The Oracle & the burning ships (part 2)

If you were a betting person I wonder what odds you’d give me on three sister ships catching fire & sinking as a result. To add to the odds all will have serious fire incidents during their life.

Until I started researching this article I had never contemplated a ‘burning ship’, except perhaps the stories of Viking funeral ships.

The Lakonia was the first sister to succumb – fire broke out aboard her exactly one month after the death of JFK on December 22, 1963. Lakonia is the ancient region of Sparta in Greece. I have followed in the wake of this first sister & she has taken me on an intriguing journey.

The next sister we come to is the rather royal MS Oranje named for the ruling family of the Netherlands Orange & launched by Queen Wilhemina herself in 1938. Her maiden voyage began on September4, 1939 – just one day after the opening ceremony of WWII. In 1941 she was loaned to the Australian govt. & converted into a beautiful hospital ship.

After waiting an hour or so, that grand ship of mercy, the ‘Oranje‘ was sighted. As she came closer I held my breath in admiration. She was the loveliest & most beautifully streamlined craft I had ever seen afloat. From her masts down to her plimsoll-line, this magnificent floating hospital was painted a spotless white, reminding me of a gigantic dove. The vivid red cross on her sides could be seen for miles.”

In 1964, Oranje along with her running mate, Willem Ruys, was sold to the Italian shipping company Flotta Lauro (Star Lauro). Both ships were renamed & both names interested me very much.

Oranje became the Angelina Lauro – I think it’s safe to say that most people upon hearing that name will have a brief (or longer, depending on their preferences) image of the Oracle goddess Angelina Jolie. I know I did & I was curious – could there be anything to see? Well originally I found some snippets, but then let it lie. However this actress came up in conversation with a friend & shortly thereafter I watched the 1984 movie Romancing the Stone & lo & behold the movie ends with this beauty straddled across the streets of New York. (This image has been appropriated from the excellent Jake Kotze’s site)

“The word “Colombia” comes from the name of Christopher Columbus… It was conceived by the revolutionary Francisco de Miranda (Miranda = She who must be admired) as a reference to all the New World.”

“Some of the most common names go deep back in history when people used to name children after animals (having in mind their preferred characteristics). Thus, Colomb, Colon, Columbus, also Coulomb etc. (different variations of the same name) come from the roman/Latin word for Dove – incase you have forgotten the quote from above about OranjeThis magnificent floating hospital was painted a spotless white, reminding me of a gigantic dove.”

I returned to my contemplation of movie stars as symbolic gods & wondered about Angelina, (though not for long), because when the Oracle speaks, it’s normally up to a spot of myth-making itself – “A Harpers and Queen magazine (read Oracle) compiled list has put the stunning Jolie as the most beautiful woman on Planet Earth.”
How can you argue with that? Anyway added to that was the fact that I was looking at ships, albeit only three instead of the full quota of a thousand, but enough to make a leap of wondering.

So lets look at Angelina Jolie as a symbolic Helen of Troy.

The delightful Helen, delighting even herself (notice the doves!)

There was a bit more to this choice I must admit – having looked long at the Lakonia, there were many points of interest – first Lakonia being Sparta – I had not realised that the lovely Helen was actually Helen of Sparta. Then it was kind of interesting to find that Jolie’s father, Jon Voight was born on December 29, the day the sacrificial hull of Lakonia sank.

Prior to the birth of her twins a curious story was announced by the OracleAngelina Jolie Wants to Name Her Twins Castor and Pollux” – the reasoning apparently being that she is a Gemini. Anyone open to a little more thought than what’s available in the tabloids (etymology = “1884, “small tablet of medicine… for compressed or concentrated chemicals and drugs”) might be interested to know that Castor & Pollux are the brothers of Helen of Sparta. The circumstances of her conception are a little on the more creative side & would certainly result in criminal charges or psychiatric evaluation, these days.
Her mother was the beautiful Leda, queen of Sparta, who was ravished by the father of the gods (Zeus) in the form of a swan” – guys don’t try this at home, besides if the wind changes you might stay that way.

The story does not stop there however “Leda’s husband was Tyndarecus, who later the same night, unaware of his feathered predecessor, also impregnated his wife. She produced two eggs, one of which yielded Helen and Polydeuces (Pollux) and the other of which contained Castor and Clytemnestra.”
There is another tale that Zeus mated with the goddess Nemesis, Nemesis being none too pleased at being jumped by a bird, abandoned the egg but it was hatched? & raised by Leda & Thyndarecus. However the Leda & Swan story seems to rate most popular in the art world.

Regarding her name, wiki states “Helen is derived from the Greek ‘ελενη or Helene, meaning “torch” or “corposant.” For anyone as ignorant as I was, a corposant is an electrical discharge accompanied by ionization of surrounding atmosphere – another name is ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ – “a visible and sometimes audible electric discharge projecting from a pointed object, such as the mast of a ship or the wing of an airplane, during an electrical storm…the electrons have enough energy to ionize atoms in the air and cause them to glow… It is named after St. Elmo, the patron saint of mariners, as the phenomenon was often observed by sailors during thunderstorms at sea.”
Tying Helen very nicely again to ships, in particular ‘fiery ships’.

So the Oranje’s new incarnation was as the Angelina Lauro & as such she sailed to Genoa (O Ange) in 1964 for a make-over. As the incarnation proceeded, disaster occurred – on 24th August, fire broke & six people were killed. (In Roman times, 24th August was one of three days in the year when a pit that was thought to lead to the underworld was opened so that “spirits of the blessed dead were able to commune with the living.”). It wasn’t until 6 March, 1966 that Angelina Lauro departed on her maiden voyage.

Returning to the theme of Helen , I came upon some interesting quotes.
Helen of Sparta was perhaps the most inspired character in all literature, ancient or modern. A whole war, one which lasted for ten years, was fought over her.”
She has become a symbol of man’s erotic desires & of all the varied moods of womanhood. The ancient myth that forever associates her with beauty & the Trojan War.”

Funnily enough I wrote the following sentence before I had typed the latter quote – For myself she has meant two things – ‘beauty& ‘Troy’.

I think the following quotes give us a glimmer of the importance of this character –
“Her story is one that is intricately intertwined with many of the Greek gods & goddesses.”
“It is as though this event was in the destiny of every dynasty formed from the beginning of things.”

Earlier as I was typing I mis-spelled story & found (s)troy looking back at me. Looking now I also see the twin-like appearance of the words destiny & dynasty. Again as I research & play with ideas I keep getting a feeling of historical reruns – change the characters a bit, mix up the scenery, tweak the names a little, but running behind it all are very strong threads weaving oh so familiar themes. One thing that bugs me is how bloody awful these Greek & Roman myths are – they have never inspired me, I could use a few choice words to describe my irritation at the endless, callous interference of the ‘gods’.

The story of Helen was no exception, she was a mere pawn or puppet in a pre-written play. Three goddesses have a tiff about who is the fairest & hey presto the lives of tens of thousands are scuttled. I wrote previously about the Gallipoli Campaign of WWI & how I felt it was a re-enactment of ‘Troy’ – I stand by that now more than ever – but I have to add here ‘ For the love of all we hold dear, what is the point?’

Returning to Helen/Angelina we find that our modern (that means all new, never seen before – yeah right) ‘beauty’ has traded in Paris for Achilles.

In the old version of the story Paris forsakes his wife to be with Helen, the modern version has Brad Pitt /Achilles in the same role. Actually one of the stories about Helen after the closing ceremony of Troy, was that she married Achilles.

A long time ago, I watched a programme on TV, it may have been an episode from the Twilight Zone, I don’t recall, but the story stayed with me. It was set in a a courtroom , I believe someone was charged with murder. My memory may be a bit off here but I seem to recall that when the accused was found guilty, the story ended, then a moment later the whole thing would be repeated, only this time the characters had all changed positions, this time it might be the judge who was the accused & so on, round & round the scene went – I do so wonder sometimes if that’s not the plot of this thing we call life.

Anyway enough surmising, on with the show (or rerun).

Now we move to 1979. I have previously written that I believed this year was significant. My attention was drawn there initially when I wrote about the AIR New Zealand DC10 that crashed into Mt Erebus (entrance to Hades), in Antarctica that year, killing everyone outright. Sir Edmund Hillary was meant to have been the commentator for that scenic flight as he had been previously, but the Titan was replaced by his friend. I was contemplating 1979 recently when I had the urge to do a little math play (a very rare urge I might add) – I wondered how many years there were between 1979 & 2012 – wow looky there – that magic number 33.

For the last few years of her life the Angelina Lauro was leased to Costa Lines & as their custom was to use Christian names she became simply Angelina.

On 30th March, 1979 while she was berthed at St Thomas, in the US Virgin Islands, fire broke out (again) in the crew galley. (Thanks here to Aferrismoon – I went to check out something else on his site, when the first line of his new article leaped off the page -“THOMAS comes from Thaumim [hebrew] meaning TWINS.” – taking us right back to Castor & Pollux – Helen’s brothers. Another ‘Thomas‘ who appeared in my research was Diane Thomas, a Malibu waitress who wrote the screenplay for Romancing the Stone. She died in a car crash shortly after that film’s release.

The fire aboard Angelina spread very quickly & was soon out of control. Most crew & passengers were ashore at the time & all others were evacuated safely. It took four days to put out the fire & the Angelina ended sitting on the shallow harbour bottom.

The Angelina lay in state for 3 months. Eventually a selvage contract was awarded & she was re floated on 2 July – “the middle day of a non-leap year, because there are 182 days before and 182 days after.” On July 30 she departed under tow for a Taiwanese ship breakers & although she made it most of the way, her hull began to give way when she reached the Pacific & on 24th September she sank just before sunrise.

If you asked me what we’re looking at I can’t tell you, three ships somehow connecting with events (at least to me) – echoing a re-enactment of what is supposed to be long dead history.

So last but not least we come to the third sister (although both her incarnations have a male title.) Firstly ‘she’ was the Willem Ruys. Building began in 1939, but was delayed due to the War & she was not launched until 1946. Immediately of interest is the fact that the date of her maiden voyage in 1947, December 2, was also the date she sank 47 years later. Also of interest is that the Angelina, in her previous incarnation as Oranje collided with the Willem Ruys in the Red Sea in 1953 – I did have fun imagining the colour scheme. So in 1964 Oranje became the Angelina Lauro, while the Willem Ruys became the Achille Lauro please tell me you remember this ship – so sure was I that everyone would instantly remember this ship that I assured my son I could mention it to anyone of a reasonable age & it would be instantly recognised. I felt a right prat to find blank faces staring back at me a few days ago, when I mentioned the name at my martial arts class. All was not lost however when the Israeli woman I swap wrist locks with talked of how as a child she had spent many weekends on the Angelina Lauro when it was in port (her father was in shipping). Apparently it had a wonderful aviary & she had been distraught to think of the birds when the ship had burnt – I can only hope they were rescued as certainly everyone managed to get off in time – what a small world isn’t it?

The Achille Lauro could be called an unlucky ship. “This ship really did not have the most pleasant career. She is best known for having been hijacked by the Palestine Liberation Front, … And constantly plagued with fire’s…”

As befitting a new name & incarnation, the Achille Lauro underwent her own make over. However, as with her sister, Angelina ” the vessel suffered an explosion and a resulting fire on August 29, and work was thereby much delayed.

And again…

“on May 19, 1972 the ship was badly damaged by fire during an overhaul at Genoa. It took five months before Achille Lauro could enter service again.”


On April 28, 1975 she accidentally rammed the small Lebanese cattle carrier Youssef in the Dardanelles. The accident resulted in one human casualty.”


“The next serious accident happened in 1981, when the ship suffered yet another fire.” A book I have on shipping accidents claims that two passengers died trying to escape.

Then in 1985 came the 2 day hijacking by the Palestine Liberation Front. I certainly remembered this & for one reason alone, the murder of the wheelchair-bound American, Leon Klinghoffer & to be honest now that I have come to think of it, not even so much for his murder, as awful as that is, but to the aftermath – the throwing of his body & wheelchair into the sea. For some strange reason this bothers me more – sorry maybe that doesn’t sound quite right. It is most shocking to think of someone being executed, let alone while sitting in a wheelchair, but it was the dramatic over-kill that has always stayed with me. 1985 was the year that the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed here in NZ, in Auckland Harbour. When I wrote about that it was the over-kill of that happening that made me see it as something else – a satanic ritual (remembering that the French code-name for that operation was Operation Satanic.)

So I cannot help but think along the same lines with sacrifice of this man. We are given the story that he was executed because he was a Jew. Maybe that was it, but looking back into time, with a curious mind, the whole event seems to wrap itself around that one event, as if once that was completed the show was over & the cast quickly left the stage.

Looking at that event we see a man named for the sun – Leon Klinghoffer. I know I have read of wheelchairs as chariots (Aferrismoon, maybe others, possibly also as a solar barque so apologies if I’m not giving credit here) & I couldn’t help but feel that something very ritualistic occured with that death & the symbolic casting of the body & ‘chariot’ into the sea (I was reminded of another ‘falling man’ who was displayed by the Oracle on 10 Sept, 2001).

Looking Greekwise for a solar myth we find Helios who “drove the chariot of the sun across the sky each day to earth-circling Oceanus and through the world-ocean returned to the East at night… As time passed, Helios was increasingly identified with the god of light, Apollo.”

On 30 November, 1994 while sailing in the Indian Ocean, yet another fire broke out. This time the fire was devastating & the ship was evacuated, although it seems two people died during the transfer of passengers to a rescue ship. The ship burned for 3 days before sinking on 2 December, the same day she was launched back in 1947.

So there you have it, a strange tale of burning ships – three sister from the Netherlands, who seem to me to link with myths from (apparently) long ago. The Lakonia who seemed to whisper to me that JFK was a symbol of the sun god & Oracle magnate, Apollo & then Angelina & Brad, oops sorry Achilles – ships that crashed in the night (actually I think it was daytime). I have for sometime now considered that ships are somehow messengers & myths themselves – with great tales to tell if we could but understand. This has been an amatuers attempt to see what that might be.

August 30, 2008. Uncategorized. 7 comments.

The Oracle & the burning ships (part I)

I guess this article started within a book on shipwrecks, browsing through the pages & coming across The Lakonia & the date 22nd December 1963 – Oh look at that, it caught fire exactly one month after Kennedy was assassinated, I wonder if there’s anything to that. Then there was the Lakonia, L-a-k-o-n-i-a where do I know that name from. In the end I remembered it as the name of a ship mentioned in a Jane Austen novel – NO, don’t get excited I’m not going to tie Jane Austen to the assassination of President Kennedy – although… you never know!

What this episode did do was attract my attention & from there it was a couple of very simple hops to another couple of shipwrecks. I printed off some info, went hunting, but then it kind of fizzled out – just not enough bounce to keep an article afloat…until I watched the 1984 movie ‘Romancing the Stone’ & a friend mentioned Angelina Jolie & voila, an article was launched. At present I have absolutely no idea where it’s leading – so I’m in the dark as much as you as to how this ends.

Batman made me contemplate the idea of superheroes as representations of gods, so what about movie stars? Gods or classical heroes/heroines “from Gk. heros “demi-god”.

The more I look into this theme, the more it seems to me, that we’re just rehashing the past. With the addition & repetition of just one word, I think we have been conned into believing that we live in ‘brand new, never before seen‘ times – that word is ‘modern‘. A spot of word play with the phrase modern times creates some interesting anagrams More Mindset – Dire moments -Remits Demon – Endmost Mire – Mind Remotes – Nimrod Metes.

So lets go back to the Lakonia & all the crossthreads she inspired to weave this material.

The Lakonia was originally the MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, built as a luxury liner for the Netherland Line & launched on August 3, 1929 & construction was completed on 1st March, 1930. In 1941 she was registered as an allied troop ship. She returned to ‘public life’ in 1950. On 23rd January 1952, four small fires were discovered as she sailed for Australia. Arson was suspected but no culprits found. You will come across many fires as we proceed – kind of like the beginning of Mission Impossible, different stories but one long burning fuse connecting all.

Four years to the day after ‘the music died’, – 3rd February, 1963, the Johan van Oldenbarnevelt was decommissioned by the Netherland Line after 33 years of service. On 8th March, 1963 she was sold & her name changed to TSMS Lakonia.

Nine months later she set sail on December 19 for an 11 day ‘Christmas Cruise’ with a total of 1,022 people on board. 3 days into the cruise, at around 11.00pm on 22nd December, smoke is noticed seeping under the door of the ship’s hairdressing salon. It sweeps rapidly through the ship. At 12.22am, the last distress call is sent “SOS from the Lakonia, last time. I cannot stay anymore in the wireless station. We are leaving the ship. Please immediate assisstance. Please help.” Evacuation was very difficult, some lifeboats burned before they could be lowered. The Lakonia burned fiercely & was rocked by explosions. At 3.30am the first rescue ship arrived. Wiki states 128 people were killed, 33 of whom were crew members. On 24th December the Norwegian tugboat Herkules, attached a tow line to Lakonia & attempts were made to haul her to Gibraltar, however on 29th December she rolled over onto her starboard side & sank in only 3 minutes.

So how do we tie this history lesson in with John F Kennedy? Good question. For one thing you can notice the numbers 22 & 11 – being the day & the month that Kennedy was assassinated, with 33 being the sum of these two numbers.

Ok, we’ll start with Lakonia, which in ancient Greece was the principal region of the Spartan state. Looking briefly at modern day Lakonia we find mention of some devastating fires in 1992, 2006 & 2007.

Man this is so tricky because I kind of need to slew sideways into Angelina Jolie, but I might lose you altogether, if this was a poster I could just stick all the pictures together & it would probably sit together quite nicely, words can be just so slow & cumbersome.

Because of Angelina Jolie which I will come to, I started wondering if JFK could be a symbolic god & who he might be – how I came to Apollo I’m not quite sure, a number of hints I think, you make your own mind up as we go along.

Apollo was one of the most important Greek & Roman gods – the god of light & sun & truth & prophecy, among other things.

Now some time ago I wrote about the media, in particular ‘the news’ & the rituals they use, at the time I referred briefly to the Delphic Oracle with “I cannot help but equate the modern News service with the ancient Greek oracles.”

Well it was Apollo who was the executive director of the Delphic Oracle, taking ownership by bumping off the previous owner, the serpent Python, when he was a mere five days old. Consultations with the Oracle were via a priestess who was seated atop a tripod over a subterranean opening from which vapours arose. The breathing of these fumes led to some weird & wonderful messages. “The oracular replies were always obscure & ambiguous, but they served in, in earlier times, in the hands of priests, to regulate & uphold the political, civil & religious relations in Greece.”

We may scorn such ‘no-sense’ now, but how long did it take us ‘awake’ seekers to question the six o’clock news?

John F Kennedy is remembered for a number of things besides the manner of his death. One of these was his speeches – who doesn’t know that ‘He was a Berliner’ (yes I’ve heard the doughnut jokes too.) Who wouldn’t recognize his voice when other presidents may be forgotten.

I think that the man who was made president, was subsequently made into a symbolic god via the modern version of the Delphic Oracle – the Media. This however, was no one-sided partnership, for the man who became the sun god of America, birthed through his life & death the new Delphic Oracle – the Media. Prior to Kennedy there was a modicum of televised presidential coverage, but it was JFK who, like the young Apollo took over this media oracle. In 1960 was the first ever presidential candidate debate between JFK and Nixon. Kennedy used this visual medium to his utmost advantage “Kennedy came across as young, athletic and poised. Nixon, wearing a wrinkled gray suit that melded with the backdrop on black-and-white screens, looked pallid, thin and ill at ease. He refused to wear makeup to mask his “fiveo’clock shadow…The debates afforded chances for tens of millions voters to see the candidates compete directly for votes.”

“These debates were widely regarded as having a decisive impact on the result.”

” INTERVIEWER: How do you think it changed the way American journalism is done, and the way the media functions?
MIKE MOSETTIG (senior producer for foreign affairs and defense at The NewsHour): Well, it certainly highlighted what had been developing, because Kennedy was really our first television president. He was elected in large part because of television”

“Just five days into office, President John F. Kennedy faced network cameras to answer the questions of the Washington Press Corps. It was an innovation to see a president in an unrehearsed setting, and the session established a tradition that continues to this day.”

So Kennedy was inducted into the hearts & minds of a nation as well as throughout the world via the ‘medium’ of television. For the first time a president entered the homes of the ‘ordinary’ man & woman in the street. This same president was killed in front of their eyes a few years later. We who have been trained in death via this same medium cannot grasp the effect on the psyche of the people who witnessed this event, the murder of a man they ‘knew’. “John F. Kennedy’s 1963 assassination was one of the most shocking public events of the 20th century.” Nevertheless this event was crucial for anchoring the ‘Oracle’ in the psyche of the people.

“The network coverage of the assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy warrants its reputation as the most moving and historic passage in broadcasting history. On Friday 22 November 1963, news bulletins reporting rifle shots during the president’s motorcade in Dallas, Texas, broke into normal programming. Soon the three networks preempted their regular schedules and all commercial advertising for a wrenching marathon that would conclude only after the president’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday 25 November. As a purely technical challenge, the continuous live coverage over four days of a single, unbidden event remains the signature achievement of broadcast journalism in the era of three network hegemony. But perhaps the true measure of the television coverage of the events surrounding the death of President Kennedy is that it marked how intimately the medium and the nation are interwoven in times of crisis.”

I believe the death of Kennedy was the true birth of the Delphic Oracle known today as the Media. “Television became the primary source by which people were kept informed of events surrounding John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Newspapers were kept as souvenirs rather than sources of updated information. All three major U.S television networks suspended their regular schedules & switched to all-news coverage from 22 November through to 25 November 1963. Kennedy’s state funeral procession and the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald were all broadcast live in America & in other places around the world.”

The death of the sun god took & ‘shepherding in of the oracle took place exactly one month before the death & birth of another son (sun) of god “The sun “dies” for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north”

Referring back to Apollo we find that on 25 May 1961, Kennedy declared his goal of putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This intention also became a part of the American psyche through the ‘Oracle’. It was of great interest to me to see this lofty dream occur through the media in 1969, on July 20 which was the birthday of the man who climbed to the loftiest place on earth, none other than Edmund Hillary & even more intriguing to find that Kennedy was born on May 29, the very date that the Everest ‘landing’ occurred – ‘great’ people do seem to turn in ever decreasing circles.

Turning again to fire scarifices/initiations, the first Apollo mission named in retrospect was one that saw the death by fire of Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, Ed White & Roger B. Chaffee when a flash fire occurred in command module 012 during a launch pad test of the Apollo/Saturn space vehicle. If astronauts were as superstitious as sailors this would probably also have been the last Apollo mission, for myself as an ‘ordinary’ non ritualistic type of person I find this naming a little bizarre. It is also rather interesting that the Apollo Moon Landing took off from the Kennedy Space Centre – the man may not have been present, but his name has certainly not been put to waste.

Nevertheless, the Apollo 11 mission was ‘televised’ & millions of people who knew the Oracle spoke the truth because it had been shown them with shocking clarity in 1963, watched & were amazed as this new Apollo boldy went where no man had gone before & claimed the moon for its own.

Wiki informed me that the ‘Eternal Flame’ that lights the American Apollo’s grave was a last minute request by his wife Jackie, cough, cough, splutter sorry I’ve got a bit of a cold. Remembering that the sun “dies” for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, I suggest that another Eternal Flame was lit one month after his assassination & the birth of the Oracle, on the good ship the Lakonia/Sparta.
“The ancient city of Amyklai was situated some 5 kilometers south of Sparta… On the hill of Agia Kiriaki one can see the remains of the Archaic sanctuary of Apollo, which at one time boasted an enormous statue of the god seated on the altar – tomb of Hyakinthos… It evolved into the Sanctuary of lakinthos and Apollo Amykleos, the most important religious centre of the Spartans, which has also been known as the “Throne” of Apollo.”

Why the Lakonia caught fire I do not know, a deliberate fire or the result of energies created by the events of the previous month, heck most people not of the ‘wondering’ persuasion would roll their eyes & murmur something about electrical faults or bad luck. The Lakonia herself played an importanr contribution to the early days of the Oracle through LIFE magazine
“The only color photographs ever taken of the Lakonia disaster ran in LIFE magazine on Jan 3, 1964. LIFE’s photographic coverage of the event marked only the second time in history that a publication was able to offer hour-by-hour photographic coverage of a disaster at sea.”

Four years earlier on the very same day “One day after announcing his candidacy for president, John F. Kennedy appears on Meet the Press.”

The Oracle did much more than announce & televise Kennedy’s presidency & death. The word oracle comes from L. oraculum “divine announcement.” Over the years it has turned him & the Kennedy family into ‘Stars’ – here are some excerpts from an excellent article (see link below for the full story.)

“transformation of the Kennedys from largely conventional political figures into pop-culture deities from the world of entertainment — the cultural equivalents, perhaps, of Elvis Presley or the Jacksons…

Neither is it a coincidence that the Kennedy family, through its infatuation with Hollywood, was instrumental in the conversion…

To be sure, the Kennedys have had — and continue to have — a political impact on the nation. To many, they have embodied an ideal of public service. But politics hasn’t been this family’s calling card in the mass culture for some time…

The Kennedys have really become entertainment superstars. Consider some of the evidence: Like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley, they attract a kind of tabloid journalism and biography which focuses even more than usual on scandal and unsavory personal tidbits…

This is a family identified by first names in the familiar Hollywood style — Jack, Jackie, Bobby, Ethel, Teddy — just as we once knew Elvis, Marilyn, and Ringo, but certainly not as we have known Franklin, Ronald, or even Bill…

As a kind of entertainment family the Kennedys were a prime force in blurring the distinctions between Hollywood and Washington — that blur being a condition characteristic of the age…

Sadly, the assassinations also played a role in the conversion of the Kennedys into pop-culture phenomena. As Schickel has observed, dying young, if not violently, is something of an entertainment-industry phenomenon, as anyone familiar with the lives and deaths of Elvis, Marilyn, Valentino, James Dean, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, John Belushi, Ritchie Valens, John Lennon, and Jim Morrison knows. It’s not simply that an untimely death fulfills a romantic image that goes back to Byron and Keats, or that the premature passing of an entertainment figure tends to inspire a death cult in which numerous fans refuse to believe the star is dead. Dying young freezes the stars at their peak: like the promise of Hollywood itself, they remain forever young and beautiful — the perfect icons for the immortality that films and records purport to offer.

The whole of this excellent article is here.

I believe that through the scarificial blood of John F. Kennedy, the oracle that is today’s media was was brought forth, just as humans rise & fall as symbols, then so to did the media then begin it’s ascendancy to the god-like heights it has attained today.

Last but not least on this Apollo Trek was something that I almost missed & perhaps it’s been remarked somewhere else, but it knocked my socks off. “Apollo was the son of Zeus & Leto . “Leto… known as the hidden one and bright one, her name came to be used for the moon Selene. Hera was jealous of Leto because Zeus, the husband of Hera, had fallen in love with her. From their union Leto bore the divine twins, Artemis and Apollo. Leto found this to be an arduous task, as Hera had refused Leto to give birth on either terra firma or on an island out at sea. The only place safe enough to give birth was Delos because Delos was a floating island…To show her gratitude, Leto anchored Delos to the bottom of the Aegean with four columns, to aid its stability.”

The Terrace of the Lions dedicated to Apollo by the people of Naxos

I can’t help but see that Dealey Plaza does look rather like an island,

so we have our sun god, Apollo on an island in Dallas, or could we perhaps say in Delos?

Well I’ve written much more than I intended & there’s more to come so I think for all our sakes I’d better make this into a two parter, I’m just bloody glad I’ve got this far. Our next exciting installment will have more burning ships & Greek myths & movie stars. Stay tuned.

August 23, 2008. Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Dark times

It’s winter here in New Zealand & a very soggy one at that.

From my earliest days I’ve ‘known’ that Winter is a time of cold, darkness & inactivity. A time to be got through until life ‘springs‘ forth magically after those long, cold months.

I was surprised & delighted a little while ago, to have my longlearned assumptions overturned. Because of course, life issues from darkness. Just as a foetus forms in darkness, so too does nature – the time when all seems like death, is in fact the time of renewal & rebirth.

If you plant this weird & wonderful thing in the dark autumn earth,

Then this beauty will spring forth after it has lain in the darkness of Winter’s soil.

In the past I simply considered that it was Spring that was all important, now I choose to see Winter as the beginning.

We have been educated to see that life comes with light & so it does, but somewhere before that, it formed in darkness.

“Long, long ago, the earth was deep beneath the water. There was a great darkness because no sun or moon or stars shone.”an American Indian approach

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” – a biblical approach

“Chaos was the ‘vast and dark’ void from which the first deity, Gaia emerged.” a Greek approach

First there was the darkness, which seems to be overcome by the light. The preoccupation with the light seems to be in full swing now – I’ve been wondering if a lot of this comes because the dark, fertile parts of life have been claimed by more aware powers, while we were busy glorying in ‘the light’.

It is perhaps, as with so many things, the use & abuse of words that allows such things to happen. For how long have we been terrorised by ‘the dark’ I wonder, & I also wonder who decided what the dark meant.

Shifting my focus to seeing darkness as a rich & fertile medium, I find that I must make some radical changes in my thinking. Thus far I have believed that I am battling the ‘forces of darkness’, but now I have to question anew. Are the forces which we call ‘dark’, perhaps a little more awake than we are & have they gone straight to the source of power in this world. While we relentlessly battled the events that sprang forth eternally, ready made – pre-packaged products in the supermarket of life, have they been accessing the dark fertile creativity of this world, fertilising the very womb of our reality. Certainly we do seem to be like the cavalry, arriving at events long after the creators have bolted. We are seeing more clearly, but always after the event. I doubt there’s anyone who writes or combs pages like these who wouldn’t give their all to experience such rich creativity, bringing forth however, a very different kind of reality, one where passionate experience is the norm.

So have we been frightened away from the very place & energy that we need. The dark has become the place of demons & devils & the outcasts of society. Hollywood has done more than it’s fair share of community service to keep us aware & frightened of the ‘Dark Side’.

In recent years our programmers have been shifting their emphasis towards a blurring of light & dark/good & evil – I’m wondering if those who have been initiated into the zombie religions of success, materialism & entertainment, are perhaps now ready to add their corrupted energy to the artificial insemination of the dark & fertile womb of this reality.

For most of us the abyss between light & dark/good & bad has been so firmly entrenched in our psyche that we have tended to set up our tents in one camp or the other. I rather think this was the plan. Two sides forever fighting each other, a huge cosmic game of ping pong across a net that spans a deep dark crevasse. Just gotta keep that ball being lobbed back & forth, back & forth…

But I wonder now what that crevasse holds. Perhaps into that darkness/fertility I might cast the seeds of dreams long thought impossible (because I’ve been so busy fighting pre-packaged events). I also wondered if this could be the realm that play springs from – play is always new, inventing, creating – assuredly bringing into light what wasn’t there before, but bringing it from where – from the fertile creatvity of the Dark?

August 18, 2008. Uncategorized. 7 comments.

It’s about time

Since I wrote about Groundhog Week a little way back, I’ve been noticing & not noticing, ‘time’ more. I have spent my last two weekends or weakene(n)d states, in a strange, timeless place.

The first weekend I was really thrown, totally out of it – somehow it seemed that by having a good look at the ‘week’, the ‘spell’ of the two day event or weekend, had been broken, at least for a time, & I must admit I felt rather lost.

Last ‘weekend’ I was curious to see what happened – there it was again, the same feeling, a sense of disconnectedness to the prescribed event – a sort of timelessness where no thing had to be done – the day & the time had little significance. My only slight concern was to try & remember to put the rubbish out on Sunday night & that the next day was a work day.

So I’ve been wondering about time this last week. I remembered once imagining living to the ripe age of 5,000, to see what a difference that would make in my thinking – it was quite incredible – taking away the ticking clock of doom & a great sense of expansiveness replaces it.

What I also found intriguing in this practice was the release of the future. One thing that really pisses me off with the whole new age malarkey is the concept of living in the present moment which is touted ad nauseum. Living in the NOW. I have a friend, who when she speaks glowingly of this term, does stop to apologise to me because she knows how much it annoys me. Now I have tried, really I have, but I just got thoroughly f**ked off. It seemed like a nice, though perhaps somewhat boring idea to me, which nobody apart from some book writing demi-gods know how to achieve.

…Earth to wise woman are you receiving… sorry got carried away. Anyway, what I was trying to say was that when I imagined living to 5,000 (obviously while still looking young, gorgeous & not a day over 2000) I found that the pressure of the future just dropped away, I relaxed & the NOW that is so touted, just appeared. So for one thing I’m thinking how can we possibly ever live in or achieve ‘the present’ while caged in time – I don’t think that we can – as long as our lives are defined by minutes & hours & days & weeks, then we are well & truly roped onto a conveyor belt of time & it’s inevitable conclusion.

This isn’t meant to be a homily or anything, just a few thoughts & a little break from something I’m working on which will perhaps tie in with this a bit.

Yesterday I played another little game of extended lifetime – the timelessness of the last couple of weekends was on my mind. Out of interest I upped the time to 10,000 years –to see what I could see. I was at work at that time – straight off I saw that I would just leave my job immediately. I real-eyes’d that I would do very many things in this life, but what ‘cooked my noodle’ was finding that I had absolutely no worries about money or how I would pay for these things – just a complete sense of assurance that I would achieve all I wished to achieve.

So this is what I wondered – can money exist without time? Remember we live by the metaphor TIME IS MONEY – both of these fantastical (fanatical?) inventions are treated in the same way, looked at in the same light – we spend them, save them, waste them.

The lesson for today is taken from the internet – Time IS Money

I was reminded of a conversation I had with my son recently when I asked him if he thought about the future – he is 15 now. He said he didn’t think about it much, unless there was something in particular he was looking forward to. “Well”, said I, “do you think of what might happen to you?” “No”, said he – he just has this feeling/surety that whatever happens he’ll be able to deal with it when the moment arises. This pre-echoed my feelings from when I contemplated an extended warranty so to speak – children do not contemplate time, it is a no thing to them & I wonder if this may have a lot to do with their vitality & energy.

Well I’m about to launch into what I sincerely hope will be another ‘timeless’ two day wonder – now where did I leave my crayons?

August 13, 2008. Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Playing with Batman – don’t try this at home!

A mix of some well worded comments, syncs & ‘all the hype’ over the new Batman movie got me to wondering about this chiropteric man. I got to wondering – if Batman was a version of an ancient god just who might he be? So I decided to have a little play with him.

Following in the wake of many favourite detectives, I set about looking for clues… but, insert fingers drumming on desk sound…where to begin? What follows are the musings that came from my playtime.

The Bat’man’/god himself being open to various interpretation, I took the easier route of starting with his surroundings.

So it all started with the Bat Cave which made me think of…The Underworld which made me think of… Hades. Ahhh … could Batman be a personification of Hades? – hmmm… little grey cells to the Bat Pole.

Hades is the Greek god of the dead and ruler of the Underworld (which is also known as Hades). He is not ‘death’ itself, but we’ll come to that. He is one original six Olympians (with the advent of the Olympics upon us – what jolly good timing to bring Hades/Batman out of the closet & dust him off). He is brother to Zeus & Poseidon – when they were carving up the world, he drew the short straw & got the Underworld – I wonder if his sisters, Hestia, Hera & Demeter might not have been a bit peeved at being left out of the spoils – hell hath no fury & all that.


the Bat Cave is the secret headquarters of fictional DC Comics superhero, Batman, (the alternate identity of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne), consisting of a series of subterranean caves beneath his residence.

In searching out descriptions of realm of Hades I came upon these;

It was a dark and dismal realm in which bodiless ghosts flitted across grey fields of asphodel

murky subterranean realm

where the uttermost depth of the pit lies under earth

“Homer describes the passage of souls to Haides led by Hermes, the guide of the dead. Here they flit like bats through the dark places beneath the earth

“And as in the innermost recess of a wondrous cave bats flit about gibbering, when one has fallen from off the rock from the chain in which they cling to one another, so these went with him gibbering, and Hermes, the Helper, led them down the dank ways. Past the streams of Okeanos they went, past the rock Leukas (the White), past the gates of the sun (pylai Hêlioi) and the land of dreams (dêmos oineiroi), and quickly came to the mead of asphodel (leimôn asphodelon), where the spirits (psykhai) dwell, phantoms (eidôla) of men who have done with toils.”

Not a sought after holiday destination then.

Hades has a helmet given to him by the Cyclopes, which can make him invisible. Batman wears mask / helmet that he uses to make ‘Bruce Wayne’ invisible.

Hades has a number of other names including Clymenus (‘notorious‘) & Eubuleus (‘well-guessing’) – sorry cant’t resist this one – as a boy, Bruce Wayne falls down a well, disturbing a load of bats & the legend takes it’s first baby steps.

Another meaning for Eubulus is the giver of good counsel – the name of Wayne’s Butler, ‘Alfred’ means good counsel.

One of the plants sacred to Hades is the Cypress so I was intrigued to find Actinostrobus arenarius or, the Bruce Cypress-pine.

Bruce Wayne is of course is a squillionaire – another name for Hades is Plouton meaning the Rich One‘. The Latin name for Plouton is Pluto. In that little syncro world that can be such fun to play with, I found that the planet Pluto had some delicious little tidbits to offer.

Pluto was quickly heralded as the ninth planet in the solar system when it was spotted Feb. 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a young amateur astronomer at Lowell Observatory. It still holds that title today, if somewhat tenuously.

The name Pluto was first suggested by Venetia Burney, an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England. Venetia was interested in classical mythology as well as astronomy, and considered the name, one of the alternate names of Hades, the Greek god of the Underworld, appropriate for such a presumably dark and cold world. She suggested it in a conversation with her grandfather Falconer Madan, a former librarian of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Madan passed the name to Professor Herbert Hall Turner, (British Astronomer awarded the Bruce Medal far astronomy in 1927) who then cabled it to colleagues in America.

What a lovely tale & trail of coincidence – a goddess (Venus) in Oxford, whose interests sound a little like those of a cultivated beauty contestant, names the ninth planet after the god of the underworld. Meanwhile we have the goddess’ grandfather ‘Falconer’ who is named after a solar symbol

“The Falcon is a solar emblem for success, victory and rising above a situation. Further evidence of its solar influence, the Falcon was symbolic of the rising sun in Egypt. It is also the king of all birds where many gods were shown with the head or body of the Falcon (including Ra).

In a darling little synch to top this off I find that the info regarding the ‘falcon’ is given by one A. Venefica – … damn I did have a link to show you that, but my ‘proof’ has vacated it’s premises.

To round off our little trip to Pluto, why not pick a random date to officially announce it’s new name – how about the 121st day of the year –1st May, 1930 or Beltane

As the festival that celebrates the triumph of summer over winter, Beltaine is also the time when the victory of the new solar god is achieved over his rival the old year god, whose power had waned over the winter”.

We can’t quite leave this little detour without a wink over to those lovers of children everywhereDisney.:

“The Disney connection: Mickey Mouse’s dog made his debut in “The Chain Gang” in 1930 — the year Pluto was discovered. A year later, he was named Pluto, probably because the planet of that name was so much in the news.”

… sounds ok, just getting in on all the excitement of the time – but … I found it rather interesting that ‘DIS’ is the Walt Disney Company’s NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) symbol – yes I thought that would raise an eyebrow or two, knowing as we all do that Dis is the Roman god of the Underworld & of course we all remember that Dis is a version of ‘dives’ meaning rich – what a tight little circle we are turning in here.

Just before we head off I did just have a wee play with Dis, I know very naughty – Dis is a city in The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. It is the last known location of The Orange Bend of the Rain bow – not a bad reward for a bit of play – make of it what you will.

Sorry I was having fun & got carried away.

Persephone is the wife of Hades. He lured her into a convenient spot with a beautiful flower (narcissus), & then abducted her to the Underworld. She eventually became his wife. Interestingly… her animal symbol is the bat. From wiki

Bats symbolize death and rebirth. Sometimes, they are known as the “Guardian of the Night.

Switching civilisations for a moment, I couldn’t help noticing a similarity between Batman & Anubis – ok it’s those big pointy ears that did it.

This ‘ear‘ ily endowed god, was once the most important god of the dead, but Osiris muscled in & Anubis took on more of the god of undertakers role.

Originally, in the Ogdoad system, he was god of the underworld…Since he was more associated with beliefs concerning the weighing of the heart than had Osiris, Anubis retained this aspect, and became considered more the gatekeeper and ruler of the underworld, the “Guardian of the veil” (of “death“).

Returning to Hades we find that one of his most impressive possessions was

his dark chariot, drawn by four coal-black horses” [which] “always made for a fearsome and impressive sight“.

Here we see Hades in his awesome chariot
whisking off his extremely reluctant bride- to- be
for a slap up meal at Chez Hades.

Another awesome vehicle in a dashing shade of black.

In Batman Forever, Batman assigns the car the power of a chick magnet when he says to Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman)

“It’s the car, right? Chicks dig the car.”

Perhaps if Hades had had modern technology he might not have had to stoop to trickery & abduction to ‘claim’ his bride.

Because Hades spent most of his time in the underworld, signals were needed to call him forth –

when mortals invoked him, they struck the earth with their hands

When Batman is invoked, a signal is shone in the sky.

Hades seems to have a mixed reputation & if we overlook that itsy bitsy irksome bit about him keeping the souls of those we have loved forever & a day, we can see him as as an ok kind of guy just doing his job – a sort of caretaker.

Now in this little jaunt round the underworld, there is another character we need to see. If I carry on playing & also refer back to my previous post on ‘Groundhog Day’, I come to this sentence …

the jester is the symbolic twin of the king

… there I suggested that The Joker was the symbolic twin of Batman. You with me on this?? If Batman is Hades & The Joker is his symbolic twin, then which god does he symbolise?

Hades rules the dead, assisted by various (demonic) helpers, such as Thanatos and Hypnos, the ferryman Charon, and the hound Cerberus.

So I just have to go with Thanatos the god of death. Now he does actually have his own twin, which is Hypnos, who is the god of dreams. But I’m not going to let that get in the way of play & anyway we’re looking at symbolic twins.

A little aside here:

In Roman sculptural reliefs he [Thanatos] was portrayed as a youth holding a down-turned torch and wreath or butterfly (symbolising the soul of the dead)

Thanatos might be poetically called the brother of Hypnos (Sleep) and the son of Nyx but no matter how you describe him, he is a creature of bone chilling darkness. From on high, Helios (the Sun) never casts his light on Death. (Theogony, line 760)”

Hypnos goes kindly among the mortals but, his brother, Thanatos has a heart made of pitiless iron. When he takes hold of you, the world of light ceases to be.

Ok back to the Joker, I have to admit I have not seen the new movie, nor do I feel the call to do so (I was very happy to learn that when my son went to see it there was a power cut during a particularly tense moment followed by a break in which ABBA’s Dancing Queen was played – a spell breaker if ever there was one). I do however have access to the Internet so finding out about the movie is not too difficult.

This “Clown Prince of Crime” is most certainly an instrument of indiscriminate death. He is described as an “indiscriminate killer that lives for his teasing confrontations with Batman“.

Batman, like so many superheroes were borne (born) along the same energy wave that brought in WWII – a very interesting theme in itself. He was a creation of one Bob Kane (or Bob Kahn, a Jewish American comic book artist & writer). I’m just going to pop off topic for a moment to bring you a little something to chew on. Kane was:

a high school friend of fellow cartoonist and future The Spirit creator Will Eisner.

Now I can’t help noticing a distinct similarity between the signatures of Will Eisner & Walt Disney – not to mention the lettering – I’ve noticed other’s on the interent have picked up on this too.

The official Will Eisner logo

This is the signature that first got my attention –

… the similarity is intriguing n’est-pas?

Ok returning to the scene of the Joker & his possible secret identity as Thanatos.

Batman Vs The Joker” – Batman #1 (Spring 1940) The first Joker story ever by creator Bob Kane and ghost writer Bill Finger instantly set the tone for all Joker stories to follow in the next 68 years. He appeared as a straightforward mass murderer

… ah the good old days.

Now Thanatos is not necessarily seen as a ‘bad’ grim reaper. He is often referred to as the bringer of peaceful death (that’s where something in this life is so crap you want to get away – the Underworld may perhaps not be your ideal choice of getaways however).

Violent death was the domain of Thanatos’ blood-craving sisters, the Keres, spirits of slaughter and disease

Oh dear, does this mean the end of playtime, have our syncs run dry. I think not – are you game to se how far we can stretch this? Good for you – come on then.

It seems our latest helping of The Joker features him in a cross dressing role & …

… a thread developed by Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns, which implied that the Joker is gay, or at the very least bi-curious. A few writers like Morrison and Miller have made this a recurring theme in writing the Joker, and the character’s sexuality is a subject of a lot of discussion amongst online fans” 

Ok so perhaps our psycopathic jester is a combination of Thanatos & his sisters – the bloodthirsty Keres.

How’s this for a storyline

Going Sane” – Legends of the Dark Knight #65-68 (Nov ’94-Feb ’95) Believing that he’s finally killed the Batman, the Joker, apparently having lost the anchor of his existence, goes through plastic surgery to return him to “normal” and wakes up one day as “Joseph Kerr

… or perhaps we should read that as Keres.

Tying together the idea of Batman as Hades with The Joker as Thanatos & the symbolic twin of Batman we have … The Joker, in fetching nurses uniform (I’m told), resonating with female Keres, telling Batman …

You complete me

… need I say more!

The closing credits of the Batman movie acknowledge not one but two deaths – that of the Australian Heath Ledger & a New Zealand-born special effects technician, Conway Wyckliffe who was killed when a camera truck crashed into a tree. Wyckliffe previously worked on Bond film Casino Royale and the Tomb Raider films with Angelina Jolie.

There’s an anagram site I use to play with names & words when looking for ideas – here are some anagrams for Christian Bale:

Lie In Bat Crash – Bat Lairs Niche – Line His Bat Car – Rich Bat In Sale – Bat As Rich Line

Heath Ledger:

The Hag Elder – Geld Heather – Get He Herald – Glad He there – He Geld Earth

Well play time is almost over, now I’ve got to get on to the serious work of chasing down spelling areas & glitches in this bag of tricks. Lets have just one more toss of the dice & see what happens when we play with Batman / Hades for the last time. If we mis-spell The Dark Knight we get The Dark Night & I can think of no better epithet for ‘death‘ than that phrase – and of course the bat is the guardian of the night

August 7, 2008. Uncategorized. 12 comments.

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