Our mysterious and sometimes odd planet
From: "Misty" <email@example.com>
Subject: Our Truly Strange Sphere - "geo-oddities"
Thanks to Rich Hansen
A Guide to our Mysterious Earth
Our Truly Strange Sphere
It is well known that in the past many interesting theories were held about the nature of the Earth. There have been those who have proposed that it is: flat and resting on pillars; held on a turtle's back; hollow; inverted and hollow (so that we live in the inside); pear-shaped; and shaped like a mountain. Various sites of habitation have competed for being the omphalos or Navel of the World, where the World Tree connects heaven and earth. However, by Colombus' day, the majority of educated persons, having read their Greek philosophers, concluded it was a solid sphere. By the 18th century, another change had taken place as well. With the pagan religions having been crushed by Catholicism and then pulled up by their roots by Puritanism, few Gaian worshippers remained. The ancient belief that the world was alive had been extirpated, and many of the new "natural philosophers" concluded that it was a lifeless ball of rock "covered with a thin green film of scum." It was held to be a rather unchanging, undynamic place, with geological processes taking long, slow epochs to alter its face (the doctrine of uniformitarianism.) But new scientific discoveries suggest our world is a far stranger place than some dead stone in space. They may even hint that in some ways, it is quite alive.
There are numerous "geo-oddities" that reveal our planet to be quite a curious and changing body. Many have been catalogued by the ever-indefatigable William Corliss. These anomalies include: theever-shifting crop circles; disappearing islands (such as the Lost Elizabethan Isles); ever-expanding "sinkholes" that refuse to be filled; gravitational and magnetic anomaly zones; "cookie cutters" (where vast zones of earth appear to have been ripped out and tossed yards away); fiery or "burning" hills; "walking" or moving rocks; bizarre weather and aerial displays; and all the damned things from the sky that have been catalogued by Forteans. And there are many other examples from the Journal - singing sands, ringing rocks, Mima mounds, Michigan "garden beds," "dead zones" where no vegetation will grow, so-called 'vortexes,' and petrified forests with exotic formations.
Anyone who thinks the Earth is a pretty dull and unchanging place doesn't really have a clue. In fact, the geologic doctrine of uniformitarianism is giving way to a new catastrophism. Life may not have evolved under conditions of slow, gradual geologic processes, after all - it may have experienced multiple periods of "punctuated equilibrium" where genetic variation was rapid and prolific.
Typical example of a flooded sinkhole
There are numerous "geo-oddities" that reveal our planet to be quite a curious and changing body. Many have been catalogued by the ever-indefatigable William Corliss. These anomalies include: theever-shifting crop circles; disappearing islands (such as the Lost Elizabethan Isles); ever-expanding "sinkholes" that refuse to be filled; gravitational and magnetic anomaly zones; "cookie cutters" (where vast zones of earth appear to have been ripped out and tossed yards away); fiery or "burning" hills; "walking" or moving rocks; bizarre weather and aerial displays; and all the damned things from the sky that have been catalogued by Forteans. And there are many other examples from the Journal - singing sands, ringing rocks, Mima mounds, Michigan "garden beds," "dead zones" where no vegetation will grow, so-called 'vortexes,' and petrified forests with exotic formations. Anyone who thinks the Earth is a pretty dull and unchanging place doesn't really have a clue. In fact, the geologic doctrine of uniformitarianism is giving way to a new catastrophism. Life may not have evolved under conditions of slow, gradual geologic processes, after all - it may have experienced multiple periods of "punctuated equilibrium" where genetic variation was rapid and prolific.
The "Nemesis" hypothesis suggests that a 'dark planet' out in the Oort Cluster may periodically send forth a rain of comets into the solar system, at 65,000 year intervals, one of those impacts having done in the dinosaurs. Some scientists feel that there may have been massive climactic changes in the past which resulted from a celestial body passing close to Earth and disturbing its orbit. One scientist has even advanced the hypothesis that most of the Earth's water has come from infinitesmally small 'minicomets' which pass rapidly through its orbit. Geologists have now found much evidence to indicate that land and sea have indeed changed places. We know many examples of volcanic landmasses emerging from the sea, only to blow to pieces or crash back down into the depths again. Where the Sahara Desert is now, there was apparently a very fertile, well-watered plain some 10,000years ago. Apparently, following the end of the last Ice Age around that period, sea levels rose an incredible amount, and the Mediterranean basin was formed. There are many odd geological formations around the world some were noted by Velikovsky in his books - which suggest some rapid, powerful force or impact, much like that seen in the wake of the Tunguska Incident of 1908, which flattened trees for miles.
The Earth does appear on occasion to be have been the site of explosive change in its 4 1/2 billion year history - but scientists are still trying to puzzle out whether or not that may be the cause of periodic, regular extinctions. The evidence is there: magnetic field reversals; pole shifts; sudden climactic changes; worldwide flooding; vast craters; apparent orbital variations. Forteans should be interested in the way in which many geological anomalies may fit within a catastrophist framework. Catastrophism also may help to explain some of the weird teleological and anomalous events in natural history, such as neoteny, where organisms regress to an infantile state in order to move forward evolutionarily. Mostly, catastrophism is an important part of the Fortean worldview. The doctrine of uniformitarianism was part and parcel of the deterministic Laplacean framework, which offered scientific prediction an air of omnipotence, and a reinforcement for the Victorian feeling of being at the pinnacle of 'progress,' at the apex of life on Earth. But in these days of mathematical "catastrophe theory," we know that normal systems can be subject to rapid fluctuations - including,one might point out, any multiple-body system such as our own solar system. (oh no... not Velikovsky again?) In a world where the impossible can and does happen, it is not surprising to find the processes of geological and biological change operating under forces that are not just slow, steady, continuous, linear, and constant, but... Fortean.
Heavens and Earth
Besides having probably shook and kicked around our planet on one or more occasions, there is increasing evidence that cosmic phenomena may play a great role in changing the conditions on it. Having rid ourselves of the pseudoscience of astrology, we can concentrate on real and empirical cosmic influences on the Earth and its biota. The Earth is distant from its cosmic neighbors, but they still influence it in many ways.
As Umberto Eco has lampooned, but not explained away, Foucault's pendulum seems to accentuate this fact. Without the Earth's rotation having ceased, the pendulum has been noted to stop. According to Mach's principle, the position of the pendulum in some strange way is relative to the position of the fixed stars. Those "fixed stars" are, of course, moving themselves, but somehow they do influence the pendulum. This is not so surprising to some scientists. According to the Naval Meterological Department, they can predict barometric conditions to a remarkable degree also according to the positions of the stars. Joseph F. Goodavage and other "astro-meterologists" believe that celestial changes play a great role in our planetary climactic patterns. There are other examples. An Eastern European doctor can, using the positions of sun and moon at time of conception, calculate almost to the moment when a woman will give birth.
A CBS technician found out that sunspots can and do interfere with TV broadcasts, and that planetary conjunctions often correlated with the signal-destroying solar "storms." The researcher Frank A. Brown found that the opening of oysters and otherbiological rhythms were influenced by the phases of the moon, and lunar variations can be correlated with various other phenomena - crime outbreaks, madness (e.g. 'lunacy'), animal migration, and the hemorraging factor of the blood. John Gribbin has noted how planetary alignments exert a pull on solar plasma, although his "Jupiter Effect" has been overrated; Persinger notes a strong correspondence between the positions of Mars and Venus and geomagnetic variation. How does all this happen?
Michael Gaquelin provides the key. The sun-moon-Earth system is a complex interweaving magnetic nexus, and perturbations on that system cause geomagnetic changes, which in turn can influence everything from chemical catabolysis rates to radio propagation. Other celestial bodies may impinge on this system to varying degrees: EM, unlike gravitation, is mediated by forces which do not decreaseas rapidly over distance.
The Earth Shall Shake
In recent years, earthquake prediction has moved from being a guessing game to more of a science. The primary obstacle to understanding earthquakes was geologists' refusal to accept tectonic plate movement (continental drift.) Today we know that the crust of the Earth does float on a "sea" of magma, and that earthquakes and vulcanism occur primarily in those zones where one plate is rubbing against another - "fault lines." This model is not perfect, because there are often "rogue" quakes which strike in unexpected areas, but it works extraordinarily well. Nonetheless, there are certain aspects ofearthquakes which lend themselves to predicting their incidence - but geologists refuse to pay attention.
One factor is that oscillations in the planet's magnetic field often occur right before quakes; these oscillations, as noted above, often correlate strongly with astronomical and solar events. But geologists are afraid to say something ridiculous along the lines of "sunspots cause earthquakes," despite the fact that, in a certain sense, they do... radio wave propagation (e.g. ionsospheric "whistlers") does appear to play a role in earthquakes, and it can be studied by closely monitoring the impact of the solar wind on the ionosphere. The geomagnetic changes prior to earthquakes may disturb both animals and human "sensitives," which can be seen in the 'precognitive' dreams and weird animal behavior which immediately precede the quakes.
Gravitational changes may be involved as well, with the "dips" and "hills" in the field shifting with the wobble of the planet's axis or tidal forces from the moon and planets. Other geophysical factors appear to be involved in earthquake incidence - water table level, release of specific gasses & chemicals, ground electrical resistivity, weather patterns, and telluric current shifts. One of those factors, the mysterious EQLs (earthquake lights), appear to occur from piezoelectric effects resulting from crushing quartz rock located deep in the crust. Most ominously, though the Pentagon refuses to admit it (as it did with the dangers of radioactive fallout in the 50s), underground nuclear testing and the onset of earthquakes within a few days can be almost perfectly correlated. Other human activities may increase the tectonic force built up in the crust - such as blasting open mines - but not to the degree that nuclear tests do. These are all matters that need to be examined closely if we're going to predict the next "Big One."
The Underworld: Folklore and Fact
In the old shamanic cosmology of the Paleolithic, there was thought to be three worlds linked by the World Tree - ours, the heavens, and the underworld. In historical times, the underworld often became the land of the dead - Hades, Sheol, Gehenna, the land of Anubis, or, in Christian times, Hell. This pervasive belief in a subterranean world beneath our own survives in science fiction (Edgar Rice Burroughs), fringe religion (Koreshanity and Shaverism), and myth and legend (Shamballah, Agharta, the Kingdom of the Master of the World). Legend has it that there exists some subterranean race deep within the bowels of the Earth - in Richard Shaver's cosmology, like that of the Cathars, there were demons ("tyros") who controlled the actions of us on the surface with sinister "rays." Other mythologies hold that the Underworld is the place of the enlightened Hidden Masters, not a sinister hell.
Exploration beneath the Earth's crust has demonstrated that the Earth is definitely not hollow (sorry, the evidence here is too strong...) However, it is in many ways like a ball of swiss cheese - there are vast underground spaces, whole "New Lands" yet to be discovered, largely because they are so hot as to be uninhabitable to life. The curious "tunnel complexes" and "weird caverns" found in many places, such as the Matto Grosso in Brazil or the Devil's Hole Cave near Death Valley, often lead one to wonder.
Are they natural in origin, or artificial constructs of some powerful race of engineers? In H.P Lovecraft's fictional universe, they were dug by immense worm-lie creatures (Chthonians and Dholes) and inhabited by ghouls and serpent folk. Numerous treasure legends and abandoned mine stories lead treasure seekers to dig deep into the Earth in search of gold - but here may be a forgotten memory of other, more powerful "treasures" which originate from inside of the Earth. For the mysteries of mineral formation still remain - there are many geologic deposits of natural gas and oil which appear to be abiogenic in origin, and veins of metallic ore in unlikely places.
Dowsers hint that there are veinsof "primary water" within the Earth, which is in a different (plasmic) state of matter and drives the movement of the telluric currents. Is there a mysterious underground civilization deep within these tunnel complexes? Are fabulous treasure and foul monsters to be found down there? No one knows,but the underworld has plenty of curious, if somewhat more prosaic, mysteries to be explored.
Geomancy and the World Grid
Numerous writers have suggested that the ancients may have mapped (Hapgood), measured and surveyed (Stecchini), and divided up (Pennick) the Earth. We do not know why they had to do so with such accuracy. But almost all ancient societies utilized exact, numerically harmonic Earth-commensurate units of measure for building their structures, perhaps recognizing that this was thekey to tap the Earth energy. Alexander Thom found that almost all the megaliths of Britain were built according to a standard unit of measure he dubbed the Megalithic Yard. Further, most of the stone circles are ovals which appear to be based on right-angle triangles and some knowledge of the Pythagorean theorem.
Many of the "ley lines" they mark lead directly to the rising of a particular star (or key sunrise/moonrise point) on a particular day. The siting of many of their structures suggests they clearly surveyed large amounts of territory and may even have known the exact dimensions of the Earth. But beyond even this, utilizing geomancy, they may also have studied the movement of planetary telluric energy and discovered (and utilized) the 'ley lines' which made up the 'World Grid.'
Geomancers like the feng shui practicioners of China were able to divine the composition of ch'i (orgone, "earth energy," or geomagnetism) in a particular area and discover whether it was propitious or not to place things there. Neolithic dowsers may have identified the 'blind springs' and other spots where the Earth energies influenced fertility, vitality, and health, and built their megaliths to mark (and direct or concentrate) those energies, "needling" the Earth like a dowser. Clearly, these "primitive"savages altered the landscape in the past - vast landscape effigies, mounds, and zodiacs having been created, and hills altered so that the "Old Straight Track" could continue unimpeded. These ancient geomancers may have recognized what we know today - that there are certain "window areas" where geomagnetic activity is particularly high, and where strange Fortean events tend to cluster. In some places, the Earth force may have been blocked up and "soured" (become DOR - Deadly Orgone) and caused what are known as Geopathic Stress sites which correlate with cancer epidemics. We may not know how to tap the Earth force as those shamans once did, but it still has residual effects on our consciousness and may even open gates to other realms of existence...
The Earth may be more than just weird, dynamic, and complex. In some strange way, it may be alive. This theory has gained ground particularly due to James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis, which is based on evidence which suggests the organisms of the planet "cooperate" to a certain degree to keep certainclimactic and biotic conditions within critical boundaries, and that our planet might be a lot more like Venus or Mars were it not for the self-regulating presence of life. Lovelock has never suggested the planet itself is alive, though its biota enable it to function like a living organism. But others have pointed to such a notion. In their study of Simulacra (natural rock formations that seem much like living organisms), Michell and Rickard speculate that the "inspiration" of life may pre-exist it. Peter Tompkins and Chris Bird have marshalled a great deal of evidence that even the simplest of organisms (plants) may possess a rudimentary nervous system, 'consciousness' and the means of communication with oneother (e.g., language).
Paul Kammerer observed that there almost seems to be a "storehouse" of morphologies in nature which are endlessly repeated, and other Forteans have noted the almost curious precision with which the migration and population expansion of species seems to be regulated and controlled, almost as if the planet frequenly exiles or summons species as needed to or from elsewhere. Louis Kervan observed how many organisms performed "life alchemy" by literally doing the impossible - transmutation of elements. The now-debunked "Hundredth Monkey" phenomenon does seem to appear in other species besides spud-washing Pacific monkeys - there have been numerous observations of species learning new behaviors without direct transmission of the skill.
Sheldrake's theory of formative causation leads new lines of inquiry into the study of the origins of instinct. If there is not some sort of anima mundi or "group mind" linking all the life on the planet together with the planet itself, certainly one is being erected, with the vast "noosphere" of communications wrapping itself around the globe due to the activities of man, as Teilhard de Chardin observed.
But all these new discoveries seem to bring us back to an old idea. That the Earth is a living entity. That the Mother Goddess religions may have known this fact, and that the sweeping onslaught of patriarchal sky-god-worshipping nomads may have crushed this knowledge and caused it to
be forgottten. It is not surprising that with our rediscovery of Gaia, we are also experiencing a Rebirth of Pan, where strange events seem to be linked by some magical web of correspondence connected to the old pre-Christian faiths. Or that it corresponds with a massive reevaluation of the role of women in patriarchal societies and the feminine principle itself. Gaia may be trying to contact us once more, to remind us of the urgency which confronts us. Our environmental destructiveness is no threat to Gaia - she has withstood worse before - but it may be a threat to us, her children, as we slowly change her into an inhospitable place for hairless anthropoids. Most importantly, we may be on the verge of rediscovering the mysterious "earth force" itself, whose origins and effects we are now only coming to understand as our ancestors once did.