In the previous post, we discussed the exciting upcoming total solar eclipse, and the connection between eclipses and the lunar nodes.

Previous discussions of the lunar nodes noted that many ancient civilizations -- particularly in the east, such as those whose traditions survive in India, Tibet, and China -- are known to have portrayed the lunar nodes as a celestial being which temporarily devours the sun or the moon, sometimes as a disembodied head with no lower jaw (similar to that seen at top center of the image above), and sometimes as a dragon (or two dragons, for the two lunar nodes, or the head and the tail of one dragon).  In fact, the lunar nodes are also known as the "draconitic points."

That previous post about the nodes noted that we should be careful not to assume that such a description is an example of ancient ignorance.  In fact, no less an authority than Aristotle tells us that what some assume to be ignorant myths may actually be a subtle way that the ancients preserved and transmitted advanced scientific understanding.

This lesson -- which is one of the central themes of the vitally important Hamlet's Mill by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend, published in 1969 -- comes to mind when considering the controversial phenomenon known as "earthquake lights" (sometimes abbreviated EQL).

The term earthquake lights refers to luminous discharges that have sometimes been reported prior to, during, and after powerful earthquakes, at times being seen in the area by witnesses for many days or weeks before or after an earthquake or series of earthquakes.  Previous posts have discussed this phenomenon and some of the historical reports of these lights -- see for example this previous post, which contains a link to a 1912 book describing numerous reports of "glows" and "light flashes" seen during the New Madrid earthquake in the United States in the early 1800s.

While this phenomenon has been reported for centuries, it was generally not accepted by the "scientific community" until fairly recently (and is still not widely taught to the general public, perhaps because its causes are still not agreed upon, and perhaps because it is still not universally accepted).  Many scientific papers published in journals in the past several decades cite photographic evidence of earthquake lights taken in conjunction with the earthquakes in the region of Nagano, Japan from 1965 - 1967 as being the crucial turning point that led to widespread acceptance of this phenomena by the greater seismological community.

This report, entitled "Size and Some Features of Luminous Sources Associated with the 1995 Hyogo-Ken Nanbu Earthquake" by Tameshida Tsukuda of the University of Tokyo reports that during the Nagano earthquakes of 1965 - 1967, "A resident succeeded in taking photographs of the light five times or more" and cited texts published by geophysicist Y. Yasui in 1971 and 1972.  

This 1973 article on earthquake lights published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America also cites those texts by Y. Yasui.  The abstract states:
The best documented observations of earthquake lights are from Japanese earthquakes in the early 1930's and mid-1960's. In the latter case, color and black and white photographs were taken of bright, hemispherical, white luminescences based at ground level, about 20 to 200 m in diameter, of duration 10 sec to 2 min, restricted to mountain summits in a quartz-diorite faulted rock. Great difficulties and uncertainties accompany any attempt to explain the phenomenon.
A list at the bottom of the above-linked page to other articles citing this one include at least seven others acknowledging the existence of earthquake lights and attempting to explain them.

Later studies have carefully documented reports of earthquake lights in other parts of the world, sometimes with photographs.  This study, entitled "The earthquake lights (EQL) of the 6 April 2009 Aquila earthquake in Central Italy" discusses "luminous phenomena which were abundantly observed on this occasion"  (page 968 of original pagination, or page 2 of the pdf linked).  Reports which could possibly have resulted from confusion with electrical lines shorting out, gas pipe leaks, or even the planet Venus were discarded, leaving dozens of startling descriptions which make fascinating reading.  The sightings are plotted on a map of the effected earthquake area, and some photographs of luminous spheres which were taken by witnesses are included.

Some of the interesting aspects of the reports include the fact that what were reported as flames were always red in color but afterwards no signs of burn marks could be found, nor were any fires started by these flames (974 or page 8 of the pdf).  Many of the sightings appeared to be electrical discharges, either vertical or horizontal, and the vertical discharges always emanated from the ground (same page).

Previous posts have cited Dr. Walt Brown, the author of the hydroplate theory, on this phenomenon of earthquake lights.  Dr. Brown's theory proposes a different mechanism for the cause of earthquakes than the mechanism put forth by the conventionally-accepted tectonic theory.  See for example this post and this post, each of which contain detailed discussions of the cause of earthquakes as proposed by Dr. Brown, along with links to his book -- available for viewing online -- in which he discusses the extensive evidence which supports his explanation.

Note that Dr. Brown's discussion of the phenomenon of electrical discharges and luminous phenomena accompanying earthquakes -- as well as ionospheric disturbances preceding large earthquakes, sometimes for a matter of days in advance -- involves plasma discharges.  His theory also maintains that powerful plasma discharges began on earth (or greatly increased) during the events surrounding a cataclysmic global flood, and that the aftereffects of this event are the cause of earthquakes (and the occasional plasma discharges that accompany them) to this day.

The possible connections between earthquakes and plasma discharges is fascinating in light of the fact that Chinese dragons appear to have been associated with earthquakes, and also appear to embody many features associated with plasma discharges (even though the modern study of plasma discharges is relatively new).  

The image below shows the famous seismographic urn designed by Chinese astronomer Zheng Heng (thought to have lived from AD 78 to AD 139 in China), which clearly connects earthquakes and dragons.

This previous post also discusses the dragon / earthquake / plasma connection in Chinese tradition -- still evident in the discussion of the start of the Year of the Dragon (which we are still in) by a Feng Shui master in the video in that post.  

While it is possible that impressive phenomena such as those reported in the eyewitness accounts above might be interpreted as being caused by actual dragons, it is also possible that the ancients were using mythological metaphor to convey advanced scientific understanding of plasma-electrical phenomena which we are only now beginning to understand with our "modern science."  

It is also possible that -- if Dr. Brown's hydroplate theory is correct -- ancient earthquakes taking place in the centuries immediately following the initial cataclysmic event were more powerful and more often accompanied by visible plasma activity.

There are many accounts on the web of "rainbow clouds" or so-called "earthquake clouds" which might be confused with the earthquake lights discussed in the articles cited above, but it is clear from reading the earthquake accounts that the luminous orbs, discharges, and flashes being described there are probably quite different from the rainbow clouds that are popularly called "earthquake clouds" (which may be caused by simple atmospheric conditions not associated with earthquakes).

It is also worth pointing out that the reports of the earthquake lights that resemble plasma discharges go back many decades and even centuries.  Some people discussing the phenomenon of earthquake lights blame them on the HAARP program created by the US government, but it seems clear that the earthquake lights reported in the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812 (for instance) cannot be associated with HAARP.  

This does not mean, of course, that any connection of HAARP to strange atmospheric phenomena (or even attempts to manipulate the earth or the weather or even to cause earthquakes) cannot be possible -- it only means that the phenomena of earthquake lights appears to predate any such modern programs.  It is, of course, still possible that people who realize a connection between electromagnetic energy and earthquakes could try to make use of that connection, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Unfortunately, some who rush to "debunk" the connection between "rainbow clouds" and earthquakes do not make any distinction between theories that connect earthquakes to one sort of phenomenon or another, and appear to throw out any possibility that atmospheric disturbances and earthquakes may actually have scientific linkages (such as this "Bad Astronomy" column on the subject, in Discover magazine).   

The smug tone of that article -- and of many of the comments from readers responding to the article -- embodies the kind of ridicule Alfred Wegener faced when he proposed a new geological paradigm, and which is often leveled at those who suggest new possibilities that lie outside of or beyond conventional models.  The tone would hardly be less condescending if those who believed atmospheric disturbances accompanying earthquakes -- and the earthquakes themselves -- had suggested that they were actually caused by flying fiery dragons.  

But, as we have seen, those who connected dragons with earthquakes in ancient times may well have known more about plasma-and-earthquake connections than "modern science" did until quite recently (and perhaps they still knew more than we have managed to rediscover).  This fascinating connection bears careful consideration.