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"Are you not ashamed to mingle domestic crops with blood and gore?"

"Are you not ashamed to mingle domestic crops with blood and gore?"

image: MIT homepage of Dr. Stephanie Seneff (specific image link).

Many ancient philosophers presented philosophical arguments against the consumption of animal flesh and for the adoption of plant-based diets in one form or another, among them PlutarchOvid, and (at least according to long-established tradition) Pythagoras.

In one of his surviving treatises on the subject, Plutarch argues that resorting to the consumption of that which is (in his words) "contrary to nature" is a form of slander against the gods and the earth, implying that they cannot support us with their bounty. He asks:

Why slander the earth by implying that she cannot support you? Why impiously offend law-giving Demeter and bring shame upon Dionysus, lord of the cultivated vine, the gracious one, as if you did not receive enough from their hands? Are you not ashamed to mingle domestic crops with blood and gore?

A previous post from 2012 noted that, while Plutarch was applying these arguments to the consumption of flesh in an age long before the direct injection of foreign DNA into foodcrops, the same arguments could be applied with equal force to the creation and distribution of genetically-modified organisms for human consumption, a practice that has appeared only in the past two decades of human existence but which has increased exponentially since these GMOs were first introduced into the food chain.

Not only is it questionable and completely unproven to assert that the earth and the gods simply could not support human life without these newly-devised GMOs (and, Plutarch would say, slanderous and impious to say so, as well), but in light of data being presented by credentialed researchers, it may be that those who have been pushing GMOs into the food supply are also mingling domestic crops with, if not "blood and gore," a widespread increase in terrible neurological diseases and health problems.

Here is a link to a talk given on May 24, 2014, by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a Senior Research Scientist at MIT who has focused her research in recent years on correlations between nutrition and health. The talk is long but critically important. In it, she presents evidence arguing that the sudden introduction of new, genetically-modified, herbicide-resistant corn and soy crops into the US food chain in 1991, and the corresponding massive increase in herbicide application on top of these food crops (see chart above) correlates almost one-to-one with the rise in autism diagnoses in the US (the red "line graph" or "mountain chart" line represents chemical herbicide applied to soy and corn, in thousands of tons, and the yellow "bar graph" columns represent the rising number of children identified as having autism). 

Her data further indicate a potential harmful synergy between this newly-prevalent herbicide and the increased exposure to aluminum, primarily through vaccines.

This previous post examines some of the powerful forces at work to marginalize anyone who questions the safety of the increased vaccine regimens for children, and the possible connection vaccines may have with autism.

Early in her talk, she also states that the lack of exposure to sunlight among children who now for various reasons may be spending too much time indoors and staring at screens instead of running around outside may also be a contributing factor, leading to dangerous deficiencies in natural vitamin D production from sunlight exposure on the skin and through the eyes. Interestingly enough, the health benefits of basking in the sun were known to the ancients and written about by various ancient authors and philosophers as well.

Dr. Seneff states that she has spent the past several years examining possible environmental factors that may be contributing to the rise in autism shown in the chart above. She notes that there is an argument that autism is only genetic, and a contingent of people who apparently do not want to take the time to examine hypotheses which include possible environmental contributors to this and other health problems. Beginning at about 0:00:40 into the talk, Dr. Seneff says:

So, people keep saying "Oh, yeah -- it's genetic; autism's a genetic disease." They're not spending the money they should be spending looking for environmental factors. And as much as you could try to think of increased diagnosis or whatever, you've still got a huge part that's unexplained, unclear, and that is almost surely environmental. I don't think this audience would disagree. So, I've been studying autism for about seven years now, reading extensively in the literature, and looking one by one at all the  different environmental toxins and all the environmental factors that might be involved in autism. And I've identified several. Certainly sun, insufficient sunlight exposure to both the skin and the eyes, was something I identified early on: people in northern latitudes have increased autism, for example. And poor diet I think is something that people are aware of. Nutritional deficiencies. Vaccines is something  this community's very are aware of. But there's another factor that I didn't recognize until about two years ago. I went to hear a talk by Don Huber, who's a professor -- retired professor -- from Purdue,  expert on plant physiology and plant pathology, who's been going around the world talking about the dangers of this, Roundup, and the damage that it's doing to our nation's health. And once I heard his lecture, I became a changed person, and I spent nearly all of my time studying this chemical, and understanding how it works biologically, and linking that to very many diseases and conditions that are plaguing us today: things like diabetes, and Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, various cancers, and you can see a very strong connection between this chemical and those diseases. 

Immediately after this, Dr. Seneff says that it is her hope that everyone listening to her will be convinced to investigate the evidence for himself or herself. This approach is a major differentiating factor between those who are encouraging real analysis (which I argue here and here to be an antidote to mind control) and those who argue that there is nothing to investigate, the issue is already settled, and their interpretation is the interpretation that must be accepted -- on faith, without doing your own research (which is the kind of argument that typifies those who seek to control others, exemplified in the original 1968 Planet of the Apes movie by the  characters of Dr. Zaius and the orangutans).

The safety of the food supply, and the application of honest, open-minded analysis of the evidence regarding the safety of the modifications and ethicality of giving genetically-modified foods to people largely without their knowledge, their consent, or their awareness of the potential health hazards that may be associated with such foods, is a subject of such fundamental importance that it demands all of our attention. I hope that everyone will take the time to listen to Dr. Seneff's presentation linked above (here's the link again).

We simply must engage our critical thinking and do our own analysis when we see data such as that shown in the graph and discussed in the talk, or we risk "mingling crops with blood and gore," as Plutarch puts it.

No one who does military analysis before a military operation would ignore such data points or dismiss them as not worthy of further investigation. No one who does stock analysis before investing in a stock would see so many red flags in the data and argue for buying it anyway. When the health and safety of others is on the line, we do not have the luxury of just sleepwalking forward with our eyes shut.

Dr. Seneff has bravely presented evidence and a hypothesis, based on seven years of research and a host of data -- of course, those who wish to offer a different hypothesis can and should do so along with their arguments of why their hypothesis might be a better fit for the data.

Here is an article from October of 2014 discussing Dr. Seneff's research.

Here is another article, published yesterday, also discussing aspects of Dr. Seneff's research.

For those who might ask what this topic has to do with the topics usually discussed in this blog, the answer is: plenty. 

First, and perhaps foremost, there is the question of natural law (or, as it might be better labeled, natural universal law). The doctrine of natural universal law argues that the prevention of violence to another's person is fundamental, that we always have the right (and in fact the duty) to stop violence being done to ourselves or to another human being, and that it is for this purpose that governments are established.

Related to the question of natural law is the important subject of "mind control" -- used in a broad and general sense in this case (there are other, narrower, and more technical uses of that term which are also valuable but not necessarily in view here). In this broad usage, we can define mind control as the propagation of illusions and ideologies which are primarily designed to mask or even try to legitimize the violation of natural universal law, often on a grand scale. In fact, some have argued convincingly that mass-violation of natural universal law is always necessarily accompanied by forms of mass mind control.

Further, as intimated in the opening paragraphs of this post, this question is by no means unrelated to the questions treated by the ancient philosophers, especially those prior to the arrival of literalist Christianity, who clearly saw food as a proper subject for philosophical discourse, and a topic with deep moral implications.

Finally, the debate over this subject, in which there is a consensus view being promoted and a clear marginalization of those voices which challenge the consensus view, directly parallels the pattern found in the subjects most-often examined in this blog and in my research. There is a clear failure among conventional academia to seriously consider the overwhelming evidence pointing to ancient trans-oceanic contact between the "Old World" and "New World," for example, or the abundant evidence that consciousness may in fact be independent of the physical body, and many more subjects which are just as critical to our health and well-being as is the question of what foods are best and most healthful and safest for us to eat.

The question of the safety of our food is one we really do not have the luxury of ignoring. I believe that for various important reasons, the others discussed on this blog are equally pressing. 

The possibility that the creation of what came to be known as "the west" (and that is today embodied in governments and other institutions that can be seen to be descended from the western Roman Empire) might have involved the deliberate creation of illusions and the adoption of ideologies that now threaten the entire food chain and entire ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest (see for instance the discussion in this previous post) is certainly one of those issues. It may well be that this ideological pattern, which I believe began with a mistaken literalistic approach to ancient scriptures, which led to a deliberate rejection of the ancient wisdom as well as a false separation between human beings and nature, is directly related to the adoption of agricultural practices that could turn out to be very harmful to nature and to ourselves.

Fresh kale and Thomas Jefferson

One of the best things about growing your own vegetable garden is being able to make a green smoothie using leaves which you harvested only a few minutes before.

I like to walk out in the early morning and cut a few leaves from one of the kale plants, a few leaves of Swiss chard, and throw them right into the blender after a quick rinse-off.

Above is one of our garden's kale plants which, like the mythical hydra, seems to grow two more leaves whenever one of them is cut off.  You may be able to notice from the photo that I like the "square foot gardening" method of Mel Bartholomew.

It is a matter of only a few seconds to throw the fresh leaves of kale and chard into the blender along with a banana, some coconut milk, and some pineapple and blueberries, and mix up a delicious smoothie.  

Here's what it looks like before the pineapple and blueberries go in.  You can see the big leaf of chard behind the kale leaf, both of which were picked just a few minutes before and never had to sit around in a refrigerator.

Thomas Jefferson, who knew a thing or two about this subject of freedom, liberty, and revolutionary acts, seems to agree.  In his landmark Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), Thomas Jefferson wrote: "Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now" (266).  

Kale and Swiss chard are excellent fall and winter crops for your garden (for readers in the northern hemisphere, that means now!).  

In fact, we are now approaching a full moon (in less than 24 hours).  According to those who know about such things, the time to plant vegetables which produce their harvest above the ground is during the waxing moon (so you've got less than twenty-four hours if you need to plant something in that category for this cycle!), and the time to plant vegetables and tubers which produce their harvest below the ground is during the waning moon.  

Here is a previous blog post which gives a quotation from R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz on that subject, and here is a link to a video with Santos Bonacci in which he briefly discusses the same subject beginning at the 28:00 minute mark.  

You too can rush your own leaves of kale, chard, and whatever else right from the garden to your table, with only a few seconds in between.  All you need is a place to garden -- which can be in the most unlikely of places, as "guerrilla gardening" guru Richard Reynolds has repeatedly demonstrated.  Notably, Richard seems to do much of his gardening at night (perhaps he has also read his Schwaller de Lubicz -- who knows?)  

You may even decide to read aloud from Jefferson as you do so.

Is bee pollen one of nature's perfect foods?

(if reading this on a mobile device, please scroll down to read the blog post)

Some previous posts have discussed ancient knowledge about medical science which appears to have been lost (or suppressed) somewhere along the way, and which is no longer common knowledge today.  

For example, the post entitled "Basking in the sun" noted that ancient historian Herodotus recounted stories of the healthful benefits of a daily sun bath, and that Pliny the Elder apparently indulged in a daily sun bath for health as well.  However, few today are told that a sun bath promotes good health, although that post presented some links to modern sources who believe that sun baths are good for health, and who present evidence to support their assertions.

Another practice that was recommended by the ancients, but about which conventional medical professionals remain largely silent, is the consumption of bee pollen for human health.  Again, Pliny speaks extensively of bees, as well as of the beneficial aspects of their products including honey, propolis, and pollen (see his Natural History, which can be read online here, where he discusses bees and their products in Book XI, beginning in chapter 4).  There is evidence that the ancient Egyptians were skilled beekeepers and that they buried honey and possibly bee pollen in their tombs (suggesting a high regard for its properties).  Traditional Chinese medicine also appears to have long recommended the health benefits of bee pollen.

Many voices in the modern alternative medicine community have high praise for the health effects of bee pollen.  This article, for example, on Dr. Mercola's website praises the positive effects of bee pollen so extensively that it is difficult to believe that something so beneficial could be so unrecognized by the general public and the medical community. 

On the other hand, some authors claim that bee pollen's benefits are overhyped and warn that some portion of the population will find bee pollen to cause digestive or other problems.  In Letters from the Hive, Stephen Buchmann argues that:
[. . .] none of the health claims made for pollen have been substantiated in properly controlled clinical trials.  Though it is high in proteins, lipids, antioxidants, and vitamins, these nutrients can be obtained in other, more easily digested foods at considerably less cost.  

And then there are the side effects some people experience when taking pollen.  The major adverse reactions are stomach pain and diarrhea, reported by up to 33 percent of individuals in some studies.  Irritation and itching of the mouth and throat are also sometimes reported.  So leave bee pollen to the bees, and enjoy their honey instead.  247.
While the amazing claims about bee pollen's benefits touted by some proponents might seem somewhat excessive, the arguments against bee pollen in these paragraphs may go too far in the other direction.  Bee pollen is "high in proteins, lipids, antioxidants, and vitamins" but we should "leave bee pollen to the bees" because all of those nutrients can be better obtained elsewhere?  Where else are all of these attributes found, one wonders?  What other single food has such a combination?  

The adverse effects reported for bee pollen should certainly be taken into account, but again the warning that these are experienced by up to 33 percent of individuals seems remarkably high.  Of course, the author says that this was "in some studies," but since those studies are not identified, it is difficult to know how large the studies were or whether other studies had lower incidences of adverse reactions.

There are many areas in which the consensus of "expert opinion" can be completely wrong for decades, a phenomenon which has been discussed in many other posts on this blog.  It is also clear that much ancient wisdom has been lost or even deliberately destroyed or suppressed.  

In Serpent in the Sky, John Anthony West presents evidence that the ancient Egyptians possessed extremely sophisticated medical knowledge, among the other advanced sciences that seem to have appeared "full-blown" at the earliest stages of ancient dynastic Egypt, which together are very difficult to explain under conventional historical models.  Whether the ancient Egyptians were the source of the apparently widespread ancient reverence for bee pollen and other bee products as beneficial to human health is not yet clear.  However, it is an intriguing question.

Readers may be interested in pursuing this subject further on their own.

Ovid on Pythagoras and the abstention of eating the flesh of animals

Previous posts have examined the evidence that an important aspect of the ancient wisdom was a teaching on the abstention from the eating of meat (see for example "The ancients and the 'plant-based diet' debate," "Ancient wisdom and modern raw foodists,"  "Plutarch's 'On the eating of flesh,'" and "Plutarch, Demeter, and genetically-modified food").

One of the reasons this subject is important is that the vegetarian tradition among ancient philosophers such as Plutarch, who had by their own admission been taught by the priests of Egypt, provides another strong piece of evidence for some kind of connection between ancient Egypt and the Buddhist monastic tradition that survives to this day in China, Tibet, and other parts of the globe east of Egypt.

Another reason that this subject is important is that, if the ancient philosophers taught so clearly against the consumption of meat, we may want to carefully consider whether this teaching might have important implications for the larger subject that they were all about, which we might term the "pursuit of consciousness." 

In an interview with Curtis Davis from November 25, 2011, Santos Bonacci discusses another ancient writer whose work conveys to us some very vivid arguments against the consumption of the flesh of animals: the poet Ovid (43 BC -- AD 17 or 18). 

You can hear that interview for yourself for free by going to the "iTunes store" podcast section and searching for Santos Bonacci, and then downloading the podcase dated November 25, 2011 (entitled "Santos Bonacci Returns" -- but look for the date, as there are other interviews from other dates with that same title or a similar title).  The discussion of Ovid and the abstention from the eating of meat begins around the 1:02:00 mark in that interview podcast.

Here is how Santos introduces the subject, including a strong recommendation to get your hands on a copy of Ovid's Metamorphosis as soon as possible (he is reading from the new translation by Charles Martin from 2004, an outstanding edition and the one that I use as well):
Now I'm not reading from here to condemn anyone who is eating meat -- please -- please understand what I'm trying to do: I'm trying to give us the philosopher's perspective. [. . .] He knew who he was, and he was trying to share with us this wisdom and knowledge of knowing who we are.  [. . .]  I would be reading Ovid's Metamorphoses as soon as possible.  And, in particular, I would go to the Fifteenth Book, and I would be reading -- there's some beautiful stuff in there -- and in one portion, at the very start of the book, it's called "The Teachings of Pythagoras."
Ovid begins to tell us of Pythagoras by saying:
There was a man who had been born on Samos,
but fled his native land and its rulers, 
freely choosing to become an exile
out of his hatred for despotism [. . .];
he was the first to censure man for eating
the flesh of animals and was the first
to preach this learned, but not widely held
doctrine, in these words from his own lips.  XV, 89-92 and  108-111.
Ovid then goes on to give us some of the "teachings of Pythagoras" on this subject of not eating flesh, and as Ovid is the past master of vivid imagery and language, the teachings of Pythagoras on this subject are very convincing indeed.  They should really be read in full, as Ovid moves from this subject to the subject of the human spirit which does not die with the human body but remains the same "even though it migrates to various bodies" (XV, 217), and then comes back to the subject of abstaining from the eating of animals once again.  

It must be that Ovid perceived a connection between these two subjects!

In fact, it must be considered somewhat striking that Ovid included this discussion of Pythagoras in the Metamorphoses at all, especially in the Fifteenth Book, which is the crowning conclusion of the work.  This should be considered a strong hint as to the layers of spiritual meaning contained in all the stories that have gone before. 

It is also striking that, of all the things he could have emphasized about the great ancient sage Pythagoras, Ovid chose to emphasize most strongly his teaching on the abstention from eating meat, and the connection of this abstention to the true nature of the human soul and spirit.

To convey a bit of the power of Ovid's recreation of Pythagoras' speech regarding the eating of meat, a few choice portions follow, but this is a speech that should really be read in its glorious entirety, for Ovid's Phythagoras goes on to new heights of philosophy as the speech unfolds, only to conclude with the strongest of all his urgings to cease killing animals for food.

The speech begins with these words, which follow immediately from the portion quoted above (this is now meant to be Pythagoras speaking):
"Mortals, refrain from defiling your bodies with sinful
feasting, for you have the fruits of the earth and of arbors,
whose branches bow with their burden; for you the grapes ripen,
for you the delicious greens are made tender by cooking;
milk is permitted to you too, and thyme-scented honey:
Earth is abundantly wealthy and freely provides you
her gentle sustenance, offered without any bloodshed."  XV, 112-118.
If Pythagoras, of whom Ovid says his chief occupation was to "lecture to improve people's minds" was so adamant about this subject (and the above short sample is just a taste of the powerful arguments that Ovid has Pythagoras deliver during the 434-line discourse), then we might ask ourselves whether the conditioning we receive beginning at a very early age that we simply have to eat meat for optimal health might be doing something other than "improving our minds."

In any case, every individual should of course be allowed to make these choices for himself or herself, free from coercion or from pressure, censure, or condemnation from others on the matter of food.  However, if the ancient philosophers thought that the choice of whether or not to eat animals for food was such a critical matter, and one somehow bound up in the issue of the journey of the spirit, we should probably pay close attention to what they had to say about this question.

An almost-entirely-positive review of the film Hungry for Change

I recently watched a popular documentary called Hungry for Change, which powerfully presents the evidence that the modern "Western diet" systematically destroys the human body.   This is an argument that has been explored in numerous previous posts on this blog, such as:
Hungry for Change contrasts the beneficial impact on the body of a healthy diet with the superficial and often temporary changes brought about by the usual attempts to counteract the impact of the modern diet.  
It also reveals the fact that the processed foods, often loaded with sugar as filler and more recently with high fructose corn syrup (which is in an astonishingly high percentage of foods and is almost entirely made from genetically-modified corn in the United States, as discussed in this previous post and this previous post), which were introduced into the American diet on a large scale during and after World War II (and from there spread to much of the rest of the world) appear to be almost deliberately engineered to wreak havoc upon the body's systems.  

We have already seen in yet another previous post a detailed discussion of what sugar and corn syrup do to the liver and the systems in the body that feed the cells through the blood stream in this previous post on the work of Dr. Robert Lustig.  Hungry for Change goes beyond that and reveals the extent to which other deleterious substances are inserted into a dizzying array of the foods we find for sale at our local grocery stores, substances such as monosodium glutamate (or MSG), another substance that entered common use in the US as a result of World War II.

While food industry literature declares that MSG has been found to be "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) with only a few minor ill effects on a small percentage of the population that is overly sensitive to the substance, some doctors -- including Dr. Mercola, who is in Hungry for Change as one of the speakers -- argue that MSG may adversely affect the brain and nervous system, as well as the glutamate receptors "found both within your heart's electrical conduction system and the heart muscle itself ."

The Hungry for Change video alleges that MSG can be legally included in food under an astonishing fifty different names, which implies that most consumers are not even aware when a food product they are purchasing or consuming contains MSG.  This website provides a comprehensive list of ingredients that always contain the free glutamic acid that is one of the main distinguishing components of MSG, ingredients with innocuous-sounding names such as: "yeast extract," "yeast food," "yeast nutrient," "autolyzed yeast," "textured protein," "soy protein," "whey protein," "gelatin," and others.

It lists many other ingredient names which often contain free glutamic acid, including "carageenan," "maltodextrin," "pectin," and "malt extract."

Information like this is enough to make the movie worthwhile, but it touches on many other important subjects as well.  It can currently be watched via "watch instantly" (streaming) on Netflix, as well as rented from a variety of outlets or purchased from the Hungry for Change website.  

But, what does a blog concerned with the evidence for ancient civilizations have to do with a movie such as Hungry for Change, however interesting and informative and even potentially life-saving such a movie might be?  Well, if you followed any of the links above to previous posts on the subject of "diet and food," you will notice that I believe that erroneous theories can be very dangerous, and that many people mistakenly believe we are living in a "modern, scientific era" in which our level of knowledge about many important subjects is at a level that has far surpassed anything that the human race knew in the past.

Many people unquestioningly accept the fundamental paradigms that authority figures such as doctors or university professors declare with such confidence, and that our peers tell us that "everyone knows" or "everyone believes."  These paradigms include the diet paradigm, but they also include paradigms about geology (the current conventional paradigm is plate tectonics, which is almost certainly incorrect), paradigms about biology (including the almost certainly incorrect Darwinian paradigm), and paradigms about ancient human history (that mankind evolved from millennia as primitive hunter-gatherers, and in short order began creating enormous pyramids using seventy-ton blocks positioned hundreds of feet above ground level and aligned with incredible accuracy to the cardinal directions north, south, east and west).

Just as Hungry for Change shows that the conventional "modern western diet" paradigm is shockingly hazardous to our health, I believe that the other incorrect paradigms mentioned above are just as potentially unhealthy and dangerous.  In fact, my major criticism of Hungry for Change is that it overwhelmingly portrays the modern dietary disaster as a product of our supposed "hunter-gatherer instincts" all run amok in a modern wonderland of plenty!  The various experts interviewed in the documentary -- all of whom make excellent points and provide valuable insights, except when they start talking about the ancient history of the human race -- universally take this tack.  For example, beginning at about the four-minute mark in the film (in fact, at 4:06), five different quotations are presented to the viewer in machine-gun fashion, hammering home this view of ancient history and our primitive past as the cause of our modern diet dilemma:
speaker one: All through our history, as a species, the big challenge is to find calories.  And so, our bodies are biologically adapted to this, we seek calorie sources.  When I say that, I particularly -- what I’m talking about are fats, and sugars.   If we taste something fatty or something sweet, we get an immediate signal saying "Yes!  I want more of this!" because, for our hunter-gatherer ancestors – and that goes right up to a few hundred years ago – anywhere they could find fat or sugar meant survival for those people.  It meant carrying forth their genetics.

speaker two:  It’s not your fault – this is how we are as mammals.  I mean we’ve lived on the earth for millennia where there was a food shortage – you’re programmed to put on fat whenever there is food available.  But now, there’s a lot of food available, but it’s the wrong kind.  And so we’ve been programmed for millennia to store up for the winter, but the winter doesn’t come.

speaker three:  Thousands of years ago when we lived outdoors and we didn’t know where our next meal was coming from, if there was a famine because it was a cold winter, or whatever reason, your body is going to want to hold extra weight to protect you from that.  And a famine is a stress, and if you go through that stress, your body's going to say, "We need an extra ten pounds, to protect us against famines.”

speaker one again:  But, one of the really interesting things about hunter-gatherer people, a people who do a very moderate amount of agriculture – we could call them hunter-gatherer-gardiners – what we see in those people is that they have an extremely high amount of nutrition and an extremely low amount of calories in their food, compared to people in modern civilization which have a very high amount of calories and a very low amount of nutrition available to them.  Today we have a so many calorie sources, but we still have the same signal.  So somebody bites into a burger or they take a sip off a milkshake, and they get those fats and those sugars, and their body says "Yes, more!" because it’s used to behaving in an environment where there’s feast and there’s famine.  The problem is, we’ve got feast like it’s nobody’s business – we just don’t have any famine.

This is troubling on a couple of levels.  First, notice that the final speaker just said, essentially, that "The problem is [. . .] we just don't have any famine," as if famines are somehow a good thing (this is false).  Speaker two seems to imply the same general line of thinking.

More troubling is the idea that civilization and the benefits it provides are the problem.  This is also false.  In fact, it can be demonstrated with ample evidence that the ancients -- going all the way back to ancient Egypt -- had excellent knowledge of the best diet for the human being, and wrote about it in the teachings of the great philosophers, for example (many of the previous blog posts cited above discuss this fact).  

In fact, this previous post on the Essenes and their studious avoidance of the expression of anger also touches on the ancient writings that suggest that the Essenes and other communities of philosophers understood not only the importance of healthy eating but also the importance of healthy breathing and of getting access to healthy air, and understood it to a degree no longer widely understood or taught in the "modern western world." 

Santos Bonacci, whose incredible and prolific teaching about the ancient Hermetic wisdom is available in numerous videos on the internet and whose astrotheology was discussed in this previous post, has discussed numerous aspects of diet known by the ancient Hermeticists or Hermetists which, if followed, would accord perfectly with most of the recommendations given by the experts in the Hungry for Change video, and in fact which go well beyond them because in addition to having a physical component for human health those ancient teachings added the spiritual component relating to consciousness and the chakra system and the fact that as human being we are composed of energy as well as matter.

The presence of such knowledge stretching all the way back to the beginnings of the most ancient Egyptian dynasties (and beyond it, as demonstrated by the research and analysis of John Anthony West and others) pretty much upends the argument that our "modern western diet" problem, and all its attendant ills including obesity and diabetes and the rest, are the result of a bunch of former hunter-gatherers who still haven't gotten the hang of this civilization thing.

It might be more appropriate to ask whether the problem isn't the end result of an abandonment of the ancient wisdom those philosophers seemed to know thousands of years ago.

Finally, any discussion of the transition of mankind from primitive hunter-gatherers (or "hunter-gatherer-gardiners," as one of the speakers in the film talks about) to agricultural civilizations of any sort (let alone high civilizations like ancient Egypt) almost always overlook the incredible problems with the idea that mankind somehow tamed herd animals such as the wild bovines or bred existing wild grains into domestic grains while they were continuing their hunter-gatherer lifestyles.  As this previous post discusses, that transition needs much more than the "hand-wave" explanation that it usually gets.

It is at least as likely that mankind started out with "millennia of advanced civilization," civilizations which sometimes destroyed one another and ended up as hunter-gatherers, than it is to assume that the hunter-gatherers came first and then figured out how to breed wild aurochs into cows and wild grasses into useful cereal grains.

However, setting this glaring historical failure aside (which we can hardly hold against the speakers in the video, since they have no doubt been indoctrinated like the rest of us to believe in these historical paradigms since childhood), Hungry for Change is an excellent video on food and health, and an excellent expose of the dangers of uncritically following a false paradigm.

Ancient wisdom and modern raw foodists

In the Light of Egypt, first published in 1889 and referenced in this previous post, Thomas Burgoyne makes the following statement while examining the connection between the spiritual and material worlds: 
Ask Science how the plant grows, what causes the atoms of matter to build up root, stem, leaf, bud and flower, true to the parent species from which the germinal atom came.  What is there behind the plant that stamps it with such striking individuality?  And why, from the same soil, the deadly aconite and nutritious vegetable can grow, each producing qualities in harmony with its own nature, so widely different in their effects upon the human organism, yet, so completely identical as regards the source from which they appear to springvolume 2, page 58.
He then goes on to quote the work of Scottish agricultural chemist James Finlay Weir Johnson (1796 - 1855), who in his Chemistry of Common Life wrote:
How interesting it is to reflect on the minuteness of the organs by which the largest plants are fed and sustained.  Microscopic apertures in the leaf suck in gaseous food from the air; the surfaces of microscopic hairs suck a liquid food from the soil.  We are accustomed to admire, with natural and just astonishment, how huge, rocky reefs, hundreds of miles in length, can be built up by the conjoined labors of myriads of minute zoophytes, laboring together on the surface of a coral rock; but it is not less wonderful that, by the ceaseless working of similar microscopic agencies in leaf and root, the substance of vast forests should be built up and made to grow before our eyes.  It is more wonderful, in fact; for whereas, in the one case, the chief result is that dead matter extracted from the sea is transformed into a dead rock; in the other, the lifeless matter of the earth and air are converted by these minute plant-builders into living forms, lifting their heads aloft to the sky, waving with every wind that blows, and beautifying whole continents with the varying verdure of their ever-changing leaves.  59.
This is remarkable to consider -- where, for instance, does the mighty sequoia draw the matter that turns it from a tiny seed into an enormous tree, the largest tree by volume on earth?  All that matter was somehow transmuted from soil into living plant, tens of thousands of cubic feet in volume.  

We can readily see why Thomas Burgoyne chose to ask his readers to ponder this mystery as he explores the connection between the material and the spiritual.  Pointing out that the same soil can be transmuted into two different plants of very different characteristics -- that the same soil can, in fact, produce a plant of deadly poison and right next to it a plant bearing nourishing vegetables -- he asserts that the plant is expressing in the material plane a spiritual reality, the force which rearranges the inorganic molecules drawn from the soil into the organic molecules of the tree:
We know that the plant, being the physical expression upon the material plane of a more interior life, endows its outward atoms with their peculiar qualities.  These qualities are not drawn directly from the soil; the soil only becoming the medium for their complete or incomplete expression, as the case may be; i.e., supplying the necessary inorganic atoms.   Hence, the deadly qualities of aconite, and the generous life-sustaining qualities of the nutritious vegetable, being spiritual life-endowments, conveyed to the material substance, abstracted from the soil and withdrawn from the atmosphere, are no mystery; their effect upon the human organism being exactly that, which is produced by their spiritual affinity or antipathy, as the case may be.  And this also shows and explains, why purely inorganic chemical atoms, though they be exactly the same as the organic substances, from a strictly scientific standpoint, yet fail to support life, because such chemical equivalents lack the organic spirituality of the interior life, which alone gives them the power and function to support the same.  61.
From the above series of assertions, Mr. Burgoyne then makes an interesting application:  
Vegetables, fresh from the ground, or parent stem, retain this life if at once prepared for food, if not overcooked, which is so often ignorantly done.  This is the secret of sustenance from foods.  Nature's perfected fruits and vegetables are overflowing with the life-giving essences, and, if eaten direct from the tree or parent stem, that life is not lost, but transmitted to our organisms, and replenishes the wasting system with a living life.  Much less of such food is required to completely satisfy and nourish the body than if the life had partly departed or been destroyed.  61.
So, these metaphysical reflections on the relationship between the material and spiritual led Mr. Burgoyne to publish an assertion back in the 1800s with which modern "raw foodists" can readily agree.  He cautions us against overcooking, "which is so often ignorantly done," and to strive to consume fresh fruits and vegetables "direct from the tree or parent stem," before they are "too long severed from the medium which transmits the spiritual life."

Widespread awareness of the health benefits of consuming a higher percentage of "raw food" (or even 100% raw food) is a relatively new phenomenon.  Raw food advocates often define "raw" in terms corresponding to this definition found in Going Raw, by Judita Wignall: "Raw food is fresh, whole food that has not been refined, chemically processed, or heated above118o F (48o C), so its nutritional content is preserved" (11).  

The benefits claimed for consuming more plant-based foods in their raw state often include less nutrient loss and less formation of various harmful substances and toxins that can be produced when foods are heated to higher temperatures.  This previous post, for instance, cited evidence that heating certain vegetable oils can cause them to become oxidized or rancid, and to release free radicals that can be harmful to the human body.  Many of the vegetable oils that have become standard in the "modern western diet" since the Second World War (but which were rarely used in cooking prior to that time) fall into this category.

Interestingly, the benefits that raw food advocates usually cite are mainly "material" (as opposed to "spiritual" or "metaphysical"), but  based on the important discussion by Thomas Burgoyne above, we might conclude that the most critical reason to increase the consumption of fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables in the diet is beyond the purview of traditional science and can be said to be "spiritual" in nature.

While the raw diet may be perceived as "extreme," Judita Wignall points out that one does not have to commit to eating all food raw in order to increase the consumption of fresh uncooked fruits and vegetables:
You don't need to be a vegetarian or vegan to go raw, nor do you need to be 100 percent raw to reap many of the diet's benefits.  Any amount of raw food is beneficial, but try to aim for a 50 percent raw diet to feel a notable difference.  Think about it this way: If you just add a smoothie to your morning routine and a salad before lunch and dinner, you're already there!  21.
This would appear to be yet another area in which long-suppressed ancient knowledge can be seen to have extremely practical and daily application to our lives.

Chia and ancient wisdom

Some of the most brilliant constellations in the entire night sky now grace the eastern portion of the heavens in the hours after sunset and before midnight.  Even with a dazzling full moon taking place right now, the constellations of Orion and Gemini are clearly visible, and even some of the stars of Taurus such as red Aldebaran and bright Jupiter, in spite of the fact that the moon is currently right next to the Hyades. 

Even with the moon shining at full force, you can follow a nearly direct line from Orion to the Twins of Gemini, using his famous belt as a starting point and proceeding through reddish Betelgeuse in his shoulder (to the left of the belt as he rises in the northern hemisphere) towards the brightest foot of Gemini which is gamma Geminorum or Alhena and then (still moving along the same nearly horizontal line) to the two heads of Gemini, the bright stars Castor and Pollux (clearly visible even with the moon).

As the moon begins to wane over the upcoming nights, and as it also rises later and later each night, the spectacular stars of Orion and Gemini will become even more prominent in the pre-midnight sky.  

As has already been discussed in several previous posts, Gemini and Orion are extremely important in ancient myth, and de Santillana and von Dechend suggest in Hamlet's Mill that the Age of Gemini (in which Gemini and also Orion occupied the pre-dawn horizon at the rise of the March equinox sun).  

As they also mention, and as is explained in greater detail in my book, the equinoctial intersection of the ecliptic with the celestial horizon was encoded in mythology as blazing fire (and sometimes depicted as upright or downturned torches, as in the iconography of Mithraic temples).  Based on this understanding, they argue that the constellation described by Bernardino de Sahagun (1499 - 1590), a Franciscan friar who lived among the Mexica and learned their language and helped preserve their traditions, as the mamalhuaztli (which he notes were also called the "fire sticks") is none other than Gemini, the equinoctial constellation of the Golden Age (321 and footnote on 321, and following).

The Mexica people are often referred to as the Aztecs, although some scholars now assert that this is not necessarily accurate (see this discussion of terminology, and of the historical context of Sahagun's texts preserving the traditions of the peoples of Mexico during the 1500s).  It is fascinating to note that they may have associated Gemini with "fire sticks," particularly in light of the discussion that follows in Hamlet's Mill regarding the association of Gemini with "fire sticks" in the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh.   

How did two cultures so widely separated come up with the same mythological imagery?  Conventional historians will tell us that it was just a "coincidence."  However, I have discussed some very powerful connections to Gilgamesh (also involving Gemini!) among the legends and traditions of the Mesoamerican peoples in previous posts, and we have also seen numerous other pieces of evidence that strongly suggest that the conventional isolationist view is completely incorrect.

The texts preserved by Friar Bernardino de Sahagun also relate the importance of the chia plant as a source of food among the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica.  The diagram above is from the Florentine Codex, and it depicts a mature chia plant.  The portion of the codex which discusses chia can be seen here in this section of Book 11, from a 1965 copy prepared by the US Department of Agriculture.  There we read of chia:
It is hard, juicy, oily.  It is in twos.  It is that which can be broken up, that which fills out.  It is tasty, savory.  It is that of which pinole is made.  It is potable.
Although the pre-Columbian civilizations of Mesoamerica obviously knew of chia many hundreds of years ago, it is only recently being discovered by modern civilizations, primarily among athletes and healthy-food afficionados (so far).  

Chia seeds apparently have a very high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids -- even higher than that found in salmon.  Here is a recent article on the nutritional properties of chia seeds published earlier this year.

Chia sprouts have been famous for some time as the green hair that grows on "chia pets," which first hit stores in the late 1970s and grew into something of a craze in the early 1980s.  Chia sprouts can also be grown for food.  Mark M. Braunstein's outstanding sprouting guide book Sprout Garden discusses chia on page 69, grouped along with cress, flax and psyllium:
These four mucilaginous seed successfully sprout alone only with the clay Saucer Method.  Consult the instructions on pages 41-43 for a definitive discussion.
They will sprout by the otherwise trustworthy Jar Method only if combined in a portion of one part mucilaginous seed to four or five parts alfalfa or clover.  Sprout the alfalfa or clover a day or two alone, add the mucilaginous seeds, and continue sprouting as you would alfalfa.
Interestingly enough, this is somewhat similar to the ancient method described by Sahagun's Mesoamerican sources.  If you are interested in trying it for yourself, you can order chia seeds for sprouting at Sprout House, as well as at many other seed outlets.

This blog makes no dietary recommendations or nutritional claims -- that is up to each reader to decide for himself or herself.  However, going out to view the constellations (particularly Gemini and Orion this time of year) every night is highly recommended, as is considering the ancient wisdom that was apparently disseminated worldwide and preserved in the sacred texts and traditions of the world's far-flung cultures.