Video Mysticism

Mysticism

Last updated: January 26, 2017

Mercury retrograde, explained without astrology

The science buried under the pseudoscience.

Channel: Vox

How to Squash a Paranormal Claim

The James Randi Educational Foundation has never met a "psychic" it couldn't discredit—easily. Still, Randi understands why such frauds appeal to people. Question: What does the JREF consider a legitimate test of paranormal claims? A test of any...

Channel: Big Think

Homeopathy, quackery and fraud | James Randi

Legendary skeptic James Randi takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills onstage, kicking off a searing 18-minute indictment of irrational beliefs. He throws out a challenge to the world's psychics: Prove what you do is real, and I'll give you a million dollars. (No...

Channel: TED

Why the World Is Still Fascinated with Astrology

In the third episode of The Chosen Ones, host Gavin Haynes dives into the world of horoscope-obsessed astrologists based in his London hometown. No matter how developed a society becomes, no matter how much they give rights to...

Channel: VICE

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7.2. The fascination of numbers

7.2. THE FASCINATION OF NUMBERS

At first glance, the source of the apocalyptic fascination with the years 1000 and 2000 might be the obscure texts of Revelation 20, where the expression “a thousand years” or “thousands of years” (according to other Bible versions) is used six times. Revelation 20 is the foundation of the entire millennial doctrine, but the text does not refer expressly to the years 1000 or 2000; this is why the “thousand years” was interpreted over time either symbolically or literally, as a specific and practical calendrical unit. In any case, religion cannot explain why the attraction for the year 2000 transcended the cultural and religious barriers; it was not limited to Christian people. And if we ask ourselves what exactly in nature functions according to cycles of 1,000 or 2,000 years, the answer is nothing. This means that the explanation to the problem of the year 1000 or 2000 is not to be found in religion, but in psychology.

The number 1,000 seems mystical, powerful and especially complete for the simple fact that it is a round number. The modern man thinks in the decimal (base 10) system of numeration; he imagines, conceives and organizes his environment though this system of numeration. Money is the best example of the way we apply numbers in the material world: we have money of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 1,000 or 2,000 units. Nowhere in the world is there money of 3,245 units, of 1,415 units or any other numerical values that are difficult to operate with.

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7.2.4. When science and religion collide: pyramidology

7.2.4. When science and religion collide: pyramidology

No other preceding century did achieve as many discoveries and inventions as the 19th century. From William Whewell who coined the term “scientist,” Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, the discovery of the vaccine by Louis Pasteur to Thomas Edison’s light bulb, this century had the merit of transforming science into a profession. The world began to wake up from the nightmare of superstition and it headed toward an age of knowledge. But for theologians this was not a cause for celebration; they had the difficult task of providing religious answers to the new questions regarding the mechanics of the Universe, the history of mankind and the role of divinity in everyday life. The new discoveries came into conflict with millenary religious traditions. Thus, in a desperate effort to incorporate them into an all-embracing theological scheme, religious scholars gave birth to ideological monstrosities, one of these being pyramidology.

From a historical point of view, the megastructures created by ancient civilizations were a declaration of power and a symbol of the godlike status of the leaders. Height signals dominance. So, by making the subjects feel small and insignificant, large buildings had the purpose of maintaining order and control. But there is a pattern in the ancient ruins: from Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China to Central America, man’s first megastructures are pyramidal in shape. This is due to the fact that the tallest things on Earth, the mountains, are natural pyramids, their shape being dictated by the forces of gravity and friction. Hence, ancient people were inspired by nature’s lesson: if you want to defy gravity and build tall, but you have only rudimentary materials and little expertise, then you have to build a mountain-like structure. This is how civilizations, with no direct contact, separated by oceans, continents and sometimes thousands of years, created similar megastructures. Indeed, pyramids fascinate, but this happens not because pyramids themselves, of any kind, have something special, but because of the primordial relation between the human species and mountains. Nevertheless, many people have found this explanation unsatisfactory and they have refused to accept that the ancient megastructures were nothing more than a colossal waste of materials, time, lives and toil. Instead, they have preferred to think that there is something more, suprarational or supernatural, related to their shape and their purpose.

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6.3.2. Rebuilding the Holy Temple and the sacred geometry

6.3.2. Rebuilding the Holy Temple and the sacred geometry

The possibility of finding the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel and their repatriation to the Holy Land generated discussions about the next eschatological step: the rebuilding of the Third Temple and the resuming of the ancient Jewish rituals. The Antichrist has to become the leader of the Jews and to impose the Mosaic beliefs over the people he would conquer. But the ancient rituals cannot be resumed without the Temple. So, through the reconstruction of the Temple a false and deceiving practice of worship is reinstalled. The New Testament says that the Jewish law and the animal sacrificial system brought the world into the slavery of the sin: …

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5.4.2. John Napier and the subsequent evolution of numerology

5.4.2. John Napier and the subsequent evolution of numerology

Almost 50 years had to pass until mathematicians and numerologists such as the English John Napier of Merchistoun, the inventor of the logarithms, or the German Johannes Faulhaber of Ulm, who combined the real mathematical talent with the eschatological fervor, produced numerological contributions as valuable as Stifel’s.582

Napier’s A plaine discovery of the whole Revelation of St. John… from 1563 is a serious, laborious and anti-papal work created over a period of about five years, impelled by the sermon of the Scottish Reformist Christopher Goodman:

For in my tender yeares … being attentive to the Sermons of that worthie man of God, Maister Christopher Goodman, teaching vpon the Apocalyps, I was so mooved in admiration, against the blindnes of Papists, that could not most evidently see their seven-hilled citie Rome, painted out there so lively by Saint John, as the mother of all spirituall whoredome … I determined with myselfe (by the assistance of Gods spirit) to employ my studie and diligence to search out the remnant mysteries of that holy book.583

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5.4.1. Michael Stifel and the antichristical calculations

5.4.1. Michael Stifel and the antichristical calculations

The year 1533 was seen as the year of Judgment both by Thomas Müntzer and Michael Stifel, but on completely different bases. Stifel was very fond of Bible study, but posterity appreciates him for his innovations in algebra and arithmetic; his interest in numerology is seen today as a strange and irrational element in his work.

Disappointed by Catholicism, Stifel sought refuge in Protestantism. He became friends with Luther and Melanchthon, and for a couple of months he lived with them at Wittenberg. In 1528 Luther obtained for him a position at a parish in Lochau (today’s Annanberg), where Stifel stayed for about five years, and he probably would have stayed longer if he had not made the prophecy about the end of world.565

Stifel avoided astrology and the classic eschatological correlation between historical and biblical events, the latter being preferred by Melanchthon or Müntzer. He wished to have a solid ground, irrefutable, free from the arbitrariness of human interpretation and appreciation. And of all the mystical domains, the biblical numerology seemed to be the only method that was promising prophetic certainty.

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5.4. The numerological apocalypses

5.4. THE NUMEROLOGICAL APOCALYPSES

Numerology is a domain that relies on the existence of a mystical or esoteric connection between numbers on the one hand, and the material objects and beings on the other hand. Numerology, numerological divination and isopsephy were popular in the ancient teachings of Babylonia, Greek philosophy, Gnosticism and in the Hebrew system of Kabbalah.558 This is why the early Christians condemned the philosophical systems with exclusive numerical bases (such as Pythagoreanism and Gnosticism), being perceived as a pagan legacy. But Christianity did not reject numerology, because Revelation 13:18 and the mystery of the number 666 did not allow this thing. The calculations regarding 666 and the age of the world show that numbers were seen as holy messages full of hidden meanings, numerology becoming an important branch of biblical exegesis. The difference between the Pythagorean approach and the Christian one consisted in the fact that the latter understood numbers as inseparable from the divine will.559 Saint Ambrose, commenting on the days of the Creation and the Sabbath, remarks: “The number seven is good, but we do not explain it after the doctrine of Pythagoras and the other philosophers, but rather according to the manifestation and division of the grace of the Spirit; for the prophet Isaias has enumerated the principal gifts of the Holy Spirit as seven.”560 Instead, Augustine adopted a reserved attitude, criticizing Tyconius the Donatist because he had based his doctrine excessively on numerology: “if Tichonius had said that these mystical rules open out some of the hidden recesses of the law, instead of saying that they reveal all the mysteries of the law, he would have spoken truth.”561 For Augustine, numbers are the universal language of the divinity through which people can discover the truth. Similarly to Pythagoras, he believed that everything contains a numerical relation and only the limits of the human mind restrain the successful investigation of these relations: “And, therefore, we must not despise the science of numbers, which, in many passages of holy Scripture, is found to be of eminent service to the careful interpreter. Neither has it been without reason numbered among God’s praises, ‘Thou has ordered all things in number, and measure, and weight’” (Wisdom of Solomon 11:20).562 Isidore of Seville saw numbers as the substrate of all things as well, the foundation on which God created the world: “Remove numbers from all things, and everything perishes.”563

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