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Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition

Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition 94

Similarly to the European tradition, the North American one recognizes in the period of the winter solstice, the “gateway” to the world of the dead and spirits and, therefore, the time suitable for youth initiations and masked ceremonies, including the Iroquois of the “False Faces” and the kwakiutl face of the “Cannibal Spirit”. These beliefs and practices, as well as the analysis of shamanic journeys to the “Village of Spirits”, allow us to understand the doctrines of the native peoples of North America on the various souls that make up the human being and on the relationship maintained by the living with the world of spirits. 

It is known as in the European tradition, the period of the year of the so-called “winter crisis”, which runs approximately from the beginning of November (Samhain/ Halloween / Feast of the Dead) in January / February, stands out for a series of beliefs and rites that have to do with the Other World and initiation. Whether we analyze the Roman Saturnalia, the Celtic ceremonies or the Yule of the Norse, as well as a series of walking rituals that remained alive in the medieval period to reach us (Romanian Calusari, Austrian Krampus, etc.), i topoi recurring of this period of the year are always the same: momentary withdrawal, pending the start of the new year, to a chaos and uncertainty; confusion of social roles; contacts between the world of the dead and that of the living; cult complex “of the visitor”; initiation of young people to secret brotherhoods; processions and dances with masks that personify the demons and spirits of the dead, and so on.

Less known is the fact that the native peoples of North America, whose religious culture is attributable to the area of ​​shamanism and animism, contemplate extremely similar ritual beliefs and practices during the same period of the year, which we intend to analyze in this article. We will first deal with the initiatory winter ceremonies, and then try to frame the actual initiatory experience and the consequent “spirit” journey of the neophyte in the “village of spirits”. Finally, we will try to define the characteristics ascribed by the North American tradition to the Other World and we will report some esoteric doctrines regarding the survival of the soul (or rather, of souls) to physical death and their access consequent to other dimensions.

71Zffe-Ri-L._SL1000_Iroquois ceremony of the False Faces

The most illuminating ritual tradition of these winter rituals that has come down to us thanks to ethnographic studies is in all probability that of the Iroquois of the subarctic area. In Mid-Winter ceremony of the latter, an initiatory lodge known as there Society of False Faces performs public rituals of exorcism for diseases, tornadoes, raging winds and witchcraft, chasing negative powers from the village, or therapeutic rites based on dream experience. The “False Faces” – in contrast to the “Real Faces”, ie the living – represent at the same time the spirits of the forest and those of the ancestors: they are addressed by calling them “grandparents” or “thunder”. It seems that the members of the “False Faces” brotherhood are only imitations of the “Sun Faces”, spiritual entities that roam deep in the forests, on the extreme edges of the world. The head of the “False Faces” is said to live on the ends of the earth, that is

“At the far end of the world, in that remote and mysterious area, where the ordinary and supernatural world merge and intersect. »

As often happens in other geographical and cultural areas, the members of the initiatory society obtain thanks to certain ritual practices the “dominion over the fire”: they handle hot, non burning coals and use the ash of the coals themselves as medicine, rubbing it on the sick patient’s body . Another variety of brotherhood members wear masks made with dry corn leaves and are defined as “Straw Faces”: they personify the spirits connected to agriculture and the fertility of the fields. The masks of the “False Faces” are instead carved from walnut wood, the sacred tree of Iroquois shamanism (and also the “witch tree” and fairies in the medieval European tradition;.

Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition 95
Iroquois False Faces

Also at Kwakiutl On the Pacific coast, a winter ceremony is celebrated that involves the participation of tribal members of certain masked medical lodges (the “Society of the Cannibal”), impersonating the terrifying and fatal forces that approach the world of the living during the Winter Solstice, when the power of the sun is at its nadir. Among the main characters of this ritual, which also has an initiatory value for the young people of the tribe, there is the dancer who personifies the “Cannibal Spirit” (Hamatsa), from which the members of the initiatory brotherhood were owned. The house of the god is located on the edge of the world (in the far north), that is to say in the farthest place conceivable by the world of men.

The “cannibalistic” value of the initiating god-spirit is probably to be connected to well known topos also in other parts of the world (Siberia, South America, Australia, etc.) of the “Initiatory dismemberment” by spirits or demons, who then “magically” reconstruct the body of the neophyte thus giving him supernatural powers (the same role is played in kwakiutl initiations, as we will see, even by wolves, who must be considered as a “mask” worn by spirits to interact with humans). The so-called is also erected in this ceremony “Cannibal Pole”, obtained from a young cedar tree, mirror image of the young neophyte who must go through a transformation process.

The rituals that allow the spirits of the other world to enter our world during this limited period of time of the “winter crisis” are manifold and are different according to the various Amerindian tribes. At the Cree tribe of the subarctic, for example, the latter they are recalled inside the tepee through the upper opening; their arrival causes the tent to shake (this is why we speak of “Ritual of the Trembling Tent”) and everyone present can hear distinctly whispers and deafening noises, a sign that the supernatural powers have been recalled in the manner prescribed by tradition and that they are now present among the bystanders, to give them advice and visions. During the “Bladder Festival”, also held around the winter solstice, the spirits of the seals, who were believed to reside in their vesques, in the houses of the village, were invited to ensure their periodic return the following season.

NAA Photo Lot 24
Cannibal kwakiutl ceremony

The temporary arrival of these spirits into the world of men is not univocal: in a specular way, in this period of the year, the living are initiated into mystery practices and, consequently, in turn manage to access the Other World or the world of the dead and spirits. It is believed that, during the initiation and the consequent astral “journey”, the shamans arrive in another dimension, which is presented as dark and abysmal, a sort of “cosmic womb” from which the power of Manitu and his innumerable messengers is emanated as from a primordial source. A sacred song by the Kwakiutl of the north-western area reads:

“I was taken away, far inland, to the edge of the world because of the magical power of heaven, the treasure. »

During the initiation ceremony ojibwa, members of the Society of Medicine, “hit” neophytes by projecting a shell into them, which is magically “thrown” by means of the “medicine bag”. The initiate falls as dead, then is brought back to life by the brotherhood: now he has new powers and knowledge and is considered in all respects “reborn“. For Kwakiutl they are gods, and quartz crystals are projected into the body of the neophyte by the spirits (often in the form of a wolf) to give him supernatural powers: the same belief can be found sensationally at the opposite end of the Pacific Ocean, in Australia.

Shamans, in the trance phase, visit other worlds than ours: in spirit they go to the upper skies or the lower worlds, where they meet and dialogue with the spirits, recover the patient’s lost soul and objects lost by tribal members. Some descriptions of shamanic journeys are entirely identical to those of the Siberian tradition: in a tale of the Paiute of the Rocky Mountains, for example, it is understood that the soul leaves the body in the form of a “small insect” and that he is preparing to leave the tent, a symbol of the body, coming out of the smoke opening on the roof (which is also in the Mongolian-Siberian gher or yurt), symbol of the upper wall of the skull. It comes back often that the idea that “power” is somehow a “spiritual double” of the natural person (perhaps similar to daimon Greek gods), dwelling in a dark and abysmal dimension connected to the dream, which the shaman can rejoin during his ecstatic “flights”.

Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition 96
Kwakiutl shaman possessed by the Cannibal Spirit

In some tribes of the Rocky Mountains the spirits appeared in anthropomorphic and zoomorphic form to children aged 8-10 years; the experience was forgotten for about 15 years, after which the subject fell prostrate in a state of illness and starvation. At this point you had to entrust it to a medicine man who, with due rituals, would initiate him and allow him to firmly gain shamanic powers.

In the subarctic area, there are testimonies and tales of shamans trained and initiated by flocks of wild animals, such as wolves, bears and partridges, who hold the same role and the same function recognized to the spirits in Austroasian, Altaic-Siberian and Turkish-Mongolian shamanism. These initiatory kidnappings also generally occurred in the winter, in the days of the Mid-Winter ceremony.

Between Kwakiutl, the neophyte is approached and kidnapped by the helping spirits, who often appear in animal form (wolves, killer whales, loons). Initiation involves a period of confinement in the forest (and, specularly, in the “dark” dimension of spirits), in which he is detained, instructed and endowed with supernatural powers by the initiating spirits. Neophytes were thought to come invaded by the mysterious and terrifying power that emanated supernatural beings, temporarily transforming them into wild beings with fearsome and disturbing characteristics.

Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition 97
Costume of a Yup’ik shaman

With the Yup’ik Eskimos, there are tales of humans who would have gone to live in underwater residence of seals; but the latter turn out to be not real animals, but “people” of different sizes: according to the tradition of Alaska’s native peoples, the contemporary animal species would be descendants of past humanity, transformed following a conscious infringement of ritual prescriptions.

The Hopi talk about a “Snake Village”, located near the underground abode of the spirits of the dead, where a member of their tribe would come and marry a bride-snake, who as in European legends of the “Fairy bride” (ex. Melusina) she joined him and bore him a son, placing taboo as a condition. Just as in the medieval European tradition, once this taboo is violated (e.g., the man spies on the woman in the act of taking a bath), the snake bride immediately leaves her husband taking her son away. According to the legend, the famous snake dance of the Hopi – studied among others by Amy Warburg – it was established following this union: the dancers would impersonate the descendants of the child born from the union of their mythical ancestor with the snake wife.

At the Kwakiutl, salmons are also particularly sacred: it is said that shamans and twins are reincarnated salmons. In this we can perhaps glimpse a parallelism with the Celtic tradition, where salmon symbolized wisdom. (According to the Lakota, twins and sacred people reincarnate very easily and are already born in possession of intellectual maturity;). It is believed that at night the soul of the shamans abandon the body and travel with the souls of the “salmon” (which however appear in all respects as human – or superhuman) until they reach the village of Mäêsila, at the extreme limit of the world, where all the souls of men arrive (in ecstatic states and after death).

These mythical entities have characteristics in common with the spirits of the dead, but even more with the fairies of the European tradition: it is said that their souls are always around, around us, but that we cannot see them. It is also believed that the soul of man during the day is small, but when night falls and we fall asleep, it becomes large and can travel far.

Shamanic initiation and the ways of the afterlife in the North American tradition 98
Mask of a False Iroquois Face

The world of the dead (often referred to as “Spirit village”) looks like a exact duplication of the human one, but on the contrary: yet another variation of the topos well known also in the European area of the Other World as an “inverted world”. Sometimes the afterlife is described as A big garden, in which it is always day. In many stories, the “Land of Spirits” seems a perfect homologue of “Land of the Fairies” European (Fairyland or Elfame): in it a multitude of people dance and play, disappearing along with all the vision with the first rays of the sun. Other topoi dear to the European tradition can be found in the stories centered on the journey to the underworld, including the recommendation of never eat food offered by the entities of the “world below” nor of turning around back during the ascent to ours.

Some near-death experiences recorded by the ojibwa tradition they describe the world of the dead, located at the end of the “Path of the Spirits”, in a similar way to the Celtic tradition: the protagonist of these experiences meets the spirits of the deceased tribal members, who inquire about the health of their relatives and descendants and offer to the newcomer of the food that he must not accept if he does not want to remain forever in that world (Comba 230; identical topos in the European and Asian tradition). To some people who had died for a very long time it grew moss on the skin: perhaps a clue to the conceptual closeness, in archaic traditions, between the spirits of the dead and the spirits of vegetation and crops (Comba 231).

The texts of the Winnebago who narrate experiences after death recall the otherworldly paths of the Tibetan and Egyptian Book of the Dead (Comba 144). There is talk of one “Singing track” to follow that would have led the soul of the deceased to the place where the ancestors and the dead were, in the far south (Comba 239). The ojibwa they believe there is a “place of punishment” halfway from “Land of Spirits”, whence a fire is released which burns all that is wicked in the souls of the dead (Comba 164).

Corn Husk Masks Keppler
Iroquois Straw Face Masks

Generally speaking about the world of the dead in a positive, non-fearful or terrifying way (except for some pueblo tribes like the Navajo): an Ojibwa says that it is not right to cry too much for the dead, as they are in a nice place where “They are doing well”. When a tribal Crow member claims to have died, visited the afterlife and returned, he usually develops a strong nostalgia for the world of the dead, to the point of finally dying shortly after.

In other stories, e.g. of the Kwakiutl, it is said that the souls of the dead would not want to be there, and “come back to life continuously even after having been dead for a long time” (reincarnation). It is said that in this other world spirits are exactly like us, just as if they were alive. When a tribal member dies, all the objects he owns are burned so that they can be rebuilt in the other world.

Annual_report_of_the_Regents _-_ New_York_State_Museum ._ (1908) _ (19360138502)
Iroquois False Face Masks

Often, e.g. among the Crow, disembodied spirits residing in the other dimension are imagined in a condition of peace and perennial happiness, which recalls the life of the natives before the arrival of the white man. The visit to the world of the dead thus becomes, for those who experience it, comparable to a desirable escape from the world on a personal level in the face of the unacceptable current situation: a “millenarian” theme in certain aspects.

THE Crow they use a term to define the life force that remains after death, with a meaning similar to “soul“(zoé) of westerners; this term, etymologically connected with those who translate “shadow“,”ghost, ghost“And” devil or malevolent spirit “, can also refer to Life force animals and inanimate objects (eg “sacred stones”, Menicocci1 189). It is believed that the spirit of a deceased can take possession of the body of a living thing, and return to our world in the form of wind turbines (Cfr. fairies in the European tradition). Sometimes the spirits of the dead are summoned by the shaman with a ritual in their tent: in this case they manifest themselves with whispers, whispers, whirlpools and lullabies (Menicocci1 190); it is, as has been said, the so-called “Trembling Tent” ceremony widespread especially in the subarctic area.

Husk Masks Seneca Cattaraugus
Iroquois Straw Face Masks

Even the Amerindian doctrine of reincarnation has strong correspondences with the European tradition of the fairies, which are often related to the souls of the dead. THE Mandan believed that, before reincarnating again, the soul of the deceased lived together with many others in three hills called “Children’s Homes”, which closely resemble the “fairy” mounds and mounds of the Gaelic-British tradition. It was believed that in these “houses” a deceased elder would take care of souls who, at any given moment, would choose a mother to be born again in our world. It is no coincidence, exactly as in the Gaelic tradition, childless women went to these hills to pray the little guests to choose them as mothers.

It was also believed that children who died a few days after birth without receiving their first name would return to the “Children’s Homes”, from which they would then reincarnate again. Therefore, in the conception of the Mandan and other native tribal groups, there are gods “Deposits” or “reserves” of souls who belong, potentially, to the social group of the living and who await only the right moment to reincarnate within the clan, in our sublunar reality plan.

The Mandan, like other native Amerindian groups, on the other hand, contemplated the existence of multiple souls, who at the time of death would have taken different “paths”. If one in fact, as we have seen, returned to the “Children’s Homes” waiting to be reincarnated again, a second soul at the time of his passing he went to heaven, to the “Great Spirit”; a third came to the realm of the dead proper, located in the far south of the world; a fourth finally remained potentially tied to the ground plane and could be a cause of danger (Menicocci2 48), which is why it was sometimes necessary to perform certain rituals to limit the damage of unwanted “presence”.

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The remains of “witches” burned at the stake for killing children in the 17th century were found by archaeologists

The remains of "witches" burned at the stake for killing children in the 17th century were found by archaeologists 109

In the Polish city of Bochnia, archaeologists unearthed the charred remains of two women. The discovery was made during restoration work in the local market.

They are believed to have lived approximately 300 years ago. According to scientists, it is known that in 1679 three women were burnt in this place. So far, two skeletons have been found, but experts have no doubt that they will soon find a third one, according to Express.

Researchers believe that the victims were accused of witchcraft and murder of children. After that, they were probably burned in the city market. Such punishment was common in the Middle Ages, from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Historians believe that the public burning allegedly showed “witches” going to hell.

Archaeologists will continue to investigate the remains, but they have already stated that the women were buried right at the place of execution. According to experts, in that era it was customary: people convicted of such a crime could not be buried near the church.

According to historical sources, at least 13 women accused of witchcraft were executed in Bochnia. Before the execution of the sentence, they were kept in the neighboring town hall and, most likely, tortured in order to get a confession of their deeds. In addition, the archives contain the names and crimes of the “witches”.

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Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised

Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised 110

Many castles have survived in Europe, which to modern people seem incredibly beautiful and majestic. Their main purpose was to deter enemies if necessary.

That is why such factors as a good location, a moat, a rampart and other opportunities to repel potential enemies played a strategic role.

However, there is one architectural object that does not fit into the traditional framework.

Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised
Photo: Pixabay

The majestic is one of the most famous landmarks in the Italian region of Apulia. Moreover, it will not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most mystical castle in the world.

Unlike other mystical places, this amazing castle is not hidden from prying eyes behind the mountains and forests. On the contrary, it is visible from afar. You drive along the freeway and see it, towering on top of the hill.  It doesn’t matter that the name of the building is translated as “castle on the mountain”, only those who have never seen real mountains in their life can literally take the name Castel del Monte. 

It was built on a castle on the very spot where the Maria del Monte monastery was located until the thirteenth century, hence the first name of the building, which few people remember today – castrum Sancta Maria de Monte.

Today, crowds of people frequently visit Castel del Monte. For this, many thanks to the magical world of cinema and the Italian director Matteo Garrone in particular, because it was in the unusual halls of this monumental structure that he settled the characters of his “Scary Tales” – the king who raised a flea, and the princess whom the eccentric father married to a cannibal. Curiously, until the twentieth century, the castle was in an abandoned state, and shepherds spent the night there. 

Today, the architectural structure is in the care of UNESCO, as a result, it was cleaned and put in order, but the interior decoration of the halls was not preserved – for that reason, Matteo Garrone had to hastily fill the space of the premises with the props brought to the castle.

Garrone chose Castel del Monte for the film adaptation of the tales of the Neapolitan Giambattista Basile for a reason, because this place is incredibly mysterious. Although located 16 kilometers from the city of Andria, Castel del Monte bears the honorary title of one of the most famous medieval castles in the world, in essence it is not a castle.

The fact is that in the understanding of a normal person of the Middle Ages, a castle could only be built for one of two purposes. The first goal, it is also the main one – defense and terrain control. In this case, one or another lord erected a small fortress, as a rule, on the top of a mountain, which helped to repel enemy attacks, and at the same time to influence the situation in the region as a whole. The second task is a fortified place to live. Sometimes castles grew to the size of cities, take, for example, the same Carcassonne, but their powerful walls, again, made it possible to hold back hordes of enemies.

But Castel del Monte is not intended for defense at all. Where are the walls and the moat with water? Where are there any decent defenses? 

This place also seems to be of little use for life. Of course, even Walter Scott in his “Ivanhoe” wrote that the concept of “comfort” did not exist in the Middle Ages, but this castle, even by medieval standards, is far from the home of a self-respecting lord. It’s okay that all the rooms inside are connected to each other, but, most importantly, there is no place for a stable and there is no kitchen. 

So, most of all, the castle looks like a kind of an old art object, built for the sake of ideas, such houses are sometimes designed by modern architects who have received absolute carte blanche for the implementation of their creative ideas coupled with an unlimited budget.

This association is quite appropriate if you know who built Castel del Monte. The castle was built on the mountain by the Emperor Frederick II Staufen – a legendary person in all respects. He not only managed to win the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from competitors and lead the sixth crusade, but was also considered one of the most educated people of his time. 

He knew Greek, Latin and Arabic, founded a university in Naples, where not only Christians, but also Jews and Arabs taught, and this, by the way, is the height of tolerance by medieval standards. Frederick II as a whole was very far from Christian prejudices, here are illustrative examples: the emperor insisted that doctors study anatomy on corpses, and Frederick also had a warm attitude towards Fibonacci and even organized mathematical tournaments.

The emperor also had a penchant for writing: he is credited with writing an essay on falconry, and at his court he created a Sicilian school of poetry. At the same time, like all progressive people of his time, Frederick II was an admirer of a wide variety of mystical teachings, studied astronomy and astrology. 

With the personal life of the emperor, everything was also interesting, he earned the reputation of Bluebeard, because he was married four times, however, the church did not recognize his last marriage with his permanent mistress Bianca Lancia. Frederick II spawned a great many children – 20 legitimate, but for obvious reasons, no one scrupulously counted the bastards.

Historians still cannot solve the riddle of the Italian Castel del Monte, to which scientists have many questions

Castel del Monte was built by Frederick II from 1240 to 1250, that is, in the last decade of his life. The name of the architect is unknown, but many historians, not without reason, believe that he was the emperor himself – a painfully intricate design was the result. 

The fact is that, like many medieval mystics, Frederick was obsessed with the number eight, which symbolizes infinity, and it is constantly traced in the structure of the castle.

To begin with, the castle, when viewed from above, is a regular octagon, and an octagonal tower is erected at each corner of the structure. The shape of the inner courtyard of the castle also repeats the octagon. The castle has only two floors, the roof is flat, and the main entrance to Castel del Monte looks strictly to the east, because, as it was believed in the Middle Ages, the good news came from the east.

There are 8 rooms on each floor of the castle, all of them are connected to each other, so that Castel del Monte can be easily walked around the perimeter. The rooms are made in the form of trapezoids, and windows are cut through the walls. Toilets, wardrobes and spiral staircases are located in the corner turrets. 

By the way, the castle has a separate story with the stairs – usually in all castles they are “twisted” to the right, since this is optimal for the defense of the object, but in Castel del Monte, on the contrary, they are “turned” to the left, that is, the way it does nature, because it is to the left that the shells of mollusks or snail shells are twisted.

All rooms of the castle are exactly the same, the rooms differ from each other only in the location of the doors and the number of windows. In the decorative elements, the number eight again dominates: on the capitals of the columns there are eight leaves each, on the bas-reliefs in the rooms there are eight leaves or clover flowers.

Another interesting thing is that direct rays of sunlight fall into the windows of the second floor twice a day (with the first floor, this rule works only in the summer), so many assume that the mysterious castle is nothing more than a huge sundial, and at the same time astronomical device. 

In addition, twice a year, during the summer and winter solstice, sunlight is evenly distributed among all rooms on the ground floor. This, of course, is also no coincidence, so many historians suggest that the first floor of Castel del Monte is a kind of analogue of the solar calendar.

Here’s another curious reason for thinking – twice a year, on April 8 and October 8, the sun’s rays pass through the windows of the castle into the courtyard in such a way that they fall strictly on the part of the wall where in the time of Frederick II a certain bas-relief was carved, now lost. 

Well, and to make everything quite difficult, it is worth remembering that October in the thirteenth century was considered the eighth month of the year.

The castle bears the title of the most mysterious at all because there are many ghosts or other manifestations of mysticism

Frederick II died before he could finish the construction of the castle – the building of Castel del Monte was completed, but the interior decoration was not completed to the end. After the death of the emperor, there were legends in Europe that Frederick did not die, but disappeared in an unknown direction in order to reform the church and establish universal brotherhood and peace.

 A certain symbolism is seen in this, because the octagon, repeated in the structure of Castel del Monte, in the Middle Ages symbolized the transition from the world of the living to the kingdom of the dead, and at the same time the union of heaven and earth.

Everything is very simple here – a square was considered a symbol of the earth, a circle was a symbol of the sky, and an octagon was an intermediate figure that signified both unity and transition. However, scientists far from mysticism believe that the repeated use of the octagon is simply a reference to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, because Frederick II saw the dome over the cornerstone during his crusade.

Historians are confused by the dubious architecture of the object – in such a castle there was not a single chance to hide from an armed attack. No protective mechanisms were used during the construction.

In addition, the building itself boasts the ideal shape of a real octagon. The castle has also 8 turrets.

Scientists did not fit the theory that this castle was used by noble people in order to rest there after hunting. Castel del Monte looks too monumental and luxurious for this.

Some historians suggest that the purpose of the mysterious castle was to comprehend the secret sciences

Castel del Monte has encrypted and biblical symbols. The fact is that the castle has exactly five drainage basins and five fireplaces, many associate this with the phrase of the Baptist John from the Gospel of Luke:

“I baptize you in water for repentance, but the One who follows me is stronger than me; I am not worthy to bear His shoes; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

 So, it is easy to assume that Castel del Monte was for Frederick II an analogue of the temple, built according to his personal project, and this fully meets the ambitions of the emperor.

By the way, this hypothesis is confirmed by another curious detail. If you look closely at the entrance to the castle, you can see a giant letter F encrypted there. If inside the tomb of Frederick II, associations with the pyramids would be inevitable, and so Castel del Monte seems to be a kind of personal portal of the emperor, erected according to his plan and in his honour. 

At least when you stand in the courtyard of the castle and, with your head raised, look at the sky, imprisoned in an octagon of powerful limestone walls, even the most inveterate materialists have a feeling of belonging to the medieval magical tradition. 

The energy of this place is special, in the style of those “Scary Tales” by Matteo Garrone.

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Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 111

On December 11, the Vatican unveiled its 2020 nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. And as soon as the red drapery covering the stage was removed, the crowd found a towering, brutal and totem-like angel Gabriel watching them, along with an astronaut and a masked executioner (yes, those guys who kill people on death row).

Let’s say the applause after the opening was “polite”. Here are some images of the nativity scene.

An ominous angel looks down at the crowd while Jesus remains in the red cloth for a while (not sure why). Behind the figures is a neon light that should probably look like mountains on the horizon. However, at first glance, it looks like a lightning strike in a nativity scene.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 112
An astronaut and a masked executioner are also included in the nativity scene.

In a press release, the Vatican Governorate announced that the nursery “is intended to be a sign of hope and faith for the entire world, especially during this difficult time due to the health emergency related to COVID-19.”

But this did not bring “hope and faith” at all. In fact, almost all observers hated it.

Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene 113

It is as if the Vatican purposely created something so ugly that devout Christians hate the play depicting the birth of Jesus. Satanists couldn’t have done better.

Ugliness with weapons

This nativity scene, titled “Monumental Christmas”, was originally created between 1965 and 1975 by students and teachers of the F.A. Grue art school in Castelli, Italy. The original work contained over 50 pieces, but only a few were selected for the Nativity scene at the Vatican, and they chose the horned-masked executioner.

The “Monumental Nativity Scene” is considered a tribute to the world-renowned pottery works of the Abruzzo region and gives a postmodern twist to the classic nativity scene.

In a conversation with a local newspaper, Italian art historian Andrea Chionchi asked if it was “a nightmare or a masterpiece.”

“Forget the sweet face of the Madonna, the tender radiant incarnation of the Child Jesus, the paternal sweetness of Saint Joseph and the pious miracle of the shepherds. For the first time in the middle of the colonnade, Bernini, the Vatican erected a work of the sixties in a brutal postmodern style.

The figures resemble the masks of the ancient and ferocious Samnites, the ancestors of the Abruzians, who professed a pantheistic, animistic, fetishistic and magical religion, somewhat reminiscent of the Andean goddess of fertility, Pachamama.

Castelli’s “Nativity Scene” is an outdated work, the product of a strongly ideological art school. The work offers a depiction of Castelli ceramics that is definitely not true, given that this remarkable art is renowned for its formal elegance and refined, subtle decorative inspiration, which are completely absent here.

References to Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian character sculptures suggest a liberal historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture. Liberal Bible scholars have hypothesized about various aspects of the Bible as an adaptation of pagan cultures, and not as a result of divine revelation.

Although “ugliness” is subjective, this nativity scene almost tries its best to be as unpleasant to the eye as possible, which in turn is unpleasant to the soul. At least one could say that this scene is anti-Christian. I mean, who’s actually going to pray to this thing? You just can’t. And that’s kind of a target for the twisted minds behind this thing.

Moreover, in addition to its general ugliness, the nativity scene also contains many symbols and historical references that convey a rather egregious message: it is actually an anti-Christmas scene.

Anti Christmas

Usually in the center of the nativity scene is the baby Jesus. However, in this case, Baby Jesus is essentially a random toddler who just stands there and looks like a giant cork.

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The focus of this play is not Jesus, but rather the angel Gabriel. It is surrounded by a massive halo, while Jesus still stands there like a giant cork. In addition, the angel rises above everything on a ribbed pillar. The overall shape of this column closely resembles an important symbol of Ancient Egypt: the Jed Column.

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Right: A Jed Column dedicated to the goddess Hathor.

Jed is a common symbol in Ancient Egypt believed to represent the god Osiris, or rather his spine. While this symbol probably has an esoteric meaning in relation to the chakras (which are said to be based on the spine), the Jed also has a phallic character and is associated with fertility rites. In fact, the “erection of the Jed” was an important ceremony in ancient Egypt.

The erection of the Jedi ceremony is to symbolize Osiris’ triumph over Set. During the ceremony, the pharaoh uses ropes to lift the pole with the help of the priests. This coincided with the time of year when the agricultural year began and the fields were planted. This was only part of a 17-day celebration dedicated to Osiris. In general, the ceremony of the erection of the Jed personified both the resurrection of Osiris and the strength and stability of the monarch.

– Ancient origins, sacred symbol of the Jed Pillar

Did the Vatican trick its believers into witnessing the Jed Ascension ceremony? One thing is for sure: the Egyptian influence of this den sit well with what is immediately behind it.

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Immediately behind the nativity scene is the obelisk of St. Peter (originally from Egypt).

The general plan of the Vatican is Egyptian magic in plain sight. The phallic obelisk (representing Osiris and the masculine) faces the womb-like dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (representing Isis and the feminine). The same exact layout can be found in various power centers of the world, including Washington, DC.

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In Washington DC, an obelisk (Washington Monument) faces the dome of the US Capitol.

In Egyptian magic, the union of masculine and feminine principles (Osiris and Isis) gives birth to a “star child” (Horus). From an esoteric point of view, this star child is a powerful magical energy.

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The hieroglyph representing Sirius, the most important star of occult symbolism (read my article on this here), consists of three elements of the Egyptian trinity: an obelisk, a dome and a star.

So, the Vatican has an obelisk and a dome. Where is the star completing this trinity? It is there, but you have to look from above.

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The Obelisk of St. Peter is located right in the center of the eight-pointed star, also known as the Ishtar Star.

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The eight-pointed star also adorns the Christmas tree that stands next to the nativity scene this year.

Speaking of cosmic things, the Vatican nativity scene also depicts an astronaut. Why? God knows.

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It seems that the astronaut is holding / giving birth to something. There is also an eight-pointed star on the helmet.

Given the fact that this figure was created between 1965 and 1975, this may be a reference to the 1969 moon landing. But why in 2020 did the Vatican choose this thing to stand next to Jesus?

It is even more incomprehensible why an executioner in a horned mask is standing next to Jesus?

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Even he thinks to himself: “What am I doing here?”

In ancient times, executioners carried out death sentences for lawful convicts by chopping off their heads. In some cases, they wore grotesque masks with dark and menacing features to further intimidate prisoners, depersonalizing them as a person. In short, it is an odd figure to be placed next to the newborn baby Jesus, especially considering the fact that Jesus himself was ultimately sentenced to death.

Apparently this guy is here to represent the “Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.” This is a rather weak argument that makes little sense. I mean, I’m pretty sure the Vatican is also against methamphetamine. Should they also add a methamphetamine dealer to the nativity scene?

In the scene literally called “Christmas,” this horned figure represents death. This is the complete opposite of “Christmas”. I don’t think Satanists would have done better by desecrating the scene depicting the birth of Jesus.


In a sense, this year’s nativity scene is a sad reflection of 2020. This is a collection of expressionless and socially detached figures who do not interact with each other, standing under the neon lights of phones and computers.

It also reflects how the occult elite has raised their ugly head this year, poisoning every aspect of our lives with their toxic program. Through their outspoken anti-Christian demonstration, the elite sought to prove that its toxic ideology was also ingrained in the Vatican.

Although the Monumental Nativity scene was created several decades ago, it was chosen for the Christmas scene in 2020 for a special reason: it contains certain symbols, conveying a certain energy. Like everything else that has happened this year, this scene demonstrates the control of the elite and the demoralization of the masses.

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