Last year HawkWatch International used some of my artwork to promote their annual event, “Wings Across the West“. I also made a poster for HawkWatch using my artwork. Well, this year they asked me if I could make another piece, and you can see that new piece above. Any opportunity to draw a beautiful bird is a good opportunity, especially if it helps promote raptor preservation.
First off, I should say this post has spoilers for the new Captain America movie, so quit reading if ya don’t like that sort of thing. Second, this post contains a number of “real life” conspiracy theories that were addressed in the new Captain America movie, so quit reading if ya don’t like that sort of thing.
The new Captain America: The Winter Soldier is an entertaining movie, which is the most important thing in the end. Its just a movie. A superhero movie. But I’m kinda partial to superhero flicks. Turns out, this has easily become a favorite.
In addition to it being a great film though, I saw a whole lot of what many people believe to be real-life conspiracies being played out on the screen. I don’t necessarily buy into all of the good old conspiracy theory stuff, but I don’t dismiss out of hand either. At the very least, I think it is important to stay informed and be able to see the issues from multiple angles. And its plain to see that there is a whole lot of bullshit going on in the world now.
Anyway, seeing these conspiracies play out on the screen was kind of like a slap in the face the first time I saw the movie. When I saw it again, I decided I’d write about it.
The main plot has Hydra infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. and that is a good place to start. In Marvel Comics, Hydra begins as an arm (or hydra-head) of the Nazi party during WWII. Hydra begins to take on a life of its own over time, but it has its roots with the Nazi. In the movie, Hydra infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. through coercion and deception in order to take over the US government. Okay, so that is Marvel’s history. In our real world, it could be said that something similar has been going down.
Its well established that during his rise to power, Hitler got a huge bulk of his funding from many American corporations and banks. It is a historical fact that some of these corporations were involved with eugenics research, gave money, support, provided raw materials and weaponry to the Nazi party and Hitler. A side note, but it also well established that George Herbert Walker and Prescott Bush (former President George W. Bush Sr.’s grandpappy and father, dis-respectively) helped Hitler rise to power. Another side note, it is also known that Prescott Bush helped plan a government coup in 1933 meant to topple President Franklin D. Rossevelt, because Bush believed that fascist policy would get America through the Great Depression.
Fast forward a little bit. In the movie, after the end of WWII, a number of Nazi scientists were brought over to America where they were allowed to continue their research. Well, in the really-real world this also happened. Hundreds of Nazi scientists were brought over to work with the American military under Operation Paperclip. Many of those (former? current?) Nazis rose to positions of power in our own government, probably most the famous being Wernher von Braun, who went on to become a director of NASA. I’ll leave it to you to imagine how deep their influence went.
Alrighty, back to the movie where S.H.I.E.L.D. is run by a world council which decides the fate of nations. Well, that looked a lot to me like the much anticipated New World Order back here in our world. Or maybe the Bilderberg Group? Actually, the whole Captain America movie seemed to be a story about how the New World Order might rise to power.
I’m kind of skipping around, but back to the movie and how it begins. Cap and a bunch of agents are sent to free hostages and recover stolen data from a hijacked warship. As the film progresses they discover that the kidnappings were part of a government sanctioned operation. Back in our world these are known as False Flag operations, and there are many people who believe our government uses these False Flag operations to manipulate the People into giving away their freedom. This is, to my mind, where you have to tread very lightly and keep a healthy dose of skepticism.
I personally am not one of those people who buy into “9/11 was an inside job” hook line and sinker, but there are many people who do, and it is easy to understand why. There are so many unanswered questions and things that were covered up. Whatever you think about the tragedy, its plain to see that our world is completely different since that infamous date. Unending wars against an undefined enemy, post-traumatic national fear (there is a terrorist under your bed!), the self-proclaimed “Patriot” Act, economic collapse (in spite of what we’ve been told, we can’t afford all of this war. Can’t afford it financially or morally), Citizens United, government surveillance… and on… and on.
That paragraph above reminds me of Arnim Zola‘s point about how we have traded in our freedom for security, comfort and convenience. Sounds about right to me.
Speaking of Zola and government surveillance, didn’t Arnim Zola’s monitoring of American citizens in the film sound very similar to what Edward Snowden revealed about our own government?
And didn’t those new S.H.I.E.L.D / Hydra helicarriers sound an awful lot like government drones? Granted, they were fancy drones, but their function was the same. That is, anonymous death. Killing people from the sky.
I thought this might be a long post, but this has gotten L.O.N.G.
One last thing… We should all remember what Italian fascist Mussolini said: “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” Sound familiar, ehh? I guess Mussolini would know. With government bailouts, the Fed, Corporate Personhood, Citizens United, and many of our new policies written down by lawyers on little scraps of paper stink of fascism. Its plain to see that corporate interest and big finance trump the People pretty much every time. Can you say “Hail HYDRA”?
Anyway, it is great to be a skeptic. And I am skeptical about conspiracy :) Very much so. But its also good to remember, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you!”
The Vegetative Universe, opens like a flower from the Earths center:
In which is Eternity. It expands in Stars to the Mundane Shell
And there it meets Eternity again, both within and without
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I don’t have a whole lot more to say about tarot here on ArtDuh for now, except the Thoth deck is mindbogglingly beautiful! Created my Alister Crowley (spooky! haha) and illustrated by artist Frieda Harris. These images and symbols are very rich and meaningful, and the way Harris has portrayed them is pretty much perfect.
Like I say, I don’t have a whole lot more to add about oracles, but I do want to post and look at these beautiful pictures!
I’m no expert by any means, but a quick note about Crowley. I know that he has a questionable reputation with a lot of people. Its understandable, I guess, since he was so unconventional. Even though I do think he was brilliant, I won’t even try to defend him. Not my place and he did a lot of shocking things. Plus, I don’t claim to relate to or like everything he said and did (although this Thoth deck is one of the things he did very well!). I’ve come to understand that a lot of the things that were so “controversial” are, most lot of the time, just theatrics (but not always, to be sure). He had many profound insights, but I kind of think of him as a performer to some degree. He liked the public eye and played to that as well.
Also, about Thoth… an amazing historical teacher. Considered to be the one who taught the Egyptians magic, science, and how to write, he is also thought to be the author of the Emerald Tablet. He is also often associated with the Greco-Roman god Hermes/Mercury, the messenger of the gods. It is also accepted by a number of people that Thoth and thrice great Hermes Trismegistus are one and the same person. I have even read before that Thoth and the biblical Enoch were probably the same person too. Thoth has a very rich history, which make for extremely powerful symbols.
I have a very strong interest in oracles and omens and I think if we can keep our eyes open, we’ll realize they are everywhere. I know, in this modern world that isn’t very well received, but I don’t care. If I come across a certain animal, bird, tree or rock… well, sometimes those encounters have very deep significance for me, even if I can’t explain why at the time. The synchronicities of everyday life, knowledge gained, an action, a conversation or casual comments… these everyday things can really fire my imagination at the very least. This is a pretty amazing place!
It is hard to put into words, but I feel a deeply spiritual connection between myself and pretty much everything else I share this world with. And even beyond this world. Even though I love science very very much, I instinctively feel like we share connections with each other and the rest of nature that science cannot easily measure. I’m probably starting to sound pretty woo-woo, and I usually try to avoid that at all costs, but I guess I also feel like I’ve got to explain so I can also understand…
I have a very strong interest in and am amazed by divination. I think, if you’re open to it, divinatory systems can give glimpses into our shared physical, mental and spiritual connections. Ancient books like the I Ching are, quite simply, beautiful to me. The history behind the Sibyl and other prophets fascinate me. But on a personal level, what I relate to the most would be the Tarot. As an artist, my eyeballs devour this world, and then I express my thoughts and feelings about it visually through symbols. I find the artwork and symbolism on some tarot decks to be extremely powerful and moving. Its goal is to represent visually the different aspects and experiences we all go through, symbolically, on separate individual cards. Even if you’re not all that open to these symbols as a divinatory system, I think all of us can learn by examining them. Maybe it’ll help at first to think of the pictures as a very complex Rorschach test. Check it out, see what ya see.
I don’t have many decks by any means, but if I see one I like, I will pick it up. My personal favorite deck is my Wildwood Tarot. There is something about its primal and animal characters that speak directly to me. With beings like the Green Man, the Ancestor, or the Son of Life running through the deck, how could it not?
As if this post wasn’t already long enough, I have a little side-tangent I’d like to explore.
I don’t know why, but it seems like most of my life I have been drawn to stone-age and bronze-age mythology and magic(k). Not that I practice it really, I don’t think of myself as a pagan or Wiccan, but maybe I lean that way a little bit. I suppose maybe the biggest reason I am drawn to the Wildwood is because it portrays that primitive and primal mythology instead of a medieval court (like many other tarot deck do).
I’ve explored a lot of different religious beliefs. I am very drawn to Hinduism especially, but what I relate to most are the ideas of ancient (i.e. pagan simple country folk) Europe. Nature is magic to me, and spirits move through it. Animals are my friends and trees and rivers whisper secrets. I’ve felt this way for a very long time. The wind cries Mary. I like the city and technology quite a lot too and, even though in a lot of ways it is now, I don’t think it needs to be incongruent with the natural world. Its all a part of Nature I guess. When I was younger running around under starry-skies and tree canopies I used to think to myself that modern man simply cannot relate to ancient customs and thought. Even though I felt a longing for them in my heart, I also felt like an outsider to those customs. I thought the animal in us had died. I think I was right, to some degree. We have changed. But I have come to see more and more that we are all still a part of Nature, and she has evolved with us, and (hopefully) we with Her. These ancient symbols and beliefs still have relevance, and returning to respecting Nature, trying to understand Her language and symbols (and also our own symbols at the same time) are perhaps some of the only things that makes any sense to me anymore. Not that we need to go live in caves, but we need to realize we are a part (not apart) of Nature too and respect that.
I should mention that the Wildwood Tarot was created by John Matthews, Mark Ryan, and illustrated by Will Worthington. Great job fellas!
Here are a couple of additional new drawings I just finished. Really only one piece, a diptych, over two pages.
I’ve been looking at a lot of old religious artwork lately, and have been enjoying the work of Jan van Eyck especially. One piece in particular stands out, and that is his Last Judgement, pictured above. This incredible piece is really a part of a diptych, made up of two panels, called Crucifixion and Last Judgement. The truth is, it is the Archangel Michael in the middle of the Last Judgement that I just keep looking at (I just realized that I wrote about another painting of Michael not too long ago. So there ya go). With his peacock wings filled with eyeballs, holding hell at bay with his shield and sword. Pretty sweet!
This last week or two I’ve been doing some drawing, and here is what I’ve come up with. I often just let the drawings kind of reveal themselves to me as I go along, and with these four pieces I started drawing and pretty soon I saw the bull, so I went with it. Then a lion started to appear, so I let that one come on out too. Then I knew what I was drawing, although I wasn’t completely sure why.
The bull, lion, eagle and man often represent the fixed signs of the astrological zodiac… but more than that too. They are also the four different faces of the angelic cherubim, one of whom was the angel who kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and stands guard over the Tree of Knowledge with his flaming sword. Also, in Christianity, these four animals also represent the Four Evangelists. Thats what came out of my pen this week, although I can’t really say why. I guess I do love symbols, and these are ancient and powerful. Think the three different traditions and their usage of these symbols are connected? I’m pretty sure they are somehow :)
I had the pleasure of seeing some very nice painting this week here in downtown SLC. Specifically the beautiful work of Lee Bennion and Brian Kershisnik on display at the Mormon Church History Museum.
I’ll be honest, I don’t really like church-y stuff. I respect other peoples beliefs completely, but I don’t find any kind of organized religion to be a good fit for me personally so I tend to avoid. Yep, even the Salt Lake religious art museum. I know I live in Utah (and I love it here) so I’m going to come across church-y stuff sort-a regularly, and that’s okie dokie. Whatever floats your boat… plus, there is obviously a long history and so much fantastic religious art. But anyway, I know both Bennion and Kershinik to be very fine painters, and because I love to look at beautiful things I found myself in the official Church Museum®.
I’m very glad I stopped in and saw the pieces I’ve posted here, and many more (again, I apologize that my photos don’t do the work justice).
I’d recommend this show to anyone, so check it out!