Thoughts Beyond the Novel CoCC.9–INFJ/INTP Temperaments

There is much to be said about personalities and their temperament. In fact, management banks on it with regards to their managerial staff, especially. Management has used Kepner-Tregore for critical-thinking processes for some time as well as Myers Briggs on personality types. The latter has been a reliable measurement of “know thyself” as an employee or on an individual basis.

The image below was the first working cover for the novel, CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES. They faced the Isthmus of Panama, their final destination. Their “contingencies” in the title had much to do with any contingency intended for use in circumstances not completely foreseen. There was no telling how their relationship would end after taking a bold step toward renewing their relationship.

The protagonist Leila, a scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S. CDC), she had been estranged from her mother Izobel for many decades and had finally wanted to reach out to her. Sort of as a catch-up measure, she had Izobel take the Meyers-Briggs personality type indicators. And she retook hers to see where she found her active temperament at the time only to discover that they were a match–the golden pair of INTP (Izobel) and her INFJ. They would finally understand each other, becoming compatible. Both of the golden pair are among the minority of minorities with INFJ being the rarest. Nonetheless, they suffered a gain albeit it was bittersweet at the start. These extremely rare personality types comprise up to 1-4% of the world population, according to the MBPI. Consequently, they tend to hold back from revealing their true selves for fear of being misjudged or misunderstood.

The IN indicators they have in common–“I” for introvert and “N” for intuitive. A few things that finally they discovered about themselves and their commonalities: They like their space and relating to their feeling of not quite fitting in with the world around them; their exploring non-traditional ideas, their discovering each other’s private quirkiness; and finally, they could respect each other. As for their opposite FJ and TP personality indicators, these helped them balance out their sensibilities and practicality. As for Drew, the male protagonist, he is an INTP. Lucky Leitis.

The chart below is a simple breakdown of the different indicator symbols, but take the key with a grain of salt, for the personalities of each run very deep and varied.

If you want to take a MBI test to see your personality type indicators, you can start out with this Personality Test. There are several online that are free.

Psychology is considered a pseudoscience. As a result, one needs to consider that one of the reasons for this designation is that there are too many variables that cannot be controlled to validate evidence. This type of test, however, is a good indicator of “who you are where you were when” that can help one to understand where one stands in a given point of time; in this case, the present situation and circumstances. One’s response mechanisms come to the fore. Sometimes it is difficult to find the demarcation of science and pseudoscience. In some instances, pseudoscience becomes science due to an improvement on methodology of evidence collected.

Thoughts Beyond the Novel CoCC.8–JFK Assassination

President Biden on Thursday, December15, 2022, officially unsealed over 13,000 records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but they are primarily from the U.S. National Archive. It appears that some of the records from the CIA and the FBI have been released while there are many others still under review before a decision is made to release them to the public as required under a 1992 law. The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 (aka the JFK Records Act) directs the National Archives and Records Administration to establish a collection of records to be known as the President JFK Assassination Records Collection. It stated that the collection shall consist of copies of all U.S. government records relating to the 1963 assassination of JFK, including any materials created or made available for use by, obtained by, or otherwise came into the possession of any state or local law enforcement office that provided support or assistance or performed work in connection with a federal inquiry into the assassination. We will have to wait until May or June of 2023 to learn anything more.

Although one of the protagonists in Choir of Cloistered Canaries speaks of that infamous day as she walked the sidewalk with her parents on November 22, 1963, she remembers a person in a car driving by shouting repeatedly, “Kennedy has been assassinated!” Most folks who were alive then tend to remember where they were when this tragedy became part of U.S. history. This event moved the author, somewhat autobiographically in this instance in 1969, she got a private tour of the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building on the corner of Elm Street and North Houston Street in Dallas.

A memory of a memory can often be faulty as she held that Lee Harvey Oswald did not assassinate JFK, for the angle from the window was impossible. She was half right. The shot from the Texas School Book Depository braised President Kennedy’s neck and hit Texas Governor John Connally’s right shoulder.  Oswald’s rifle bullet was not the fatal shot that killed President Kennedy and injured Governor Connally. One of two or three shots came from the Grassy Knoll that proved to be the fatal shot that blasted Kennedy’s brain tissue while also seriously injuring Connally. Connally recalled there was blood and brain tissue in the vehicle. “One bullet caused Kenney’s first wound and then an entirely separate shot struck me,” he insisted. He had suffered a punctured lung, a bullet lodged in his leg among other injuries. He was adamantly against the single-bullet theory. You would think he would know.

 See video below.

The angle of the third shot blew off the back of Kennedy’s skull, and a photo of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, reaching out to collect parts of his brain and of his skull as shown in the adjacent photo. The vehicle had just reached the Grassy Knoll when Kennedy’s body pushed backward before he slumped to where the First Lady sat. Contrary to much speculation, the assassin remains at large if he still lives.

One thing the author recalls is that, when the custodian of the Texas School Book Depository building gave her the tour, he stated that the U.S. Government had all the school books for the Texas school system stored there removed. It had been cleaned spic-and-spandy. It was a stark, white space that covered the entire sixth  floor. She said, “I don’t think a germ could have been found there. It was antiseptic. There was only the far left window that still stood.” She had worked for one of the publishing companies leasing there. Later it became known as The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

There are some interesting points—some old and one new—about who could have been behind the assassination. One could venture that there was a collective interest in stopping some of Kennedy’s costly policies for the Establishment of a dominant elite that controls a polity of continued support of military spending by a government. It can be traced back to a certain clandestine agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Who was he? Why? We can only speculate, but a photograph is worth a thousand words.

NBC News reported on December 15, 2022, that there are thousands of documents that remain largely hidden. Of interest to this blog are “44 that relate to a shadowy CIA agent named George Joannides and a covert Cuban-related program he ran that came into contact with Lee Harvey Oswald less than four months before Kennedy was shot.” But so did the operative George H.W. Bush who used his former petroleum production business, Zapata, as a cover. He, too, was associated with anti-Castro Cubans affiliated with the CIA. In fact, declassified CIA records reveal that Joannides obstructed two official JFK investigations by not disclosing what he knew about contacts between his Cuban agents and Kennedy’s accused killer. That was it. He may have been set up as the patsy to take the fall for a very clandestine operative, who later became CIA Director, shown in the adjacent photograph. His mannerism supports who the person is in this adjacent photo, A mannerism is hard to hide over the years. In fact, the statue in front of his library shows him with his right hand in his trousers’ pocket. Bush was a lefty and often kept it free while his right hand was pocketed.

Three years ago there was information on George H.W. Bush on Wikipedia, which has been deleted. But one passage from that information was captured in this historical novel, Choir of Cultured Canaries “..when the FBI asked Bush if he was a CIA operative in 1963. He answered as if he denied being one while at the same time not denying that he was. One has to say he knew not to lie to the FBI.” According to JFKFacts.org, “there is no evidence that Joannides was involved in a plot to kill the President. As recipient of the agency’s Career Intelligence Medal in 1981, he was not a “rogue officer”.

When President Kennedy took office, it was the height of the Cold War, and there was an increase in spending on both nuclear and conventional forces, including the increase of advisors in Vietnam from 400 to 16,000! Very early in his Administration, Kennedy wanted to turn away from warfare to more domestic programs and the space program. His new visionary mission was his New Frontier, a progressivism that seeks to advance the human condition through social re form based on purported advancements in science, technology, economic development, and social organization. Sounds familiar? It was contrary, however, to the paradigm of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex vested to influence public policy to improve relationships between the military and defense industry (e.g., the fossil fuel and chemical industries) that supplies the military.

In summary, because these are complex issues, somethings are certain. It reminds me of the film, The Gentlemen, in which the protagonists and their enablers ensure that the cover-up is completely carried out. It also reminds me of John le Carre’s famous line in The Russia House (film based on Carré’s novel of the same name): “The gray suits are keeping the arms race going.”

REST IN PEACE, GENTLEMEN:

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

President George Herbert Walker Bush (June 12, 1924 – November 30, 2018)

Lee Harvey Oswald (October 18, 1939 – November 24, 1963)

George Efthron Joannides (July 5, 1922 – March 9, 1990)

Governor John Bowden Connally, Jr. (February 27, 1917 – June 15, 1993)

including

First Lady Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis (July 28, 1929 0 May 19, 1994)

Thoughts Beyond the Novel CoCC.7—The Popes Hormisdas

There is a stellar character, albeit fictional, portrayed in Choir of Cloistered Canaries. His name is Pope Hormisdas II, whose name is hardly Roman in origin.  From whence comes a big-name like Hormisdas II? There is a tale to be told that is historical and subject to some conjecture.

There was a St. Hormisdas (Hormisdas I) who served as pontiff for nine years and 17 days (July 20, 514 to August 6, 523 of the Common Era) as the 52nd pontificate. It is not clear how or why he was appointed a saint by the Roman Catholic Church as was his son, St. Silverius, who briefly served as a Roman pope but who was later exiled to a deserted island where he died of starvation. The son did not even get recognized as holding the 56th pontificate! It was his misfortune to be deposed by the famous Byzantine general Belisarius. Nonetheless, due to their title as saints, they were listed in the Roman Martynology as receiving eulogies recognized by the Sacred Congregation of Rites as an essential part of the Roman liturgy.

Pope-Saint Hormisdas I was no ordinary pontiff. He and fictional Pope Hormisdas II were visionaries of a fragile Roman Catholic Church in need of revival to survive.

So what do these two Hormisdas have in common? The need to accommodate a unified belief system that requires changes with time. Moreover, what is sub-rosa in the novel? Since ancient times, the rose was associated with secrecy, either from hiding indiscretions or confessions. The secret lies in the meaning behind the name, which is Hormizd in Persian.. Hormisdas is the Latinized and Greek versions of Hormizd. To clarify the significance of the names, it will be necessary to revisit the Sassanid Empire.

Firstly, Pope-Saint Hormisdas I was born in the region of Lazio into an noble family of the Volsci people or tribe. They spoke an extinct Osco-Umbrian language related to the Indo-European languages. As a people, they even formed a sovereign state near Rome. By 304 C.E., they submitted to Rome and became Romanized so quickly and completely that it had been difficult to ascertain their original culture until inscriptions were later found.

In fact, the first emperor of Rome was Augustus who was a Volscian descendant. Another famous Volsci, albeit found in the annals of mythology, is Camilla (aka Minerva, later ascribed), made known in Virgil’s Aeneid whose fate was to become a warrior-virgin servant of Goddess Diana.

Symbolism and allusions have her tied to her fleeing King-father Metabus and flinging her across the River Amasenus by tying her to his spear. The allusion is that Camilla is associated with the Amazons whose homeland was in ancient Scythia. About 30-80% of ancient Italic tribes were of Y-Haplogroup R1 (R1a-R1b, predominantly, from one or several tribes of ancient Scythians). Their ancient origins go back to Central Asia.

It should be noted that the name of Hormizd was first recorded as originating during the Persian Sassanid Empire. (More on the name later.) Under the Sassanids, Persia influenced the Roman civilization considerably by recognizing the Sassanid Persians as equals. In fact, their cultural influence extened far beyond the territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe, Northern Africa, China, and India. It was a dynastic and aristocratic culture to the extent that, when the Persian noble son of King Hormizd II fled to Constantinople which was under Roman rule, his name was Hormizd. Roman Emperor Constantine helped him and gave him a palace near the Mamara Sea. In Byzantine times, the neighborhood gained recognition as “near the houses of Hormisdas”; and the palace became the private residence of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I before becoming emperor.

Hormizd’s father, King Hormizd II, ruled when the Kingdom of Armenia (formerly, Parthia) adopted Christianity its official religion, thus renouncing the Zoroastrian heritage it shared with Persia. Historically, King Hormizd I can be likened to King Ashoka the Great of India who was a cruel ruler until he learned about Buddha Shakyamuni’s spiritual precepts. He permitted freedom of worship to the Jews and other religious cultures, the usurper of the throne did not tolerate religious freedom. Eventually, Hormizd II was murdered by the nobility and the Zoroastrian clergy for his leniency toward other religious faiths; and they sought to murder his sons—Hormizd, the third son who fled from imprisonment; the first son, Adur Narshe who was murdered early on during his very brief reign, and the second son who was blinded.

During his lifetime, Hormizd did not favor battling the Roman Empire, Instead, he served as a soldier against Persia in Emperor Julian’s army when he lived in Constantinople.

Hormizd’s son Shapur II was named King after Adur Narseh was murdered to gain control of the empire. He became king when he reached his majority at the age of 16. Shapur II was born forty days after his father’s death. He not only expanded the territory of the empire, he also pursued a harsh religious policy. It was during his 70-year reign that the Zoroastrian text, Avesta, was completed. This text was about the revelation of the Ahura Mazda. the heavenly supreme being of a triad.

Despite the fact that under Shapur II, the Avesta was finally written down, King Shapur I formed a would-be heretical version of Zoroastrianism. Known as Zurvanism, the heavenly supreme being was no longer Ahura (“Lord”) Mazda (“Wisdom”) but Zurvan. Ahura Mazda with some other deities where relegated to being “eidola.” Nonetheless, while th Greek transliterated Ahura Mazda as Hormisdas, it became Hormizd as the Middle Persian version of the name. During the reign of Sassanid King Bahram II, the name became one of his names—Ohrmazd-mowbad.

We have established that the name has a Persian origin during the Sassanid Empire (officially knowns as the Empire of Iranians (Erasahr) or as the Neo-Persian Empire. It can best be remembered as the last Iranian empire before the early Muslim conquests, ending in 651 C.E. That was the end of the Sassanid family.

One can presume a simple theory that Saint-Pope Hormisdas I was given by his parents in honor of either their Persian relative who migrated from the Central East to the region Lazio or in remembering their family origins from Persia or from Constantinople.

Nevertheless, names, family origins and culture do influence choices made by the living. Hormisdas I and Hormisdas II were no exceptions.

Pope-Saint Hormisdas II chose to unite what the Western and Eastern orthodoxies under one Catholic Church. After all,” Catholic” means universality—a universal Christian church with an eastern flavor. Hormisdas I did just that in appeasing the riffs that existed between Rome and Constantinople. He removed the last vestiges of the schism in Rome and the Acacian schism that would eventually restore communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople.

Our fictitious Pope Hormisdas II can only succeed if the reader wishes him to succeed. In the end, realization is in the eyes of the beholder.

Thoughts beyond the Novel CoCC.6—Indigo

It is said that all good things come in threes. This is true of Indigo—as a plant, as a dye (color), and as having medicinal properties.

Indigo Color Palettee

The reason for blogging about Indigo is that in the United States there is a revival of Indigo in recent times and that in the novel Choir of Cloistered Canaries, one of the characters, Miss Ellie, is from the Carolinas. More  specifically, she was a descendant from West Africa who were enslaved and brought to the lower Atlantic states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Georgia to work on the plantations of coastal rice, Sea Island cotton, and indigo. Indigo was the primary staple for a short duration, and the slaves that worked on the indigo plantations were known as indigo slaves. In modern parlance, they are commonly called Gullah Geechee from the Lowcountry.

It is no surprise that Miss Ellie drew from certain prevailing influences of the Geechee culture. The Geechee culture absorbed from many influences of other cultures, for example, Christianity, Islam and traditional West African spiritual practices. For Miss Ellie, it was not difficult to understand why she leaned towards an eclectic version of Quaker beliefs such as community, simplicity, integrity, and equality. She was an equal under the Carr household under Drew and Drew’s mother who was a Quaker. Miss Ellie managed the place for Drew, And it should be of no surprise that much of her influence in how the house paints were versions of blue. Though one can imagine that patriarch Carr imported many blue-and-white porcelain from Ming Dynasty of China, the blue was from cobalt oxide imported from Persia and had no real bearing on why Miss Ellie chose the hallway blue, the porch ceiling haint blue, and newly-appointed bedroom with Carolina Blue, Haint Blue, though a light blue, is sourced from the Indigo plant.

Ming Dynasty Collection

Two species of indigo plants thrived in the United States—Indigofera caroliana and Indigofera lespotsepala. Under British rule of the colonies, the production of indigo dye was considered “blue gold”. Via trade, the plant’s cultivation came from the Indus Valley Civilization (3300-1300 BCE) and later from other parts of India. Portuguese sailors transported the plant (c. 1342) to the West Coast of Africa, where the British then took hold of it and commercialized it during the slave expansion across the Atlantic Ocean. Then a British colony, South Carolina became the center of indigo plantation and production (c. 1670) of the dye. When the U.S. Revolutionary War started, causing a  disruption in production, the British East India Company moved production to Bengal and parts of the current Bihar states of India where it continued until the second decade of the 20th century. Overall, production declined sharply in the 1790s. For slaves, it was life-saving. Many fell into the large vats and were boiled to death. Nonetheless, the garment industry still is not good for the environment and people as long as synthetic dyes are used and the garments are coated with formaldehyde. As for wages, there is evidence that employees are modern slaves due to labor trafficking in the fashion industry.

As reported in the Indian Journal of Scientific History, “Indigo–IThe Crop that Created HIstory and then Itself Became HIstory, (2018)” by Rajendra Prasad comments, “Indigo got its name because of its origin in the Indus Valley…where it was called nīlā, meaning dark blue and by the 7th Century BCE, people started using the plant for producing the blue dye.”

Indigo is grown in almost all south Asian countries, including Japan. However, as precious as the blue colors are, Adolf von Baeyer, a German professor of chemistry, formulated the first synthetic indigo dye (indigotin) in 1882. Presently, with a few exceptions, all indigo dye is produced synthetically. An alternative production, credited to Karl Heunamm, was formulated at BASF (Badische-Aniline-und Soda Fabric) in 1897; but it also involves a toxic process of converting naphthaliine to phthalic anhydride by using mercury (II) sulphate as a catalyst to then produce indigo.

Currently, there is a demand for the natural dye because it  has antibacterial, antifungal, and insect repelling properties among other benefits. For example, the roots and stem may help clear congestion when experiencing a cold, bronchitis, or asthma. It helps reduce inflammation, too, as well as to treat some skin disorders such as eczema.

If you know of a friend or a friend of a friend who has indigo seeds, try to grow the plant if it can grow in your zone. After all, that is how it is spreading in the United States.

Postscript

For artisans, dying is labor intensive. It requires repeated dipping and wringing to get the desired color, for dark blue jeans over 20 times! The best jeans on the market are from Japan and called natural indigo “Aizome”.

Last but not least, Professor Baeyer’s synthetic indigo was formulated as o-nitrobenzaldehyde with acetone, a compound that is petro-based and not as safe as once thought for humans.

Thoughts beyond the Novel CoCC.5–Mycelia/Fungi

Mycelium, Fungi’s underground infastructure
–Yale University Photo; Science Aid web site)

The biggest threat to the scientific community when it comes to innovative and safe applications of mycelia/fungi is Big Pharma. Though Big Pharma is not the topic of this blog, it must be dealt with because of its business practices, for example, requiring years of Prosac instead of two-three capsules of a specific fungus to cure a chronic illness. It’s just not profitable for Big Pharma to keep one medicated. As you may already know, Big Pharma consists of major multinational pharmaceutical companies that, collectively, remain the most profitable industry in the United States. For an interesting exploration of its history, visit The Side Unseen.

And so we begin with three of the many topics and themes encountered in CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES: in search for longevity, immortality, and higher consciousness. Though briefly alluded to throughout the novel, epidemiologist Leitis poses a theory of how Homo sapiens sapiens became a highly cognitively-aware being. She speculated that, when our species or earlier ones were curious about a fungus outcropping from cattle dung, the species experienced something extraordinary–what felt like out-of-body visions of colors, forms, and patterns. In another instance in the novel, there was a brief encounter by her mother Izobel seeking to understand The Secret of the Golden Flower, a Chinese Book of Life. C. G. Jung, an early Westerner who attempted to understand the secrets of the East, studied this wisdom literature of the powers of growth latent in the human psyche. Based on a cursory understanding of one of the yoga practices described in the text, it sounds much like Mahamudra Tantra without the drug. This is not to say that Eastern wisdom literature scrubs any historical use of mind-altering fungi/plants. Eastern yogis have and do with great skill.

The widening of our consciousness ought not to proceed at the expense of other kinds of consciousness but ought to take place through the development of those elements of our psyche….

C. G. Jung

Nonetheless, in the prolific mushroom world, there is much diversification. Hypothetically, the golden flower could very well be a mycelium (as in hidden). On a more serious note, the mycelia world is very ancient.

One can say it evolved into the network that digests the debris of matter on the face and under face of the earth. Moreover, one can honestly say that life as we know it is due in large part to mycelia and its fungi–by creating soil, regulating hydrological cycles, and establishing highly beneficial relationships with flora and fauna. In essence, it is the fabric of life that makes our lives sustainable. In fact, the human neural network of our human brain, Vagus nerve, and placenta mimic the mycelia.

Mycelia (aka Fungal Hyphae)

Did you know that 90% of terrestrial plants has a mycorrhizal (symbiotic) relationship with one or more species of fungi?

Fungal hyphae or mycelia seem to have such a sophisticated level of higher consciousness that it seems to know how to also help all living/organic matter on earth. Albeit, as creator, also as destroyer.

So, why would it not also be of benefit to one of its byproducts–us–in medicine? The following illustrates certain fungi cure certain diseases.

a. Agarikon (Fomilopsis officinalis) has anti-viral properties that are of major interest in a time of endemic/pandemic viruses. According to medicinalherbals.net which tracks research studies worldwide states that, in the early 2000’s,”a team of scientists tested 11 species of North American Agarikon mushrooms. Those 11 species contained compounds that were shown to possess highly anti-viral properties, and those compounds are the subject of several scientific studies. Some of those compounds are known to be useful in treating viruses like cowpox, swine flu, bird flu, oral and genital herpes (as mentioned below), and several other viruses. While there are still animal studies and human clinical trials that need to be performed, researchers are already suggesting that ingesting Agarikon may help the body develop a bio-shield against unwanted viruses and bacteria.” The web site also lists studies that Agarikon is medically promising in treating inflammation, cancer, flu, herpes, upset stomach, tuberculosis.

b. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) is also called the “smart mushroom,” for trials have shown that they help support cognitive function, memory, and attention span. There is some limited evidence (more testing is required) that it helps with Alzheimer’s Disease. The polysaccharides in Lion’s Mane seem to protect neurons or make them function better. There are other known benefits as attested by a long tradition of usage of Lion’s Mane in Chinese Medicine.

c. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor; Coriolus versicolor) – The Turkey Tail mushroom has widely been researched to know that it is antioxidant-rich and known for supporting the immune system, gut, and liver. Recent research has shown that it also aid is healing breast and prostate cancers. For this claim, view the documentary film, Fantastic Fungi.

There is much to learn about our magical friends, and we must respect the expertise of those scientists and doctors who are learning and guiding us in their usages. Toxicity cannot be understated when using them oneself.

“Trumpet Flower”

But the golden flower may very well not be a fungus. There are plants that have psychological-altering properties such as non-golden-flowering Cannabis (Cannabaceae whose root system resembles mycelium), Datura, and Brugmansia (“Trumpet flower”), which are used for spiritual or religious experiences. The last two psychedelic flowers can be of a golden hue.

Then there is soma, which is still a mysterious recipe that was used by one of the ancient Scythian tribes known as the Saka Haumavarga, which was a ceremonious drink that gave the warriors strength and also immortality and that can be traced all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilization. (Hauma and soma are synonymous.) In each instance, these entheogenic plants are known to cause the psyche to navigate into territories above the five-sense consciousnesses to understand the “mind of God” – the ultimate realm of mega consciousness. What seems to be the case in all these experiences in wisdom literature is to recogne the abstruse and involute “LIGHT”.

Magical Shitings,” Monoprint by Armida Nagy Rose

Trivia: T/F – Many fungi are shape-shifters.

True: They seem to be designed to defy human efforts at categorization. “The same species, sometimes the same individual, can reproduce two ways: sexually, by mixing genes with a partner of the same species, or asexually, by cloning to produce genetically identical offspring.” For more information, visit “The Name of the Fungus“.

Thoughts beyond the Novel DoD.4—Mother Goddess Anahita

In a remote area of Iraqi Kurdistan, the ancient lost city of Natounia, which was named after the founder of the Adiabene royal dynasty, is presumed to have been found recently. The region belonged to the Parthian empire over 2,000 years ago. Lost to antiquity, a sanctuary-style complex that received heavy rains to produce a waterfall was a monumental stone structure. In addition, there was a staircase carved into the bedrock.

Archeological site in the Zargos Mountains

Based on historical background, researchers believe the waters were the site in which Anahita, a Zoroastrian Iranian goddess, was worshipped as a divinity of “the Waters.”

A principal character of the novel is Nona, who is an art historian by training and who was very interested in waters, having come from an island. One of the settings of the novel, Nona is lecturing at a South Beach museum about numerous goddesses whose attribute was water. Thus, a sharing here of the goddess known as Anahita during the times of antiquity.

Like modern humans, the ancients appreciated the life-giving force of water. Their understanding of the life-saving graces bestowed to them, was limited to understanding how Mother Nature was represented symbolically, at least, for its many resources, especially water to refresh them and their livestock as well as to grow the fields of grains.

The full title of Anahita is Aredevi Sura Anahita, which attributes the virtues of moisture, mightiness, and purity to this Indo-Iranian Mother Goddess. In India, she conflates as the goddess Sarasvati while, in the Near East, she is Ishtar. At any rate, she is known as the mystical river that emerges from Mount Meru into the great sea and as the source of all the waters (anything that is in effect moist). As an example, the following hymnal excerpt to her states, Anahita “who makes the seed of all males pure, who makes the womb of all female pure for bringing forth” (The Zend Avesta, Part II). Her presence in human consciousness can be traced back to as early as 5500 BCE when religious beliefs started to be expressed in stone and bronze in the Indus Valley Civilization.

Goddess Anahita

Parvati, known to be riding tigers or lions and the consort of Shiva, is more likely to be Anahita than Saraswati, but, in truth, they all lumped together into different aspects of one consciousness.

In one of the hymns, Ashura Mazda, the Zoroastrian creator God, pays homage to her and asks her for her help. What is interesting here is that he offers her homa. Historical reference to homa goes back to Indus Valley Civilization, placing Anahita to this area where the ancient river Sarasvati flowed. Moreover, Anahita was invoked even before the founder of the Zoroastrian (Aryan) faith, who was the son of Pourushaspa—the holy Zarathustra.

The lion and horse were two of the chief animals she was associated with and thus was conferred to her, too, the title of Goddess of Sovereignty. She was also known as the Water-Warrior Goddess.

On page 279 of DAUGHTERS OF THE DANCE, Nona addresses her undergraduate students, saying, “We all know about Ganga of India having the power to cleanse away bad karma. The Ganges River is named after her….” She may have also been Ganga, the personification of the river Ganges, because the Sarasvati River could have well been dried up during the Rigveda account. Though the Sarasvati River was once a physical river, it was in Vedic times the heavenly river Milky Way was seen as “a road to immortality and heavenly after-life.” The Ganges River also flowed from the same source as the Sarasvati and then became the holiest of the rivers during Vedic times. All waters, after all, belong to Anahita, whatever her name change was at any given time.

Thoughts beyond the Novel DoD.3—Isla OIL Refinery

Once open a time—millions of human years ago to be exact—the remnants of animal and plant debris became oil. Mother Nature during this expanse of time transmuted dead life into black gold, using heat and pressure. To say that it runs modern society and fuels serious political tensions is an understatement. Take, for example, a deal that former President Donald J. Trump mustered up with OPEC+ (consortium of the world’s crude oil producers) in 2020 that jacked up the price of oil production by at least ten percent, causing the price of oil to skyrocket in recent times. There is nothing to brag about certain political tensions fueled by oil (no pun intended), especially when the current President, Joe Biden, is blamed for it. (It is reminiscent of what happened to former President Jimmy Carter who was blamed for something he did not orchestrate either.) Good news, that 2020 deal has expired; and the price of oil is going down, at least temporarily as Saudi Arabia very recently claimed there is no more surplus oil to be pumped!

Isla Refinery, Curaçao

While oil fluctuates in the market place, it also contributes to the production of global air pollution. Curaçao played a key role in contributing to this state of affair, and it has suffered from it. Its contribution to and associated impacts appear as a footnote in DAUGHTERS OF THE DANCE, page 19.

It was World War I that introduced Venezuelan to the world market. By1919, the investment and exportation of the oil increased tremendously; and during World War II, the oil, which was refined in Curaçao, was the most secure provider of oil to the United States, helping it and the allies to win World War II over Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Early in its history, Curaçao was a colony of the Dutch; and the Royal Dutch Shell capitalized on its location—about 40 miles north of the coast of Venezuela—to use its natural harbor capability to handle massive barges and tankers (the Schottegat). After  the opening of the Isla Refinery in 1915, Curaçao shipped the oil from the largest oil reserve of the world, Venezuela. (The political and economic strife of the current situation is not the topic of this blog.)

The Isla Refinery located on the Isla Peninsula in the Baal of Asiento, on the southwestern coast of Curaçao, was inaugurated in 1918 by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Petroleum Maatschappij, which later became Shell.

Prior to this international event, Curaçao was a backwater that barely produced enough for its people who struggled to survive. The wealth of the Royal Dutch Shell was spread throughout the Island to  becoming the “rich neighbor to the north” and establishing a local “floating market.”

The presence of Shell is gone, but the effects of its refinery has caused an economic shift to tourism, leaving its citizens to bring back its earlier charm. Still, the refinery has not been totally shut down but for a prominent anti-refining group (Stichting SMOC)[i] fighting for a majority of Curasaos who want it gone; it is big, ugly, and spewing toxins into the air and water wells.

Tourism at Willemstad

Dr. Erin Pulster was one of the first anti-refinery researchers. In 2015, Dr. Pulster obtained her Ph.D. (Environmental Chemistry, University of South Florida) with her thesis,Assessment of Public Health Risks Associated with Petrochemical Emissions Surrounding an Oil Refinery,” in which she dealt with the widely known pollutants sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM) and polycyclic aromatic compounds (PAHs). This thesis was held under embargo until September 2016.

Finally, the Curacao government decided to definitely close down its lucarative oil refinery, forcing 6.000 employees and their families to find their livelihood somewhere else in 2018.

The Cosmos Chronicle reported, too, that “The Isla Refinery was operated by PdVSA from Venezuela, but the Dutch diplomats did their best to cut off all relations with neighboring Caracas, Venezuela, to close down the oil refinery.”

But that is not the end of shutting it down entirely and cleaning its shocking environmental damage. Its emissions were one of the most polluting in the entire world for many years. Even a local court decision, declaring the level of emissions “unlawful,” did not bring about any swift changes. As a result, the people living in the vicinity of the refinery were exposed to more than damaging emissions on a daily basis. The air may be cleaner now, but a lot of repairing is still to be done. The COVID pandemic also precipitated its early closing. Update on its closing.

Indigenous People of the Orinoco

As a sidebar, it was the first Indigenous People of Venezuela who were aware of the black gold (hydrocarbons), which they used for medicinal and illumination purposes. They collected this oil from small creeks. They impregnated blankets near the seepages and then wrong the oil out. They also used asphalt made from oil for caulking their canoes and impregnating the sails of their boats.


[i] E.g., the Schoon Milieu op Curaçao (Clean Environment on Curaçao) Foundation

Thoughts beyond the Novel CCC.4–The Copper Mystique

Harappan Bronze Woman Wearing Bangles
(c. 2600 BCE) “The Dancing Girl”

Do you know what is nanomesh? Before answering this question, let’s take a trip to a very ancient time when copper played an important role in advancing civilizations as we know it today; and, of course a plug for CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES about copper.

All of us have come to know about the Bronze Age? Right? Briefly, this article will deal with the Indus Valley Civilization associated with the names Harappa and Mohengo-daro and their smelting copper/bronze. The spread of the use of copper and its technologies were worldwide during the Bronze Age. Though this period of time is referred to as the Bronze Age, it was mainly copper that made it possible, not to slight the importance of the role of tin.

Why copper? Copper is essential to make bronze, which is an alloy that consists primarily of copper. To make the alloy, bronze consists, generally, of 88 percent copper and 12-12.5 percent tin. Other metals and non-metals can be used such as arsenic or silicon. These metal/non-metals have useful properties such as strength, ductility, and machinability. However, since 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finally recognized other useful properties of copper that have come to the fore because of the pandemic pathogen COVID-19. EPA named it the first solid anti-microbial material in 2021!

The author digresses here a bit to talk about how copper played a role in the writing of CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES in 2018-2019. One of the principal characters, Dr. Drew Hopkins Carr, who was a member of a multi-governmental Rapid Response Team went to the Vatican to study and to eradicate a serious pathogen, knew about Israeli nanomesh. In actuality, the Israelis knew about the hygienic properties of copper for centuries. Being a patented medical design engineer, Dr. Hopkins Carr kept his attention on copper for newer and improved applications since he was living in Panama toward the end of the novel. Enough said. (There is a personal story behind the copper mines of Panama that will remain under the hood.)

Back to some ancient history regarding copper. There was a transitional period from the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages known as the Chalcolithic period when copper predominated in metalworking technology and, in effect, ruled the world. It advanced both beauty and functionality, but also warfare. Stone was the earlier technology before copper. The time period for Chalcolithic age was c. 5000-2000 BCE when metal is known to have been used. It is also called the Copper-Stone Age since there was a prevalence of stone carvings. In fact, copper artifacts start to appear in East Asia since c. 5000 BCE., The settlements belonging to the Chalcolithic Phase extended from the Chhota Nagpur plateau (eastern India, south of Nepal) to the Gangetic basin. The Ganges Basin (Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna) covers the area of Tibet, Nepal, India and Bangladesh. 

The Greater Indus Valley Civilization, Early Ancient India

No one will ever know how and when tin was “accidentally” used in copper to harden an artifact. Nonetheless, in Asia, ancient tin mines have been discovered in East Kazakhstan (c. 2000 BCE) and in West Central Iran near Deh Hosein. The latter is a huge copper/tin/gold deposit whose workings have also been dated to c. 2500 BCE.

Ancient history is being rewritten as a result of better funding for archeological expeditions, deeper archeological diggings, and the drying up of sea and river beds to reveal ancient settlements. For example, scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old (not 5,500 BCE). In other words, the civilization took root well before the Egyptian (c.7000-3000 BCE) and Mesopotamian (c. 6500-3100 BCE) civilizations. There is also evidence that copper and later bronze were exported from this civilization by sea!

Late Harappan (.\ 2010-1750 BCE)

Though copper objects, dated at c. 5000 BCE, of the Yangshao Culture were found in Jiangzhai, China, and the oldest copper mining site in Israel’s Negev, the Timna Valley, dating around c. 6,000-5,000 BCE, which was part of the Kingdom of Elam, there is something to consider about the latter site. If the Indus Valley merchants did set sail with their copper/bronze, they likely sailed the Arabian Sea up into the Gulf of Oman into the Persian Gulf to coastal Elam to trade their wares for other resources.

In recent times, over 1,400 Indus Valley Civilization sites have been discovered, of which 925 sites are in India and 475 sites in Pakistan, while some sites in Afghanistan are believed to be trading colonies. It is very likely, then, that the dawning of civilization began in the Indus Valley.

In recent times, over 1,400 Indus Valley Civilization sites have been discovered, of which 925 sites are in India and 475 sites in Pakistan, while some sites in Afghanistan are believed to be trading colonies. It is very likely, then, that the dawning of civilization began in the Indus Valley.

Kingdom of Elam and its Proximity to Ur – Sumeria

Welcome, copper nanomesh. It is now at the R&D stage before innovation. Copper nanomesh can be worn as protection against all pathogens (including bacteria and viruses)! Here comes the future of wearable copper garments. Currently, there are masks and protective clothing for scientists (HAZ-MAT suits) who fight epidemics/pandemics of pathogens. The ancient knowledge has come to the fore of the antimicrobial properties of copper—the oldest known medical text, the Edwin Smith Papyrus, details how copper was used to purify water, dress wounds, and treat venereal disease!

At least there is one sure thing that we know about how copper works is that its ions can puncture the outer shell of a virus, damaging its DNA/RNA strands. Nanomesh is copper fibers spun into random orientations and then flattened to a size 20 times thinner than an average strand of human hair to become wearable.

A Three-Faced Deity, Representing the
Three Types of Consciousness, Offering Effigy
of the Bronze Age, Indus Valley;
Another Topic Altogether

There was a time when hospitals used copper as anti-pathogenic agent, and a lot of homes had copper (i.e., bronze) doorknobs until aluminum became the preferred material because it was more abundant and cheaper to manufacture. It is never a bad idea to know what the ancient ones knew, because we keep learning from them still.

For the published document of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), visit “Antimicrobial second skin using copper nanomesh“.

One thing we do know for certain: We do not know how all of this will shake out in our future.

Thoughts beyond the Novel CCC.3 – Human Trafficking

One of the characters in Choir of Cloistered Canaries was a victim of human trafficking and slavery, a minor subplot. However, the novel lays out how a victim can understand early on the signs of how the perpetrator sets out to victimize someone. During this period of early captivity, hopefully, the victim can escape. However, all too often, the taking is all too sudden.

In the novel, the victim was rescued via an international sting by collaborating law enforcement. She was young and smart enough to make something of herself. Not all “modern slaves” are that lucky.

There is a non-profit organization, The Freedom Project, that seeks to raise awareness to how freedom is stolen and that defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.” In raising awareness, the organization states on their web site (thefreedomproject.org) the following:

Human trafficking & slavery is probably the biggest injustice issue in today’s world. It affects over 45 million people globally in over 167 countries. It is a global system of inequality and hidden truths of which no one is blameless. We all have a role and responsibility to bring this issue out of darkness into the light. To bring freedom, hope and a brighter future to victims and vulnerable communities. Will you join us in this fight for what’s right – in the fight for freedom?

Did you know that, under the Obama Administration, January was designated as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month”? To learn more about this initiative, visit republicaworld.com. President Biden issued in December 2021 a proclamation to raise awareness of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. According to 2021 Federal statistics, the highest rate of human trafficking per capita in the United States are California, Florida, and Texas. But such activities are happening elsewhere in the United States; for example, convictions have occurred in Ohio and Georgia in recent times. As for Florida, three men were convicted for child enticement and human trafficking crimes in April 2022.

According to UN Office of Drugs and Crime, the crime of human trafficking consists of three core elements: The act, the means, the purpose. Physical and sexual abuse, blackmail, emotional manipulation, and the removal of official documents are used by traffickers to control their victims. Exploitation can take place in a victim’s home country, during the migration or in a foreign country. Some are lured with the promise of becoming models. In many cases, victims are forced to work in factories, on construction sites or in the agricultural sector without pay or with an inadequate salary, living in fear of violence and often in inhumane conditions.

The organized networks or individuals behind these lucrative crimes take advantage of people who are vulnerable, desperate or simply seeking a better life,” notes UNODC.  Among those trafficked, women or teenage girls is one of the most vulnerable groups which are forced into prostitution and other sex-related activities. 

Please become aware and get involved to end this blight on human beings by human beings. To adopt The Freedom Project motto, “end slavery one life at a time.”

Thoughts beyond the Novel: CCC.2, Pan-American Beef Stew

Why Pan-American Stew? Why not? As a starter, there are many notable stews from around the world. They number at approximately 179 stews. So why not add another that draws from the fruits of Latin America and from export trade?

The Pan-American stew uses three prominent food sources of the Americas—namely, sweet potato, beef. and cayenne pepper. For good measure, let us throw in some mushroom stock (a food source known to improve the digestive system and enhance one’s immune system) instead of beef stock. Common stews are Mulligan/Burgoo (United States), Chili  con carne (southern Texas), Brunswick (southern United States) Ropa Vieja (Cuba); but not so well known are Booyah (midwestern United States), Seco (Equador), Sancocho (Puerto Rico), and Fricot (Acadian Canada) to name a few.

This recipe is prepared in an electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot, and is easy to prepare.

Ingredients

1.5 pounds of chuck roast beef (boneless, trimmed, and cut into 1-inch chunks)

¾ teaspoon ionized sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper (freshly ground is preferred)

2 tablespoons olive oil or sunflower oil

1 pound mushrooms, optional (any mushroom or mixed or your favorite, cut into chunky sizes)

1-2 medium onions (chopped)

1 medium jalapeno (seeded and chopped) or one small serrano pepper[i]

1 tablespoon paprika or smoked paprika

1 1/2 teaspoon oregano

3-5 cloves of minced garlic

1 cup red wine (unused/leftover wine)

3 cups of mushroom stock

1 pound of sweet potatoes (cut into 1-inch chunks)

2-3 carrots (peeled and cut angled-sliced rondelle)

2 tablespoons of unbleached, all-purpose flour

Instructions

1a.  Beef, salt and pepper: In advance by at least an hour, season the beef with the salt and pepper.

1b. Using a  6–quart Instant Pot, press the Sauté tab. When “hot” appears on the display, swirl in the oil.

1c. Add the beef into the inner stainless-steel pot, a third at a time so that the beef is golden brown on both sides.This method is required so that beef does not end up “stewing in its own juice and so that it has room to evaporate and brown. The browning into a rich, dark color is the secret of developing flavor in the stew. Cook each batch for approximately 5 minutes to achieve the golden browning of the beef. Each batch is transferred to a plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

2.  Depending on the size of the cut mushrooms, cook in batches as well, stirring occasionally, until they release their juices and brown. This takes about 10 minutes for each batch. Each batch is to be transferred to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Once all the mushrooms are sautéed, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Pour off any extra liquid, if necessary.) Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside as well.

3a. Add enough oil to the inner pot when adding the onions and chili peppers, stirring constantly for approximately 5 minutes until soft.

3b. Add paprika, oregano, and garlic, stirring for about 1 minute.

3c.  Add the cup of red wine, stirring occasionally while craping the brown bits from the bottom of the inner pot.

3d. Add the 3 cups of mushroom broth, stirring, and then adding the browned beef and browned

mushrooms with the accumulated juices.

3e. At this point, season the ingredients to taste with salt and pepper. Optionally, you can add some dashes of cayenne pepper for a spicier flavor.

4a. Close and lock the Instant Pot lid. Turn the steam-release handle to “sealing” position. Press the Pressure Cook tab and set at high pressure for 25 minutes.

4b.  Allow a 10-minute for the pressure to release naturally. Then turn the steam-release handle to “venting” to release the remaining pressure.

4c. Do not open until the float valve drops back into the lid. When this happens, you know that it is safe to open the lid.

4d.  Turn Instant Pot off and remove the lid.

5. Add the sweet potatoes and carrots. (You could add other vegetables that are a tuber or root, but the liquid ratio to the added vegetables could result in a burn event.)

5b. Remove 1 cup of broth of the stew to use for the thickening agent.

5c. Close and lock the Instant Pot lid. Turn the steam release handle to the “sealing” position. Press the Pressure Cook tab and set at 5 minutes.

5d. After the 5 minutes, use the quick pressure release, ensuring that the float valve has dropped back into the lid before removing the lid.

6. Turn Instant Pot off and remove the lid. Turn the cooker off.

7a. Gradually add the 2 tablespoon of flour to the tepid 1 cup of broth of the stew held in reserve, stirring until  smooth. Add the mixture to the stew in the inner pot, stirring constantly. Press the sauté tab and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the stew boils and thickens slightly.

7b. At this point, before serving, season to taste—more salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper?

8. Serve and enjoy with rice, mashed potatoes, salad, or the like.


[i] Caution about chile peppers: Chile oil released by chopping, seeding, or even harvesting hot peppers will cause a burning sensation, especially when applied to the face. Wear kitchen goggles and thick rubber gloves when preparing serranos and be careful not to remove them until all prep has been completed and tools and surfaces washed. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and the rest of your face while in contact with chiles. If you are processing or pureeing the peppers, avoid placing your face over the appliance after opening. Hot chile peppers are used to make pepper spray, and pureeing in a closed environment can create a puff of noxious fumes when first opened.