Summer Solstice and a Full Moon

Happening now, in the U.K. starting at about 1:00 A.M. UTC.

A full moon, rising on the Solstice.

For this start of summer, I’ll be having a wave offering of home brewed Crisp Apple Cider. The burnt offering will be a nice fired full meat “combo” pizza.

Prepare, and enjoy.

Some thoughts to go with it? A joyous celebration:

Commence this special celebration at the time of your choosing. I’m starting now, in sync with UTC, but will continue well into local night and moonset. As this starts at the middle of the night, the 24 hour span reaches into tomorrow as well, so if you miss it tonight, tomorrow is fine too!

For those of technical interest:

Alternatively, viewers can also go to to watch the broadcast, snap and share photos, chat with other audience members, interact with the hosts and personally control Slooh’s telescopes.

During the event, astronomers will discuss the significance of the two events – the solstice and the full moon – happening at the same time. They will explore the importance of the solstice as a seasonal celebration in cultures across the world and throughout history.

Full report: Summer solstice to coincide with full moon for first time in 70 years: Watch live online | IB Times

Hit the link to get live links to the observation site.

For those wishing to make cider:

For those more wave offering with friends inclined:

Let the moonrise begin!

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Winter Solstice – New Beginnings

It is the Winter Solstice. The time of one ending and one beginning.

The Sun, source of all our power and life, is at it’s largest ebb in the Northern Hemisphere. Those souls lucky enough to be in the Southern Hemisphere are having their Summer Solstice and in the best of warmth; leaving us up north a bit jealous ;-)

But this posting will be “Northern Centric”. The traditional view of Europeans.

This is the time of change from decreasing light / increasing darkness to increasing light as the darkness flees. Yes, we still have about 2 months to 3 months of coldest winter to endure (as temperatures lag the heat flux change by a few months). Yet this is the moment when we can see the change coming.

It is “always darkest before the dawn”, and that holds doubly so (or perhaps even more than that) for the depths of the Winter Solstice.

Reflect for just a moment on what the Solstice means. The apparent movement of the Sun away from the peak of the dome of the sky has halted. The Sun stops the apparent movement to the other end of the world, and today starts to return to us. To power new beginnings and new warmth.

Yet for the next 3 months, we must live on stored energy. Stored hope. Stored life.

This has been a fundamental truth for millions of years for life outside the Tropics. Many species have their reproductive cycles tied to the solar cycle and the seasons. Pregnancies that start in spring, so maximum food quantity and quality is available while the young are developing; birth in winter, and first months spent ‘denning’ waiting for warmth of spring and the cycle to repeat. (Birds, being faster to develop, nest in spring and have fully grown in time to fly away in fall, planning in winter their return flight ‘soon’ in spring…)

For my own family, we are all ‘waiting expectantly’ as a new grandson is ‘on his way’. Due Date was yesterday. So “any day now”. The cycle of life of millions of years continues to beat to the solar drum and the Solstice Clock. Spouse and her twin birth date 2 weeks out. Mine about 3. Son about 4 weeks past. Ancient clocks and patterns repeated in the modern age. The next generation following in pattern.

So what is this time?

It is a time to celebrate and have a party. This has been true since before the Druids. They have a winter solstice celebration too, but even before Christians parked “Christmas” on top of the Druid party, the more ancient Pagans had a Winter Solstice celebration. (Note that the plants and animal stories in the birth of Christ place his actual month of birth about April.) While archaeologists just love to pronounce with somber tones that it was all Priests and Religion, I think that is a farce. Strong formal religion is a recent invention.

Most folks just lived ‘one with the world’ and in sync with nature and the seasons. That takes no High Priest and no Doctrine. The best evidence from Stonehenge shows a lot of cooked pig bones, and from 5000 years ago we find in Czech Republic / Bavaria areas evidence of Barley being roasted and beer made. To me, that says “Party!”.

It’s cold. It’s dark. You can’t plant and farm. Your food is all stored from last harvest and you still have 3 months (at least…) to get through before you can grow more. You have a choice: FEED all your animals, or eat them. May as well have a big blow out get-together with family and friends, have a feast of feasts on the final harvest of animals, and drink up some brew from those grains that can’t be stored through the winter.

The Yule Log tradition was that the biggest and best guys went into the forest and cut down a large log (preferably finding a dead / dry one) and drug it back to The Party. One end was lit on fire and it slowly burned to the other. Caloric demand is highest right now, to stay warm through this coldest darkest turn, so NOW is when you eat the most. The best logs could burn for 12 days… now the “12 Days Of Christmas”, really an old Pagan and later Druid ritual party.

We no longer need to gather in large groups, pool our resources and fire to stay warm in the darkest night of the year. Yet we still enjoy the party of it. So that’s what we continue to do.

Light The Fires of the 12 days of “Christmas” and Yule.

Pour the high caloric beverages (mead, grog, beer, eggnog…) and enjoy their warmth.

Cook large quantities of rich foods with warm fires, burn some on the altar of charcoal / wood coals to the Gods of nature and of man…

Enjoy a long “huddle” with friends and warmth in the dead of night.

Remember that while this is the longest night of the year, it is also the start of ever longer days and good times / warmth in the future. The worst is over, the best is yet to come.

If that isn’t a good reason for a party, I don’t know what else could be, so Get To It!

There is little in the world better than fire, hearth, food, family, friends, beverages and singing. No “priests” need apply (even this one…) to lead the festivities. Just start your own Winter Festival and enjoy this life.

Do please note that the fire, the food, the beverages, the friends and family, the warmth and the furs and coats are all based in Carbon. That one thing that is central to all known life and central to storing the energy of summer for use in the long winter still presently in progress. So take just a moment to hoist a glass of Sacramental Beverage and salute the Altar Fire, the Southern Sun, and the frozen north to which it will return.

Until that time, it is your stores of Carbon fuels and Carbon foods that will keep you warm, safe, and your heart glad through the next season of ever more light in a cold world. Praise be to Carbon, and praise be to our life based in it.

With that, I’ve got a fire to light, some meat to put on the Altar Of Fire, and a beverage of Carbon Based Fuel to pour. A nice red this time, I think…

Let the Winter Yule begin. I make 12 days as being nicely into the new year ;-)

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Equinox – September

Equal Nights

Equal Sun

Equatorial Zenith

The whole world in balance, yet out of balance

Speeding past the balance point as we transition from one season to the next.

The vast ocean of air above us has been warmed in the north and tropics, swept to Antarctica, and sucked down the funnel of the Polar Vortex and Night Jet, during the long southern winter. Now the north goes cold. At this balance point, the winds aloft run from equator toward both poles, then back along the ground. The northern polar vortex starts to form, the southern fades. It all takes time, so the shift lags a while after the equinox, but now is the time of changing. Now is the moment the whole world paradigm shifts as we pass the solar pivot.

This peculiar state of being happens twice per year. Being in the most balanced and equal state, yet being in the most unblanced point of change. A time to reflect on summer ending in the north, or winter ending south of the equator. Not yet ended as the soil, rocks, water and air take time to follow the sun. Not yet ended, yet the Sun has moved on.

In the garden, life has been growing and enjoying the warmth of summer. Yet now it has been hotter and drier than life really likes as summer reaches its peak (my garden being in a natural desert in California, only surviving summer due to human intervention in the water cycle). The end of summer is hotter than the start. Indian Summer is the term often used for the return of hot after a brief cooling. The cooling came and went, now is the last hurrah of heat before the plunge into cold. Life in the garden then changes, but doesn’t end. But the Sun has clearly ‘moved on’.

My location, being away from the equator, the summer Sun is nearly overhead at the solstice. Biefly we are able to experience a hint of life in the tropics where the Sun is always overhead. For folks in the southern half of the planet, the Sun was as far away from overhead as it could get, then. Extremes of heat and cold toward each end of the earth. We feel it when that changes. At first, slowly, then more swift. Mornings and evenings shifting warmth most, and first, then the middle of the day starts to notice. So for me the Sun has clearly moved away. Gone are the suffering heat of mid-day and the sunburn risks. Instead of gardening outside of the 10-to-2 hours, I garden during those times as the warmth is welcome.

My office window faces the rising Sun. Toward the Summer Solstice it rises nearly straight into my face. The shade must be pulled to see the workspace and screen. Now it rises to the right side of the window, casts welcome light onto shelves and books, warming and lighting the office with shade left up. At Winter Solstice it will be far to the south and a dim soft light will be all I get, and that for a short time middle of the day. But now, at the equinox, the whole world gets 12 hours of light. We are all equal and we all share the same experience.

Yet not the same.

For the north, it is the time of endings. Summer telling us it is headed for the door. Prepare to harvest. Prepare for storms. Prepare for that cold Arctic Air Mass to flow down over the land and freeze our half of the world. For the southern hemisphere, it is the time of beginnings. Cold, snow, and winter are not yet gone, but weakening. That polar vortex is winding down and the cold Antarctic air is abating. Soon a new Spring will arrive. Very opposite lives from the same event.

The pendulum of our cosmic clock is passing the midpoint of its swing, but that is when the velocity of change is greatest, just when things are most equal and most in balance. Life is like that. When things seem the most balanced and stable it is often the time of greatest impending change. Children live in a world of immense stability. Parents are eternal, home a constant. Yet they hurtle through change at an astounding rate. Languages of all sorts absorbed in just a few years of immersion. Doubling in size and ability every few years. As adults, we live in a world of bewildering change. Years pass in a blink. Children are suddenly married and announcing grandchildren to be. Technology changes obsolete what just a moment ago was a magical advance. (From the only phone being a black one on a wire to cell phones the size of a purse, now ‘quaint’ antiques as phones move to Dick Tracy wrist watch sized, with video). We rush toward our end, so near now in perspective. Yet in many ways life is most stable. Size of body and place of home constant for decades. Language and skills mastered long ago. A vast library of memories stabilizing the world view. Seeing our place in a history that spans thousands of years, and knowing that will not change.

It is a constant of the universe. That which is most stable sees the most change, and that which changes most sees the most stability around it.

That is the lesson of the Equinox. Balance and out of balance. Most equal, and rushing to most change and most unequal. Already change is here, yet it will not arrive for another month as the whole atmosphere must change and reverse flows. Now and future and past. Pivot on the balance point.

Ritual Of Equinox

The world has many rituals for the Equinox. Some are timed to the solar event. Others to the actual temperature shift. Germans have Oktoberfest to celebrate the harvest. Druids celebrate the “Quarter Days” Autumnal Equinox but then follow with Samhain (that has become All Hallows Eve in Christian traditions, now mutated into Halloween in the USA and other secular traditions) at roughly the time of the actual temperature shifts. Samhain is a traditional “fire festival” time, while the Equinox is more of a food festival time. Last run to the beach and sun (or ski and fireplace in the southern hemisphere), outdoor altar lit and burnt offerings over smokey fires. Wave offerings from the plenty of summer. (In the southern hemisphere the Spring rituals are similar, but it is more of ‘last time must be indoors’ and ‘last of the stored food and drink’ – preparing for the first out doors “fire festival” that is Imbolc in the northern spring.)

But over the whole world folks celebrate the Equinox and the following quarter days even if they do not recognize it. It is the celebration of change. The ending of one regime and start of the next, and the stability of the cycle of things knowing that “this too shall pass” but also “this too shall return”.

So enjoy a small festival of joy in carbon based life. Burt offerings, wave offerings, and all. And prepare for the Quarter Days fire festivals that must come when change can no longer be denied and balance is clearly moved away from Equal. For now, the Sun is equal for all, and all of us get an equal share of the gift of solar warmth. Last and first hurrah of Sun going or coming to your half of the world. Enjoy what you have now, knowing it will be gone, and plan to enjoy what is coming, knowing it must. Be in the now, and embrace the change in the wind.

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The Holy Month Of July

I was feeling a bit left out, what with Ramadan and all, and got to thinking…

It is not all that uncommon for various religions to have “Holy City of Foo” or “Holy Month of Bar”, and that whole Sunday tradition (or Saturday for 7th Day Adventists) is of a Christian tradition… So why not have a Holy Month of Carbon?

With that in mind, I’m proclaiming this the Holy Month Of July.

Festivities to commence whenever and wherever desired. Preferably a natural fire using charcoal, wood, or if necessary, propane for cooking. Unlike Ramadan, eating is encouraged during our Holy Months (yes, there will be more… The Holy Month of August is coming soon…).

Think of it as an ongoing celebration of our Carbon Based Life. Rather a bit like Yule. Pig on a spit, or steak on a grill, or even vegetarian kabobs over flames. Beverages of choice to include sacred wine, sacred beer, and even sacred soda pop (though sacred juice is preferred… soda has a lot of non-carbon bad stuff in it like brominated vegetable oil in citrus flavors where the Bromine is not good for you and phosphoric acid to dissolve teeth in the cola forms; but suit yourself).

With that, I proclaim the start of the Feast Month of the Holy Month of July! Let the fires be lit and the feasting begin!

While the Holy Month of July is best celebrated out of doors, and if possible near that nexus of life where the Sun meets the Ocean, the Beach; it is equally suited to celebrate indoors (though if you can find a wooden bar, that’s as good as the beach, wood being an ultimate form of Carbon based life). Furthermore, time spent in the mountains and trees with a campfire and friends is a High Holy Celebration of Carbon. Yet even a little time on a deck chair in the back yard, with a portable grill nearby, is just as effective sometimes. What matters is your inner state of Peace, Joy, and Life Affirmation.

I know this is a surprise announcement, but such is the mystery of life. Please take a little time to plan a celebration of life during this Holy Month of July. A wave offering to all!

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Summer Solstice 2015

This is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. The time when the Sun halts the motion to longer days, and begins the slow passage back to shorter days. In the Southern Hemisphere, this is the Winter Solstice, and the shortest day, turning back toward more sun. It is a time of marking the most extreme of solar motion and the strongest seasons in progress.

It takes time for the change of added energy to fully reflect in the temperatures and weather of the planet. For that reason, meteorological summer runs a ways after the Summer Solstice. For most folks it is considered to be a month or two. July and August. It varies with latitude, being hard to notice at the equator, and dramatic at the poles.

That gives us an understanding of the nature of heat storage on our planet. At the Winter Solstice in the N.H. about December 22, we have January and February of winter yet to come. The fallacy of retained heat in “Global Warming” illustrated by that single time lag. Heat is not stored through the depth of winter, it simply lags about 2 months behind persistent solar flux changes.

It is the Sun that rules our lives, makes our weather, delivers water from the seas as rains and snow, feeds our crops, and warms our souls.

This Summer Solstice also lands on Father’s Day in the USA. For me, this will be a double celebration. The Altar is ready with charcoal to get started, and Manzanita for flavor and persistence. Sacred wine is cooling in the refrigerator (Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc). Tomorrow will begin with a visit to a very old church, made of mud. Mission Santa Clara.

There, in a place whose simple existence is testimony to the world of plenty and grace we live in, that is brilliant evidence that the only real resource is human ingenuity when freed of oppression and fear; I expect to hear a homily based on fear and greed spawned of deception. The Pope has issued his marching orders on Global Warming, and most in attendance will be blind to the meaning of where they sit. That there is no reason to fear. That the Sun is in control, and we are not. That there is no shortage in a world of abundant imagination. That free people are always rich, and only tyrants (large and petty) and the fearful bring disasters of human cause. But I will know. And I will be there to whisper to the walls that “this too shall pass” in the fullness of time.

Outside the sun will rise, and not care at all. The day will warm and be pleasant. Those who care to see a glorious world of plenty will see one, and those who do not are acting by their own hand and inside their own limitations. Best to show them by example what real happiness looks like. Peace and pleasures in the presence of family and friends, or friends to be.

After the service, the family is going out for Pizza (and some beer for me). Why pizza? Fired in an oven, over purifying flames. Spice, bite and richness. I was asked what I wanted for “my day”, and said I wanted to spend it with the family doing what I value and enjoy. A wonderfully aeromatic burnt offering and wave offering mid day.

As the evening arrives, it will be chops and chicken on the Manzanita and wine wave offering. There will also be, fresh from the garden, summer squash and green beans with a side of sweet collards (my own variety made from crossing green glaze collards with dinosaur kale and a purple cabbage – durable like collards but sweeter like cabbage with some color and shape of kale). I expect to watch the sun set with glass in hand, and cherish this special day.

So, with that, enjoy your own bounty and by your own choices find joy. To quote an Australian (when I was getting a visa from their consulate):

“Life is what you make it, now, isn’t it?”…

So I chose to make my peaceful, guilt free, and a life of abundance.

What do you chose to make yours?

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Soy Marinade Chicken

Tonight we will be having a Burnt Offering of chicken. It is a very simple preparation. I use chicken parts (or a whole chicken cut into parts) that are then placed in a plastic bag with soy sauce. Air is squeezed out until the sauce covers the chicken and it is set in a bowl to stand for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour. It is best to let any meat rise to near room temperature prior to placing on the grill. This helps prevent overcooked outsides with raw near the bones. So I let this stand out of the fridge.

That’s the ‘base’. It can be enhanced in several ways, depending on your preference for flavors. Minced onions or crushed garlic can be added. Using 1/2 soy sauce and 1/2 beer is nice and tenderizes a bit. Ground pepper can be added, or for more ‘fire breathing’, a bit of hot sauce. If there are particular flavors you prefer, like sage or thyme, those can be crushed and added to the base.

Personally, I like the beer and / or garlic options.

When time to grill, simply lay the parts on the Altar fire, about 7 minutes to the side but that depends on the heat level, with a lid cover closed, or not, and the size of the parts. I’ve had large parts uncovered take 10 minutes to the side. Toward the end, lower the heat level for a longer “finish” that improves the tenderness and flavor. Essentially let it “rest” for about 20 minutes, but on a low ‘keep warm’ level of temperature. I like about 180 degrees.

Prepare the Wave Offering of your choice. Then thank God or the Creator Force for this life, for the energy of life delivered via Sacred Carbon; both in the Burnt Offering and in the Wave Offering. Hold the Wave Offering to the west and to the east, thankful for the sun bringing that energy to our lives. Then share the Burnt Offering as a communion in Carbon Life with all attending.

Remember that this life is not to be wasted. Explore, learn, love and live to the fullest each day. Life is too short to drink bad wine…

If any of you have particular methods of preparation of a Burnt Offering or Wave Offering, please feel free to share them here.

With that, Amen.

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Ba’al, Bel

One of the ongoing themes of the Bible is the disparagement of Baal worship.

Doing a search on Baal (in the Bible at the link up above under “Bible”) gives:

Bible Search Results 1 – 15 of about 144 for Baal. Search took 0.13 seconds.

2 Chronicles 23:17 All the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars
and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. …
// – 19k

2 Kings 10:23 Then Jehu and Jehonadab son of Rekab went into the temple of Baal. … Then Jehu
went into the temple of Baal with Jehonadab son of Recab. …
// – 20k

2 Kings 10:27 They demolished the sacred stone of Baal and tore down the temple of
Baal, and people have used it for a latrine to this day. …
// – 18k

1 Kings 16:32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. …
First Ahab built a temple and an altar for Baal in Samaria. …
// – 18k

2 Kings 10:21 Then he sent word throughout Israel, and all the servants of Baal came;
not one stayed away. They crowded into the temple of Baal …
// – 20k

Jeremiah 19:5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings
to Baal–something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my …
// – 19k

2 Samuel 5:20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He … So David went
to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. “The …
// – 21k

Deuteronomy 4:3 You saw with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal Peor. The … “You saw
for yourself what the LORD did to you at Baal-peor. There …
// – 18k

Joshua 13:17 to Heshbon and all its towns on the plateau, including
Dibon, Bamoth Baal, Beth Baal Meon …
// – 17k

1 Chronicles 9:40 The son of Jonathan: Merib-Baal, who was the father of Micah. … Jonathan was the
father of Merib-baal. Merib-baal was the father of Micah. …
// – 17k

1 Chronicles 8:34 The son of Jonathan: Merib-Baal, who was the father of Micah. … Jonathan was the
father of Merib-baal. Merib-baal was the father of Micah. …
// – 17k

Judges 6:32 So because Gideon broke down Baal’s altar, they gave him the name
Jerub-Baal that day, saying, “Let Baal contend with him …
// – 18k

1 Chronicles 14:11 So David and his men went up to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. … So David
and his troops went up to Baal-perazim and defeated the Philistines there. …
// – 20k

1 Kings 22:53 He served and worshiped Baal and aroused the anger of the LORD,
the God of Israel, just as his father had done. …
// – 18k

Hosea 13:1 When Ephraim spoke, people trembled; he was exalted in …
… But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. … But the people of Ephraim sinned
by worshiping Baal and thus sealed their destruction. …
// – 17k

So just who was this Baal, and why get so worked up about him? And what’s a “Baal Perazim” or a “Jerub-Ball” or “Merib-Baal”?

In the formative stages of Israel’s history, the presence of Baal names did not necessarily mean apostasy or even syncretism. The judge Gideon was also named Jerubbaal (Judges 6:32), and King Saul had a son named Ishbaal (I Chronicles 8:33). For those early Hebrews, “Baal” designated the Lord of Israel, just as “Baal” farther north designated the Lord of Lebanon or of Ugarit. What made the very name Baal anathema to the Israelites was the program of Jezebel, in the 9th century bc, to introduce into Israel her Phoenician cult of Baal in opposition to the official worship of Yahweh (I Kings 18). By the time of the prophet Hosea (mid-8th century bc) the antagonism to Baalism was so strong that the use of the term Baal was often replaced by the contemptuous boshet (“shame”); in compound proper names, for example, Ishbosheth replaced the earlier Ishbaal.

So in those compound names above, it isn’t the god Ba’al, it’s “Lord Perazim” or “Jerub-Lord” or “Merib-Lord”. OK, right off the bat we now know that when seeing “Baal” in a name, it might have a religious meaning, or it might just be a status honorific, and “when” it was said matters. Before or after the 9th century B.C. It is specifically the Phoenician Baal that got everyone in a tizzy.

So where did the Phoenicians get their Baal? And how does he connect to the others?

Turns out that Baal Worship was pretty much universal in Semitic peoples from Sumeria to Carthage. It also gets pretty complex. First off we have that “Lord” meaning, so some inscriptions or clay tablets might be talking about a local chieftain and if you don’t read it right or know the players, might get that confused with a local god. Second, there’s the tendency for lots of old Sumerian cities to have their own god. Each one might be called Baal, as in Baal of Babylon vs Baal of Akkad. The “Lord of {City}” or the “Lord of {Nation}”.

Then it gets even a bit more complicated, since the Baal of Babylon might be spread over Akkad if / when Babylon beat up Akkad. In some cases a national Baal got spread over very large areas and could even end up being mapped onto other “gods” and lose the connection to “Lord”…

Baal, god worshiped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who apparently considered him a fertility deity and one of the most important gods in the pantheon. As a Semitic common noun baal (Hebrew baʿal) meant “owner” or “lord,” although it could be used more generally; for example, a baal of wings was a winged creature, and, in the plural, baalim of arrows indicated archers. Yet such fluidity in the use of the term baal did not prevent it from being attached to a god of distinct character. As such, Baal designated the universal god of fertility, and in that capacity his title was Prince, Lord of the Earth. He was also called the Lord of Rain and Dew, the two forms of moisture that were indispensable for fertile soil in Canaan. In Ugaritic and Old Testament Hebrew, Baal’s epithet as the storm god was He Who Rides on the Clouds. In Phoenician he was called Baal Shamen, Lord of the Heavens.

Which oddly connects us back to Amun / Amen who was the unseen god of the air, sky, heavens, and the hidden sun. I’m sure it was just an accidental connection. At least I hope it was. Given that Amen then connects on to YHWH as the unseen God, there is the potential that these folks were both looking to worship the unseen God of the Air and Heavens, just under different names and from a slightly different history. It’s more likely that Baal Shamen had the usual statues and all and was just a local Baal for Phoenicians, but still… there’s a whole lot of getting pissy about not that much going on.

There is also some indication that the Ancients were aware of the tendency for things to cycle on about a 10 year span. In their case, 14 years as either of two 7 year states.

Knowledge of Baal’s personality and functions derives chiefly from a number of tablets uncovered from 1929 onward at Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), in northern Syria, and dating to the middle of the 2nd millennium bc. The tablets, although closely attached to the worship of Baal at his local temple, probably represent Canaanite belief generally. Fertility was envisaged in terms of seven-year cycles. In the mythology of Canaan, Baal, the god of life and fertility, locked in mortal combat with Mot, the god of death and sterility. If Baal triumphed, a seven-year cycle of fertility would ensue; but, if he were vanquished by Mot, seven years of drought and famine would ensue.

Just to note in passing, Ugarit and the Ugaritic language have a very important place in ancient interpretation. As Ugaritic was written with vowels, we can often clarify what was meant in some Biblical verses where other copies in Aramaic do not indicate what vowel is correct.

The Ugaritic language, a Northwest Semitic language, discovered by French archaeologists in 1928, is known almost only in the form of writings found in the ruined city of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), Syria. It has been used by scholars of the Old Testament to clarify Biblical Hebrew texts and has revealed ways in which ancient Israelite culture finds parallels in the neighboring cultures.

Ugaritic has been called “the greatest literary discovery from antiquity since the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and Mesopotamian cuneiform”.
The Ugaritic language is attested in texts from the 14th through the 12th century BC. The city was destroyed in 1180–1170 BC.

Literary texts discovered at Ugarit include the Legend of Keret, the Aqhat Epic (or Legend of Danel), the Myth of Baal-Aliyan, and the Death of Baal – the latter two are also collectively known as the Baal cycle – all revealing aspects of a Canaanite religion.

According to one hypothesis, Ugaritic texts might solve the biblical puzzle of the anachronism of Ezekiel mentioning Daniel at Ezekiel 14:13-16; it is because in both Ugaritic and the Ancient Hebrew texts, it is correctly Danel.

Cyrus Cylinder

Cyrus Cylinder

Original Image
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The Cyrus Cylinder (Persian: منشور کوروش‎) is an ancient clay cylinder, now broken into several fragments, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of the Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great. It dates from the 6th century BC and was discovered in the ruins of Babylon in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) in 1879. It is currently in the possession of the British Museum, which sponsored the expedition that discovered the cylinder. It was created and used as a foundation deposit following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when the Neo-Babylonian Empire was invaded by Cyrus and incorporated into his Persian Empire.

The text on the Cylinder praises Cyrus, sets out his genealogy and portrays him as a king from a line of kings. The Babylonian king Nabonidus, who was defeated and deposed by Cyrus, is denounced as an impious oppressor of the people of Babylonia and his low-born origins are implicitly contrasted to Cyrus’s kingly heritage. The victorious Cyrus is portrayed as having been chosen by the chief Babylonian god Marduk to restore peace and order to the Babylonians. The text states that Cyrus was welcomed by the people of Babylon as their new ruler and entered the city in peace. It appeals to Marduk to protect and help Cyrus and his son Cambyses. It extols Cyrus as a benefactor of the citizens of Babylonia who improved their lives, repatriated displaced people and restored temples and cult sanctuaries across Mesopotamia and elsewhere in the region. It concludes with a description of how Cyrus repaired the city wall of Babylon and found a similar inscription placed there by an earlier king.

The Cylinder’s text has traditionally been seen by Biblical scholars as corroborative evidence of Cyrus’ policy of the repatriation of the Jewish people following their Babylonian captivity (an act that the Book of Ezra attributes to Cyrus), as the text refers to the restoration of cult sanctuaries and repatriation of deported peoples.

The text goes on to ascribe a bunch of “good things” to Cyrus (sort of standard for new kings who just won a major war and took over your country) and says the god Marduk wanted him in charge. Then, this write up make a connection of Bel (an alternate spelling of Baal) to Marduk. Bel and Marduk (a sun god) were seen as the same. Yet again we have highly similar beliefs being distinguished based on ‘not much’. Amun / Amen / Marduk. Are they not all just really naming the same heavenly power by different names?

Midway through the text, the writer switches to a first-person narrative in the voice of Cyrus, addressing the reader directly. A list of his titles is given (in a Mesopotamian rather than Persian style): “I am Cyrus, king of the world, great king, powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters [of the earth], son of Cambyses, great king, king of Anshan, descendent of Teispes, great king, king of Anshan, the perpetual seed of kingship, whose reign Bel [Markuk] and Nebo love, and with whose kingship, to their joy, they concern themselves.” He describes the pious deeds he performed after his conquest: he restored peace to Babylon and the other cities sacred to Marduk, freeing their inhabitants from their “yoke,” and he “brought relief to their dilapidated housing (thus) putting an end to their (main) complaints.” He repaired the ruined temples in the cities he conquered, restored their cults, and returned their sacred images as well as their former inhabitants which Narbonidus had taken to Babylon. Near the end of the inscription Cyrus highlights his restoration of Babylon’s city wall, saying: “I saw within it an inscription of Ashurbanipal, a king who preceded me.” The remainder is missing but presumably describes Cyrus’s rededication of the gateway mentioned.

In Conclusion

So we’ve got some interesting evidence that the Biblical Narrative is in fact an accurate historical narrative of things, as it matches “facts in the ground”. We’ve also clarified some of the use of Baal as “Lord” in a generic sense; and we’ve found that the god Baal has some parallel description similar to Amen (and then that makes a tenuous link to YHWH; as we saw in an earlier posting). Is that connection “real”? Or is it just that the same “honors and powers” tended to be heaped onto whatever god name was being used? Unfortunately, at that point the trail is so muddied and so tenuous, that it is a leap too far to claim any connection.

Baal is too loose a word, and too loose a name, to be enough of a determinant to say if there was, or was not, some connection. All we can really say is that the Hebrew God YHWH is an unseen God that is the god of the air and hidden power of the sun; with attribution of being the One God or the head God; the King of Kings. While the Phoenician Baal Shamen has a similar description; and Baal is often touted as the king of the Gods. A lot of similarities for being at each other hammer and tongs.

So in the end, we are left to trust the Hebrew Priests of that day. They saw the Phoenician Baal as distinct and separate, and a false god, with YHWH as the one true God. Did they get it right? Or was it an ego fight between two closely related cultures over a name, and not much else? I can’t really answer that one. All I can really say is that we now have a better idea who Baal was, and how the term was used.

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