that became so prevalent in crowded communities that were in close contact with each other and the livestock they raised.
Pressures which coalesced roughly 10,000 years ago, which is when our first blue-eyed ancestor was born and when racial differentiation began to emerge in earnest. And so it would make a certain amount of biological sense for us to be biologically compelled to make babies with those who smell like they share some relatively recent ancestry with, to ensure that our kids have an immune system that’s suited to the immunological pressures they would’ve encountered.
“Body odor is an external manifestation of the immune system, and the smells we think are attractive come from the people who are most genetically compatible with us.” Much of what we vaguely call “sexual chemistry,” is likely a direct result of this scent-based compatibility.
And this compatibility isn’t outwardly expressed only in scent, we also wear our MHC genes somewhere even more obvious than our sleeves: directly on our faces.
Multiple studies have shown links between the range of human MHC genes and facial appearance, as well as MHC genes and perceived attractiveness. It would follow that simply by looking at a member of another race, we would immediately know on an instinctual level that their MHC genes may well be wildly dissimilar to our own. And an examination of the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s online database reveals these disparities throughout our MHC genes. As this probabilistic selection of some of the HLA-A alleles illustrates, although some alleles occur at similar rates, the odds that many of them will occur varies widely across the MHC region of our genomes:
Each grouping represents a different HLA-A allele: 1, 2, 3, 11, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33
All of this makes a tremendous amount of sense, an instinct to create offspring with someone who is going to provide your child with the best odds of having a robust immune system would have been vital for any community that was under significant pressure from disease.
And it’s important to keep in mind that this instinct would have begun to emerge long before any sort of antibiotics or sterile surgery. Medical science develops incredibly quickly, even just 150 years ago doctors didn’t even realize they should wash their hands before jamming them up inside someone to pull a baby out. Modern medicine has arguably rendered this instinct obsolete in practical terms, and yet it may still be wired into us as part of our primitive heritage.
But just because something’s an instinct doesn’t by any means make it Right. We also have instincts for violence and promiscuity that would cause our societies to implode if they weren’t regulated by human reason and rational decision-making. But arguing that sex and immunology have no relationship at all in humans would require ignoring the fundamental nature of life on the planet. And as it turns out, humans do in fact appear to have a fairly fine-tuned way to filter the best mate choices, and subconsciously steer clear of the sort of accidental genocides that have haunted our ancestors when virulent diseases have been introduced to naive populations.
Human societies are epic practices in not embracing our basest instincts, individuals are encouraged to do their best not to act like animals. And yet all that said, it doesn’t make the instinct to breed with someone who’s going to provide your brood with the best suited immune system for the environment any less real, or any less a part of who we are.
So some human females indicate a preference for mating with someone who shared a similar ancestry as themselves, but would it necessarily mean a distaste for outsiders? At least for ovulating women, yes it would.
Turns out women who are fertile exhibit a strong implicit bias against men from other races. While ovulating women were more attracted to men of their own race who were perceived as physically imposing, the opposite was true if the man was a member of a different racial group. So not only are we drawn to members who share a similar ancestry as our own, but a subset of human females may be unconsciously repelled by members of other races when they’re fertile.
However just because racism may be hardwired into pretty much all of us, that does not in fact make it natural, nor morally good - in fact it’s the exact opposite. Since just because an instinct exists, that doesn’t mean it should be followed 100% of the time - much of modern society is built on the concept that free will allows us to choose a higher path.
Unfortunately, all too often that higher path is offered by the religions that organize within our societies, so instead of following their baser instincts most humans offload their morality onto a Higher Power, which has helpfully set down all kinds of rules and regulations at some point in a distant past. And although these organizations may often begin with divine inspiration, with enough time they become just as corrupted as every other entity that links humans to power over each other, and so the rules and regulations inevitably become some combination of corrupted and entirely unsuited to fuel a functioning society.
Our religions were rooted in an ancient long-forgotten immunological past, designed to keep us safe in a world that doesn’t really exist in quite the same way anymore.
And so not only does immunology set the stage for organized religion and regulate the way we organize and relate to each other in nebulous ways during group interactions, it also appears to help regulate the most magical emotion of them all: True Love. However we’ve already learned that maybe Love isn’t exactly what we’d thought - after all, how would distant fishes still be able to successfully make love and babies after 100 million years of separation?
And how could two populations of snakes separated by most of the globe be considered the closest extant relatives to each other? And what does any of this have to do with the fact that our dogs often want to do nothing else other than stick their big sloppy tongues directly in our mouths?
Nothing marked the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 more than paradox: A near-certain zoonotic emergence in a Wuhan wet-market in December turned into an origin uncertain both temporally and geographically, a zodiac of possible intermediate hosts shifted from snake to pangolin back to bat and then on to civet and badger.
Even more oddly, in addition to behaving like “no microbe humanity had ever seen” according to the doctors treating its infections, SARS-CoV-2 also elicits sequelae in novel constellations which often seem almost like they’re produced by combinations of different classes of virus – affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, and even the testicles.
And then in addition to kicking-off a pandemic among humans, this novel coronavirus immediately did something rather unusual: It immediately jumped into farmed mink and began a second parallel international pandemic among them as well, leading to the culling of tens of millions of mink across Europe and America throughout 2020 and 2021, a much more intentional version of the death visited on human populations all across the globe.
Had the international scientific community not been entirely corrupted by funding from the defense industry and Big Pharma, they would’ve immediately pointed-out that this affinity for mink pretty clearly indicated that SARS-CoV-2 had in fact been constructed with the help of laboratory ferrets - a sister species so closely related to mink that they can interbreed.
And it’s not like the link between ferrets and gain-of-function work is any secret, or hard to find if you’re a journalist even halfway trying to look:
“Although different animal models are used in vaccine studies, the most appropriate model for studying SARS is ferret since it develops the typical clinical signs, viral replication patterns and lung pathology compatible with that of SARS pathogenesis in humans.”
However beyond the reality that the COVID-19 Pandemic is the result of a live-attenuated vaccine that’s reverting back to full strength like the T-1000 reconstructing itself from tiny puddles of metal, is the reason ferrets are so commonly used in labs to weaken viruses down to the point where they can serve as vaccines in the first place.
Both ferrets and their close cousin the mink have extremely high levels of an immunological defense mechanism called the zinc antiviral protein, or ZAP. This ZAP protein targets segments of viral genomes called CpG dinucleotides, leading to the evolution of mammalian viruses which have low levels of CpG dinucleotides - the fewer of them it has, the fewer targets ZAP has to use to attack the virus.
And so the fact that SARS-CoV-2 also has the lowest level of CpG dinucleotides ever found on a betacoronavirus even further indicates that lab ferrets were involved in the virus’s creation, especially since not a single mink or any other animal sampled anywhere in Wuhan or China at large was found with the virus - mink didn’t become infected until the virus made its way to Italy’s mink farms.
But it’s not just mink and ferrets with extremely high levels of ZAP proteins, there’s one more highly social mammal with the same extremely high level - our dogs.
As we’ve domesticated canines all sorts of different genetic disorders have been introduced due to the forced inbreeding - instead of letting dogs make their own decisions about love, we have spent the millennia telling them lies about our undying love for them, while steadfastly refusing to let them decide their own love. But lucky for both of us, high levels of ZAP proteins have remained as deleterious mutations accumulated elsewhere, and our dogs have remained unwitting victims of our genetic machinations.
Our dogs have been tirelessly by our sides for much longer than we understand, and we have thanked them for their loyalty by condemning them to joint disorders and cancers and everything else that comes from being forced down the highly inbred corridors of becoming aesthetically pleasing. And so with the COVID-19 Pandemic unstoppably ravaging the globe, blowing through vaccine-induced and natural immunity alike as it reconstitutes itself and reverts back to its original fully pathogenic form - lucky for us our dogs are ready to save us once again, just like they have been for some two-million years.
In the first years following the Yellowstone Caldera’s cataclysm about 2.1mya, the intergenerational winter that would’ve blocked out the sun for decades following this eruption, and our survival as a species would’ve hinged on simply being able to stay warm in the sub-zero years that followed.
As warm-blooded mammals, keeping that blood warm is the first order of business as far as survival goes. And since the Hamrcas lost their hair around 3mya, when we officially became Hairless Apes, with that little bit of protection gone the plummeting temperatures occurring due to the blacked-out sun would’ve posed an immense threat - especially during that first unnaturally Long Winter after Yellowstone’s explosion.
And so like our furrier simian brethren still inhabiting the Roof of the World, during the cold nights we would’ve invariably huddled together into collective sleeping balls to stave off the cold, huddling together with friend and foe alike simply to survive. Balled together in these sleeping groups, the first tendrils of an ancient magic began to reach into our neurology for the first time - slowly but inevitably rewiring the way our brain metabolized oxygen overnight, especially during the coldest hours when balancing the metabolic needs of not freezing to death against the brain’s need to quench itself in sleep after a long day of work became the most delicate.
As these tendrils worked themselves into the deepest parts of our brains, huddled together as close as possible to our family and friends against the unrelenting cold and darkness, for the first time the gods began to whisper to us. This rewiring of our dream machinery, necessary to maintain warmth while still allowing the brain to rest and clean itself out with sleep’s cleansing cycles, likely required our noggins to dip back a bit into our mammalian repertoires. Although none of our simian cousins can hibernate, humans appear to have regained something close to that ability - also held by bushbabies and lemurs, our rather distant cousins.
Excavations at Sima de la Huesos, aptly named The Pit of Bones, unearthed hominid remains dating back about 400,000 years with brain and bone damage consistent with the kind that occurs inside hibernating bears, who technically don’t hibernate but instead reach a state known as “torpor,” a distinction of degree. And one unfortunate cavebear was found sleeping forever next to our old bones deep in that Pit, with hibernation damage all over it, serving as the perfect petrified Rosetta bone.
And so from examining the damage to all these old bones, scientists concluded that hundreds of thousands of years ago, to survive the deepest cold of those winters, hominids managed to turn their hibernation switches back on by dipping back into their epigenetic reservoirs. Although this may first have begun to happen during that first Long Winter following the Yellowstone Caldera’s explosion, in the millennia that followed humanity was still dealing with extraordinarily cold winters that embraced us with an iciness that’s unmatched today.
Another study also from Sima de la Huesos and over fifty sites all over Europe determined that at least from 780kya to 125kya, during the Middle Pleistocene, temperatures would’ve plummeted down to 20 degrees below freezing for extended periods of time.
And so climatic oscillations throughout this period caused winters to swing from our modern relatively balmy and bearable winters, into periods of incredibly deep freezes. So using the Pit of Bones as a prospective shelter, modeling showed that there’s no way our ancestors would’ve survived without huddling together and at least covering up with animal furs. Fire probably seems like an obvious solution, however even a half-million years ago there’s very little evidence anyone was using fire at all, and certainly not habitually within these caves or anywhere else until about 300,000kya.
However given that all across Eurasia and North Africa during this exact epoch and leading up to it, humanity was busy running around hunting every single large extant mammal to extinction: Starting 1.5mya ago there’s a clear pattern that doesn’t follow any environmental trend, where the largest animals disappear from the fossil record little by little over the ages as they were presumably hunted to death by our cavebear-killing forebearers.
So although way back over one million years ago we were regularly hunting mammoths that weighed over 20,000lbs, an order of magnitude later by about 100,000ya the largest prey left was only about 200lbs - a massive slide down in size. Smaller animals are by nature faster and harder to kill, and so once our ancestors had killed off all the local mammoths and other giant fauna - something it’s a bit daunting to imagine they were pulling-off alone - they had to move on to smaller victims, who necessitated new hunting technologies, since it was the “decline of prey size [that] led to technological advancements and not vice versa.”
And so about 1.6mya the Oldawan seems to have given way to the Acheulean in no small part because of the selective pressure caused by hunting the largest species of prey into extinction, once our ancestors had hunted all the large fauna down to extinction and begun to settle down instead of following the migrating herds. Hunting smaller prey is much less forgiving, the vital organs are smaller and so your bullseyes are smaller, and cleaning them properly also becomes more important - to ensure every little bit of nutrients is removed from the teeny little animals.
This pressure, of needing higher-quality hunting and animal-cleaning tools, led humanity right back to the volcanic caves that’d first sheltered us and provided heat some 2.1mya in the first Long Winter, even though the tepid climate and mastery of fire didn’t necessitate it for shelter or warmth. Instead our ancestors were drawn in by obsidian, the rock-like glass formed when flowing lava is cooled quickly, especially by the seas. Obsidian’s allure came from the fact that when its properly fractured, the edge that’s formed is much sharper than anything stone can hold, and in fact can be sharper than even our modern high-tech steel-alloyed surgical scalpels today.
This volcanic glass is far more brittle than stone though since it doesn’t have a crystalline structure supporting it, meaning it was likely used for cleaning kills at least as much as making them, and was certainly used for ceremonial purposes - most notoriously by the Aztec priests who used their special sharp green obsidian for countless sacrificial strokes of the blade. And so we returned to the caves and grottos that’d originally saved us during the Long Winter, first to find obsidian and then soon for our initial forges - since it’s hard to imagine the Ages of Metals, dependent on melting ores down, began without some fiery spelunking experimentation using the natural volcanic flows that would’ve burned eternally and been much hotter than anything our wood-fueled fires could produce.
And hunting all the large walking furry buffets down to extinction was a feat that it's hard to imagine we accomplished alone, due to the relationship between early humans and our hunting dogs - invaluable tools for taking down massive mammals. But it wasn’t just hunting that our dogs helped with, since during those long cold winters of course they would’ve joined us inside the caves we sheltered all huddled together for warmth and protection from the elements outside.
Not only were our earliest ancestors warmed by the company of furs and friends and family pressed close against them while huddled together in sleeping balls, without fire it was the love of our furry, panting companions who would’ve served both as space-heaters as well as humidifiers. Unlike people who sweat through their skin, dogs dispose of excess humidity by panting, both warming and moisturizing air that otherwise would’ve been unbearably dry, unless you were lucky enough to find an uninhabited cave with active geothermal vents.
And yet beyond the obvious practical observations that a close relationship with canines would’ve kept us warm and helped with hunting, is a much deeper relationship that in many ways defines what mutualism means.
Mutualism is the term used to describe the dynamic that emerges when two species become intertwined with each other, relying on this partnership for both of their survivals. And tellingly, the emergence of mutualistic relationships are often linked to major evolutionary transitions, possibly like the eruption of massive calderas, since when times get tough it’s a lot easier to get by with a little help from our friends.
Mutualism is fairly common among flora, as some 80% of terrestrial plants have roots that rely on a mutualistic relationship of resource exchange with underground fungi to survive at all, and within rainforest between three-quarters and 90% of plants need animals for mutualistic seed-dispersal - as animals benefit from consuming fruits and seeds, and then eventually crap them out somewhere on the forest floor along with a fertilizing boost.
And some two billion years ago, it was the mutualism between the two ancient ancestors first to chloroplasts and then mitochondria that caused what were once four separate organisms to merge into the two types of eukaryotic cells, beginning Life as we really study it.
Those are just a few examples of all the different mutualisms that can be observed throughout Nature, from the temporary to the permanent, and sometimes fading in and out as environmental conditions change and reduce the necessity of the relationship. Because mutualism is such a broad phenomenon that encompasses so many different kinds of relationships its hard to quantify exactly, however in broad strokes it generally emerges along four complimentary pathways - and all four are robustly demonstrated along the path we’ve walked with our dogs, beginning nearly two million years back.
The first pathway that mutualism emerges along is due to ecological constraints, when a changing environment forces two species into closer contact than they’d previously been. And so with the cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera making the Tibetan Plateau uninhabitable in the Long Winter that followed, a relationship that might’ve already been occurring at the edges on top of the bucolic Roof of the World would’ve pushed our two species from lightly overlapping into completely vital to each other’s existence, since successful hunts would’ve become far more vital occurrences during that long cold darkness and since mutualism is strengthened during times of scarcity.
As challenging ecologies push species closer together, mutualism can cause both species to undergo at least limited evolution, as one shapes the other, which often results in some trait-loss as one species serves to replace the functions of these lost traits. So although its difficult to infer too much meaning to the morphological changes found in canines over the eons, studying human brain evolution has already told us that human jaw morphology was markedly changing beginning about 2.4mya and leading through the birth of our modern brains about 1.8mya. We can’t know when dogs begin to fill that niche, but given what we know about our simian cousins’ penchant for biting their prey, if nothing else it seems reasonable to imagine that dogs were at the least furry can-openers for larger femurs of the massive prey we took down together.
Side-by-side in the interglacial darkness, after downing a 20,000lb wooly-mammoth, our canine companions would’ve been able to help crush bones open to allow access to their marrow, after first using their faces to bring them down in the first place. And although our jaws likely helped our distant more simian ancestors with hunting and opening bones, the combination of using tools and our canine hunting-helpers allowed them to shrink down, in the process making room for our burgeoning brains.
Then when the coldest parts of winter came and everyone was stuck sheltering in whatever caves they could find, these earliest dogs would’ve helped us survive the twenty-below temperatures that settled across much of northern Eurasia, with their panted humidity and warming snuggles. Plus of course when times were really tough, legends tell us that they may even have been nursemaids.
And evidence that this really all did begin right along with modern human thought can be found among those ancient bones, where in locations that stretch from Spain to Southern California, there’s evidence that wolf-like individuals born with serious retardations still managed to live long, full lives. Within The Land of the Wolves - Dmanisi, Georgia - one fossilized wolf-like Xenocyon lycaonoides specimen showed evidence of numerous congenital disabilities especially of its teeth and skull, severe enough to preclude it from hunting at all, and yet it still managed to survive to adulthood.
This specific site in Georgia was dated all the way back to 1.77 mya, but it’s just one of many found in an outward explosion from this region, as once again we’re reminded of the “Wolf Event” that began right about this same time, in the aftermath of the Yellowstone Caldera’s explosion of 2.1mya. And so beginning right around when we gained the ability to use Acheulean tools and just as modern thought emerged, Xenocyon lycaonoides became one of the most common and important members of the carnivoran palaeoguild of Eurasia, and also dispersed into northern and eastern Africa.
While noting that only the contemporary homo genus, whose bones are also found nearby, practiced the same sort of apparent “altruistic food provisioning to disability or old individuals,” so far no one researching these bones seems to have made the jump to assume that there was in fact an incredibly tight mutualistic bond forming between our species throughout these years since everyone thinks humanity was headed in the opposite direction - out of Africa and into Eurasia. However between our lack of biting power, their benefits as hunting partners, and dealing with the negative twenty-degree cold - Especially since every single box of evolutionary mutualism is about to be ticked, it seems hard to imagine that it wasn’t occurring over those two million years.
Holding each other close, totally unaware of the fourth and final concept that fuels mutualism, partner manipulation, and about all the Evil that humanity had waiting for them.
Pre-dating both the Bible and the Iliad by an easy one-thousand years and dating back to at least 3,600 years ago, humanity’s first recorded story, the epic tale of Gilgamesh, also sometimes titled Gilgamesh, Enkidu, and the Netherworld is a lyrical collection of poems that tell the story of the adventures and the eventual love that was felt between the eponymous hero, Gilgamesh, and his beloved best friend, Enkidu. And to be fair it is a story that has been told over and over again, across many years and several societies - the fragments containing these tales often have noticeably different versions depending on where they’re found, although they generally share major overlapping themes.
And like most buddy-movies, the two main characters don’t start off having much love for each other, and Enkidu is described by the Mesopotamians of about 2,000 BCE very specifically as not exactly human. Not only does his name come with a grammatical marker that denotes his god-like essence, but Enkidu is described as being created out in the veldt by a specific goddess, in response to protests against Gilgamesh’s brutal rule.
The story begins with Enkidu, notably hirsute and primitive, living out in the wilderness, making his way among the herds and drinking with them from the rivers. One day a hunter witnesses him taking apart his traps, and so after a bit of consultation with Gilgamesh, a sacred hooker is sent out to calm this wild, really hairy man down, and teach him to be civilized. Turns out, the way to Enkidu’s heart wasn’t through his stomach. And sure enough, after about two weeks of wanton nights with this classy city bitch, Enkidu calms down and becomes intelligent - learning to understand human language, and beginning to keep the shepherds company at night after helping protect their flocks - “Among the great sheep for sacrifice Enkidu was their guard. A man, a leader, a hero” - since he finds that wild animals now flee from him.
Eventually Enkidu takes a break from helping the shepherds and makes his way into the city, where he encounters Gilgamesh on his way to have his way with yet another newlywed, leading to a confrontation. After extended wrestling they realize neither is going to win, and suddenly a fast friendship is borne from the shared struggle. This friendship soon grows into a deep and abiding love, and the text tells us that their relationship grew just as close as if they were lovers, with Gilgamesh eventually realizing that Enkidu fulfilled the prophecy of meeting “an ax that he would caress like a wife.”
Sentiments echoed by Enkidu, whose spirit would describe getting to know Gilgamesh as discovering that “Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time… love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness.”
So although there have been multiple versions found all telling variegated versions of Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s adventures together, one shared theme in addition to their unbounding love for each other, is that towards the end, they travel together to defeat a great foe so that Gilgamesh can fulfill his destiny, with Enkidu by his side as always - his half-wild companion’s bravery was needed to help dispel his fear whenever they encountered Death together: “Hold my hand in yours, and we will not fear what hands like ours can do.”
But before that journey begins, Enkidu creates a Doorway to the Wild by cutting a piece of cedar directly from the Tree of Heaven, a Doorway he travels through with Gilgamesh on the way to meet their fates. And so with Gilgamesh not only do we find the first story, but also the first literary motif: The idea of traveling through a doorway and the immense change that represents, symbolism that would be used timelessly again and again throughout human history, oftentimes making authors feel undeservedly clever. And so it is this Doorway to the Wild which always calls to Enkidu, no matter how much time passes:
“The strain of the primitive, which the Northland had aroused in him, remained alive and active. Faithfulness and devotion, things born of fire and roof, were his; yet he retained his wildness and wiliness. He was a thing of the wild, come in from the wild…
“He was older than the days he had seen and the breaths he had drawn. He linked the past with the present, and the eternity behind him throbbed through him in a mighty rhythm to which he swayed as the tides and seasons swayed… tasting the savor of the meat he ate, thirsting for the water he drank, scenting the wind with him, listening with him and telling him the sounds made by the wild life in the forest, dictating his moods, directing his actions, lying down to sleep with him when he lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming themselves the stuff of his dreams.”
However as we first learned when Draco became the Rainbow Serpent after making his way down to Oz to take part in the dreamtime of their walkabouts, oftentimes characters change their names when they change locations, especially after enough time passes. And so those words are not Erkidu’s exactly, but instead come from his essence - as the sled-dog Buck narrates Jack London’s Call of the Wild some 4,000 years after Erkidu’s tale, telling a different side of the exact same story that gets conveyed in every version of Gilgamesh’s epics: How dogs became our best friends, and we fell in love with each other.
And so in our very first story, we learn there’s nothing more important than the love that the world's first hero has for his dog.
After all, we are told by voices nearly 4,000 years old that “Gilgamesh was called a god and a man; Enkidu was an animal and a man. It is the story of their becoming human together.” And so as humanity settled into settlements all along the Fertile Crescent and around the Mediterranean, they carried with them the stories of their past. And there is no older, more sacred, and more important love than the relationship between humanity and our dogs, the story of the mutualism that allowed both our species to survive that first Long Winter, and all the deprivation and desperation that would follow in the cold dark eons that stretched out into the impossible eternity in front of us.
However an inevitable part of this relationship was the fourth lynchpin of evolutionary mutualism, partner manipulation, which began as a necessity but has grown into a monstrosity that encapsulates the sociopathic indifference to others that underpins all human civilizations, in more ways than you could ever possibly dream.
Nearly everywhere early canine bones are found starting back about 1.8mya, there are signs among the fossilized bones that extensive interbreeding was occurring. This interbreeding is the assumed source of many of the congenital defects that are found among these proto-dogs, back when Enkidu was still known as Xenocyon lycaonoides.
So these early dogs would’ve naturally had issues with inbreeding when faced with environmental bottlenecks, just like the first humans scrambling off of the Roof of the World would’ve had concerns about genetic defects arising after too much cousin-fucking - Nuwa and Fuxi of the original Chinese pantheon had both a direct familial as well as sexual relationship - something that’s hand-waved at a bit since they’re also demigods, and so that kind of thing doesn’t seem quite as icky.
The current model is that Xenocyon lycaonoides was interbreeding completely on its own, forced down genetic bottlenecks simply due to the lack of opportunity outside of their families. And yet when these retardations did arise, the individuals carrying them still managed to live long lives. This is not something that’s been documented among wolf populations in the wild, as although our simian brethren have been observed displaying enough collective altruism to allow those born disabled and otherwise retarded to live long full lives and even raise their own young - this has not been observed among any modern wild canines, wolfs with severe deformities not just surviving, but living their entire lives after being born with them.
So although interbreeding would’ve happened inevitably during times of population suppression, it’s also the hallmark of humans interacting with canids - choosing which dogs get to reproduce. Meaning the survival of canine individuals with multiple obvious retardations well into adulthood indicates that they may have been getting by with a little help from their human best-friends, whose choices created the genetic deformities in the first place.
And at least one form of altruism does underpin canine societies, the same sort that’s shared among many families raising their young, that involves mom and dad making sure their kids get enough accessible calories by eating and partially digesting dinner before yakking it back up for the kids to gobble down. In fact, that’s the established reason modern dogs are thought to constantly attempt to shove their tongues between our teeth - they’re just hungry little wolflings, hoping you’ll barf up a snack if they lick persistently enough.
Not coincidentally, this is also the mechanism that scientists assume was used to help keep wounded or retarded individuals alive, especially those born with multiple congenital defects in their jaws - getting their friends and family to barf up each and every single meal for the entirety of their lives. And yet our dogs display this behavior no matter how hungry they are, and it doesn’t seem to have any correlation to feeding-time with modern dogs, just happiness. Or sometimes just breathing around them. Wolfs too will kiss each other long after they’re pups looking for snacks, and can also be found rushing to kiss their old human handlers when they stop by for visits hungrily on the mouth.
So there seems to be room for something else to be going on evolutionarily, something that slips right in like a wayward tongue when you realize that dogs kiss us largely for the same reason that humans kiss each other: as a form of immuno-compatibility testing. Dogs have exquisitely sensitive noses and can be easily trained to detect cancer and viruses like SARS-CoV-2, and in addition to powerful ZAP-finger proteins - equivalent to the ones found in ferrets and used to help attenuate down various vaccines - dogs have several other immunological features which make them ideal panaceas.
At points in the past we’ve seemed to be aware of the healing potential of our pooches, after all the Greek god of medicine, Asklepios, was often depicted with his dog close by his side. Dogs express a desire to lick at open wounds, and not only does the mechanical action wash our wounds but healthy dogs appear to have healthy bacteria in their mouths that aids in wound-healing. And the Asclepion temples built for his worship were often packed full of pooches, running happy and free around those seeking succor.
So although the ancients would’ve had to go on casual observation of cause-and-effect, it turns out that below their fur our dogs might in fact be the most effective healing machines known to man. Because in addition to those ZAP-finger proteins that tear viruses apart, to fight off airborne pathogens like SARS-CoV-2 dogs are equipped with a mutation in their ACE2 receptor that weakens the virus’s binding with it. This leads to dogs being able to host COVID-19, the syndrome caused by SARS-CoV-2 like HIV leads to AIDS, but not pass the virus on to anyone else.
And unlike ferrets, dogs additionally come equipped with a filter for influenza viruses that causes them to need the most extensive mutations found in any animal studied to be able to penetrate their cells. Ferrets have been used extensively for decades to attenuate live-attenuated vaccine candidates, a technique that uses a live virus that’s been weakened down past the point of being able to cause infections, but can still has enough immune-markers on its surface for the body to recognize it, attack it, and then learn how to defend itself from it.
However as the live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) for polio called OPV has begun to demonstrate, with enough transmission events these LAVs are able to make like the T-1000 after it was blown to tiny little bits of mercury, and slowly assemble itself back into the original whole. And so cases of vaccine-derived poliomyelitis, Polio’s paralytic curse, have been skyrocketing throughout the third-world where poor sanitation allows the weakened OPV virions to slowly find friends and work their way back to infective wholes.
Unsurprisingly, those Asklepion temples also often hosted floors that were thoroughly slithering with snakes, ancient arbiters of disease and wisdom who probably don’t offer humans any real direct benefit, but have maintained their symbolic relationship with medicine and healing all the way up to the present day. Given how hard herding snakes and getting them to stay where they don’t want to be in the first place, it seems likely the snakes were there first, and the temples were subsequently built where the snakes were found - likely near volcanic vents that would’ve provided warmth for the snakes, and some beneficial magmatic chemistry to humans that you’ll learn about soon.
However it’s probably worth pointing out that while the heat from these vents would’ve attracted cold-blooded snakes, the rotten-eggy smell of hydrogen sulfide triggers a vital mammalian olfactory pathway - the same one used as a repellent by skunks also drives rodents away from sulfuric volcanic caves - protecting humanity near these vents from the myriad diseases vectored by these scrambling critters.
Today we seem to have forgotten about these ancient mutualisms, about first being drawn to the same warm volcanic formations as serpents during that first Long Winter, and then our shared millions of years together with our furry best friends - and all the countless canine kisses that’ve served to heal and save our bodies and our spirits in the past. Although all we need to do us look to Romulus and Remus as well as the Turkic legend with just about the same plot, to realize just how close we’ve always been with our bitches.
And so over the epochs, by keeping small families of dogs together with ours, while our genes may have been able to outrun the retardive effects of inbreeding in most populations, our ancient canine companions clearly were not. However many hundreds of thousands of years ago, with a lack of written language, nonetheless a knowledge of genetics, the Hamrcas would’ve simply been heartbroken about their deformed puppies.
But unlike modern humans, who have spent hundreds of years callously and intentionally breeding dogs into aesthetically-pleasing bottlenecks lined with cancer and disabilities, the Hamrcas would’ve had no idea what they were doing. And so when these puppies emerged, with congenital defects in their jaw making the Hunt and the Feast impossible, they became accidental canvasses for the best angels of our nature, and our love for them would endure over the eons - becoming fossilized and forming our very first works of art.
Modern humans rarely keep puppies born with congenital defects alive, there’s no money to be made, and so like the inconvenience of losing control of their bladders later in life, modern humans in all their mindless casual sociopathy find it convenient to summarily execute sick or debilitated canines.
And so it is only some ugly, lonely bones, well over one-million years old - created by an ancient and undying love, which captures humanity back when we still knew what True Love meant, and how to say thank you to the purest love we’d ever know. One whose memory modern humans have disgraced by treating our dogs like ornaments and toys while breeding them into genetic bottlenecks of disorders and suffering, and then slaughtering them as soon as their existence becomes inconvenient.
When Gilgamesh had to say goodbye to his beloved Enkidu, the unquenchable pain and longing are unmistakable as he mourns over his best friend’s lifeless body:
Shouldn’t my cheeks be hollow,
Shouldn’t my face be ravaged,
Frost-chilled, and burnt by the desert sun?
Shouldn’t my heart be filled with grief?
Shouldn’t I be worn out and ready to collapse?
My friend, my brother, whom I loved so dearly,
Who accompanied me through every danger
Enkidu, my brother, whom I loved so dearly,
Who accompanied me through every danger
The fate of mankind has overwhelmed him.
And so imagine the lamentations of Gilgamesh today - if he were to see what humanity had done to the descendants of his best friend?
But perhaps the most terrible part of all this, is that when our pooches are trying to give us smooches, they’re just reminding us that for two million years they’ve been right there next to us, willing to do anything at all to keep us by their sides. These smooches have a lot of accidental beneficial side effects too, in addition to all their immunological help. Starting with the reality that before the invention of toothbrushes having a dog lick your teeth clean would’ve been a huge boon against heart disease, which flows from diseased gums.
Not only are dogs' mouths incredibly healthy due to the beneficial bacteria, but the scrubbing action of licking our teeth would’ve helped to remove plaque long before tooth-whitening strips. Also in addition to all of the immunological assistance outlined above, dogs would’ve had one more ability that would’ve been absolutely invaluable during that first Long Winter some 2.1mya.
And especially at first during that Long Winter, dogs have another instinct that would’ve been invaluable to our species: Instead of fearing venomous snakes dogs are intrigued by their scent and pursue it, even after they’ve been bitten by them. So approaching a new hot spring or volcanic vent, much like they’re meant to alert on bombs today, our furry best-friends would’ve been able to help alert us about the presence of poisonous serpents - warning us and prevent countless bites, amputations, and deaths.
Unsurprisingly all vertebrate venom appears to have evolved via convergent pathways that’ve stretched across eons and species, revealing that “the same gene cluster gave rise to toxins in mammals and reptiles.” And so when it would appear that the COVID-19 Pandemic was snake-biting its victims, and creating the same effects and snake venom within its victims, perhaps it should’ve been more obvious to look to our pooches.
Because although like all vaccine-derived viruses that originate from a LAV that’s reverting out of control and racing back to its most powerful initial state, there is no vaccine, drug, or therapeutic that’s going to stop this virus. But when combined with some additional ancient magic, there is hope to stop this COVID-19 Pandemic so long as we have enough pooches by our side.
Since although Gilgamesh is considered to be humanity's oldest story - turns out that using the heartbreaking experience of dealing with a beloved’s dog mortality to examine the way we engage with the world is, in fact, a tail as old as time - it’s certainly not the oldest evidence of human storytelling.
And the only hope we have, is in the oldest stories of them all.
Evidence for that was found not too far from the proto-farming that was occurring along the Sea of Galilee over 20,000ya, just across the waves from the throne you can see above - Europe’s oldest at about 3,5000 years-old, roughly contemporaneous with Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s story first being written down, and found within the heart of the Palace of Knossos on Crete, home to Europe’s oldest city.
However to be fair, although that seat makes for an understated throne, neither this nor any other Minoan “palace” was thought to be home to any king or even any identifiable god, since the massive buildings were instead thought to be “administrative centers, marketplaces, and places for religious ceremonies” - temples of sorts, used during this period for much outside of just worship, as they’d eventually fill with moneychangers.
And although the name Minoan comes from a misappropriation of the Greek myth about King Minos and the labyrinth-bound minotaur it was apocryphally assumed used to inhabit this island, Knossos was in fact found written among these ruins. And it echoes with ideas of gnosis - the knowledge of spiritual mysteries - which also takes on the idea of reaching a gnostic state, a sort of ecstatic madness that would emerge either through meditation, dance, drugs, or other mind-altering methods. The uniting idea was that there are mysteries which aren’t readily apparent to our regular senses, and messages from the heavens that take some effort to access. It was this process that the Minoan religion appears to have been centered around, since although there are idols and other relics with obvious religious significance found on their islands, none of them have ever been determined to personify any particular named god.
And so the Gnostic Temple of Ecstatic Spiritual Knowledge was built by the Minoans not too far from Crete’s coast within Europe’s oldest city several millennia ago, nestled within the Mediterranean Sea on the island of Crete. A temple that’s found a bit southwest of the Dodecanese Islands which are strung along the South Aegean dangling above Crete in the Mediterranean Sea, which are themselves a bit to the east of the Cyclades Islands directly to Crete’s north. Both systems were created with the help of the volcanic caldera and tectonic plates lurking beneath, related to the system which pushed the neighboring island up to the surface of the North Aegean like Lesbos, scissored between the Greek and Turkish coasts.
Since it turns out that the Mediterranean is set-up as somewhat of a microcosm of the geological system that created the Tibetan Plateau, although its volcanic activity is much more recent and only began about 200,000ya when the neighboring Eurasian and African plates crashed into each other hard enough to force the magmatic party to the surface of the South Aegean Sea. This caused the first significant eruption of the underwater Nisyros volcano, one of several that’s helped push scores of islands to the surface of the Mediterranean over the past 200,000 years of history formed by the Hellenic Arc, a crescent of underwater volcanic activity caused by a subduction zone that reaches from Athens’ Saronic Gulf all the way to the Bodrum peninsula on Turkey’s southwest tip.
These island chains in the South Aegean would’ve been incredibly attractive for anyone adventurous and resourceful enough to sail to them and start hopping, since their inherent volcanic nature not only would’ve provided warmth, but being islands means massive harvests of lava would flow into the sea, meaning extraordinarily large and accessible obsidian deposits. And although there’s no archeological evidence of widespread obsidian mining, humans got to Crete at least 130,000ya and possibly hundreds of thousands of years before that - as frozen among nine sites in the Cretan ocean cliffs are once razor-sharp quartz Acheulean tools that are consistent with hominid habitation at least 700,000, if not farther back past one-millions years ago towards the dawn of the Acheulean which began some 1.6mya.
Perhaps this ancient inhabitance plays a role in Crete’s central place in so many of the myths that would follow, as not only was Crete’s Mount Ida an apocryphal hiding place for Zeus from his ravenous father, but it was also a possible birthplace of the ancient god Dionysus - so old he was once thought to have been added to the Pantheon after Zeus and Athena and all the rest, it turns out he likely predates them all.
And it was Crete’s Lefka Ori, or White Mountains, that may have given humanity its first permutation of the great hero Herakles, as the leader of the Dachtyls, an ancient band of mystical blacksmithing brothers who taught humanity the ways of the forge and flame, and founded the very first Olympic games. The ingenuity of these Dachtyls would be followed many hundreds of years later by Daedalus, whose countless inventions would all occur on Crete, including the one that led to his fateful filial flight. But regardless of when exactly our ancestors got to Crete and how many gods it’s hosted, one way or another many thousands of years after humanity met its gods there and Icarus fell from its skies, the Minoans would be producing the finest swords in the Mediterranean, and massive palaces made out of the island's trademark reflective gypsum - rich in the whitening sulfides that distinguish it from limestone.
So it’s not too hard to imagine that after mining all the obsidian near the seas and perfecting the tooling of arrow and spearheads, that the inhabitants of these islands soon began experimenting with metallurgy, and noticed the purified copper and tin emerging near lava flows, and connected the dots. Which is exactly what seems to have happened, since the Bronze Age wouldn’t have occurred without tin being alloyed into copper to create bronze in the first place, and so Crete’s massive tin deposits gave it half of a duopoly on island Mediterranean tin, shared with large deposits in Cyprus to the east as well as smaller ones in Turkey and the Levantine coast, and allowed the Minoans to become the finest swordsmiths in the entire region for hundreds of years.
But of course the downside of being located directly on top of volcanic islands, is that oftentimes they wake back up and put a bit of a damper on the whole human habitation thing.
However you don’t need to be located directly on top of pyroclastic flows to benefit from being in an actively volcanic region, and the islands in the eastern Mediterranean were formed by a different type of volcanic system than Vesuvius over to the west. Vesuvius is the cherry on top of the feisty Campanian volcanic arc, which hosted the massive Campanian-Ignimbrite calderic eruption of 40,000ya, a smaller version of the Yellowstone Caldera’s massive explosion that the current model holds eliminated the Neanderthals and helped consolidate us as last remaining hominid species.
Unlike the Campanian volcanic arc, fed like Yellowstone by a massive terrestrial underground magma chamber called a caldera that’s prone to do things like melt Pompeii off the face of the earth in a matter of moments, the Dodecanese Islands strung across the South Aegean Sea were formed with the help of formations like the underwater volcano Nisyros, which is only half-asleep today and throughout history has frequently burbled to life. Although to be fair the last time was over 100 years ago, when in the late 1800s it burbled back to life, leaving its signature sulfuric fumaroles behind.
Nisyros was formed by an ancient mostly extinct caldera which sprung to life about 3mya and was fairly active until about 200,000ya, at which point the cone collapsed and the sea flooded in, forming the underwater Kos-Yali-Nisyros-Tilos field, part of the Hellenic Arc where the African, Anatolian, and Aegean microplates collide deep beneath the sea. But despite these differences in timing and formation, like all volcanic fields both volcanic islands of the Mediterranean are filled with the fumaroles in the ground, holes formed by the steady expulsion of volcanic gasses.
And this widespread and constant volcanic activity all around the Mediterranean helps explain why the evidence for our first storytelling was found well before the Palace of Ecstatic Spiritual Knowledge was built on Crete, and located much closer to the Sea of Galilee.
As there among the Judean Hills along the outskirts of modern-day Jerusalem, masks that are roughly 10,000ya and carved out of the same gypsum that forms the beautiful white reflective walls of those Minoan palaces were uncovered, masks carved from kartic stone formed by the same volcanic forces that strung islands all across the Mediterranean Sea. You’ve already seen four of them back up top, and although the leading theory is that they were somehow involved in a death cult, a simpler and much more parsimonious answer is that they’re exactly what they look like - Masks to use as we dive back down through the Doorway to the Deep, and into the stories that’ve forever defined us.
Although we’ve told stories as long as we’ve existed as a species, and have created cave-art that documents the world outside of us for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years, putting on a mask signifies something different. Humans likely used all sorts of materials to paint themselves for camouflage and ceremonial purposes, however none of these are meant to change the person they’re applied to completely. As the god Dionysus first taught us, it is only by putting on a mask that we can lose our identity, and transform into something else entirely.
And these masks weren’t carved out of just any stones, they were carved out of the karsted rocks that would become Jerusalem’s walls and windows, forged by the same eternal forces to those that created the Tibetan Plateau over many millions of years. Karst can be found all around the edges of the Roof of the World and in many of the locations historically related to heavy human activity - wherever enough time and water have passed to erode the limestone and gypsum near the surface away, leaving behind the signature grottos and underground caves.
And although the chemistry that results from volcanism is incredibly complex and nuanced, one constant is the involvement of sulfur with all things volcanic, which leaves behind lots of karstic gypsum rocks like those used to craft the windows of the Dome of the Rock, distinguished from limestone by its high hydrogen sulfide contents - bright white much like the Lefka Ori over in Crete. Hydrogen sulfide, more commonly known as brimstone historically, has a distinct rotten-egg smell when it concentrates in the air, and so its smell is generally associated with the sinister forces of evil, the darker magics. And at higher concentrations it does become toxic, however at low doses hydrogen sulfide is anything but bad for you, and other gasses such as ethene and nitric oxide are also found around active volcanic regions.
Ethene gas is highly reactive with our brains, and has been used to help explain the ceremony around the Greek oracles of Delphi fame, since this region of Greece hosts the same solfataras - fumaroles that release hydrogen sulfide - as the islands in the eastern region of the Mediterranean, which is also often accompanied by ethene and other reactive gasses. However you don’t need a bunch of horny virgins stoned on ethene and speaking in riddles to benefit from volcanic gasses, since the ubiquitous sulfuric gas does a lot more than stink, and around volcanic vents it’s often accompanied by it’s more presentable buddy, nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide was thought to mostly get fixed in the environment whenever Zeus gets real pissy, however in addition to lightning, turns out that volcanic activity also fixes enormous amounts of nitric oxide into the environment - with huge implications for everything from fertilizing crops to protecting our brains. And at significant concentrations sulfur quickly becomes repellant to us, however at lower concentrations it turns out sulfur can do an enormous amount of good for our brains, alongside nitric oxide:
“Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) and Nitric Oxide (NO) have become recognized as important gaseous signaling molecules with enormous pharmacological effects, therapeutic value, and central physiological roles. NO is one of the most important regulators of the pathophysiological condition in the central nervous system. It is critical in the various [functions] of the brain; however, beyond certain concentrations, it is toxic. H2S was regarded as toxic gas with the smell like rotten egg. But, it is now regarded as emerging neuroprotectant and neuromodulator.”
We produce both compounds naturally inside of our bodies through metabolic processes, for instance inside of our brain where it’s naturally metabolized, nitric oxide plays a vital role in learning and memory, the sleep-wake cycle, and circulation, as well as other functions. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that imbalanced levels of nitric oxide appear to play a role in the formation of Alzheimer’s Disease, and the occurrence of strokes.
Nor should it have been all that surprising when inhaling nitric oxide was neuroprotective for rats and mice undergoing cardiac arrest. This led to further experiments about it’s possible neuroprotective effects from any sort of brain injury, and the revelations that:
This gasotransmitter is also associated to normalize capillary blood flow, improvement of delivery of oxygen, prevention and reversal of cerebral vasospasm, mitochondrial respiration, development of healthy brain, myelination, and protective role after peripheral nerve injury.
However just like hydrogen sulfide becomes stinky and toxic at higher concentrations, so too does nitric oxide have another side to its beneficial blade - killing brain cells at high concentrations. And mirroring nitric oxide’s duality, hydrogen sulfide not only plays an incredibly active role in our brains, but also helps regulate our cardiovascular and urological functioning. Plus much like nitric oxide, inhaling sulfuric gasses also seemed to help stave off the effects of Alzheimer's Disease.
Sulfur’s benefits go beyond just inhalation though, as being immersed in sulfur-rich spa-waters also seemed to stop the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease, and injecting it in rats suffering from traumatic brain injuries - suffered entirely accidentally, surely - was highly neuroprotective and helped reduce memory impairment. But most specifically to humans and importantly to our shared story, the emergence of Huntington’s Disease appears to follow the loss of the enzyme that produces hydrogen sulfide in our brains, so as this enzyme fades away so does our brain’s endogenous hydrogen sulfide - allowing Huntington’s to progress as it slowly kills its hosts by stripping away their nervous systems down to nothing.
And humanity may have been searching for the faint odor of lightly-concentrated hydrogen sulfide for a very old reason: Turns out that in extremely low doses not only does it powerful sterilize the air from viruses and bacteria alike, but it also sends mice into state of lowered metabolism similar to hibernation, protecting their brains from inflammation while they chemically slumber by allowing the accumulation of a protective enzyme at a Goldilocks level. So caves with low ambient levels of this sulfuric gas may have been the ones that preserved our ancestors during their extended shared slumbers over the long cold eons when temperatures would regularly plunge to twenty below freezing, since the sulfuric scent has been associated with survival and rejuvenation for over one-million years.
So there is something important to be pulled from stones, weapons against an ancient foe – but not a sword.
Since both of these compounds are dirt cheap to isolate there’s no way to really monetize them, and so absolutely no one in the pharmaceutical industry seems interested in really exploring what these compounds can do for our brains, and how beneficial they might really be. And yet we don’t need further experimentation to posit that exposure to these volcanic gasses would’ve had a profound effect on our brains, killing them if we got too close for too long, but clearly providing something else entirely at limited doses.
Doses that would’ve been occurring whenever humanity wandered close to anything volcanic, something they’d been doing for a long time at first for warmth and cooking and then for obsidian, which would’ve been happening all the time around the Campanian volcanic arc near and Rome’s ancient oracles as well as throughout the Levantine coast due to the proliferation of underwater mud volcanoes like Nisyros. And these aquatic mud volcano systems do something rather peculiar that doesn’t seem to be shared by their more terrestrial brethren, - they seem to have a direct relationship with the moon: Well over half of their eruptions occur during either full or new moons.
So in addition to other unpredictable eruptions, likely following the forces of the tides, these underground systems would’ve belched and bellowed far more dramatically following lunar cycles, something early humans were already keeping a close eye on - as we know from their art and architecture that lunar cycles were a huge point of interest.
Especially once we figured out how important volcanic activity is to our crops, since volcanic activity plays a vital role renewing the land, especially when it comes in the form of mud volcanoes helping inject vital plant-friendly nitrogen directly into water and soil. And so at some point about 10,000ya ago some early humans wandered into the Judean Hills, which we know from the present-day gypsum deposits would’ve been rich with volcanic activity in the past due to all of the sulfuric residues left within those rocks.
They likely would’ve wanted to keep a close eye on the moon as it took its mask on and off each month, so perhaps this is why the earliest record of the name “Jerusalem” doesn't really have anything to do with The City of Peace, but instead harkens back to the ancient twinned gods Shalim and Shahar, watching over dusk and dawn for the nearby Canaanites. There’s not much in the written record about them, however based on etymological clues, it seems as if they were related to the evening star as well as cycles completing, like dusk and dawn.
And also perhaps like the waning and waxing of each new moon - a predictable cycle that has always determined the Jewish and Islamic calendars - easily observed from Jerusalem’s hilltops, and which was linked to the vital volcanic activity that would sustain their crops.
So at the very least, these masks seem to signify that humanity was starting to understand the duality of our consciousness, and experimenting with the shamanic ecstasy of putting on a mask and becoming more than just a man, perhaps devoting themselves to an ideal, and then becoming something else entirely - giving birth to our first legends. So just like humans becoming someone else to tell the beginnings of a legend or lead a ceremony, the moon would also take his mask on and off each and every month.
After all, although the traditional greetings shalom in Hebrew or salaam-w’alykum in Islam are both translated as peace be upon you, at the very least a more accurate translation would be something closer to may you be made whole with the oneness of God. So there’s a sense of completion in this greeting, of returning to completeness. But to be fair it’s impossible to have an entirely accurate translation, since we don’t live in those times.
As times change, words change. Nothing is immutable. Stone crumbles, wood rots, people, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.
So when you consider things historically, The City of Peace is a fairly ironic name for Jerusalem, which only in the recorded history we know for sure about, it’s been attacked 52 times, captured and recaptured 44 times, besieged 23 times, and destroyed twice. And in a sense that’s just the violence that’s been witnessed by this city in broad strokes, since over the ages all sorts of other internecine conflict has run blood through the streets of The City of Peace.
And as one millennia was melding into the next, after being the apparent birthplaces of those four haunting gypsum masks found above, it’s not too hard to imagine one of the Sicarii, a zealot who was ready to die for the Jewish people, slipping something that looked very similar on before throwing himself blade-first at a Roman official walking along the dusty Judean streets in the days after Jesus’s story. And in so doing, beginning the concept that we now call terrorism.
“Terrorism” holds an enormous amount of modern connotation though, and so it’s important to keep in mind that it first appears in the historical record as tyrannicide, picking-off a singular ruler whose will was holding an entire society together. And although it’s been a while since Caesar was turned into a pincushion in history’s most notorious example of the idea, it’s a practice that is very near and dear to us as a species, and in fact has helped define who we are.
Because as Dr. Richard Wrangham, who introduced us to the theory in Catching Fire that flame-cooked food jump-started our lineage’s transition into modernity due to that caloric lighter-fluid squirted up there some 1.8mya, argues in The Goodness Paradox, our species is differentiated from our simian brethren by our propensity for carefully-planned proactive violence that doesn’t come in unthinking response to an offense like reactive aggression, but instead involves premeditated attacks often coordinated among a team of aggressors against an asshole alpha male.
So whether or not you ever wanted to grow up savanna baboon when you grew up, deep-down you still share their propensity for both kinds of aggression, but unlike those baboons would be much less prone to reactive aggression from an unexpected stimulus, and much more likely to carry-out a carefully-planned assault on a more powerful individual - hoping to use the element of surprise to your advantage.
Which sounds an awful lot like the birth of tyrannicide, always using the element of surprise targeted against the most powerful foe imaginable. And when tyrannicide melded into terrorism along the Sicarri’s zealotous blades in ancient Jerusalem, as Roman officials were attacked in carefully planned broad-daylight attacks meant to wake the Jewish people from their imperial slumber.
And although he doesn’t make mention of them, the Sicarri’s exploits took place just as Jesus Christ was being offered up as the Lamb of God, symbolism that was meant to replace the old Hebrew tradition of the Passover sacrament, which immortalizes the ancient Israelites’ Exodus from Egyptian captivity, as we’ve always been told. Events that may well have been taking place around roughly 1200BC, right as there was yet another global volcanic hiccup and ensuing environmental disruptions.
Historians are unlikely ever be able to tell the entire tale of the Late Bronze Collapse in full detail, however there’s a general consensus that the interconnected complex system of commerce and conflict that bound all of the civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea together likely experienced a systems collapse, the catabolic anarchy that emerges as the failure of one metaphorical gear causes all the ones it touches also fail, in a cascading chain that eventually snapped - grinding civilization to a halt as untold thousands of corpse were fed into the warfare and famine that ravaged this region.
And in 2013, scientists determined that the first gear to grind to a halt was likely the force that sustains all life on earth, as it appears that around 1200BC a massive 300-year drought beset the entire region, right around the time the collapse began. This drought coincides with the eruption of a massive Icelandic volcano in 1159BC which was roughly the size of Mount Vesuvius, which created the cooler temperatures across the northern hemisphere which retarded European tree-ring growth for a decade, and likely triggered this Near Eastern drought.
So what would we expect to find in the literature to indicate the start of a massive unprecedented drought somewhere around the Mediterranean and Near East?
Well, turns out that red tides often emerge alongside droughts, since “droughts lower river levels, meaning less freshwater flows into bodies [of water].” And since they emerge when the prevalent pattern of precipitation is altered, droughts are often paired with more intense rainfall events, resulting in excessive nutrients being pushed into rivers that are now saltier than usual - the perfect recipe for a red tide to emerge.
Which immediately invokes the first of the Ten Plagues of Egypt, the Nile turned red, and for awhile now scientists have tied this story into the steps that lead to real ecological collapses, since red tides can kill off enough aquatic life to begin a catabolic chain of collapse that extends up onto the land as well, as the intricate interconnected systems that unite ecological systems get disrupted.
And yet whether or not you believe in the historicity of this Old Testament tale, what do we know from the historical record about the Late Bronze Age Collapse other than that it was likely kicked-off by drought?
The Torah, the oldest books of the Bible, has a much older name according to some traditions: The Book of Memories. After all, just like our lineage hasn’t followed a straight line over the past two-million years as convergent mutations have created the fractal reality of humanity spread all across the face of the planet after we nucleated away from the Roof of the World, the process of a spiritual movement coalescing as an organized religion with one holy book isn’t a straight line either:
“The Hebrew Bible is a vast compendium of writings, spanning a thousand-year period from roughly the twelfth to the second centuries BCE, and representing perhaps a small slice of the writings of that period. The texts are often overwritten by later texts, creating a complex pastiche of text, reinterpretation, and commentary. The religion and culture of ancient Israel are expressed by these texts and, in no small part, also created by them, as various texts formulate new or altered conceptions of the sacred past.
This mode of inquiry was initiated in the nineteenth century with Ernest Renan’s argument that national identity depends on “the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories,” even as those memories are inevitably laced with the unhistorical: “Forgetting, I would even go so far as to say historical error, is a crucial factor in the creation of a nation.”
And so to prevent forgetting, rhyme and song were the first mechanisms we used to preserve our oldest tales. Like all spiritual movements of thousands of years ago, Judaism started off as an oral tradition, passed along in stories and psalms. Some of which are still sung today, like the Song of the Seas, which is also commonly known as The Song of Moses, commemorating the last watery phase of the Israelites’ exodus out of Egypt, possibly right around 1200BCE. And it’s a fairly unique part of the Bible since:
The Song of the Seas is noted for its archaic language. It is written in a style of Hebrew much older than that of the rest of Exodus. A number of scholars consider it the oldest surviving text describing the Exodus, dating to the pre-monarchic period.
And oddly enough, in one of the Old Testament’s many anachronisms, this poem even appears to be older than the passages that describe the Ten Plagues of Egypt that occur before it, leading up to this moment when the Pharaoh's armies are swallowed by the Reed Sea. In case you were expecting the “Red Sea,” that’s yet another mistranslated historical oversight: As just like the Egyptian Pharaoh isn’t actually named within Exodus, we don’t know which shallow Reed Sea is actually being referred to in this story.
Like you’d expect after needing multiple miracles to escape certain death, this song gives extensive praise to their savior: Yahweh. A name for God that is rarely used in the Old Testament prior to the Ten Plagues, and who doesn’t directly communicate with anyone until Moses, high up in the mountains hanging out with a burning bush. And in addition to his altitude, Moses may well have been a different type of high as well, since the oldest example we now have of cannabis - a plant that originated way back on the Roof of the World - being used by humans comes from a site not too far from the Dead Sea, where burnt remains were found on a gypsum altar.
Sadly for Cheech and Chong, this site only dates back to about 700BCE, and so we don’t quite have archaeological proof that Moses got high way up on Mount Sinai, and yet all the footsteps are certainly right there.
Prior to Moses’s meeting with the burning bush, the name Yahweh doesn’t appear much in the Bible, often El or a derivation of this is used instead, thought to be borrowed from the nearby Canaanites and Ugarites, fellow Semites. And so historians have been scratching their heads for a very long time about this nominal revelation, especially since the very name “Yahweh” has a special designation within the Hebrew lexicon: the Tetragrammaton. This is because “Yahweh” isn’t a typical Hebrew word with a three-letter root, instead it’s composed of four letters that convey a verbal existence, something like I will be who I will be, or maybe even more simply You’ll have to wait and see. But this special grammatical designation feels like a foreign word or concept is being incompletely translated into Hebrew.
So if the Song of the Seas is the oldest section of the Old Testament, it too speaks to a god who seems to be somehow detached from the earlier portions of the Good Book. And there’s one more problem: A close reading of this song and the surrounding text indicates that it’s definitely Moses’s sister Miriam and other women doing significant singing, and so the suggestion’s been made that the oldest surviving text of the Bible should actually be named The Song of Miriam, suggesting an important role for women that isn’t carried throughout the rest of the Torah..
Isn’t it strange that the oldest sections of the Torah have the Israelis praising a god with a non-Hebrew name who’s red-hot with a rage that burns his enemy up like straw, and then blasts a pursuing chariot army with a surging wall of water? Shouldn’t the oldest psalms have recorded the oldest events?
If nothing else, this is obviously a song that was well-known to all of the ancient Israelites singing it at the time, it’s not something that has just sprung to them fully-formed out of nowhere during their crossing. Meaning they already knew these words before their singing began, and so where did they first learn the words to this song, if it’s already supposed to predate everything in the Old Testament to begin with?
This academic argument around the Song of Everyone Praising Yahweh fits into a larger historical discussion of the Old Testament, which has attempted to make early Judaism a direct offshoot of one of its neighboring religions, who seemed to have worshiped different but related gods, all telling similar stories about who they are and how they got there. With Canaanites, Mesopotamians, and Ugarites alike all worshiping pantheons that seemed to mostly be full of Jewish cousins, there’s been an impulse to lump the Jews in with their Levantine neighbors. But this is something that should have its limits, especially since Israel is described in the bible as:
“A people dwelling apart, not counting itself among the nations.” Israel was a nation and a culture of the ancient Near East, yet it saw itself as different and somehow incommensurate with the other nations … a self-consciously unique member of that cultural family. Israel differentiated itself from its ancient neighbors by constructing and maintaining a variety of cultural, religious, and ethnic boundaries.”
And so although we can’t know for sure exactly when the Jews coalesced by modern standards, the Old Testament does intersect indelibly with history eventually. It’s one of the most notable and thoroughly documented historical events depicted in the Old Testament: The Assyrian King Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem in 722BCE, and the Angels of Death who again descended to smite Yahweh’s enemies and save his children.
But before that can happen, the King of Jerusalem is forced to destroy an ancient relic, one Moses created during the Exodus of the Israeli people during their wanderings in the desert after their escape from Egyptian bondage. A relic that can whisper in our ears, and finally unravel all of the Bible’s lost enigmatic secrets that’ve been hidden from the very beginning - if we can just put one final puzzle together.
And finally learn the third name of the serpent.
Right around 1800 BCE was yet another period of cataclysmic transition all across the face of the earth. Over in South America not too far from where those stones above can be found, the Twelve-angled Stone, the Norte Chico culture was coming to a sudden and mysterious end. These stones represent a unique architectural solution, one that captures how much truth can be pulled from stones if you know how to find the wisdom within them.
Although the Olmecs have generally been taught as the oldest civilization in the Americas, this is an oversight that came before the discovery of the Norte Chico culture on the northwestern coast of what is today Peru, a culture which began right about in unison with the height of the Bronze Age over in the Mediterranean, around 3500BCE.
The end of their roughly thirty population centers had seemed mysterious, that was until the discovery of the largest earthquake in history ripped over 600 miles of plate apart off the coast of Chile, a 9.5 seismic event thought to be the largest in human history that sent a tsunami all the way across the Pacific to New Zealand where it carried car-sized boulders hundreds of miles inland, and much closer north on the coast of Ecuador it would’ve simply washed Norte Chico off the map - causing humanity to abandon all of the nearby South American Pacific coastlines for one-thousand years.
And in 1780BCE over on the opposite site of the planet, the same Campanian Caldera responsible for the detonation of roughly 40,000ya which is timed with homo sapiens consolidation as the last hominid species would send a massive plinian belch out of Mount Vesuvius, far larger than the one that eradicated Pompeii centuries later, but not on the same scale as the entire underground caldera exploding at Yellowstone, or this entire structure’s explosion some 40,000ya. This Avellino eruption of 1780BCE is now modeled as a worst-case scenario for Vesuvius, but luckily for many of those around the mountainous volcano, at least some of them seemed to sense something coming:
A decisive proof of a massive exodus is the extraordinary discovery of thousands of human and animal footprints found in scattered probes within an area of a few squared kilometers in the surge deposit located about 15 km north-by-northwest of Vesuvius and only 7 km outside metropolitan Naples.
So given that there were two massive geologic events going on nearly simultaneously on opposite sides of the planet, and that China was subject to massive dynastically disruptive droughts around this time, it seems plausible to imagine that yet another wave of tectonic activity was rattling the entire globe, possibly fueled by yet another geomagnetic storm - a relationship between the heavens and the earth that would continue more regularly with the cyclical lunar pull on the mud-volcanoes of the South Aegean Sea. A Sea that was almost certainly wracked with volcanic activity of its own during this event of 1800BCE, although it would be the thousands of people in the tens of settlements around the Bay of Naples who would’ve been subject to the most proximate effects of the Avellino eruption, and been forced to flee out in all directions - likely turning the extant copper trading networks across the Mediterranean waters into refugee corridors.
Some traveled by land to the north, others certainly fled across the coasts and waters south along the Italian boot, many likely went west towards the Iberian copper trade, and others fled out into the Mediterranean and southeast to safety. And so it’s easy to imagine that a memory of this event was carried among the survivors, especially among any communities that remained close to the Mediterranean's many volcanic islands.
1800BCE also aligns with a transition among the Minoans on Crete, whose middle period of palace-building appears to have come to an end right as Vesuvius popped, probably due to the earthquakes that appears to have wrecked the Palace of Knossos, as well as several others. And the Minoans would be subject to yet another explosion not too many generations later, as although modern scientists can’t pin down an exact date: At some point around 1500BCE, what was once the island of Thera - the first island to Crete’s north, on the southern edge of the Cyclades Islands - was shattered into three pieces by the underwater detonation of a caldera with a force four to five times larger than the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883 which created a drop in global temperatures and rainbowed sunsets for years, and spewed ash all across Asia.
Likewise the volcanic detonation at what used to be Thera sent a layer of ash across Europe, and split the island into three small remnants. One of these islets is now called Santorini, whose name is often conflated with the old Minoan city of Akrotiri, which appears to have been successfully evacuated before the blast, since no human remains at all have been found on any of these three smaller islands, what’s left of what was once the island Thera.
So by the time of the Late Bronze Collapse, around 1200BCE, everyone living in the civilizations lining the Mediterranean Sea would’ve had at least some experience with the effects of the semi-regular volcanic eruptions of all the different active systems in the region, a small-scale reconstruction of the Indian plate jamming under Asia and creating the Roof of the World in the first place.
Meaning whatever refugees were the most familiar with these events, who’d managed to keep a common sense of identity and preserved a memory of them, would’ve been the best-prepared to deal with the cataclysmic long-term fall-out that followed after a massive volcanic eruption.
Which is why in those lonely years of exile in the desert following their exodus from Egypt, the copper serpent that Moses forges in the wilderness to cure the Israelites represents the final instance of lost Minoan magic directly referenced in the Old Testament, following the Burning Bush, the Passover Seder, and even the name Yahweh itself. As after all, who else could the Children of Israel be other than a minority sect of resourceful shepherding Minoan refugees who successfully fled the volcanic destruction of their homeland?
Because there was one story that the Bible tells us started it all, an old Minoan tale of caution against hubris, but unfortunately for all of us its one whose lesson humanity is still in the process of learning.
At some point after it’d first introduced itself to humanity by swallowing the sun following the Yellowstone Caldera’s detonation of 2.1mya, and then spent the next several millennia squirming around the same volcanic heat sources as our ancestors - that selfsame serpent would crawl down from the stars and find itself dangling from a Minoan tree, tempting Eve.
Although it turns out, the exact name of that tree is a matter of eschatological debate, as two different ones are used to describe it in the Bible: The Tree of Life as well as The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. So while there’s a fascinating quantum grammatical vagueness within the original Hebrew, and it turns out that due to some Semitic grammatical exceptions and the structure of Genesis 2-3, the most thoroughly reading gives the sense of Treeness a duality: A sense of both at once, of one tree having two natures, or one tree with an immutable duality.
And so we have the idea of The Tree of the Knowledge of Life perhaps, which would be a reasonable translation supporting the argument that this original temptation is a semi-literal tale about a two-fold prohibition against chasing the dragon, using genetic engineering in the hedonistic pursuit of mind-altering psychotropic substances: Involving both the hyper-domestication of poppies, a flower with nutritious seeds that appears to have originated in central Italy about 6000BC and first been used for opium production by the Sumerians as early as 3000BC, and then the possible further refinement of opium down into morphine by the Minoans at some point leading up to the Late Bronze Age Collapse.
Because although the Minoans didn’t have any concept of genetic engineering, the process of plant domestication certainly fits the description, using successive generations of often-fruiting plants to select the juiciest out of each generation. In the case of poppies that eventually leads to bulbs that can be harvested for their sap, that dries into opium. And since we know that the Minoans were masters of the forge due to their access to the tin needed to alloy into copper to make bronze as well as their reputation as swordsmiths, it’s not hard to imagine that at some point someone on Crete noticed what happened when you boiled down this dried poppy sap inside a gypsum vessel, which would’ve leached in the sulfuric lime necessary for the simple chemical reactions that can result in pools of morphine forming on top of the boiling liquified opium.
So although there’s no reason to believe Yahweh had any problems with wine or cannabis, the process of domesticating poppy into bigger-and-bigger opium-producing bulbs and then distilling morphine would’ve created the possibility for an all-consuming addiction to a wholly unnaturally and life-consuming substance. One that could’ve happened after just your first hit - an experience that’s preserved the serpent with the phrase chasing the dragon, a linguistic relic thought to be from the East that specifically refers to smoking refined opioids, and whose meaning resonates timelessly and convergently across cultures. And to be fair, since the poppy flower inarguably originated on the Italian peninsula not too far from Mount Vesuvius, it’s not too hard to imagine that opium and the concept of chasing the dragon were both Minion inventions, whose provenance was shuffled back and forth through a broken volcanic history.
Opium production was a pursuit that Minoans were certainly interested in, as dating to right around the Late Bronze Age Collapse you can find their Goddess of Poppies - Mistress of Healing, tits-out like Eve Gone Wild and with three rather distinctive red fruits that could certainly be mistaken for apples in her hair, found in a room full of burnt coals suggesting that the dragon had in fact been chased.
And in what might be the first artistic depiction of chasing the dragon, many of the poppy-shaped vessels presumably used to hold opium had snakes carved directly onto them - meaning there was no way to pick them up without embracing the serpent. So especially since the Minoans appeared to have a monopoly on poppies around the Mediterranean since not even the nearby Egyptians used it, it sure seems like the Hebrew Primordial Eve may just have been a bit of a slutty Minoan smackhead. Or more accurately, one of the earliest permutations of the goddess Demeter, who was also associated with serpents and poppies, tied directly to the earth just like Dionysus, and the originator the the Eleusinian Mysteries - a lost cult tied to nature worship and mind-altering plant-assisted adventures.
The argument that Yahweh’s original prohibition was against genetic engineering and all of its fruits - especially addictive and hedonistic ones - is captured by the idiom that describes it today: Playing God, a concept later embodied by Daedalus and Icarus while fleeing Crete, just later on in next layer of the ancient myths tied back to the Minoans. Because just like flying too close to the sun, everyone alive immediately realizes that directly tampering with genetic material is something that humanity needs to be careful about, lest we get snake-bitten again. Isn’t it strange that SARS-CoV-2 elicits a highly concentrated levels of an enzyme that mimics the effects of snake venom inside of us?
And if the Goddess of Poppies isn’t enough of an association with the ancient Minoans and the those arboreal early chapters of Genesis, archeologists also managed to dig up a set of “Snake Goddess” figurines on Crete as well. And although neither of these goddesses were actually were deities to the Minoans, the Snake Goddess lustily evoke Eve’s nudity and penchant for snake-handling, so together these cultic symbols of serpent and poppy likely served as early templates for Demeter.
None of this is proof, however the historical record of the Late Bronze Age collapse is at least loosely compatible with a band of refugees making their way out of a collapsing Egypt and into the Levantine Promised Land, perhaps refugees who’d previously had to flee the overall Mediterranean upheaval that’d resulted first back around 1800BCE with the Avellino eruption of Vesuvius. And then again the even more cataclysmic explosion that shattered the island of Thera into three sometime around 1500BCE, an explosion that everyone on the island seems to have escaped from even though it was 100-times larger than the one that took out Pompeii. This early apocalypse would’ve created an inevitable wave of Minoan refugees, especially among the lower-class shepherds out in the hills who’d need new land for their flocks.
Some could have made their way to the outskirts of Egypt, and floated a son out onto the Nile out of desperation, orphaning him along that cataract to save him from the edict of a cruel empire. Moses’s life introduces us to the non-Hebrew name Yahweh and is rich with Minoan cultural references, his encounter with the Burning Bush harkens to the “ecstatic epiphanies” taking place around shrubberies on Minoan art, symbolized by a man or a woman shaking a tree, which links back again to Adam and Eve.
Who ran immediately into a bunch of humans after their banishment from Eden, perhaps meaning that story was meant as the start of the tale of the Minoan refugees who could coalesce as the Israeli people, and not literally all people.
That original temptation whose imagery would then emerge again way out in the desert during those forty long years of lost wandering, when Moses would raise an idol later named as Nehushtan much later in the Bible, right before its destroyed by the Hebrew King Hezekiah so that Yahweh’s avenging angels can destroy yet another army threatening his chosen people in an event very much captured by history.
However before he’s named, the only thing we know about Nehushtan back when he’s out in the desert healing Hebrews is that he’s named using the third meaning of the serpentine nâ-châ-sh, and so this hissing serpent raised up on a pole is also described as coppery, oftentimes crudely translated as brazen. Capturing the duality of the serpent, here he heals the Israelites from the fiery serpents descending from the skies during the Exodus, while back in Eden it was hissing out the temptation that lead to Adam and Eve’s banishment at the hilt of a flaming sword.
Imagery also used during Exodus, as scholars have long associated the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night that guided the ancient Israelites out of bondage with a distant volcano, possibly the distant Icelandic one that was erupting right around the start of the Late Bronze Age Collapse. So although there wasn’t a major eruption recorded around the Mediterranean, there were smaller chains of earthquakes tearing the region apart, and so it’s not too hard to imagine enough volcanic activity to lead to an increase in acid rain.
So maybe Moses remembered the ancient Minoan traditions around copper’s healing powers, which would later be passed onto the Greeks who’d physically inherit most of their islands, and used coppery dried powder to heal the wounds caused by acid rain.
However this would not be the ancient magic that would ultimately save Yahweh’s children, as hundreds of years after this Exodus out of Egypt the last of them would be facing down the unstoppable Assyrian army from within Jerusalem, and their salvation would have nothing to do with Nehushtan, destroyed anyway by the Hebrew King Hezekiah after he’d traded in his noble robes for the sackcloth that spoke to the Holiest of Holies’ beginnings as a threshing floor.
Instead they would be saved by Yahweh’s very breath, while outside Jerusalem’s walls the Tenth Plague of Egypt would return again to smite the enemies of Israel and save all People of the Book. Bad news for everyone alive today, is that by directly disobeying Yahweh’s initial commandment several times over and for many decades in the pursuit of hubris and avarice, the Angels of Death who manifested as Tenth Plague of Egypt have returned yet again, and will not stop killing until humanity is able to return back through the Doorway to the Deep, and manages to awaken from the collective nightmare we’re all living through today.
On the island of Crete within the Palace of Knossos, destroyed by fire around the time of the Late Bronze Age Collapse and which we now know is more aptly named The Gnostic Temple of Ecstatic Spiritual Knowledge, you can find remnants of lustral basins which consist of “a square tank, sunk into the ground, with a staircase descending on two sides.” And although that’s not what’s depicted above - it might as well be, as there’s an uncanny convergence between the mikvehs at Qumran like that one above, and the Minoan lustral basins.
Perhaps because the Essenes at Qumran, a secretive secret of Yahweh’s children, were preserving the ancient tradition of using these pools as watery passages back through the Doorway to the Deep, expanding their consciousnesses along convergent pathways in an attempt to ascend ever-higher back towards enlightenment in a journey that was first preserved within the story of Dionysus back on Crete. A god tied to Nature and the watery realm of the chthonic world below, who the Greeks would honor with swimming and deep-diving competitions, and whose story includes an oceanic immersion and rebirth, and whose body is eventually thrown into the lake that marks the entrance to Hades.
After all, mikvehs are found both carved into the oldest stones of ancient Jerusalem as well as throughout many modern Jewish dwellings all over the world, anywhere cleansing is required - within Jerusalem and all throughout the world. Convergence between the ancient Minoans and Israelites that was further echoed in the architectural similarities between the overall design of the Temple of Knossos and Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem: Both were multi-use structures widely used collectively by their communities for far more than worship, and both were carved from the same distinctive high-sulfur gypsum into rectangular structures with long colonnaded porches and extensive natural lighting and airflow, in uncannily similar styles.
Because just like those convergent underwater pathways were triggered many millions of years ago on top of the Roof of the World as our Hamrcas were exposed to higher-and-higher altitudes, mimicking the Doorway to the Deep that our hairless underwater mammalian friends travel through for their increased intelligence, humans today can condense this experience by literally breath-holding underwater.
And it’s no coincidence that the more Eastern mystical practice of meditation and its associated controlled breathing also mimics the adaptations needed for ascending to altitude, returning us closer to our shared start:
“Individuals with long-term practice of meditation had overall higher arterial and cerebral oxygen saturation, overall lower blood pressure, and slower baseline respiration. Meditation acutely lowers arterial and tissue oxygenation. A repeated exposure to this condition may lead to long-term adaptation and, through increased ventilatory efficiency and improved gas exchanges, to an increase in baseline oxygenation.”
So although immersion in water only remains with us as temporary vestigial Baptisms, thousands of years ago it would be the Essenes who’d both preserve this practice, as well as the underlying philosophical teachings around awakening by returning through the Doorway to the Deep and to the enlightenment of waking to our beginnings. Since within their Dead Sea Scrolls you will find Jesus Christ with a much different story than the one preserved in the New Testament Gospels.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, many of which were pieced together to form The Gnostic Gospels, has Jesus calling on his followers to awaken, and notice that the Kingdom of Heaven was already all around them, and he doesn’t seem at all concerned about anyone believing he’s somewhat of a deity.
However what if this mystical message, to wake up, was being far more literal than anyone’s ever realized?
After all, in addition to the mirror neurons we’ve learned about, which initially set the stage for tool-use and then created the unconscious reflexes of culture, there’s also those pathologies like conflation, which captures someone in a waking dream, one they’ll vehemently attempt to gaslight you into sharing with them. They aren’t lying, conflation involves honestly believing the inaccuracies being uttered, and the gaslighting that follows is more like verbal sleepwalking than anything else.
And within the very underpinnings of linguistic processing, not only do we have the birth of the associative trinities that guide our sense of the mystical, but also the ability to be swayed toward or against any number of unconscious biases, moved to action by the subtle tides of human tendencies. All the while, it turns out that at least parts of our waking brain may literally be falling asleep as well.
This is indicated by the existence of brainwaves that called alpha-waves that flicker in and out of existence while we’re awake, but which bear an uncanny similarity to the sleep-spindles that dictate our dreams:
Alpha and sleep spindles are characteristic of different conscious states, wakefulness and sleep respectively. Spindle oscillations, in animals, impair information flow through thalamic relays, whereas during wakefulness despite alpha activity, information flow is not impaired.
Although the neurophysiological generators of this band are not yet clear it is interesting that these frequencies appeared as an independent band only during wakefulness, suggesting that despite having similar frequencies as sleep spindles they are the result of two different mechanisms. A second possibility is that they share the same generator which changes its oscillatory frequency under different global influences.
Humanity has long thought of dreams as our doorway to the gods, passages to possible enlightenment. And yet what if our waking culture is best understood as a shared dream since even awake part of our brains are still clinically asleep, a dream whose unconscious assumptions can result in the horrible seppuku of the masses that occurs when no one is able to wake up from the delusional impulses of politicians bent on gaslighting their societies into a shared nightmare. A dynamic that again returns us neurobiologically back two-million years ago to the Roof of the World, when we first began our relationship with cannabis, and then fell into the collective shared dreams of the cold dark Long Winter.
Since the problem politicians have with this particular tobakee isn’t that it’s wacky, it’s that consuming hallucinogens like THC dissolves the web of social control cast by the shared dream of cultural expectations. When psychedelics are consumed, our brain’s predictive machinery goes a bit haywire, and hallucinations can emerge when these predictions don’t behave the way we’d been expecting. However even at doses too low to cause hallucinations, these chemicals cause increased neural plasticity and connectivity - nearly imperceptibly dissolving the cultural dream just enough so that you suddenly find yourself laughing and bonding with folks outside of the “acceptable” social circle, and often eventually questioning every assumption that comes to mind.
These reflexive cultural assumptions are drilled into us during REM sleep, which reinforces the subconscious perceptions that culture hinges on - and which surface in some autistics, whose dream machinery gets broken in a way that pretty much always disconnects them from the shared cultural dream of expected behavior, and sometimes causes these repetitive motions meant for dreams to emerge while waking. And so while using cannabis, REM sleep often stops for many, and then kicks into overdrive to make up for lost time once you put the bong down for a few days, and your brain tries to get your waking mind to return to the shared cultural dreams that creates the illusionary boundaries which keep you isolated from others society deems unseemly.
But because our governments have been so successful in limiting access to psychedelics and making cannabis impossible to conduct research with until very recently, a descent into a collective nightmare has happened once again. After humanity took one of Yahweh’s most powerful sacraments, the live-attenuated vaccine that takes the shape of the Passover Seder, and bastardized it with avarice and greed into a LAV that the world never needed to begin with, released it upon the world and now has spent two years continually lying about it.
Nightmares often also embodied by the totalitarian dictatorships found all-too frequently in the modern world, which have lots in common. And one thing they all have in common is all having too much in common, since the genetic homogeneity that underlies North Korean society plays a direct hand in the untethered tendencies that are necessary for totalitarian states to function, just like they did within the British Royal Family during their empire, which has been responsible for untold genocidal suffering and is more inbred than a poppyseed in an everything bagel:
Children of first-cousin consanguineous parents were more than 3 times as likely to be in receipt of medications for common mood disorders compared with children of nonrelated parents. In addition, children of first-cousin consanguineous parents were more than twice as likely to be in receipt of antipsychotic medication compared with children of nonrelated parents.
So whether it’s in the ancient Chinese Court or a modern American President’s shower, the leaders of the largest and most powerful human nations have always trended toward incestuous psychopathy because human societies have a habit of consolidating power among self-similar cousin-fucking freaks.
Any idea of genetic purity, whether it is with our dogs or among our society, only leads to the very darkest elements within us. By not allowing our dogs to choose their own love, we have forced them down bottlenecks of genetic torment, and by not allowing our children to choose their own love, we create societies sickened by the inbred sociopathy that leads to totalitarian genocides and community-wide sociopathy.
Such was the case within Assyria, a region of the world with possibly the longest continuously operating torture-dungeons, which attempted to finish pushing the ancient Israelites into the sea with their seemingly unstoppable army by annihilating the capital city of Jerusalem. However Assyria’s Sennacherib was apparently unaware of the fact that Jerusalem had been chosen in the first place because the Holiest of Holies - the geological formation pictured above also known as the Well of Souls - has at its center the Foundation or Pierced Stone, named for the notable solfatara in one corner.
Because the same volcanic gasses that’d attracted the first shamans who made those four striking gypsum masks also served both to repeal the rodents who vectored ancient pandemics, one of which stopped at the threshing floor that would become that sanctuary. These gasses also likely led to the ancient tradition that whenever the High Priest would enter the Holiest of Holies, he’d need a rope tied around his ankle in case he fainted from all the glory - or gaseous asphyxiation. And so although Jerusalem was blessed with far more sulfuric gasses than any other habitable region, this volcanism was not unique to the Jewish people.
Nor was the association with the smell of brimstone, used to describe the smell of sulfuric gasses in the air, with the forces of good and evil. However even when you can’t smell it, the hydrogen sulfide emanating from Jerusalem over the ages has shaped the realities of everyone living there, most noticeably during the animal sacrifices which would’ve helped release hydrogen sulfide from the underlying gypsum altars. And today it’s only Yahweh’s breath as hydrogen sulfide that has any hope of stopping this pandemic, since it immediately destroys viral shells that otherwise can circulate indoors for days.
So throughout the Old Testament when “brimstone” is used to describe Yahweh’s breath it’s hinting at hydrogen sulfide’s ability to chase away rodents that carried the plague onto Sennacherib’s besieging Assyrian armies, sanitize the air, and slowly over time shape the neurobiology of the populations living closest to the highest concentrations of it. Although Huntington’s is distributed across what’s now considered the Judeo-Christian world of modern Europe, it’s a mutation in a different region of their genomes that creates the disease in Asian populations, and the mutation hasn’t been located in Sub-Saharan African groups yet.
Humanity all shares the same high-altitude adaptations that defined us as a people, however over the course of the past two-million years subpopulations have spent extended time around unique geological features, and so the rich sulfuric vulcanism that’s fed the Mediterranean’s olive trees for many millennia has also uniquely fertilized the brains living there, who started off as Minoan before being shattered into Hebrews, Greeks, Druids, and finally the Romans who shaped the modern Western world. Leading-up to today, when across Europe, most people host about twenty Huntington's satellite repeats, reflecting their shared heritage around the same volcanic gasses that fed and challenged their brains, a geographic signature inside their genomes.
However there are just a few populations with anomalous presentations of Huntington’s, groups within the group. The Caucasus Jews up in those mountains, who naturally would’ve stayed close to the volcanic gasses, and then two more. The Karaites, who some consider descendants of Qumran’s Essenes and so would’ve been closely bound to the ancient Minoans, and then modern Cretans themselves, the Minoans who stayed home.
So maybe after all this time, turn’s out that maybe G-d’s only been mostly dead.
And like the alpha becoming the omega, Saint John would return back to the Minoan homelands, to the Isle of Patmos of the Dodecanese Islands in the South Aegean, to write his Apocalypse of the End of Days - telling of the plagues and wars that would harken it. From within yet another cave, whose volcanic gasses would directly shape the Judeo-Christian story one last time.
Because from womb to tomb, humanity is bound together by the delusional reality of our shared cultural dream - wired into us over two-million years ago during our time together on the Roof of the World, and then while huddled together and dreaming of survival in the Long Winter that followed. Dreams that saved us, but which would tie our civilizations to the unconscious reflexes of our irrational and destructive cultural norms.
And so it was an Italian philosopher who inspired the People’s Will in the late 1800s within Russia, who theorized that violence was necessary both to draw attention to a revolutionary cause as well as rally the disaffected masses behind it. Or more simply, Carlo Piscane argued that “the people will not be free after they are educated, but educated after they are freed.”
Violent acts, Piscane said, are necessary to first free the People from their manacling to false social assumptions, both in terms of what is possible and what is Right. Violence opens their minds to new revolutionary ideas, and so out in the Arabian deserts it was the man who best melded the commando and the terrorist, Lawrence of Arabia, who observed that:
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
This is why art like The Truman Show and of course The Matrix has always resonated with us, we can sense in our waking worlds - especially out among our communities - that something isn’t quite right. It’s like we’re being lied to, but they’re harmless loving lies, ones we’re often responsible for, and so it doesn’t make any sense to rub our eyes too hard.
After all, when you really examine our modern societies all you can find is a simulation and simulacra, and so “this is what terrorism is occupied with as well: making real, palpable violence surface in opposition to the invisible violence of security.” Like so many things, all the answers have been right in front of us all this time, and the words of the last prophet humanity ever needed have already been spoken. You just need to wake up, and really listen to them:
I know you're out there.
I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change.
I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.
I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see.
I'm going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you."