El Dorado Wasn’t Lost


El Dorado is the stuff of legends; a lost “city of gold” in the jungles of South America, a myth stemming from Spanish conquistadors lust for gold. Within a few years of Francisco Pizarro’s 1532 arrival in Peru, the search for El Dorado was on. No one knows how much gold and silver was taken from South America; some estimates put the value at 500 billion in today’s dollars. Still – it was never enough, El Dorado was always just around the corner.

http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/ask-us/how-much-gold-did-the-conquistadores-get

In 1537, conquistador Jimenez de Quesada left Peru with an army of 800 men, following the trail of El Dorado whispers. Quesada travelled into the Andes,  stumbling upon the Muisca people in what is now Columbia. The Muisca had a lot of gold; gold of spiritual and ceremonial, rather than monetary value.

To the Muisca, El Dorado was a ruler – a man so rich and powerful he covered himself in gold dust every day only to wash it off in their sacred lake by nightfall. Muisca crafted gold “Tunjos” , exquisite gold “offerings”, far superior to any gold crafted in Europe. These Tunjos had no relation to wealth or status. They were offerings, tossed into the sacred lake during ceremonies and rituals.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20964114

In 1636 Juan Rodriguez Freyle published a book called The Conquest and Discovery of the New Kingdom of Granada. He wrote of the ceremony of “El Dorado”, an elaborate ritual to appoint the “golden one” as successor when a king died. The ceremony took place over many days, culminating in the golden one – naked but for a covering of gold dust – travelling by raft to the middle of the lake to make offerings of gold and gems to the waters. Hundreds lined the shore, burning incense and throwing Tunjos into watery oblivion. Despite his accurate account of Muisca culture, the legend of the lost city El Dorado gained momentum. Gold was one powerful fever.

Archaeological evidence points more and more to El Dorado the man, rather than a lost city. I’m not sure how I feel about El Dorado; at least we don’t have to look for it any longer. It was never lost.

Gold raft from the Muisca people, found 1969 in a cave near Bogotá – depicting the ceremony of El Dorado.

Shame on Peruvian Land Developers


Without question, one of the main reasons we know so little about ancient history is that it was destroyed. Connecting the dots between the few remaining fragments of history allow us to imagine the story of civilization. Geological records explain natural catastrophes, second hand historical accounts such as the writings of Plato describing Atlantis, sprinkle light dustings of possibility on what might otherwise be pure myth.

Conquest and assimilation is by far the biggest eradicator of history. Spanish friar, and later bishop of Yucatan, Diego de Landa is a perfect example. In 1549 Landa arrived in Mexico with the conquistadors. He set out to convert the native population and obliterate any evidence of their beliefs and culture. In 1561 he set a massive fire, burning the last remaining Maya documents detailing their history and knowledge of astronomy. In 1563 he returned to Spain to face trial for an “unauthorized” inquisition. When cleared of charges he returned in 1573 as bishop of Yucatan.

http://archaeology.about.com/od/mayaresearchers/ss/Diego-de-Landa.htm

What little we know about ancient Mexico, Central, and South America is the result of painstaking excavation of archaeological sites. Despite the church’s campaign to obliterate ancient indigenous civilizations, great strides have been made in piecing together ancient pasts. Archaeological treasures all that remain of civilizations beyond our comprehension.

Then along come greedy, bonehead land developers. With no more regard than Landa, thinking only of their interests land developers near Lima, Peru demolished El Paraiso, a 5000 year old pyramid on one of the oldest archaeological sites in South America. In May a 2,300 year old pyramid in Belize fell to a bulldozer, ending up as fill for road construction.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23173628

Precious little remains of our ancient past. It defies conscience to see what we have, pulverized and turned into landfill.

Guilty Pleasure


I’ll come clean and admit a guilty pleasure – I’m addicted to television, not just any TV, specifically the History and Discovery channels. My PVR is set to record anything about the universe, ancient history, aliens, or conspiracies. The first two are easy to digest, the last two – not so much. Far from being a conspiracy or alien nut there’s still plenty of thought provoking ponders to sift through.

Ancient Aliens has sent me along the research path countless times. The show becomes tiresome, and I hardly ever make it to the end, but along the way I do pick up questions that are difficult to answer. Not for an instant do I think we are alone in the universe, nor do I believe Hitler escaped in an alien time capsule, the Sasquatch is an alien, or ancient Egyptian and Maya kings travelled through a star gate to distant worlds. I do wonder how precisely cut stone weighing up to 100 tons could be quarried miles away and transported across river valleys to the top of mountain peaks, then set in place so precisely you couldn’t slip a hair between them. It plants a smile on my face to know pyramids in Mexico are lined with Mica quarried 3000 miles away in South America. Rather than alien intervention I believe in lost civilization; I’m certain thousands of years history pre-date our accepted historical timeline.

Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded are way out there. Just the same; I thank them for my knowledge of the Alaska triangle and Bohemian Grove. While reassured that George Patton wasn’t murdered, I’m not buying that copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the Bronze Age or the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America.

Anything you ever wanted to know about the universe is waiting for you on television. Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, The Universe, Known Universe, Cosmic Front – it’s all there. For the first time in my life I “get” string theory, know the difference between White Dwarfs and Red Giants, understand why tossing a cast iron frying pan into the sun would create a super nova, and that one day the universe will run out of hydrogen and go dark. Aftermath and Life After People have shown me what would happen if the world ran out of oil, the earth stopped spinning, we had no moon, or were hit by a massive asteroid.

I fall asleep listening to Monarchy by David Starkey or Neil Oliver’s The World After Stonehenge; something about a British accent that sends me off to sleep. In my corner of the world we have the Knowledge network; commercial free programs like The Story of India, Spice Trails – chronicling the early spice trade, or Brazil with Michael Palin.

Admitting my guilty pleasure is not a source of shame. I’m smart enough to take things with a grain of salt, put them in perspective, or use my research skills to learn more. In all honesty i would be lost without a voice to put me to sleep every night.

Cuba and Santeria


Pondering religion has me taking a look at Cuba and Santeria. The birth of Santeria is unique in that it sprang from a measure of tolerance by Spanish invaders. Spanish plantation owners allowed their slaves to form clubs called Cabildas; a place where African slaves  melded traditional Yoruba faith with Catholicism. What sets this apart is that it happened around the same time Spanish conquistadors were obliterating indigenous civilizations in Mexico and South America.

No question the Spanish had no God but their own in mind, that said it’s fascinating Santeria was tolerated. Perhaps it seemed harmless enough as it wasn’t part of local culture. They were businessmen for the most part who might have recognized the benefits of keeping the peace.I suspect the clever practice of referring to Orishas; Santeria Gods, as “saints” duped Spaniards into thinking the imported work force was toeing the line.

Santeria believes in over twenty Orishas; Gods able to wear many different “masks” therefore perceived in other cultures as their own holy figures. It has no text, and is passed on by word of mouth. Money isn’t wasted constructing places to worship; ceremonies take place in private homes or rented spaces. It worships nature, and takes a holistic approach to healing. Followers are given a “mother” and “father” Orisha in ceremonies conducted by a priest. Orishas have different colours associated with them; followers wear beads to identify their mother and father. Offerings known as ache are sometimes made in the form of blood from animal sacrifice.For this reason many people think of it as Voodoo, a misconception built on one tiny aspect of a rather complicated faith.

It would take hours to explain the intricacies of Santeria. My kindergarten overview doesn’t do justice to a faith born and raised for no purpose other than to help its followers. Santeria doesn’t knock on your door with newsprint pamphlets, it doesn’t care what others believe or pass moral judgement. It focuses on drawing strength from within, and honouring nature. It accepts all faiths and welcomes anyone who knocks on its door.

Perhaps this helps to explain the joy found in Cuban people. People who laugh and sing despite the lousy deal they’ve been handed. Ponder our world if we took a lesson from Santeria and kept religion to ourselves. A world free of church leaders sitting on piles of plundered wealth, free of hatred, judgement, and the belief it mattered one iota which afterlife any of us found ourselves.

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Photo -aboutsanteria.com

Pachamama


In Ecuador Mother Nature is Pachamama – she now has constitutional rights. In 2008 65% of Ecuador’s population voted in favour of re-writing the constitution, giving legal rights to Pachamama. Her new bill of rights was written by a group from Pennsylvania, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

CELDF wrote –  “nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.”

Ecuador’s president Raphael Correa dubbed his countries new approach “living well”. One of the smallest, poorest countries in South America, oil production is the life blood of Ecuador’s economy. Millions of barrels of oil beneath rain forests so ecologically diverse – one hectare contains more species of trees than all of North America.

Here’s the catch – Ecuador estimates oil worth $3.6 billion pool beneath Yasuni National Park. Correa asked the world to pay Ecuador, half the value of oil reserves in exchange for keeping it in the ground. His rational – global benefits of preserving Pachamama, far out weigh short term financial gain for Ecuador. So far 300 million dollars has been raised.

Correa’s forward thinking blows me away – 30% live below the poverty line, yet this tiny nation supports initiatives to preserve and dignify Pachamama.  Ecuador’s innovative, refreshingly simple plan serves to remind us – change is possible.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/what-if-mother-nature-had-rights-she-does-in-ecuador/article7039202/

Yasuni National Park – Bing images

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Time To Dust Off Chariots of the Gods


In 1968 Erich Von Daniken published a book titled Chariots of the Gods. For those of my generation it was a “must read”. I can’t think of anyone who didn’t read it or talk about it. The space program was in full throttle, Hollywood pumped out campy science fiction movies  and L. Ron Hubbard was busy dreaming up Scientology. We all gazed at the sky, tin foil hats ready.

Daniken suggested for the first time that Earth had been visited by extraterrestrials, and it was with their help or technology that ancient structures were constructed. He suggested that angels and Gods were nothing more than primitive cultures interpretation of alien visitors.  Far fetched? Fair enough.

The interesting thing about his book were the irrefutable facts. For the first time the world learned of the Nasca lines. Draw any conclusion you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that on the top of a mountain plateau in South America lay ancient “lines” etched into the ground, of mammoth proportions, and only discernible from above. We pondered until our heads hurt. Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Great Pyramids, he opened our eyes to wonder. We didn’t have to buy into his alien theories, we did however grasp possibilities of civilizations lost.

Time to dust off Chariots of the Gods for a new generation of dreamers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OtBfBGCaABU

Spider Nazca Line

Photo from – http://nicholasspyer.com/2010/04/05/aliens-spacemen-spiders-and-monkeys-perus-nazca-lines/

Pyramid of the Sun is lined with Mica


The Pyramid of the Sun in the ancient city of Teotihuacan Mexico, was lined with sheets of Mica. Mica is an excellent conductor of electricity. This Mica came from a quarry thousands of miles away in South America. Archaeologists have no idea how they were able to accomplish this, or for what purpose the Mica was intended.