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Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Indigenous Peoples Day – Not Columbus Day

Let us forgo the celebration of Christopher Columbus and the extraordinary crossing he made with Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, and recognize what a monster he was.


I learned this refrain in grade school: In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He set out on his adventure, sailed in pursuit of fame, wealth and titles and vanity. He sailed across the Atlantic four times and back; he became wealthy and famous, he earned the titles he sought, but his vanity was never satisfied.


Christopher Columbus was an Italian from Genoa and he was born in obscurity. As a boy he went to sea where he learned the skills and the knowledge that brought him to a captaincy.


In this aspect he was remarkable and deserving of respect.


He became an adventurer in the service of Ferdinand and Isabella, the monarchs of Spain. He made his first voyage for them in 1492, setting sail on September 6th, and sighting land in what we now call the Islands of the Bahamas on October 12th. He named the island that he landed on San Salvador; exactly which island this was is now lost to memory.


He expected to be in Asia, but to his surprise, and to the surprise of everyone back in the Spanish and European courts, there were other continents and other oceans they had yet to traverse in order to get to India.


They still wanted a westward route to India, but they were more than happy to discover the truth for themselves and learn the real shape of the world.


Columbus opened up these continents and all of their peoples, to the incessant appetites and cruelties of the Europeans, to their hunger for gold, and for land and for war.


He never sailed past the Islands of the Caribbean. He never set foot in what came to be known as the America’s, and his life after his first voyage was not without controversy.


He became wealthy and earned titles, but he was also arrested, jailed and relieved of his governance, before eventually being released.


His heirs did not inherit the titles he had earned, he never entered the true nobility. He died at the age of fifty-four, a sailor from Genoa bearing the meaningless title Admiral of the Ocean Seas.


His coming to the West, was the beginning of the end for countless peoples, for tribes whose names history did not record, peaceful people who were captured and enslaved, and worked to death, the encommendero system marked by genocide and the tyranny of Spanish rule began with him.


Columbus’ journey was one of historical significance, we should take note of it, but the truth should be told and not celebrated.


Columbus was a petty man, reckless and pitiless and a harbinger of death.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

On Jesus and Mithra, Part Five (Pages 11 - 13)

By the fourth century CE Mithraism had spread by merchants, and through the Roman army as far North as Hadrian’s wall in Bremenium, as far West as Olisipo on the Western coast of Spain; it had permeated the Roman provinces of North Africa, and Egypt, and was thriving in its home land of Persia; stretching its influence all the way through Persia to India. As much as two percent of the population of the Roman Empire may have been initiated into the mysteries of the Cult of Mithra.

The traditional date to celebrate the birth of Mithra, going back as far as 750 BCE, is a date significant in the Roman calendar known as Saturnalius, December 25th. This date is also the celebrated birthday of such notable people as Julius Caesar, his son by adoption Augustus Caesar, the first Christian emperor, Constantine; and most famously Jesus of Nazareth himself. The fact that all of these people shared the same birth day does not constitute proof of anything regarding the relationship between Mithraism and Christianity. The Romans used a different calendar in those days, and in that time December 25th was the date of the winter solstice. It was celebrated in nearly every culture in the Northern hemisphere, as that point in the yearly cycle that the light returns and the days goes from the deepest dark to light. However, this will lead me into a discussion of some of the other tell-tale markers of the sympathetic relationship between the two faiths.

The Cult of Mithra was a “mystery religion,” meaning that it was secretive, closed to outsiders, to anyone that did not go through a significant ritual of initiation, and it purported to disclose to the initiate the mysteries of the universe. Outside of Persia, the main adherents of the Cult of Mithra were members of the Roman army. There is no evidence that Mithraites were ever persecuted as Christians were; at times, but like a number of other closed societies in ancient Rome they had to keep to themselves, and guard their secrets. The necessity of secrecy for the cult of Mithra, as with that of many other cults, had much to do with the paranoid mindset of the Roman emperors. All manner of private groups, trade guilds, and burial societies, were periodically outlawed by one emperor or another; this on account of the fact that most of the emperors were insecure in their power, and constantly suspicious of treason, and sedition. The fact that the Cult of Mithra recruited many of its members from the army probably spared it from persecution because the emperors always ruled by fragile alliances, and loose coalitions. They were always dependent on the power of the armies to keep them in the seat of power. If the emperors were to alienate large groups of their supporters (the army) through a persecution of their faith they would lose that power.

As I noted earlier Ulansey saw the secrecy of the cult of Mithra, as practiced in the Roman Empire as something distinct from the Persian form of Mithraism. There are differences between the two systems of belief, but so great as to merit the claim that they are distinct from one another. A close look at the structure of these religious systems, icons, rituals and beliefs will reveal that relationship, and also the close relationship Mithraism has with Christianity.