Chenobyl Rave: Dancing in the Fields of Wormwood

 Chenobyl Rave: Dancing in the Fields of Wormwood

“The third angel sounded his trumpet and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water – the name of the star was Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter. (Revelations 8:10 -11)

“I am not afraid of God. I’m afraid of man.” (Svetlana Alexievich: Voices From Chernobyl)

“No dose of radiation is safe,exposure is cummulative and adds to an individual’s risk of developing cancer.” (Helen Caldicott M.D., U.S. National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII Report)

‘That thing killed my grandmother and now its a disco!”  (Annonymous observer)

Given that biological researcher Rupert Sheldrake believes that all things in Nature, including places, have fields of collective memory, which he refers to as “morphic resonance”, what are we to make of recent events that have taken place in northern Ukraine at the disastrous Chernobyl nuclear reactor site? From a systemic perspective, and “history of place”, this site chosen for construction of the country’s first nuclear power facility  already had a lengthy history of fiery death and destruction. Prior to the 20th century, this Chernobyl region was inhabited by Ukrainian and Polish peasants as well as a relatively large population of Jews.TheJewish population suffered greatly from fiery pogroms in 1905 and again from 1919-1920. Entire villages were torched, inhabitants beaten, raped, kidnapped and slaughtered . This region also suffered from Stalin’s ruthless collectivization campaign’s mass murders; as well as the horrendous famine that followed. In 1936, Stalin’s frontier clearance mandated a forced migration  of the Polish community to Kazakhstan which many did not survive.The Chernobyl region was also the site of Nazi atrocities in1941 through1943, when it was occupied by the German army, which systematically murdered the entire Jewish population. (Norman Davies, Europe: A History,1996).

When Ukraine was still part of the former USSR,  their first nuclear power plant was named for the nearby town of Chernobyl, which dates onward from the 12th century which was, in turn, named for another kind of plant; Artemesia absinthium, a herbaceous perennial abundant in the region. In folklore it was said to have sprung from the Devil’s path as he left the Garden of Eden. This bitter herb with medicinal properties, used to flavor absinthe, is also known as wormwood. Absinthe is an alcoholic beverage, now banned in many countries, made from wormwood oil mixed with dried herbs also known as the “Green Fairy”; said to possess psycho-active qualities. The active ingredient is thujone, a potentially poisonous chemical found in wormwood, which excites the central nervous system. (Richard Mabey, Weed: The Story of Outlaw Plants, 2010).

The Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Nuclear Power Station, better known as Chernobyl, was constructed as one of the largest in the world, during the 1970s and 1980s, in a peaceful wooded locale, 110 km north of Kiev, and 20km south of the border with Belarus, which runs along the Pripyat river. This rural facility was origially conceived as one part of a vast power-generating complex consisting of 12 blocks. As the world now knows, despite efforts of coverups by the former USSR, on April 25th,1986, at 1:23 AM  a steam explosion, graphite fire and nuclear meltdown event in the Chernobyl nuclear reactor’s unit four, expelled a volcanic release of highly radioactive particles into our planetrary atmosphere with levels of radiation 300 times greater than our bombing of Hiroshima. Given the Soviet regime’s mania for secrecy and need to save face, the reactor core burned for 3 days before it was detected by sensors in Sweden and the secret was out. Reactor blocks five and six remain unfinished. (ASJ, Trauma: Time, Space and Fractals, 2012).

In the weeks following this disaster, trees in the surrounding pine forests turned red, withered and died. This “red forest” had weird deviations, double centers, with pine needles that grew backwards. (Kim Willsheer,, April 24, 2016). Although organizations arose to bulldoze the “red forest”, dead branches could be seen in places rising red and skeletal above new ground. (the, September 2014). Over the course of the following summer, and again in 1992, 2002, 2008, and 2015, an unusually intense series of forest fires in the immediate region served to further spread highly radioactive isotopes throughout our Northern Hemisphere

At the time, much about this catastrophe was new and unexpected since there had not yet been a radiological disaster of this magnitude. Unfortunately, this magnitude has been superceded by Japan’s March 2011, Fukushima Daiichi disaster, also known as “Chernobyl on steroids”; with four damaged nuclear reactors, three in meltdown. While the Chernobyl reactor fire burned for only 10 days, Fukushima’s radioactive emissions  into our atmosphere, and into the Pacific Ocean, remain ongoing with no end in sight. (Yoichi Shimatsu, “The Fukushima Disaster”,, October 12, 2011).

During the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl reactor’s explosion, tens of thousands of citizens of the nearby, entirely new Soviet model town of Pripyat, built for plant workers and their families less than 3 km from the reactor; were abruptly uprooted from their homes on April 27th.  In those days there were neither emails nor telephone options and given less than 3 hours notice, these evacuees were unaware that they would never be able to return to their lives, within what became known as a 50km (31.mile) exclusion zone; which scientists say will remain unsafe for 24,000 years. Many experienced a metallic taste, uncontrollable coughing and vomiting. Today this uninabitable area serves as a kind of post-apocalyptic nature preserve, inhabited by mutated creatures such as giant catfish with flower-like fins and long serpentine tails, a six legged fawn and dysmorphic vegetation. (For the effect of radiation on humans, especially children see: Cory Charlton, “Living With the Fallout of Chernobyl 30 Years Later”,, April 13, 2016).

  • Chernobyl Daisy

Despite a deep sense of deception and betrayal that lingers to this day, Ukranian artist Valery Korshunov felt that this zone of isolation and death was an appropriate setting for his November 2018 Artefact installation which was, in essence, a sound and light dance party; designed to draw attention to an event that citizens remain reluctant to speak about. According to Korshunov, “Almost every Ukranian has acquaintences or relatives…having health issues related to Chernobyl. The consequences for the health of the nation will be felt for many more generations.”  As a result, he reasoned, it would be a positive intervention to fill this alienation-zone with new meanings. Never mind that signs everywhere warn of contamination and visitors are cautioned to remain on authorized paths that have been supposedly “cleaned” and the overall site is punctuated throughout with various “hot spots”. (Tom Seymour, “Grab Your Geiger Counter: a trip to Chernobyl’s first rave”, ukguardian, ,November 28,2018).

This Artefact rave installation was set up in Pripyat’s center square, now a kind of time capsule, a Pompeii-like ghost town, once home to 50,000 residents with tree lined streets, which had schools, hospitals, a theater, a swimming pool and sports halls. Residents were promised a radiant future. At the center, there stood an abandoned  Luna Park fairground of crashed bumper cars, derelict carnival ferris wheel, motionless with steadily encroaching vegetation. A nearby carousel also lit from below, evokes images from some ghoulish zombie-film dystopia and is reportedly a remaining  radioactive “hotspot”. Amidst this field of ongoing tragedy, Korshunov welcomed the crowd as his Artefact launched an electro-infused kinesthetic melding of light, sound and color; and dancers were invited out to revel in the cold. Strobe-lights bounced across the featureless concrete surfaces of grim, crumbling Soviet-style apartment blocks, haunted by domestically disturbing interiors of beds still made and clothes carefully hanging in wardrobes, lending a somatic snapshot of shock, broken continuity, and existential doom. (, November 28,2018).

     Despite the artist’s good intentions, this surreal, dance-macrabre scene, drew a sharp frisson, together with memories of Edgar Allan Poe’s: “The Masque of the Red Death” (1842). In this classic tale, careless, self-absorbed revelers continue to party, frantically oblivious to the fatal, invisible energies of a Red Pestilence devastating the countryside. As you may remember, the lavish entertainment of music, vibrant colors  and their extravagant host, cannot protect them from the inevitable, uninvited guest. Perhaps my Red Death vision is too dark and this Chernobyl spectacle merely represents a recent iteration of medieval dancing manias, where thousands would gather to relieve the stress and poverty of their daily lives.

Whatever my feelings about the Chernobyl multi-media rave, given that I can hardly think of that place without dread, it is a fact that netherworld disasters have long attracted people who gravitate toward the dangerous and unusual or what might be termed, a morbid and voyeuristic pull towards death; especially popular with artists and photographers. Cynics have now claimed that Pripyipat has morphed into a kind of radioactive nightmare, disaster-porn Disneyland for photo-ops. And yet, this so called “Dark Tourism” may also be understood as a basically human curious need to see something extraordinary, a thirst for information or a craving for some sense of authenticity, deeper and even beyond the inevitable media spin. (

While some may argue that allowing such disaster tourism opens a way for the  clueless and disconnected to prance about with their selfies; in a more practical sense, Chernobyl tourism is a great economic benefit to the deeply troubled land of Ukraine.

Well into my seventh decade now, I doubt that I will visit Ukraine. Still, my visits to Russia, working with war trauma colleagues there during  the fall of the former USSR and the following decade, in the aftermath of Chernobyl; provided an invaluble   opportunity to gain some understanding of the past, present and ongoing collective trauma, for which I will always remain grateful. (ASJ, Relative Balance in an Unstable  World, 2006)

Chernobyl Angel


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“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” (Sinclair Lewis, 1935)

“Fascism is a worldwide disease. Fascism’s greatest threat to the United States will come after the war and will manifest within the United States itself.” (Vice President Henry Wallace, 1944)

“…all science fiction occurs in alternate futures and universes,so it can actually happen someday”. (Philip K. Dick)


The “Man in the High Castle”, now Amazon’s most streamed alternative history TV series, has been adapted from the novel of the same name written by Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) set in 1962, the year that it was written. The author, who lived most of his life in Califronia, wrote at least 45 novels and 121 short stories and to date eleven of his works have been adapted for film, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. Dick’s theme of what happens to a free people when confronted by tyranny continues throughout Man in the High Castle, as well as a concern with what makes us human and the dangers of centralized power. For many of us, concerned with the current rise of trans-national corporate and billionaire-funded fascist ideology, following this dystopian series has been an unnerving experience.

The dark tone of the story-line unfolds with an air of quiet desperation; 85 years after America and the Allies lost World War II. Division of occupied America between competing superpowers is proving to be an unstable arrangement with German Nazis controlling the Eastern states, the Japanese ruling the Western Pacific states, with a buffer zone of neutrality running along the Rocky Mountain regions. We soon learn of mysterious illegal film reels that depict alternate realities, one of which shows what actually happened and exactly how the Allies won the war. As agents of the Resistance attempt to smuggle these films to other operatives and potential sympathsizers, while avoiding their totalitarian controllers, it also becomes clear that some of the characters are also “travelers” who can move between timelines. With a normalization of tyranny, moral ambiguity abounds, and it becomes terrifyingly clear how good people can do bad things in “good conscience” through blind loyal nationalism and partisan loyalties.

While it may seem to some that any comparison of our current administration with Germany’s Third Reich is unwarranted, others see the “handwriting on the wall” or more graphically, Nazi swaztikas now metastasizing as popular tatoos; on flags at right wing white supremacist rallies as well as our corrupt mainstream media howling along with the wolves in power. Deportations, detention camps and voter suppression is on the rise. Citizens are encouraged to report suspicious “others” to the authorities. To be clear, according to the American Heritage Dictionary: “Fascism is a system of government that exercises dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through a merging of state and business leadership with belligerent nationalism”. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fascism as “a political philosophy or regime that exhalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized, autocractic government headed by a dictatorial leader and forcible
suppression of opposition “.

Just recently a timely “1933:Path to Dictatorship” exhibition opened in Berlin along with a reminder that Hitler promised “to make Germany great again”. Consider, if you will, that the by now familiar seeds of nascent totalitariasm and cult of personality were already evident as soon as this now iconic leader was elected to power: denigration and condemnation of opposition parties, disintegration and corruption of the courts, attacks on organized labor, dismissal of public servants not loyal to the leader, written smears and violence against the press, murder of journalists, as well as of any and all opponents. Soon after the party’s massive and theatrical rallies, there appeared their infamous detention and deportation facilities, initially thought to be only a few labor camps for dissidents and others deemed unsuitable due to their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. A heinous variety of massive and genocidal creulties and torture were seen as a necessary means to an end, which in the long run did not end well. (Michael Winship, “Doubt It Can Happen Here? Tell It To Berlin”,, 10/17, 2018)

While many high level and other Nazis died, escaped or were brought to trial in Nuremburg, others found a warm welcome in here in America. During the chaos following World War II and the collapse of the Third Reich, our American military was in urgent competition with the Soviets for capture of the best of Germany’s scientific minds. Under the code-name “Operation Paperclip“, it was decided that Nazi crimes against humanity should be overlooked in view of their potential value to our military and space-exploration program. As a result, we acquired hundreds of experts in aerodynmics, chemistry, medicine, and rocketry, the most famous being Dr.Werner von Braun who designed a Saturn V rocket that carried our astronauts to the Moon. (Annie Jacobsen, Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists To America, 2014).

Our Paperclip Nazis settled in well here, and history is clear that the pernicious white supremacist and fascist mind set is not foreign to American culture; given the genocidal polices against our Native American residents, and slave-driven culture and Confederate values of our Old South. Nowadays it is increasingly common to see rebel Confederate flags together with Nazi symbols at most of the massive Trump “Make America Great Again” rallies. White supremacist KuKlux Klan members embolded by an increasing tolerance of hate speech have been showing up in disturbingly increasing numbers.

Yale Professor Jason Stanley, author of ” How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, 2018), thinks we should be very worried given our long history of racial divisiveness which has expanded to include immigrant groups as well as dividing citizens into the “enemy” versus the leader’s supporters. (Cody Ferwick,,10/22/2108). In light of recent events, it seems clear that our question is no longer whether or not fascism can happen here but what can we do now to ensure that these life-negative elements, already present, do not take root.

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Time Capsule

Time Capsule

Gobekli Tepe changes eveything.” (Ian Hodder, Stanford Universty Archeologist)

Before we knew how to farm, before we lived in a village, before we even knew how to make pots, we built a star temple on a hill.” (Klaus Schmidt)

The desire to build a temple begins with faith. The oldest known man made structure for prehistoric worship was discovered in 1994 by German archeologist, Professor Klaus Schmidt and portions of the excavation are now open to the public. In 1963, Gobekli Tepe or Pot Belly Hill was initially dismissed as a relatively recent medieval cemetery, but Professor Schmidt had a hunch that this soft round mound, 300 meters in diameter, was an artificial, man-made hill on top of a huge limestone ridge, and would be worth excavating. The result was likely the most important discovery of all time, of a gigantic megalithic complex. In “The Birth of Religion”, Charles C. Mann said that “Gobekli Tepe was like finding that someone had built a 747 in a basement with an X-Acto knife”. (National Geographic Magazine, June 2011). Built 6000 or more years earlier and fifty times larger than Stonehenge and even older than the pyramids at Giza, this astounding find is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Gobekli Tepe is located in the southeastern Anatolian region of Turkey, within the upper arc of the Fertile Crescent. There are forested mountains to the north, and the biblical plain of Harran to the east, extending on toward the historically rich lands of Mesopotamia. Gobekli Tepe is only 12 km from Urfa, now Sanlurfa, the legendary birthplace of the biblical patriarch Abraham; and also believed to be the site of the sufferings of Job. On a clear day you can see Syria from the summit, which also makes this a dangerous place to visit. (

Initial excavations by Professor Schmidt and others from the German Archeological Institute, revealed open air, semi-subterranean circular enclosures, with an astronomical north/south alignment, thick interior walls with twelve T shaped, finely polished pillars evenly set into a substance similar to concrete; giving the appearance of a stone circle .The number twelve, along with snake, bull, and scorpion imagery, may or may not have zodiacal associations.This is expectedly controversial and more research is clearly indicated. Many of these giant pillars, quarried from nearby crystalline limestone and believed to be somewhat humanoid, are gracefully carved in low and vivid three dimensional high-relief, with wild animals, insects and abstract symbols. Some pillars have highly stylized long thin arms, crooked at the elbow, finely carved human hands with long fingers which come together on the abdominal area, a distinctive belt and animal pelt loin cloth. In the center of this circle, two of the largest pillars about 20 feet high and weighing 20 to 30 tons each, stand facing one another. (Klaus Schmidt, TEDx, Prague, July 8, 2014)

With ground penetrating radar geological surveys, it now appears that the entire site may be as large as 30 hectares, with 18 circles still buried, and only five percent having been uncovered. For enigmatic reasons, these massive circular enclosures were deliberately buried in 8000 BC, effectively creating a time capsule into life 12,000 years ago; a time of the late Upper Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) hunters and gatherers; undisturbed by later cultures. Until the discovery of this entombed complex, it was believed that these early groups did not possess the skill or social organization to be able to construct anything like a star temple aligned with several constellations in the sky. (Andrew Collins, Gobekli Tepe: Genesis of the Gods, 2014)

Professor Schmidt and others hypothesize that Gobekli Tepe was built by hunters who met to build a complex religious community and that the site was a kind of “Pre-historic Rome”,

where people came from near and as far as 160 km in order to worship. While many stone and flint tools have been found, there is neither a local water source nor evidence of domestic animals, pottery or ongoing habitation. At this point, it seems likley that this site was a hunter’s sanctuary and spiritual center, given the large number of wild animal bones buried nearby. The T shaped pillars hum when struck with an open palm and one could imagine an amphitheatrical effect of chanting and dancing under the starry firmament, with firelight casting shadows of animal totems and perhaps an aroma of roasting game. A preponderance of vulture imagery suggests that this site may also have had an excarnationary function, a post-mortem practice across Central Asia which survives today in Tibet’s sky burials. In such earlier cultures it was believed that these high flying carrion birds transport the flesh of the dead up to the heavens. Gordon White, Star Ships: A Pre-History of the Spirits, 2016)

While the temple was apparently built by Stone Age hunters and gatherers, Graham Hancock, author of Magicians of the Gods, (2017), has suggested that there might have been a techological transfer offered by survivors of a more advanced culture fleeing a global cataclysm. He bases this speculation on the fact that Gobekli Tepe arose at exactly the same time that Plato placed the destruction of Atlantis. While this does seem plausible, and if this is true, I am puzzled by a lack of any evidence of writing. Then again, since only five percent of these vast temple complexes have been uncovered, there may well be many more surprises in store.

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Richat Anomaly: Atlantis?

Richat Anomaly: Atlantis?

“Through every rift of discovery some seeming anomaly drops out of the darkness, as a golden link into the great chain of order”. (Edwin Hubbel Chapin)

“The past is not yet settled”. (Graham Hancock)

For thousands of years now, the mystery of the legendary lost city of Atlantis has captured imaginations and inspired many world-wide searches for sunken remants of a once great civilization. Skeptics would do well to remember that the search for Homer’s fabled city of Troy was actually found by 19th century archeologists in northwestern Anatolia, in modern- day Turkey, at a site known as Hisarlik.

It seems logical that the search for a highly sophisticated society that chartered the globe from their capital city on the Island of Atlantis, would be found underwater. Until recently, no one thought to look for traces of Atlantis in the desert. This began to change after 1965 when astronauts flying over West Africa’s Sahara Desert in their Gemini IV mission, photgraphed a mysterious circular geologic anomaly in a remote, rarely visited area of west central Mauritania.

Viewed from from space, this Richat Structure appears as a circular feature with a blue tinged bullseye formation also known as the “Blue Eye of Africa” or “Giant Eye of the Sahara”, within an otherwise featureless expanse of desert. Intially thought to be the site of an asteroid impact, it is now considered by some to be a severely eroded, collapsed salt dome, formed by an ancient volcanic eruption. More interesting, to me at least, is that researchers seeking evidence of the fabled Atlantis have found a remarkable similarity between the Richat analomy and Plato’s description of the lost city.

For some, the story of Atlantis and its cataclysmic fate comes to us from the Greek philosopher Plato (b.428 BC), as a mere allegory and cautionary tale of political corruption. Atlantis had ceased to wear its prosperity with moderation and undertook a failed pursuit of wealth and power as a cruel and avaricious culture obsessed by a desire to conquer and consume. Nevertheless, Plato repeatedly stated that this was a true story and therefore others remain convinced that this highly advanced, global civilization actually existed and that its location will eventually be found. In two of his Socratic dialogues, Critias and Timmaeus, Plato writes the story of Atlantis as recounted by his ancestor Solon (c.638-558 BC), an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet, thought to have laid the foundations for Athenian democracy. In his later years, Solon journeyed to Egypt in 600 BC to find out more about the history of civilization and culture. In those times, the Nile kingdoms had the largest historical documents available. According to those records and the priests at the Temple of Sais, located in the Delta, Egypt had once been a colony of the seafaring Atlantean civilization. Material from these hieroglyphic records, written on the temple walls, was published six generations later by his descendant. (A. Andrews, Greek Society,1967, p.197)

According to Plato, the Atlantean Empire was comprised of 10 kingdoms and its Island capital city, and was arranged in concentric, alternating rings of land and water; two of land and three of water, encircling one another; and a channel opening toward the south that led toward the sea. The size and dimensions of this description are remarkablely similar to the Richat formation. The diameter of the city’s outer ring measured 127 stadia, in today’s terms 23.49 km and the diameter of the outer circle of the Richat formation measures 23.50 km. There was said to be a spring of fresh water in the city’s center and a spring has also been located at the center of the Richat rings. The anomaly is also located southwest of the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar) mentioned in Plato’s description, below the Atlas mountain range in a vast central oblong shaped plane to the south.

While the Ricart formation is inland, it is also possible, even likely, that this portion of the Sahara might have laid under the ocean, since much of this desert is comprised of sand from the Atlantic. Plato also wrote that, “in a single day and night of misfortune, Atlantis disappeared into the depths of the sea”. After the catastophe, Atlantis was no longer accessible by ship.

When sunk by a cataclysm, there also came an impossible barrier of mud; suggesting that the city became landlocked. (visiting

In reference to this catastrophe, in Timaeus, Plato reports that an Egyptian priest from whom he had received the story, spoke of a celestial cataclysm. This priest continued to offer that there have been, and will be, many calamities which can destroy mankind; the greatest of them by fire and water, as there is at long intervals, variations in heavenly bodies, with consequent widespread destruction, which some have suggested may refer to a comet or asteroid impact. Plato’s texts place the destruction of Atlantis in 11,600 B.C.which coincides with the Younger Dryas theory that suggests that fragments from a giant comet is said to have hit the Earth around that time, which caused an Ice Age and other climatic upheavals, resulting in earthquakes, wildfires, tsunamis of epic proportions. In regard to that date, it is also interesting to note that a huge collection of artifacts have been found in and around the Richat structure dating to about 12,000 B.C.; along with remains of elephants which Plato said were numerous in Atlantis. (Graham Hancock, Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilizations).

As a historian, it does not seem all that farfetched to speculate that Atlantis was as real as Homer’s city of Troy, nor does it make sense to assume that we have a total and complete knowledge of every human civilization that has existed on our planet; or that such information is no longer relevant to our current situation. Even if Atlantis is nothing more than a cautionary tale of moral decay and political corruption, Plato’s description of that antediluvian empire could well apply to 21st century America. As new discoveries continue to appear, such as the re-dating of the Great Sphinx of Giza, the uncovering of Gobekli Tepe, which dates circa 10,000-14000 BC and even earlier, some 7,000 or more years earlier than Stonehenge; the “past” keeps changing here in the present and will continue to do so well into our future.

With these oncoming revelations, as psychonaut Terence McKenna foresaw, “history then becomes a white knuckle ride”.


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“We are not anti-religion. We are anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion. If there is a God and He is intelligent, would guess that He has a sense of humor. ” (Bobby Henderson, Founder of the Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster)

“Science is uncertain. Theories are subject to revision; observations are open to a variety of interpetations and scientists quarrel amongst themselves…. There is something comforting about a view that allows for no deviation and that spares you the painful neccessity to think. (Isaac Asimov)

History repeats itself, the first as tragedy, the second as farce.” (Karl Marx)


In case you haven’t heard, Pastafarianism is a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religious dogma and opposes the teaching of Christian Creationism and Intelligent Design in public schools. Their Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in 2005 by 24 year old Bobby Henderson, unemployed physics graduate from the University of Oregon, and self-described hobo and hammock enthusiast. Henderson claims that the FSM was revealed to him in a divine vision induced by lack of sleep and mounting disgust over the ongoing Intelligent Design versus evolution debates going on in public education. Intelligent Design is the latest offspring of Creationist terminology for their Bible-based belief, popular with the religious right, in an effort to use a term with more scientific sounding gloss; to conceal their fundamentalist agenda. In flawless deadpan, Henderson wrote an open letter to a Kansas School Board, demanding that his belief that the Universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, after a night of heavy drinking, be given equal time along with Intelligent Design and evolution.

Henderson reasoned that if the School Board was willing to allow one faith-based theory, why not two? As his, now famous, letter continued,” I think we can all look forward to a time when these theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country and eventually the world. One third for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism and one third time for logical conjecture based upon overwhelming observable evidence”. He then threatened legal action to support his demands. This open letter, also posted on the internet, soon went viral and offers of free legal counsel quickly followed.

Before long, Henderson discovered that he had in fact created a monster; as his web site receives as many as two million hits a day. Anyone logging on to can see his carb-heavy deity clearly portrayed as an airborne tangle of spaghetti with eye stalks on top and giant meatball orbs on either side. However, this deity is said to also be invisible and impossible to detect, thus making it also impossible to disprove its existence. Pastafarianism is now believed by some to be one the fastest growing world religions . While the exact number of followers is unknown, they may well number in the millions. As folunding prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Henderson is delighted, as he says that he had always wanted a cult. (telegraph, u.k., September 11, 2005)

The serious message underlying the bizarre mythology of the FSM is the latest iteration of an ongoing unresolved fractal along the theme of fundamentalist Christian doctrine versus evolutionary theory concerning the orgin of our human species and a shared primate ancestry. This controversey also includes serious differences as to the meaning of separation of church and state. This conflict came to a spectacular head during the July 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial”,  in the small town of Dayton, Tennessee; a test case sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union. John T. Scopes, a high-school biology teacher, was on trial for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited teaching of any account of divine creation, other than the Bible, in state funded schools. As a result, Darwin’s theory of evolution was also on trial.

Two of our nations most famous lawyers faced off, in this now legendary coutroom battle; famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow for science, and three time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan as prosecutor for the creationists. The case was broadcast on radio transmissions throughout the United States, while trained chipanzees performed on the courthouse lawn. Scopes was found guilty and then the verdict was overturned on a technicality. The Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton is now a National Historical Landmark. (Edward J. Larson, Summer of The Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion, 2004)

In 1960, a fictionalized version of the Scopes trial appeared in Stanley Kramer’s film, Inherit the Wind about a coutroom battle between those who believe that the Bible is literally true and those who believe, as Spencer Tracy’s character states “, an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral”. This film was adapted from a 1955 play by the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence, as a searing indictment of anti-intellectual, religious fundamentalism. Lawrnce said,” It‘s not about science and religion it‘s about our right to think”. (“Inherit the Controversey “, The Capitol Journal, 2001-03-02).

Efforts to promote faith-based Intelligent Design creationist theories in public schools and ban evolutionary science, is again in the news with the ascension of Uber-Conservative, Fundamentalist-Christian, Betsy deVos; as President Trump’s pay-to- play appointee to serve as our Secretary of Education. Her stated agenda is simply to use public schools to “build God’s Kingdom”. History will likely show that this development is likely to further benefit the spread of Pastfarianism. However, the movement has not been without challenges as schisms have developed, including a rival faction based on SPAM (Spaghetti Pulsar Activating Meatballs). Bickering continues as to whether their Monster is made of spaghetti or linguini and whether or not he might be purple. Henderson could not be reached for comment other than a statement issued that “these people give me a headache”. As it is with most mysterious prophets, he has little contact with the outside world given that he has only a single telephone line to his home in a small town in Oregon.

In a recently published gospel from the Old Pastament, Loose-Cannon Section, we find the following among the Monster’s dictates:

“I’d rather you didn’t use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate and/or, you know, be mean to others.

In view of my Cornish ancestry, I am sympathetic to Monsterism’s premise that all humans are descended from pirates; yet the collander-inspired headgear doesn’t appeal, and my gluten free regime would likely disqualify me from most ritual festivites. Nevertheless, I wish them well and have sent an admittedly small donation to Prophet Henderson toward that yacht he has always wanted. (For further reading see: Henderson, Bobby, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, 2006).

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Goodbye Columbus

Goodbye Columbus

“The current state of knowledge is a moment in history, changing just as rapidly as the state of knowledge in the past has changed and in many instances, more rapidly.” (Jean Piaget)

” What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about one’s heroic ancestors”. (James Baldwin)

“We are not maker’s of history. We are made by history.”
(Martin Luther King Jr.)

Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America, since the continent was already there and thriving with culture. At the time of his arrival, humans had been living there for at least 20,000 years and our Northern and Southern continents were populated by hundreds of small nations and regional empires. Nevertheless, Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October as a national holiday, with events and parades; and this patriotic lie is still enshrined in public school textbooks. My generation of elementary school pupils dutifully parroted the poem which began ” In nineteen hundred and forty two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue… and this nonsense apparently still conveyed to children today, is nothing more than propaganda. As James W. Loewen points out in Lies My Teacher’s Told Me: Everthing Your American History Books Got Wrong (2007), American History books ” are marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, sheer misinformation and outright lies. These books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict and drama from our past. ”

Never mind that Columbus’s expedition never set foot on the North Amercian landmass. They arrived at an island he named San Salvatore, somewhere in the Bahamas, that he thought was India, and didn’t hesitate taking the land, wealth and labor from the indigenous peoples. This led to the near extermination of local inhabitants while Columbus also initiated the reign of terror that became the transatlantic slave trade. Even more gruesome factors are readily available in primary source material provided by letters of his and other members of his crew. ( )

While some enlightened communities prefer to celebrate our October holiday as Indigenous Peoples Day, the myth of benevolent discovery persists. Nevertheless, the truth is even more interesting. Harvard scholar Garikai Chengu, in challenging a Eurocentric view of history, maintains African Amercian history did not begin with slavery in the New World. He suggests that a growing body of evidence indicates that Africans had frequently sailed across the Atlantic to the Americas, thousand of years before Colombus and the Christian era. In his view, the strongest evidence for Africans in Ameirca comes from Columbus himself who wrote about “black skinned people who had come from the Southeast in boats, trading in gold tipped spears”. (, August 10,2018) African explorers could well have crossed the Atlantic in ancient boats, especially given the likelyhood that landmasses between the continents existed in previous times which are now under water.

During the ninteen-forties, archeologists discovered a civilization now known as the Olmecs of c.1500-400 BC, which predates any other advanced civilization in the Americas. There is reason to believe that this Olmec civilization, the Mother Culture of Mexico and Mesoamercia, was of African origin, and other races were involved, as well. The rise of the Olmec empire, whose heartland was located in the tropical lowlands of South Central Mexico, also coincided with the period that Black Egyptian culture ascended in Africa. Despite the ethnocentric academics eager to dismiss the African-Atlantic hypothesis, in The Ra Expeditions (1971) Thor Heydahl proved that Egyptian reed boats could make the passage along favorable currents from Africa to the Americas.

The idea that the Olmecs were related to African civilization was first suggested by Jose’ Melgar in 1862 and later developed by Guyanese born Rutgers University Professor, Ivan van Sertima (1935-2009), in They Came Before Columbus (1997), which was subject to much derision by eurocentric academics. Nevertheless, many of the Olmec colossal heads, first discovered in 1858, (which date from c. 814 BC, can be up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 4 tons), display clearly defined Negroid features, as well as intricate African-style braids. These still mysterious, beautifully carved heads, who may have been warriors, priests, sports heros or rulers, all wear helmets possibly fashioned of leather or even gold. As the earliest known major civilization in their region, the Olmecs were the first pyramid builders and acomplished stone carvers who had a written language; as well as being accomplished farmers, astronomers and mathematicians.

While the exact origin of what is now known as the Mayan calendar is controversial, it is believed by many that thier system of time keeping originated with the Olmecs.This complex calendar is non-linear and measures varying lengths of time in three interlocking wheels of various sizes; the Tolkin sacred calendar of 260 days, the Haab solar calendar of 365 days and the Long Count of a much greater cycle. It also seems likely that this Long Count and the concept of zero may have been a major Olmec contribution to Mesoamerican civilization. Unfortunately, the Mayan calendar is often confused with the circular Aztec Sun Stone which is a sacrificial altar and not a calendar.

Additional evidence of an African presence in the Americas prior to Columbus, may rest with the discovery and dating of a skull nicknamed Luzia, discovered in1975. Her remains, which date from the Upper Paleolithic era are from a strata radiocarbon-dated to be 11,500 years old. Luzia was found in a cave likely occupied by a group of hunter/ gatherers who roamed the savannah of South Central Brazil; and who may have migrated from Africa. Various anthropologists have described her features as Negroid and forensic facial-reconstruction expert Richard Neave agrees that she is likely of African orgin.

This and other ongoing discoveries necessitate a serious reassessment of long established theories as to the settlment of the Americas. (Larry Rohter, “An Ancient Skull Challenges Long Held Theories”, NY Times, October 26, 1999).

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Arendt’s Paradox: The Right To Have Rights

Arendt’s Paradox: The Right To Have Rights

“Human rights are not worthy of the name if they do not protect the people we don’t like as well as the people we do.” (Trevor Phillips)

The greatest threat to our way of life is not migration. It is that we will swallow the lie that some human lives matter less than others.” (Laurie Penny)

As outrage over family separations along our southern border continues to mount, well- meaning citizens protest that, “this is not American”, and “this not who we are “. Unfortunately, history and the facts suggest otherwise. In truth, this is exactly who we are and have been; and family separations have been long carried out under American law. Denial of our historical and ongoing situation risks an abdication of our power to effectively respond to our world, exactly as it is, in order to see what we can and want to do. In reality, our current crisis along this border is yet another iteration of a very long, still replicating fractal of legal injustice. On this continent, one could speculate that such legal injustices date at least as far back as 1492 which gave rise to theft of a continent, genocide as well as a violation of bodies,souls and indentities which led to further destruction, conflict and enslavement. One could also speculate that our American history of separating and dehumanizing families has deep roots within the trans-Atlantic slave trade .

Prior to abolition, children of Black slaves could be sold at legal slave markets and also by owners at will. Under the laws of those times, Black men and women could not protect the integrity of their families.Those who ran away, alone or with family members, faced harsh punishment and even death, if captured by slave hunters. Then, as now, Bible passages were invoked to justify such polices: Romans 13, for example, which urges believers to “obey the laws of government because God ordained them for the purpose of order”. In her Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (2005), Joy Degrury describes the impact of these draconian policies on Black familes and their relationships today. Recent developments in epigenetic research have confirmed that unresolved trauma can be transmitted down through many generations. My clinical experience with nearly 50 years of work with individual, family and collective trauma confirms the validity of this research and her clinical experience.

Our history of separating and dehumanizing families also continued on with mandatory government and church affililiated boarding schools for Native American children. Following the 1890 South Dakota massacre at Wounded Knee, which concluded many chapters of America’s Indian wars; authorities forced Native American families to send their children away to government and church affiliated boarding schools. Those who declined were kidnapped for purposes of painful and humiliating “white washing” indocrination and assimiliation away from forbidden language, traditional dress, and tribal customs. Records clearly show the degree to which these children were subjected to neglect, psychological abuse and severe corporal punishment. I know this to be true since some Native American survivors of this cruel system were patients of mine in a Family Practice Clinic in Colorado. It was not until 1978 that Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Law granting tribal authorities a strong voice in child custody cases and that attendance at these boarding schools was no longer mandatory. (Dee Brown, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, 1972)

During the Great Depression, an anti-Mexican hysteria resulted in authorities in California and Texas legally deporting Mexicans and Mexican Americans who were wrongly blamed for the country’s economic downturn. Familes were separated and many children never saw their parents again. (Russell Contreras, Chicago Tribune, July 8, 2018).

Official government policy also mandated the arrest of some 120,000 Japanese-Americans as an “enemy race”, who were ordered to evacuate, leave their places of employment, dispossessed of their properties, and confined within a series of internment camps around the country. At least 30,000 of these prisoners were children. Moreover, a case could be made that such coercive practices persist within our present- day detention centers for marginalized youths who are then targeted for school to prison for profit pipelines.

Our current Trump administration’s fiasco of “Zero Tolerance” immigration policies have fostered an ugly climate of anti-immigrant rhetoric by maintaining that there is an “us” who must be protected from “them”. These refugees who come to us out of fear for their lives, for asylum, security and opportunity, have been demonized by our President’s toxic, imflammatory rhetoric; demeaning them as “animals, “criminal aliens, pouring in to “infest and overun”, in order to defend his policies against the most vulnerable. Even more surreal is this administration’s invocation of Biblical verses about “God”s Law”, slave owner’s Romans’s 13 again, to justify tearing children from their parents, and putting them in steel and chain link cages. Some of these children who are as young as one year, are legally required to appear before immigration judges and without legal representation. Children have been forcibly separated from their familes with separate case numbers with no plan for keeping track of where either parents or children might wind up. The mind boggles in the face of such perfectly legal, senseless cruelty and, never mind that immigrant detention is a profitable corporate industry which has grown into a billion dollar enterprise. (Manny Fernandez and Katie Benner, NY, June 21, 2018.)

Adding to this collective trauma we have our militarized ICE raids, using Gestapo style tactics. These high profile operations are designed to humiliate, and terrorize communites where everyone is a suspect; if they dare to speak a language other than English in public, especially Spanish. Much of our Southwestern territories including parts of California, Arizona, Colorado, UItah, Wyoming and New Mexico used to be Mexico before our Mexican American War. (1846-1848 ) Many Mexicans have been here longer than many Americans and as a result many of these regions have been and still are bilingual and very fond of Mexican cuisine as evidenced by our ubitiquious Taco Bell concessions.

The plight of millions of refugees existing in legal limbo is nothing new. In seeking a wider perspective upon our current border crisis I turn to the writings of Hannah Arendt , German born American political philosopher (1906-1975) who, in fleeing Nazi persecution and therefore stateless, was one of the very few lucky ones who managed to successfully immigrate to the United States in 1941. In 1943, she wrote, “We Refugees”, an essay expressing her outrage at the existential crisis such people faced and again in “Origins of Totalitarianism”, she continued to pursue the subject of refugee rights.

Without legally enforcable rights, Arendt maintained, refugees can be treated as less than human. Even if they were sheltered, fed and clothed by some public or private agency, this was a result of charity, not rights. While the USA and many other nations recognized the rights of the persecuted to seek asylum in another country, these same nations assert their right for sovereign control over nationationality, immigration and deportation . Arendt identified this conflict as a paradox central to the belief that human rights are inaliable. However, without legal residence, refugees lack those basic rights, intrinsic to being regarded as human. In theory, human rights were supposedly independent of gender, race, religion, citizenship or nationality. Yet, in regard to the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, the stateless still remain in need to have rights. As a result of this painful and still ongoing paradox , Hannah Arendt wrote:

“The right to have rights, or the right of every individual to belong to humanity, should be guaranteed by humanity itself. It is by no means certain whether this is possible because of the present sphere of internationsl law… which still operates in terms of reciprocal agreements of treaties between sovereign states. As a result, individual nations retain the power to deny segments of humanity, and their “right to have rights” by asserting national sovereignity.”

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Photo by Karl-Heinz Rauscher

“I live in a crazy time”. (Anne Frank 1929-1945)

“Have you ever heard the expression: Walk a mile in my shoes, and then you judge me?” (Ann Rule)

In June of this year I was invited to the Netherlands, together with my German colleague Dr. Karl-Heinz Rauscher, to offer a workshop on the topic of Men, Women, War and Peace. Our event took place in the city of Nijmegen, located in the southeasten region of the country,along the Waal river, a few kilometers from the German border.Originally established as a Roman military camp,Nijmegen is the oldest city in the Netherlands and was the first Dutch municipality to come under German control during World War II. Given its antiquity, Nijmegen has a long and very rich history, however, given the nature of our topic, particpants were primarily concerned with unresolved traumatic events that occurred during the Nazi times which continue to reverberate into individual and family lives today.

In 1939 there were 140,000 Dutch Jews living in the Netherlands including some 25,000 who had fled Germany and Austria during the 1930s rise of the Third Reich and Nazi racial hygiene laws which included Jews among those deemed “unworthy of life”. With the German invasion in May 1940, the Netherlands was already the most densely populated country in Europe, without much open space or woodlands for people to hide. As a result, many who survived the Holocaust were hidden by other people. As is the case with countries under hostile occupation, citizens often respond by choosing to collaborate with the oppressers or become involved with the resistance. In many cases members of the same family made radically different choices.

During the Nazi occupation, the greater part of the Dutch administrative infra-structure and municipal police, together with Dutch railway staff, rounded up Jewish deportees. These unfortunates were then transported to a transit camp such as Westerbork, a forbidding wasteland in northeast Holland, and then sent by rail to Polish death camps such as Auschwitz and Sobibor, where very few survived. During this time, the Dutch underground managed, at risk of torture and death, to hide an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Jews. In later times, the Dutch received a significant number of awards from Yad Vashem for saving Jewish lives. (

After the war ended in 1945, Jews who emerged from hiding or returned from concentration camps were faced with a disorganized society unprepared to re-integrate or offer compensation. Legal battles ensued as Holocuast victims struggled to regain possessions, life insurance and bank accounts. ( Michael Palomino, Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol.12, 2008).

Many citizens of that generation, perpetrators, victims and bystanders, chose to cope with their overwhelming collective trauma through denial, silence, secrets, and cover ups.

Given our topic involving war and peace, it was not surprising that the unresolved traumas of the Nazi-era presented through the issues of our workshop particpants. In sessions involving victims who were deported to almost certain death, their representatives in systemic constellation work, showed a curious fascination with shoes. Moreover, those who were representing their perpetrators, said they could only see the shoes of the victims. At the time, we were quite puzzled with their focus on shoes .

Later in the evening following this workshop, Karl-Heinz and I went out walking in the city and were amazed to find streets decorated with rows and rows of overhead wires hung with thousands of shoes; all manner of shoes; sandals, boots, wooden clogs, slippers, high heels, baby shoes and so on. Given the content of that day’s sessions, we began to speculate as to the possible relationship between these thousands of shoes and the deportations during the occupation. My mind flashed back to those tragic photographs of huge mounds of shoes still on display in Auschwitz, which had belonged to the murdered deportees. Karl-Heinz had the thought that through this outdoor art installation, perhaps the city was, unconscoiusly, bringing to light the fate of their deportees.

We soon learned that the stated purpose of the outdoor installation was to celebrate Nijmegen’s famed Four Mile March, held on the third Tuesday of each July, a tradition since 1909 to promote health and fitness. While initially envisioned as a way for Dutch youth to become fit for military service this tradition grew to include civilians and then women in 1913, and now people come from all over to participate in this city-wide walking festival. ( For most observers, rows of overhead shoes strung above those old streets are merely festival decoration, while given our work with collective trauma its not surprising, that Karl-Heinz and I were drawn to speculate about all those shoes in relation to unresolved issues of deportation and mass murder.

While it seems that much is still unresolved from the years of Nazi occupation, there is nevertheless a small memorial at the Kitty de Wijze Plaza. Just a few steps from the cathedral dedicated to St. Stephen, there is a statue (by Paulus de Swaarf,1938-2008) of Kitty de Wijze, who together with her family, was deported and murdered along with 400 other Jews from Nijmegen whose names appear on a bronze plaque on a nearby wall.

With mass migrations and deportations still ongoing, it is clear that humanity still has much to learn as to the consequences of such crimes against humanity. In the Netherlands, one brave young girl tried to warn us in her Diary of Anne Frank, published after her death in Bergen Belsen. Anne died of typhus together with her sister Margot and their mother was starved to death in Auschwitz. Only Anne’s father Otto Frank survived the Holocaust and subsequently published the diary she kept during the time their family was in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam.

While the Diary of Anne Frank is much loved by many American readers, we would do well to also be aware that the Frank family applied for visas to the USA as refugees and were denied entrance due to strict immigration policies designed to “protect National Security” and “influx of foreigners” during wartime. (Elahe Izadi, washingtonpost, November 24, 2015).

Such reasoning is with us again under the Trump admistrations’s policies of mass deportations of “illegal aliens” and refusal to offer asylum to refugees, especially Muslims and many Latin Americans gathered along our southern border.  As we have seen in the Netherlands and many other countries, the consequences of indifference and crimes against humanity will continue to reverberate through many generations, as these collective traumas will manifest in individuals, families and many other forms of relationship.

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Once you have seen the larger pattern,you can longer see a part as the whole ” . (Ursula LeGuin)

Shooting sprees are as American as apple pie, convenience stores and mass incarcerations . And yet, the April 20th,1999, Columbine High School massacre in Littleton Colorado, launched a sustained media blitzkreig; which continues to ricochet in and around our American culture. The shock of this now iconic event, sank deep into our national psyche and remains troubling to this day; as that cruel madness continues to serve as twisted inspiration for other similar events. While the Columbine massacre was not the first event of this kind in the USA, it became iconic due to a massive media hype and political involvement at the highest level of both government and military.

April 20th was a cold Spring morning, a Tuesday as I remember, when I was living in a small town not far from Littleton, a quiet suburb south of Denver. A phone call alerted me to a frantic media, struggling to make sense of what was to become the most notorious school-related tragedy in American history. Columbine High School, named for their elegant state flower that blankets the Western Rockies, suddenly became the site of unthinkable carnage. Shortly after 11 A.M., seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, had opened fire with guns and bombs, killing 12 students and a teacher; while wounding 23 others during a 46 minute killing spree before, turning their weapons upon themselves.

Over time and with more than a decade of research, I eventually came to some understanding of the wider context of those Columbine events and later with the Littleton community, as representing an integral part of a replicating loop, in an ongoing fractal of our unfinished business with genocide and war. As a result, I published “War in Colorado” in A Question of Balance (2008). Given the recent events surrounding a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, I have decided to re-visit that 1999 rampage which lit the fuse of a fire still raging out of control.

One of the issues that keep trauma specialists awake at night, is the question of why some traumas repeat, as they definitely do, throughout individual lives, family systems and in larger groups of tribes, communities and entire nations. These often uncanny repetitions tend to happen on an anniversary of previous unresolved traumas. While dates of traumatic repetitions have often been dismissed as mere coincidence, my experience over nearly fifty years of working with trauma suggests otherwise. These temporal markers are important in tracking traumas that repeat throughout individual lives, families and larger systems as well as representatives of important clues that something serious is in need of attention and resolution.

In addition to dates of previous unresolved traumas, a second factor may be the location of a traumatic event, for as Rupert Sheldrake has suggested, places have “fields of memory”. And third, personal and systemic histories of those involved may also be a factor. The importance of these three factors, may be understood as “attractors” within the context of chaos theory. According to John Briggs and David Peat in Seven Life Lessons of Chaos, the scientific term chaos refers to an underlying interconnectedness that exists within apparently random events. As chaos theory continues to emerge as a new cultural perspective, we are challenged to question our cherished assumptions about causality.

Early on, I felt that the apparent chaos surrounding the Columbine tragedy was worth examining, in hopes of bringing some insight to the possibility of an underlying order. Working within this paradigm was a speculation that this seemingly random event might be understood as part of a pattern which flows from the past, through the present, and into the future as a component in a still evolving system. Chaos theory suggests that if an event is part of a repeating pattern within a larger system, then this system will have one or more attractors which attract a tendency for behaviors or events to constellate and also repeat along the same or similar themes. Consequently, I began to search for these attractors by gradually assembling non-linear connections contributing to this tragedy. Gradually then, a gestalt of this event began to emerge as something like a collage with the dates April 19th and 20th and the Colorado location presenting the first two attractors.

Timing played an essential role in viewing the events in Littleton from a chaotic as well as systemic perspective as there were a combination of intentional and unintentional synchronicities involved with this date for what Eric and Dylan had termed their “military operation”. According to their diaries, April19th was the original target date for what they called their “judgment day”. As with most terrorist events, this date was intended to play a pivotal role. Given their fascination with Nazi lore and swastika symbols evident throughout their diaries, the two would have been aware of the date of the April 19th Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943 when German troops arrived to round up remaining Jews.

Eric had written an 11 page paper on “Nazi Culture” and in a journal entry of the previous year: ” I love the Nazis too. I f…..g can’t get enough of the swastika, SS and Iron Cross”. Eric took to wearing Tee shirts with German phrases and both boys took German classes and were known to shout “Seig Heil !” along with a stiff armed Nazi salute, at any successful bowling strikes. April 19th is also a date associated with clashes between anti-government radicals and “rule of law”. More specifically, this date is an anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, April 19th,1995, now remembered as the deadliest domestic terror attack in U.S. history, which shocked and wounded our American heartland. A series of explosions destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building killing 168 people including 19 children under the age of six and wounding over 680 others.

The so called mastermind of this fertilizer bomb attack was former Army Sergeant Timothy McVeigh, former Eagle Scout and decorated Gulf War veteran who served in Iraq. One of his duties was to use a massive armored vehicle to bulldoze bodies of Iraqi casualties of US bomb strikes and bury them alive in trenches. A similar fate befell his bombing victims as many of them were crushed and buried in the Oklahoma rubble. For Eric and Dylan, Timothy McVeigh was added to their Nazi idols as another hero to be emulated. As a result they named their plan a “military operation” which they hoped would “top Mc Veigh’s body count” as they harnessed their assault weapons with military web gear.

As a dedicated terrorist, dates were important to McVeigh as well. He had chosen his April 19th bombing attack to coincide with the second anniversary of the FBI and Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms apocalyptic assault on a radical, millennial, religious, Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, where this sect was suspected of child abuse and stockpiling illegal weapons. On that date, in April 1993, McVeigh was there in Texas and witnessed a militarized federal law enforcement unit launch an attack on the community, which resulted in the fiery death of more than 80 people, including the immolation of 17 children. For more information see: Dick J. Reavis, The Ashes of Waco (1998).

In a letter dated April 20th, 2001, McVeigh stated that the April 19th Oklahoma bombing was, in part, an act of revenge against the April 19th atrocities of Waco. McVeigh also added that he sought to make a political statement about federal government force against its own citizens. In an interview with CBS news correspondent Ed Bradley, who asked if it is acceptable to use violence against the government , McVeigh replied: “If government is the teacher, violence would be an acceptable option. What did we do to Sudan? What did we do to Afghanistan? Belgrade? What are we doing with the death penalty? It appears that they use violence all the time”. Now in 2018, I would add that this unbridled aggression, endless killing and bloodshed has continued on into the oil rich sands of Libya, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen.

After McVeigh left the Army, he joined an uber-patriotic, anti-government paramilitary militia group suspicious of federal attempts to limit a citizen’s right to bear arms. April 19th,1775 was highly significant to this group, and the “shot heard around the world” was fired by rebels against the British at the Battle of Lexington, now celebrated as Patriots Day. In Massachusetts this civic holiday is held in observance of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. I find it interesting that the Columbine High School sports teams were called the Rebels and are represented by an image of a Revolutionary War soldier. Two hundred and seventy-five years later, two Columbine rebels also planned shots that would be heard around the world.


Less than 2 months after these murderous shots, the 1999 Columbine High School graduating class gave their school a statue of a Revolutionary War soldier. Another image of this soldier is set into a circle on the floor, just outside the guidance counselor’s office. Moreover, this soldier is wearing something like a trench coat, and holding a gun. This is even stranger still, given that a hysterical media had initially blamed the massacre on a non-existent “trench coat mafia “.

While this Colorado massacre is often referred to as the Columbine shooting, this overlooks the fact that the original plan was nothing less than a grandiose scheme to orchestrate a bombing attack to blow up the entire school and everyone in it. Bombs were an important part of the boy’s “military operation”. Their homemade arsenal included more than 48 carbon dioxide bombs, 27 pipe bombs,11 one and a half gallon propane containers, seven incendiary devices with 40 plus gallons of flammable liquid, hand grenades and two duffle bag bombs with 20 liquefied petroleum tanks. When all of this was too much to install by the 19th of April, and they couldn’t get their ammo on time, the two carried out their plan on their back up date of April 20th; Adolf Hitler’s birthday.

When most of their poorly constructed bombs fizzled, Eric and Dylan relied upon their semi-automatic weapons to carry on with their “military operation”. Surveillance videos recorded laughter as they strutted around the premises shouting racial slurs, freakishly glib sadistic taunts and sneering insults while gunning down a teacher and their terrified classmates. The pair had recently recorded a series of Basement Tapes filmed with a Sony camcorder checked out from their high school video lab in which they both made clear that they planned to “die in battle”. During one segment Eric said: ” I declare war on the human race and war is what this is”.

Despite the fact that these young men described their well planned massacre as a military operation, with the exception of Michael Moore, none of the subsequent analysts were willing to entertain the possibility that this violence had anything to do with our previous or ongoing wars. In respect to location, as a second attractor in this chaotic configuration, Rupert Sheldrake’s research with morphic fields and morphic resonance may provide some important clues. He describes these fields as “fields of information” and also postulated that places can also have “fields of memory”. This is a variation of an ancient Roman term genius loci or “spirit of place”. Similar beliefs are held by indigenous cultures the world over. Australian Aboriginals, for example, believe that every meaningful activity or process that occurs at a particular location leaves a vibrational residue in and around the ground. Within this and similar realities, landscapes carry and reflect vibrations which also echo events that have transpired there.

As filmmaker Michael Moore pointed out in his award winning documentary, Bowling for Columbine, the presence of a large defense establishment in Littleton set a an appropriate context for Eric and Dylan’s mind-set for their “military operation”. Lockheed Martin, located in the Littleton area near Columbine, is our nation’s prime supplier of weapons of mass destruction and the largest military contractor in service of state sponsored violence as a solution to conflict.

From a historical perspective, one also finds that a tragedy of massacre was not new to the geographical area, which now includes Littleton. At the time of rampage, the city maintained a web site which contained information about Native Americans in the history of Littleton. This article featured an account of the notorious and controversial Sand Creek Massacre which took place on November 29,1864. A total of 137 peaceful Native Americans, mostly women and children, were slaughtered during a predawn raid on their campground. Sand Creek is over 200 miles from Littleton, so I was puzzled as why it was featured on their community site. In response to my query, the web custodian explained that this massacre was on the Littleton web site because it involved the Arapahoe people who had also lived in the Littleton area and also that Littleton is technically located in Arapahoe country.

From a non-linear perspective, there are several elements within the Sand Creek atrocity that resonate with events at Columbine High School. Racism and genocidal intentions are factors in both massacres. Historical records reveal that Colorado Governor John Evans was intent on proving that peace with Indians is not possible, and wanted to eradicate as many Indians as possible. Evans even sent notoriously sadistic, Civil War veteran, Colonel John Chivington and his volunteer Colorado militia troops to attack peaceful Chief Black Kettle and Chief Left Hand and their starving bedraggled bands of Cheyenne and Arapahoe camped at Sand Creek. The Colorado militia responsible for slaughter and mutilation of innocent and defenseless people described their mission as a ” military operation”. Contempt for victims and slaughter of innocents and the role of militia also came into focus as prominent themes in historical and current events surrounding the Columbine massacre.

The military theme and government involvement was carried forward to the memorial service for Columbine victims. Attorney General Janet Reno, responsible for the April 19th massacre at Waco, paid a short visit to the grief stricken community. As a memorial service for the slain victims began, amid controversy as to whether the killers were also victims deserving of prayer and whether 13 or 15 doves should be released to represent departing souls, the U.S. Air Force arranged a military flyover in a “missing man” formation. Gulf War Commander General Colin Powell then arrived together with Vice President Al Gore. Perhaps there is something about the “sins of the fathers” woven into this collage? One might also be tempted to speculate about national karma or cycles of traumatic reenactment. At this point it is now clear that Harris and Klebold’s “military operation” gave rise to safety and security measures which have fostered an increasing tendency towards militarization of our schools.

Turning now to a third factor in this Littleton collage; personal and family histories of the killers may shed at least some light. While the lame-stream media in search of easy answers, rushed to suspect the cause of this tragedy was “bad parents”, facts do not support such a simplistic analysis. Both Eric and Dylan were younger sons of intact, loving, concerned and engaged middle-class families. Shortly before they died, both boys took care to apologize to their parents and to state that their parents were not to blame for their behavior. Eric even quoted from Shakespeare’s Macbeth :”… good wombs have borne bad sons “.

Eric’s attraction to the military is unsurprising and he had expressed a desire to join the Marines after graduation. He grew up on a military base in Oscoda, Michigan, home to the Strategic Air Command and center for activity during the Gulf War; and training center for long range B52 bombers during operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf. His father Wayne Harris, had a career there as a pilot until the base closed and he relocated his family to Littleton. After retirement, Wayne was employed by a local defense contractor. Eric lived at home with him, and mother, Katherine Poole Harris, homemaker and part-time caterer, and his older brother Kevin. Neighbors remember them as nice people.

Tom and Sue Klebold named their youngest son after the poet Dylan Thomas. They met at University and later earned a master’s for Tom in geophysics and Sue in education. Their house was orderly and intellectual and one finds little at first glance to offer any insight into why either Eric or Dylan would harbor such suicidal and homicidal rage. The boys had been posthumously diagnosed; Eric as a psychopath and Dylan as a suicidal depressive, follower. Both had issues with anger management and had engaged in several episodes of criminal mischief. Eric was also taking the prescription drug Luvox which has been associated with homicidal and suicidal ideations; now off the market. This and similar drugs have been ongoingly associated with mass shooting events.

While it seems possible that Luvox was an exacerbating factor, it does not seem reasonable to ascertain that this medication was the cause of the Columbine events. In a similar vein, I would maintain that Eric and Dylan’s fascination with violent video games such as DOOM was a symptom, rather than a cause of their grandiose aggressions. In an eerie twist to their story, Dylan was born on September 11th and the shooters had fantasized hijacking a plane and crashing it into buildings in New York City.

Since it is not at all clear from the outward appearance of their families of origin what factors might account for the attraction to war, Nazis, genocide and a strong pull toward death; one then wonders about systemic factors from previous generations. At this point, the Harris family’s earlier history in regard to war or genocide is not available, nor is there information, for this inquiry, known about Katherine Harris or Tom Klebold’s generational data.

We do know however that Sue Klebold had Jewish roots through her father Milton Yassenoff and her grandfather who was a Jewish community leader and philanthropist who also served in the 116th Aerial Squadron during WW I. According to a descendant, the first Yassenoff to immigrate to America did so in the wake of a particularly nasty Pogrom in Russia after killing one of their Cossack attackers. Milton Rice Yassenoff was adopted, possibly as a child orphaned by the Holocaust. ( Tom and Sue Klebold were gun control advocates who had no firearms in their home.

In response to a firestorm of hatred that came raging toward them in the wake of the tragedy, both families feared for their lives. Devastated and shell shocked, the Harris’ left town, the Klebolds divorced and Sue chose to remain in Littleton. Years later she would write A Mother’s Reckoning : Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy .(2017).




“Nothing determines who we will become as much as those things that we choose to ignore.”

Littleton’s Columbine tragedy remains a long way from resolution, and local aftershocks continue to this day. For some, important questions remain unanswered. Further events and revelations about the killers, their families, victims and their loved ones continue to shift the focus within this evolving collage of social tragedy, that has deep roots in unresolved wars, racism, genocide, social values, psychiatric medications, gun control controversy, and violent video games. In a tragedy that involves this much complexity, any single cause is neither obvious nor linear. As media noise rolls on, we continue to see, just as Eric and Dylan intended, a picture much larger than these events in Colorado.

Throughout various gestures and ceremonies of, commemoration, mourning and memorials, the Littleton community remained bitterly divided as to whether the killers should be acknowledged, included, worthy of prayers or any kind of remembrance whatsoever. While there was no genuine resolution, those in favor of exclusion generally prevailed. And yet, in April 2007, Littleton, Colorado was again in the news. During the 8th anniversary of the massacre, the community was bitterly engaged in another gun related controversy, regarding another memorial, from yet another war.

At issue was a planned construction of a nine foot, life-like bronze statue crouched for action, intended to honor a local youth killed during the war in Afghanistan. It is generally agreed that that Navy SEAL Danny Dietz was a hero worthy of commemoration. However, objections were raised to a uniformed portrait, complete with a detailed replica of a high powered assault rifle, with an attached grenade launcher, his fingers positioned just inches from the trigger. A spokesperson from the city maintained that they had received more than 600 letters, calls and emails in support of this statue in its current form. Mayor Taylor, who was not in office during the 1999 assault rifle shootings, issued a statement saying that this statue should be seen as “a teaching tool”. Opponents of this statue pointed out, that its proposed location is just across the street from an elementary school, and just blocks away from other schools and a playground. Some parents who dared to speak out against this gun bearing statue and its location reported that they received death threats and other disturbingly hostile emails.

Funds for this Danny Dietz Memorial were raised by his parents with help from Ultra-Conservative Republican and Presidential Candidate Tom Tancredo. Danny’s statue was dedicated on July 4th, as part of Littleton’s patriotic, Independence Day celebrations. After a speech by a Secretary of the Navy, similar to the one at the Columbine memorial service, Dietz’s mother expressed “heartbreak and bewilderment “. She absolutely could not fathom that there could be any opposition to this bronze portrayal of a young man from Littleton, who died in a “military operation”, proudly bearing an array of assault weapons, facing a public school. This, she asserted, could have nothing to do with the Columbine school shooting.

As a mother, daughter and grand-daughter from a multi-generational military family, with my own levels of grief, loss and war trauma, I can understand a need for this level of psychic disconnect. And yet, given the fact that these mass shootings have continued, I feel that it is beyond time for us, as a concerned nation, to address our attachment to such glorification of perpetual wars and state-sponsored violence as evidence of “patriotism”.

While Danny’s grieving mother may well have had a real need for her beliefs, I find it curious that this same community that so vigorously excluded two other young men and their “military operation” from all of their memorial activities, has become so militantly determined to erect this larger than life statue of a gun-bearing youth, equipped with grenades, directly across from a school. This level of admittedly trauma induced, heart breaking, psychic disconnect, as frustrating as it may seem, also serves to open a window into the ongoing question as to why these mass murder school shooting events continue to replicate. As we have seen with Columbine, simplistic, specific agenda serving, single cause explanations are less than helpful. The carnage has continued, while we remain in a sleeple state of disconnection between our perpetual, genocidal, profit driven wars against “others” and violence as the solution to conflict; while our kids continue to kill each other at home.

Now, on the subject of psychic disconnection, I am reminded of then President Clinton’s speech shortly after Columbine, advising students that violence is never the solution to conflict. This address was delivered at the exact same time that he was bombing Kosovo, supposedly to prevent a genocide, with Apache helicopters, named after a tribe that we had nearly destroyed through systematic genocide. Small wonder that our present generation has so little confidence in government.

Americans of all political persuasions continue to shoot each other in our streets and now, with increasing frequency, in our schools and churches. Despite our claims for American exceptionalism and moral superiority, ours has always been a violent culture, founded from the onset by genocidal cultures and exploitation of slave labor. American violence, which never stops, has been glorified throughout our history. Given this history, any invitation to reconsider our relationship to guns is apt to meet with fierce and even violent resistance. And yet, there may be at least some degree of change in the air.

On February 14th, 2018, Valentine’s Day, Ash Wednesday for Catholics, this latest iteration in a series of horrific school shooting fractals took place in the quiet suburb of Parkland, Florida. A drill suddenly went live. Like Columbine, this school was also built on land previously occupied by indigenous who came to a genocidal end. Broward county was home to Seminoles who were either slaughtered or otherwise deported in accordance with colonization policies. In Parkland, shots rang out during a history class whose topic that day was the Holocaust.

While some may advocate arming teachers, more guns as a solution to too many guns doesn’t seem to offer a viable solution. Public school safety programs now include twice yearly, live shooter drills, conducted by former Special Forces and Israeli-trained militarized police. This policy has rapidly evolved into a highly profitable extension of our post 9/11 security theater and economics of fear.

One can take heart in that the response to the Florida shooting was radically different from Columbine in that survivors immediately took to social media, not available in 1999, commandeered news media and sent a clear message that enough is enough. They demanded action. It was  such a pleasure to watch these fed-up teenagers skillfully shift the narrative away from the shooter onto an urgent need for social change. Resistance, however, was predictably ugly and fierce. These outspoken young people were ignored by the White House, and this time we are mercifully spared from meaningless “thoughts and prayers”, and political platitudes. Vilified by conservative media as “crisis-actors”, threatened by the NRA, the young advocates for firearm safety became undeserving recipients of sexually specific threats of sadistic violence and gruesome death.

Nevertheless, on April 20th, at 11 A.M. on the anniversary of the Columbine rampage, students and teachers orchestrated a nationwide march to demand changes in our gun laws, especially in regard to AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifles. The night before, Parkland students had rallied in Littleton, Colorado, to demand stronger, national gun control laws. An important aspect of their now, ongoing, pro-active and inclusive agenda is to strongly encourage high school students, of all colors, religions, ethnic and gender identities, to get involved and vote as soon as they turn eighteen. Time will tell. (ASJ, A Question of Balance,2008, and Dave Cullen, Columbine, 2009).

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