Monday, June 21, 2010

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Illuminati Sol-fest 2010
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the Glastonbury Festival, which takes place around the Solstice every year in Arthur Pendragon's old neighborhood. Note the iconic Pyramid Stage with the illuminated capstone.

The headliners this year were Gorillaz, replacing U2 who've been sidelined because of Bono's back injury. The Gorillaz' sleepy jams didn't go down too well, by all accounts.

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Stonehenge Solstice

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Summer Solstice 2010 (UPDATED)

Here's a highlight reel from the Fremont/Seattle Solstice parade, which was held on Saturday. The most elaborate of these parades takes place in Santa Barbara, but won't be held until later in the week.

The American Festival Calendar continues to grow, still largely being fed by bohos and artsy types. Of course, I'd count San Diego Comic-Con and Dragon*Con and E3 and other major stops on the geek circuit as more localized festivals (more like Eleusis than the Liberalia, in other words) but perhaps not as accessible to the general population.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and predict America will never return to the halcyon days of the Eisenhower or Clinton eras, so look for these kinds of celebrations to grow in direct proportion to our economic and social miseries. We'll all be having a lot more steam to blow off.

But I'd say the Solstice thing is still a bit too esoteric for Joe and Jane Q Public. Plus, we here in America have our surreptitious Solstice festival two weeks later on "Independence Day," where we've replaced bonfires with fireworks. It's pretty much the same deal, but the date has a stronger connection to Templar history, obviously so important to our founding fathers. The Canadians have their equivalent three days earlier. Europe used to have its Midsummer fires which then became "St. John's Fires" when the local inquisitors started oiling up the torture machines. But again, same deal.

More clips from other events as they surface.

UPDATE: Stonehenge. Probably all of the excitement here is going on inside their heads.

UPDATE: Brooklyn celebrates the Solstice with its annual Mermaid Parade. Wonderfully timely, no?

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The Fire Festivals

BUT THE SEASON at which these fire-festivals have been most generally held all over Europe is the summer solstice, that is Midsummer Eve (the twenty-third of June) or Midsummer day (the twenty-fourth of June). A faint tinge of Christianity has been given to them by naming Midsummer Day after St. John the Baptist, but we cannot doubt that the celebration dates from a time long before the beginning of our era.

The summer solstice, or Midsummer Day, is the great turning-point in the sun’s career, when, after climbing higher and higher day by day in the sky, the luminary stops and thenceforth retraces his steps down the heavenly road. Such a moment could not but be regarded with anxiety by primitive man so soon as he began to observe and ponder the courses of the great lights across the celestial vault; and having still to learn his own powerlessness in face of the vast cyclic changes of nature, he may have fancied that he could help the sun in his seeming decline—could prop his failing steps and rekindle the sinking flame of the red lamp in his feeble hand.

In some such thoughts as these the midsummer festivals of our European peasantry may perhaps have taken their rise. Whatever their origin, they have prevailed all over this quarter of the globe, from Ireland on the west to Russia on the east, and from Norway and Sweden on the north to Spain and Greece on the south. According to a mediæval writer, the three great features of the midsummer celebration were the bonfires, the procession with torches round the fields, and the custom of rolling a wheel. - Sir James Frazer, The Golden Bough

In ancient times, midsummer's day was an occasion to pay homage to water, fire and plants. It was also a time to cleanse one's soul as well as to celebrate the summer solstice. However, over time, this holiday has lost most of its sacral meaning and only its various festive elements remain.

In England, people used to celebrate St. John's Eve by setting great bonfires after sunset. This was known as 'setting the watch' and men, women and children would jump through these bonfires for luck. The streets were lined with lanterns, and people carried cresset lamps set on poles as they went from one bonfire to the next. These wandering, garlanded bands were called a 'marching watch'. Often they were attended by morris dancers, and traditional players dressed as a unicorn, a dragon, and six hobby-horse riders.

In northern countries such as Scandinavia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania the summer solstice is still celebrated on this day. Traditionally, the evening festivities last the entire night, because the Sun does not set at this time in far northern latitudes. During this celebration men wear crowns of oak leaves and women put on wreaths of wild flowers. A bonfire is built, around which the night's activities take place.

In Sweden, flowers are an important aspect of the Midsummer festival. Girls and women weave wreaths of flowers to wear in their hair for the day. Wreaths or bouquets are traditionally made with seven or nine different types of wildflowers. Homes are similarly decorated: a flower wreath may be hung from the ceiling to bring blessing to the house and a pair of young birch branches put at the front door. -

When the Papacy sent its emissaries over Europe, towards the end of the sixth century, to gather in the Pagans into its fold, this festival was found in high favour in many countries. What was to be done with it? Were they to wage war with it? No. This would have been contrary to the famous advice of Pope Gregory I, that, by all means they should meet the Pagans half-way, and so bring them into the Roman Church. The Gregorian policy was carefully observed; and so Midsummer-day, that had been hallowed by Paganism to the worship of Tammuz, was incorporated as a sacred Christian festival in the Roman calendar. The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop

Masonic history records the beginning of the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster as being organized there on June 24, 1717, by a combined meeting of four local area Lodges. One of Lodges among the original 'Four Old Lodges' met there, assuming the name of the ale-house.

The famous meeting of June 24, 1717 (birthday of St. John the Baptist) was the designated as the Annual Assembly and Feast. Three additional annual meetings were subsequently specified by the original General Regulations; one on Michaelmas (in September), one just after Christmas (December 27 - birthday of St. John the Evangelist), and another on Lady Day (Annunciation Day, March 25). There is no record that these specified meetings actually occurred. - Phoenix Masonry

(The Sovereign Order of the Solar Temple''s) origins date back to the so called "Arginy Renaissance", a mystical experience of June 12, 1952, when French esoteric author Jacques Breyer (1922-1996) and two companions were contacted by secret "Masters of the Temple" and asked to establish a "Templar Renaissance". The "Renaissance" eventually materialized -- after many years of esoteric activity by Breyer and his friends -- into the OSTS, established on June 24, 1966 and incorporated under Monaco law in 1967. Monaco was selected because the Grand Master hand-picked by Breyer for the OSTS was Jean-Louis Marsan (1923-1982), a Monaco socialite and a friend of Prince Ranier III. - CESNUR

A couple interesting footnotes from history:

1374 – A sudden outbreak of St. John's Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

Sounds like the good burghers had a run-in with some ergot. And, surprising no one...

1664 – The colony of New Jersey is founded.
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Pyramid with Illuminated Capstone in Vegas

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Here's an ad that's been showing up a lot lately on the web featuring another illuminated pyramid, this time in Vegas. But, really; is this the image that best captures Las Vegas for most people?

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