In several ways, the character of Pope Hormisdas II in CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES parallels the scientific bent of Pope Francis who called upon other religious-spiritual leaders to make a joint appeal at the upcoming meeting of the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November at Glasgow, Scotland, on Monday, October 3, 2021, to offer concrete solutions to save the planet from “an unprecedented ecological crisis.”
The “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” meeting brought together leaders representing Christendom, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and Jainism. The leaders represent about 3/4 of the population of the world, a significant percentage of people across the planet. Perhaps that collective voice will be heard.
In addressing the forum, which was organized by The Vatican, Britain, and Italy, Pope Francis said, “COP26 represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and [to] the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing and, in this way, to offer concrete hope to future generations. We want to accompany it with our commitment and [with] our spiritual closeness.”
The appeal, which described climate change as a “grave threat,” was posited as a “war on creation,” that calls for a “global financial architecture that repents of its sins in the past 100 years,” including changes in tax rules to promote green activity.
“If one nation sinks, we all sink,” said Rajwant Singh, a U.S. Sikh leader. The pope said, “Each of us has his or her religious beliefs and spiritual traditions; but no cultural, political or social borders or barriers prevent us from standing together.”
In Chapter 10, page 221, of CHOIR OF CLOISTERED CANARIES, Pope Hormisdas II speaks to Pope Francis’s signature theme — Environmental protection. “Climate change is causing the planet Earth to be on Fire! … Failure to cut the use of fossil fuels leads to a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperature … Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!” Nonetheless, Pope Hormisdas II, a scientist, is also interested in alchemy.
Francis, 84, about 11 years ago and several times thereafter appealed to the fossil fuel CEO’s and investers to have good faith in protecting the environment to no avail. He continues to strongly support the environment and the goals of the 2015 U.N. Paris accord to reduce global warming. He told young people at the weekend that theirs was “perhaps the last generation” to save the planet.
The pope’s impassioned appeal to protect nature is increasingly urgent as the global pandemic alters lifestyles and makes painfully plain the fragility of life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 MahamudraTantra 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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“.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 (StichtingSMOC)[i] fighting for a majority of Curasaos who want it gone; it is big, ugly, and spewing toxins into the air and water wells.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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 chilipeppers, stirring constantly for approximately 5 minutes until soft.
3b. Add paprika, oregano, and garlic, stirring for about 1 minute.
3c. Add the cup of redwine, stirring occasionally while craping the brown bits from the bottom of the inner pot.
3d. Add the 3 cups of mushroombroth, 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 cayennepepper 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 sweetpotatoes 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.
There is a beguiling chapter on dust in the fourth edition (1980) of Deserts on the March by Paul B. Sears. It reads as follows:
Long before the days of the microscope and the chemical balance, it was understood that dust is the beginning and the end of all things. Dust is always in the air we breathe, an invisible world of tiny, buoyant particles, infinitely rich in is variety, and with laws of its own. While most people think of it as being only minute bits of earth stirred up by strong air currents, it contains a host of living organisms, bacteria, molds, pollen, animals, as well as fragments of material from larger plants and animals. Except perhaps in air newly washed by rains, these particles float about perpetually sustained by gentle drifts in the atmosphere of which the human senses are scarcely aware….
Merriam-Webster defines “dust” as “fine particles of matter (as of earth)” and as “the particles into which something disintegrates”. To raise awareness that dust is more than just something to dismiss as common, one must realize that dust is often dangerous to one’s health.
In chapter three of Choir of Cloistered Canaries, the heroine epidemiologist gave dust a different interpretation as follows:
She watched the tiny dust particles that floated silently through the beams of light as she kicked off the blanket and coverlet. Making more dust particles to dance in the air, the epidemiologist focused on what is actually dust: airborne particulate matter (PM) and an air pollutant en masse…dead skin from previous guests, other solid particles, and liquid droplets from aerosol sprays that living organisms breathe. What she saw was only what the naked eyes could see; other PM required an electron microscope. One thing was certain—venetian blinds were great collectors of PM missed by an ostrich feather.
Much has been written about PM. Here are a few examples.
Of particular concern is how to limit diesel particulate matter from drifting into nearby neighborhoods as diesel trucks drove other routes—such as neighborhood streets—to avoid the freeway during construction.— oregonlive,com 2 June 2020
Already, data has shown that cities are recording much lower levels of harmful microscopic particulate matter known as PM 2.5, and of nitrogen dioxide, which is released by vehicles and power plants.— Amy Woodyatt, CNN, 12 May 2020
Boland is a project system engineer developing the MAIA instrument, the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols that will characterize particulate matter in air pollution.— Ashley Strickland, CNN, 1 May 2020
Another air pollutant of concern is particulate matter, microscopic airborne particles of dust or soot that linger in the air, often from burning fossil fuels.— Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, 26 Apr. 2020
The researchers found that, on a long term basis, an increase in the average concentration of particulate matter of one microgram per cubic meter led to a 15 percent higher death rate from the new coronavirus.— Ula Chrobak, Popular Science, 22 Apr. 2020
One of the biggest reasons for drug recalls is particulate contamination, or invisible matter found in the drug containers.— Lawrence Ganti, Forbes, 18 Jan. 2022
Fine particulate matters of diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) have been identified as the fifth-highest risk factor for global mortality.— Julia Jacobo, ABC News, 12 Jan. 2022
Now, suddenly, the V.A. had swung abruptly to align with the department’s most vocal critics, openly acknowledging that respiratory disease was a likely result of airborne particulate [chemicals] exposure during deployment.— New York Times, 11 Jan. 2022
Coal, which produces sooty, particulate-laden pollution, is responsible for half of those deaths, while natural gas and oil are responsible for the other half.— Tim De Chant, Ars Technica, 16 Dec. 2021
Each dryer would include a wet scrubber, a filtration method to control or reduce particulate emissions.— Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, 5 Sep. 2021
But instead of fertilizer being churned into the earth and its phosphorus binding to the soil in a particulate form, the pellets now sit like a crust on top of uncultivated fields.— jsonline.com, 2 Sep. 2021
Particulate matter, unfortunately, is inhaled and can cause serious health problems. It can even get into the bloodstream, not just into the lungs. The finest PM (less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) pose the greatest risks. Nonetheless, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) easily attach to a “dust particle” to cause health problems, especially those that are derived from petroleum. For example, each spritz of perfume contains chemical vapors known as “volatile organic compounds (VOCs).” Once sprayed, the VOCs react with sunlight and other chemicals in the atmosphere to form ozone pollution, according to NOAA, and can damage one’s health. As defined by the FDA, fragrance is a combination of chemicals that gives each perfume or cologne (including those used in other products) its distinct scent. Many artificial fragrance ingredients are often derived from petroleum because it is cheaper than natural raw materials.
The environmental issues occur because the chemical vapors react with sunlight to form ozone pollution. They also react with other chemicals in the atmosphere to form particulates in the air, which can cause damage to people’s lungs.
So here is the punchline to all fragrance toxic:
Artificial fragrances are highly toxic. Fragrances commonly contain phthalates, which are chemicals that help the scents last longer. Health risks for phthalates are startling and include cancer, human reproductive and developmental toxicity, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and respiratory problems.
The blogger’s heartfelt advice is: First, do no harm to yourself and to others. Then, stop enabling manufacturers’ desire to maximize profits. Stay away from artificial, toxic matter found in household goods, clothing, laundry products, colognes, air fresheners, and the like. Now that “clean” is a marketing term to fool your senses.
The twenty-first century phenomenon about dust is more swingeing: microplastic polution. We are now experiensing polymer particles in the blood. The latest research, published in the journal Environmental International, detecte4d such particles, as small as 0.0007 mm, can contain two or three types of plastic. Researches are concerned that these microplastics cause damage to human cells and cause millions of early deaths a year. To reduce contacting/ ingesting, avoid PET plastic used in drinks bottles and avoid packaging food and other products that contain polystyrene!
The novel, Daughters of the Dance, mentions several foods from Curaçao.* Now that we are in the midst of winter where, in the panhandle of Florida, there were rare flurries landing on the ground, enjoy the treats that are of Sephardic origin and popular in custom on the island. The most ancient is a recipe of the Curaçao Sephardim, which is also a favorite–the panlevi, a festive accompaniment with “hot chocolate” made with cacao or cocoa powder.** Hot chocolate is a traditional drink at a brit milah, the Jewish religious rite of male circumcision (aka bris).
Since there is no recorded plantation of cacao in Curaçao, the likely plantations from the French St. Lucia and Martinique must have provided the cacao to Curaçao as early as the 1660s, about 28 years after the revolt of the Spanish Netherlands. Although it was Christopher Columbus who was the first European explorer to taste chocolate in Nicaragua in 1502, it was Hernandos Cortes who sent the first shipment of the cacao bean to King Charles V of Spain in 1585. But it was not until 1828 that the Dutchman Casparus van Houten created a machine that makes chocolate as we know it today. It was his son, Coenraad Johannes, who invented the soluble cocoa powder which replaced the greasy, difficult to digest chocolate, which had to be cooked in milk.
The recipe for Panlevi (aka Dutch Caribbean Sponge Cookies) is as follows:
4 medium eggs, beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon and ¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2or 1 3/4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour two large baking sheets.
Put the eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl and beat together well, either by hand or using an electric handheld mixer.
Stir in the vanilla.
Fold in the flour and baking powder by hand to make a smooth batter.
Drop tablespoonfuls of the cookie batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees and bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and loosen the cookies from the baking sheets using a palette knife. Turn the oven off, then return the cookies to the oven to crisp up. Once crisp, transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Store the panlevi in an airtight container at room temperature; they should keep for a few days.
Hot chocolate for four servings
14½ oz. evaporated milk
3½ T unsweetened cocoa powder or cacao powder
4 T granulated sugar (or to taste)
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 medium egg
Place all the ingredients, except the egg, in a saucepan.
Fill the empty evaporated milk can with water and add this to the pan.
Mix well and bring gently to a boil, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and cool to drinking temperature.
Beat the egg well.
Add to the cocoa mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour into serving mugs/cups and serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of cocoa powder on top, if you like.
* Curaçao? The name Curaçao does not come from the word cacao as some claim. More than likely, it comes from a Portugues word, coraçao, which means “heart .” At a point in the colonized history of the Leeward , the Island was where injured or sick sailors went for R&R, to heal. Earlier in history, however, in his first voyage to Venezuela with Amerigo Vespucci, Alonso de Ojeda visited modern-day Curaçao in 1499 or in early 1500s. As discoverer, he called the island, Isla de los Gigantes (Island of the Giants), since he found the Arawak Indians or Kalingo Caribs to be of tall stature for indigenous people. However, the modern name probably could be another Europeanized version of a lost indigenous word.
**Basically, cacao is the word for the raw product (cacao bean) while cocoa is the name for a processed powder that is manufactured at a higher temperature and is often packaged with the addition of sugar and dairy, making it less acidic than cacao powder. However, both terms tend to be used interchangeably by people in the industry. Both are processed to separate the fatty part known as cocoa butter.