Following the announcement of the discovery of fossilised Martian bacteria on a meteorite the subject came to the fore.
On the morning of August 10th 1996 I remarked to my wife that I had once come across some Esoteric writings asserting that one of the moons of Mars, Phobos, is not a normal moon at all, but a large asteroid captured by a Martian civilisation and placed in orbit around the planet to correct some problems associated with the orbit of Mars itself.
However fantastic that sounded I reminded her of the enduring enigma of Swift’s precise descriptions of the two moons of Mars in Gulliver’s Travels, observations which were found to be uncannily accurate when astronomical checks were made over a century later.
She replied that in her book Journeys to the Underworld she had referred at one point to precisely this mystery, and remarked that she would check just where in the book she had done this.
At 11:20 p.m. on August 10th 1996 I was writing up my original presentation of Entry 124, and had just drawn attention to The Times reference to the oarfish
"… bleeding from its gills”[surely significant apropos the sub-theme of Coming up for air?].
I was interrupted by my wife saying she had found the quote in her book, and that it was not quite where she had thought.
It occurs on page 109, and I give the two preceding pages because of their clear relevance to the theme of prophecy:
The church of Ara Coeli… is supposed to be the site of the sibyl's prophecies relating to Christ… John, Patriarch of Antioch, gives this version… : Augustus wanted to know who would succeed him, so he went to the sibyl. At first, she gave no answer. Later, she told him that he must leave because a Jewish child was born who had subjugated the other gods and ordered the temples to be forsaken. Then the Emperor had an altar built on the Capitol with the words Ara Primogeniti Dei - Altar of the First-born of God.
The Western version of this tale is a shade more elaborate. Augustus went to the Tiburtine Sibyl to ask if he was a god. She asked for three days to make her divinations. Then she told the Emperor that a king had come to earth in human form to judge the world. The Emperor then saw a vision of a virgin standing on an altar holding a child, and was told that the virgin would conceive the redeemer of the world. The spot where he had this vision is where Ara Coeli now stands.
There are many other legends about the Capitoline Hill at Rome. One of these places a Virgilian work of magic there. This consisted of a house full of images representing the various countries of the world arranged round a statue of Rome. When a nation was about to threaten war or revolt, its image would turn its back or ring a bell, depending on which version of the story you read. Others make this a magic mirror in a tower, a kind of camera oscura perhaps - for seeing what occurred at a distance. The house, or tower, was supposed to have collapsed at the birth of Jesus. The same is sometimes said of the temple which preceded the Ara Coeli church. Early… writers seem to have a great urge to fabricate or quote anything that shows a great chance in the world coinciding with the birth of Christ. I suppose the Roman historian’s love of prodigies is carried on in this. Anyone would think that early Christians didn't find the birth important or authentic enough without outward omens. I have a theory that a thoroughly prejudiced old man sat down in his study prior to a well-deserved martyrdom and invented the lot. Like the original gospel that modern theologians believe lies behind three of the present ones, this document is of course lost. We just have a scattering of the lines from it spattered across the pages of Augustine, Salicetus, Lactantius, etc. So what did this old man invent? A voice saying that the god Pan is dead,various temples collapsing,the oracles stopping, Virgil and all the homosexuals dying. It would seem that the world became less rich as it went into its AD phase.
For many years I believed that widespread early Christian fiction about the oracles. Now I know that an impeccable pre-Christian source disproves it. Cicero states that Apollo had stopped making verses by the time of Pyrrhus [third century BC). He hints that the power of the places where prophecies were given had faded with Man's credulity. I think there may be a subtler reason. Cicero also states that the whole song of the sibyl was written in acrostics. The initials of lines showed the prophecy covered. Eunapius writes that the Pythian Oracle invented hexameters. Plutarch tells us that early Delphic prophecies were in verses. As time went on in Delphi, less literate priestesses were employed. The oracles then became prose. The theory behind employing uneducated women was that they couldn't have the intelligence to fake it or half-remember verses from school, instead of being just empty vessels for the God's voice. …
If there is such a thing as inspiration, then you need a good mind to be able to use it. You must be trained…
You have to be very smart to be a poet or a prophet. You can see this best perhaps by looking at the character studies of them in the Old Testament. They're people who're unafraid, or else able to face their fears. They can cheek a king if the need arises… The religious would say God inspired them. An atheist might say that it was anger at what was wrong with their times… I can see a parallel to this cessation of true prophecy in the poetry world - the decline into romanticism. Logic and good grammar are not considered a necessary part of poetry any longer…
Is it that hard to prophesy in the sense of foretelling the future? In most cases you have a 50 per cent chance of getting things right…If you phrase things ambiguously enough, people might not even know if you fail. A little elementary logic might tell you the outcome of an election - you could top up your record of right predictions by making easy ones like that. Another thing that helps is that there are a lot of occult-loving men and women out there, wanting you to be right, even if you write as obscurely as Nostradamus.
Of course, even if people go out of their way to make things true that doesn't make a person less a prophet. Jules Verne was right about the name of the first rocket to get to the moon, even if the Americans gave him a helping hand. The mission could have failed, as a recent rocket-launch did. I have to admit that the ability to foretell the future exists. There is a vast body of evidence on the subject. The daughter of Caecilia Metella - she of the tomb - is one of many people recorded as having had a prophetic dream. It's always hard to tell the truth of such visions though,unless they're well documented at the time. Some are perhaps just people being wise after the event. Other cases cannot be explained as easily. There is, for instance, Swift's statement in Gulliver's Travels about the satellites of the planet Mars, Deimos and Phobos… he quotes correctly the times they take to orbit, long before this was known to scientists. There's no way that can have been faked. No one could have known that Swift had made a correct prophecy until after his death. Interestingly, there are many such stories connected with writers from the earliest times on. A genius, like a king, attracts legends.
All of which seemed peculiarly apposite and well-timed.
The final paragraph of The Times piece mentions that a video of the great oarfish’s last moments is being studied at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute in America.
The day before The Times, like all the papers, had extensive commentary upon the claimed discovery of life on a meteorite from Mars.
Commenting upon the supposed origins of life on Earth it was described how scientists believe that the original primal soup produced amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, and their simple cousins, peptides.
"Until now, nobody has shown how a peptide can copy itself." [Quite a major stumbling block for Darwinists, I would have thought, but there you go.]
"By coincidence, scientists at the Scripps Institute in La Jola, California, describe in NATURE this week just such a self-replicating peptide."
AND FINALLY ...!
Whilst I was writing the word "soup" in the above bit about The Times my wife called me into the other room where Richard Dawkins had just popped up for a couple of minutes in a TV programme about consciousness where he was propounding Darwinist explanations for the very beginnings of both life and consciousness