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New book re-opens Turin Shroud debate

The Turin Shroud is not a medieval forgery, as has long been claimed, but could in fact date from the time of Christ’s death, a new book claims

Experiments conducted by scientists at the University of Padua in northern Italy have dated the shroud to ancient times, a few centuries before and after the life of Christ.

Many Catholics believe that the 14ft-long linen cloth, which bears the imprint of the face and body of a bearded man, was used to bury Christ’s body when he was lifted down from the cross after being crucified 2,000 years ago.

The analysis is published in a new book, “Il Mistero della Sindone” or The Mystery of the Shroud, by Giulio Fanti, a professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, and Saverio Gaeta, a journalist.

The tests will revive the debate about the true origins of one of Christianity’s most prized but mysterious relics and are likely to be hotly contested by sceptics.

Scientists, including Prof Fanti, used infra-red light and spectroscopy – the measurement of radiation intensity through wavelengths – to analyse fibres from the shroud, which is kept in a special climate-controlled case in Turin.

The tests dated the age of the shroud to between 300 BC and 400AD.

The experiments were carried out on fibres taken from the Shroud during a previous study, in 1988, when they were subjected to carbon-14 dating.

Those tests, conducted by laboratories in Oxford, Zurich and Arizona, appeared to back up the theory that the shroud was a clever medieval fake, suggesting that it dated from 1260 to 1390.

But those results were in turn disputed on the basis that they may have been skewed by contamination by fibres from cloth that was used to repair the relic when it was damaged by fire in the Middle Ages.

Mr Fanti, a Catholic, said his results were the fruit of 15 years of research.

He said the carbon-14 dating tests carried out in 1988 were “false” because of laboratory contamination.

The mystery of the shroud has baffled people for centuries and has spawned not only religious devotion but also books, documentaries and conspiracy theories.

The linen cloth appears to show the imprint of a man with long hair and a beard whose body bears wounds consistent with having been crucified.

Each year it lures hundreds of thousands of faithful to Turin Cathedral, where it is kept in a specially designed, climate-controlled case.

Scientists have never been able to explain how the image of a man’s body, complete with nail wounds to his wrists and feet, pinpricks from thorns around his forehead and a spear wound to his chest, could have formed on the cloth. Mr Fanti said the imprint was caused by a blast of “exceptional radiation”, although he stopped short of describing it as a miracle.

He said his tests backed up earlier results which claimed to have found on the shroud traces of dust and pollen which could only have come from the Holy Land.

Mr Gaeta is also a committed Catholic – he worked for L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, and now works for Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic weekly.

The Vatican has never said whether it believes the shroud to be authentic or not, although Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once said that the enigmatic image imprinted on the cloth “reminds us always” of Christ’s suffering.

His newly-elected successor, Pope Francis, will provide an introduction when images of the shroud appear on television on Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, which commemorates the resurrection.

The Pope has recorded a voice-over introduction for the broadcast on RAI, the state television channel.

“It will be a message of intense spiritual scope, charged with positivity, which will help (people) never to lose hope,” said Cesare Nosiglia, the Archbishop of Turin, who also has the title “pontifical custodian of the shroud”.

“The display of the shroud on a day as special as Holy Saturday means that it represents a very important testimony to the Passion and the resurrection of the Lord,” he said.

For the first time, an app has been created to enable people to explore the holy relic in detail on their smart phones and tablets.

The app, sanctioned by the Catholic Church and called “Shroud 2.0”, features high definition photographs of the cloth and enables users to see details that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye.

“For the first time in history the most detailed image of the shroud ever achieved becomes available to the whole world, thanks to a streaming system which allows a close-up view of the cloth. Each detail of the cloth can be magnified and visualised in a way which would otherwise not be possible,” Haltadefinizione, the makers of the app, said.

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Spirituality

Laura Eisenhower: Galactic Astrology and the Inner Work

Laura Eisenhower on The Cosmic Secret and understanding the planetary, galactic, and cosmic support that Humanity continues to receive in the Awakening transitions. Laura and Kalyn, on a fascinating crash course in Galactic Astrology as they discuss healing the bridge between Science and Spirituality and the tools we can use to smooth out the bumpy road of Inner Work

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Spirituality

The Ley Lines: could they influence the Earth in any physical way?

Credit: lifecoachcode.com.

The Ley lines would be “subtle” magnetic energy flows that would be found throughout the Earth. They would physically influence the places they travel.

The Ley Lines are hypothetical energy routes that run throughout the Earth. According to experts on this subject, many ancient megalithic monuments were built in vortices or intersection points of these lines (like Stonehenge or the Pyramids of Egypt). These routes would establish a planetary harmonical energy and it is thought that would influence the ecology of the planet, since the energy would be perceived concentrated in fertile natural places such as mountains, lakes and forests. They would also affect the human beings!

This kind of Energy has been referred to as “subtle” or “etheric”, since it is different from the types of magnetic energy that science knows. Different ancient cultures would also have called them: dragon trails, dragon currents or snake paths.

The Law Lines: could they influence the Earth in any physical way?
The so-called San Miguel Law Line, with several sacred places lined up by Europe (Public domain).

The term was coined in 1921 by amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins, who observed a alignment of several megalithic monuments and ancient places from Great Britain. First it was considered that the Ley Lines were only alignments, but then they were given an esoteric character, with the rectilinear flow of that subtle energy of the Earth.

The Ley Lines influence the ecology of the Earth

Theorists of this esoteric phenomenon say that the lines intersect in several places, forming power points or vortex points around the planet. These vortex points would influence the ecology and life of each place. This is also related to the so-called geomancy.

In fact, this concept has bases in the ancient Chinese religious philosophy of feng shui. Feng shui speaks of chi, or “vital breath” that moves in currents and is affected by the shapes, space and direction of the cardinal points. The art of feng shui seeks to perceive the flow of lung-mei or dragon currents and accommodate space and objects to benefit that flow.

The Law Lines: could they influence the Earth in any physical way?
Another illustration of the lines, look at the vortex of Giza, Egypt (Public domain).

The Ley lines, and especially the vortex points, would be places of concentration of positive chi (energy). A great natural example where this occurs is a valley surrounded by hills: the mountainous circle would create a vortex point of etheric energy, forming a kind of shield and fortress. The green valley with the help of that vortex, attracts water currents and creates fertile soils.

In druid belief, the energy of the Earth was called wyvern, and it slid across the ground. The wyvern lines transmitted life (or vitality) and fertilized the land.

Magnetism affects water and earth

You have to keep in mind that magnetism affects water (can purify it). According to researcher Rene Noorbergen, the ancient civilizations knew about Earth’s magnetism (or of one type of energy, at least) and that would have been used to fertilize the earth (Modern horticulturists know about the fertilizing properties of magnetic fields).

The Law Lines: could they influence the Earth in any physical way?
Malvern hills in England. Alfred Watkins thought that a LeyLine passed along its mountainous ridge. Credit: Daderot / Wikimedia commons.

In the vortex points too, observable energy phenomena would be generated, like strange lights that have been reported near a Dolmen monument  in Loon and near a monastery in Aduard, both in the Netherlands.

Will the existence of these Ley lines be possible? Scientists have not really investigated this, but it is known that the Earth has enough movement of magnetic energy which, in addition to the known electromagnetic spectrum, is very wide, with different wavelengths (such as visible light and X-rays).

References: EarthGeomancy / Ancient-Wisdom / LeyLijnen / IntuitiveDoc.

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Spirituality

The secret séance rituals of America’s largest Spiritualist community

Eric Spitznagel
NY Post

Medium Annette Rodgers leads a séance, allegedly with the help of her deceased daughter, Lauren.

Shannon Taggart was never a big believer in ghosts. But that changed in 2001, during one of her first visits to Lily Dale — a hamlet in southwestern New York state that’s home to the world’s largest spiritualist community.

The Brooklyn photojournalist was taken by surprise while watching a private reading with Gretchen Clark, a fifth-generation medium.

“All of a sudden, she started laughing at nothing,” Taggart tells The Post. “Apparently the spirit of her brother was in the room and told her a joke.”

“I told him not to interrupt me while I’m working,” Clark explained to her client and then turned to an empty spot and yelled, “Chapman, we’ve talked about this!”

She composed herself and returned to the reading and then just as quickly turned back to Taggart.

“Margaret’s here,” Clark announced.

“Margaret? I don’t know any Margaret,” Taggart insisted.

Clark closed her eyes and listened. “She says ‘Texas.’ What does ‘Texas’ mean?”

Taggart instantly knew. “My great aunt Margaret lived in Texas and she’d died a few months earlier,” Taggart says. “I’d totally forgotten. My whole body just tensed up. It was truly spooky.”

That encounter was just the beginning of a spiritual awakening for Taggart, who would spend the next 18 years documenting mediums in New York as well as Essex, England, and Antequera, Spain. More than 150 of her photographs, many never before seen, are published in her new book Séance (Fulgur Press).

Taggart didn’t set out to prove or disprove spiritualism. Rather, she says, she was driven by “a sinking feeling that these mediums knew something about life that I didn’t.”

When she first traveled to Lily Dale, it was out of curiosity.

Years earlier, her cousin had learned from a medium that their grandfather hadn’t died from heart disease — as Taggart had always believed — but by asphyxiation. She laughed off the story, until her parents confirmed it.

“Someone at the hospital put food into his mouth and left him alone,” her father had said, “and he choked.”

This story stayed with Taggart over the years, and she became consumed with “how a total stranger could have known the details of this tragedy.”

In 2001, at age 26, she decided to visit Lily Dale despite knowing nothing about the place except that it was a short drive from Buffalo, where she grew up, and the medium who revealed her grandfather’s secret had lived there.

The town was founded as a gated spiritualist summer retreat in 1879, and not much has changed since then. With a population of some 275 residents — many of whom are practicing mediums — it looks like a town frozen in the mid-19th century. Narrow roads are lined with old-fashioned houses, many adorned with signs announcing “the medium is in.” A rickety wooden auditorium in the center of town is typically “papered with flyers advertising trumpet séances, past-life regressions, astral-travel workshops, spoon-bending classes and circles to develop mediumship,” Taggart writes.

She arrived with no plan and was initially too nervous to do anything but drive around.

But Taggart eventually wrote a letter to the Lily Dale Assembly’s board of directors asking permission to take photos during what she first thought would be “one summer making a photo essay about this quirky little town.”

“I would just wander around and literally knock on people’s doors and say, ‘Would you talk to me? Would you teach me about spiritualism?’ ” she recalled. “And they very graciously did.”

medium letters

A medium claims to have received letters under her pillow from a man who lived in the 1800s after meeting him through a Ouija board.

What she learned from them wasn’t necessarily how to communicate with ghosts. It was a peek into a shadowy subculture that “was once a seminal force in Western culture,” Taggart writes. “A legacy that was absent from every textbook I had ever studied, including my histories of photography.”

Spiritualism — a belief system based not just on the existence of spirits, but the idea that they want to stay in contact with the living — was once part of the mainstream. It was embraced by public figures like psychoanalyst Carl Jung, evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, poet William Butler Yeats and even Abraham Lincoln. But today, it’s almost entirely hidden.

“It flourishes in fiction and entertainment but is marginalized by academia and the media,” Taggart writes. The contemporary Western worldview is that spiritualism is the stuff of fiction. But after what Taggart witnessed, and photographed, she wasn’t so sure.

As her exploration took her overseas, she learned that not all mediums started out wanting to be mediums.

Reverend Jane from Erie, Pa., found the calling at age 6, when “she saw a spirit standing inside her grandmother’s closet,” Taggart writes, and discovered she could make supermarket cans fly across shelves and candles do somersaults in the air.

Others came to it after being triggered by the grief of losing a loved one.

British medium Simone Key, a lifelong atheist, was drawn to spiritualism after her mother passed and she began getting messages, on her long-broken word processor, that read: “We must communicate.”

Annette Rodgers of Essex, England, felt the calling after her 16-year-old daughter, Lauren, died from a heroin overdose. Two years later, still deep in depression, Rodgers attended a spiritualist church “on a whim and immediately felt ‘Yes, this is what I need,’ ” she told Taggart.

She now runs a spiritualist center in Spain and says her dead daughter visits regularly.

Lily dale museum

Dorothy Pries works at the Lily Dale Museum

“I once saw Lauren turn Annette’s iPhone around on a table,” a fellow medium recounted to Taggart. “Her connection to her mother is that strong.”

But mediumship isn’t limited to communication with dead loved ones. Sometimes things get awkward.

Lily Dale medium Betty Schultz recalled a reading she had with a Catholic priest who was a regular client. “The spirits showed Betty a baby who had died and told her the priest was its father,” Taggart writes. Betty silently insisted to the spirits that there was no way she’d be sharing this information.

Without explaining why, she sent him to another medium — who later scolded Schultz: “Why didn’t you give that man the message from his baby?”

Taggart developed close friendships with some of her photo subjects, like Lauren Thibodeau, a longtime Lily Dale resident who found her way to spiritualism without any warning. She explained how she first went into a trance on New Year’s Eve 1989 in front of her husband and his friend, the best man from their wedding, “who never came to their home again,” writes Taggart.

Thibodeau shared one of the biggest headaches of spiritualism: uninvited famous people. Most mediums want nothing to do with celebrity ghosts — there’s no faster way to drive away an on-the-fence skeptic than “I have a message from Albert Einstein” — but Thibodeau says it’s sometimes unavoidable.

She remembers a session in which Elvis Presley’s ghost showed up unannounced.

“No!” Thibodeau shouted at the ghost. “I’m not doing this, get out of here!”

When the spirit refused to leave, Thibodeau apologized to her clients. “I’m sorry, I have Elvis here and I don’t know why,” she said. She then learned that the mother of the woman she was doing a reading for had been a housekeeper at Graceland.

For Thibodeau, it was a lesson in not being too quick to cast judgment. “Now, any time a spirit comes, regardless of who they are, I’ll give a message,” she told Taggart. “I don’t shoo them away. We communicate with dead people, and a dead celebrity is still dead.”

Even after almost two decades following mediums, Taggart isn’t sure she’d call herself a believer just yet. “I no longer subscribe to the popular belief that spiritualists are charlatans just trying to make money off of people,” Taggart says. “For the most part, I found them to be very sincere.”

But as for whether she believes in ghosts and life after death, the now 44-year-old is still on the fence. The closest she comes to sounding like a convert is when discussing an unsettling experience from 2013. It happened while she was visiting Sylvia and Chris Howarth, a married medium couple in England.

The morning after watching Sylvia do a séance in the dark — something the experienced spiritualist rarely did because “sometimes the phenomena continued into the next day” — Taggart was making tea in their kitchen and reached to open a cupboard.

“The ceramic knob exploded in my hands,” Taggart remembers. “Half of it shot into the air and crashed to the floor. The other half became razor-sharp and cut into my hand, and it started gushing blood.” Chris ran into the room, reached for the broken knob, and soon he was bleeding too.

“Just telling that story again, it gives me chills,” Taggart says.

So was it a paranormal encounter? She isn’t sure.

“All I know is, I still have a scar because of what happened that day,” she says. “And I still think about it all the time. So who knows?”

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