Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Beginning of the World: Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, Rome, Greece, Muslim World"
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Join us for another free Salon Lecture with Dr. James Rietveld at Ipso Facto.
"The Beginning of the World: Ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, Rome, Greece, Muslim World & More."
Join us as we investigate the history of beliefs concerning how the world began and the various stories concerning the how humans came to live here--discussing everything from Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, to China, Korea, and India, as well as many other places besides!
Naturally we will discuss Greek, Roman, early Christian, and Muslims beliefs too. Some of the stories and myths may surprise you!!!
Wednesday, January 22, 2020, 8:00 p.m.|
"Catacombs and the Cult of Saints"
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Join us on Wednesday, January 22, 8 p.m. for this free lecture with Dr. James Rietveld at Ipso Facto.
CATACOMBS & THE CULT OF THE SAINTS
Descend deep into the catacombs of Rome, down twisted corridors surrounded by ancient tombs on either side to discover the secret behind the Cult of the Saints.
Much like the catacombs, the history behind the veneration of saints proceeds down many levels into the very substratum of traditional Greek and Roman beliefs and rituals connected with death, ancestor worship, and the often misunderstood Cult of the Heroes, and this history is often as dark and convoluted as the tunnels beneath Rome itself!!!
Wednesday, January 8, 2020, 8:00 p.m.|
"HEBREWS & HYKSOS: Egypt & the Search for Ancient Israel"
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Watch Nathan Gutierrez's Video of this talk on You tube
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Join us on Wednesday, January 8 at 8 p.m. with Dr. James Rietveld for a free Salon lecture " HEBREWS & HYKSOS: Egypt & the Search for Ancient Israel"
Ancient Egypt’s Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE) collapsed before the invading Semitic HYKSOS, who arrived riding their chariots and wielding their more advanced composite bows.
These conquerors of the land of the Pharaohs begin what is called the SECOND INTERMEDIATE PERIOD (1650-1550 BCE) in Egypt, becoming Pharaohs themselves and assimilating to the local culture, with their great god Baal mixing with the worship of the Egyptian god Seth.
The Hyksos originated from the Levant, the area purported to be the realm of ANCIENT ISRAEL, where the biblical story of Joseph bringing his family into Egypt is often viewed as occurring during this era, at a time when the Pharaohs were fellow Semites.
But then their arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph, often identified as Ahmose I, a native Egyptian who overthrew the Hyksos, and began the New Kingdom (1550-1077 BCE).
The biblical claim is that the Egyptians then made the Israelites slaves for the next four hundred years, after which they escaped in a great Exodus
to Israel during the 1200’s BCE but where is the evidence?
What does the archaeological evidence reveal concerning these questions, and were those known as the HABIRU in Egyptian records as well as in other archives connected with the HEBREWS?
Join us at Ipso Facto as we investigate these questions!
Thursday, December 19, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
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Join us for a free Salon lecture "Pythagoras" with Dr. James Rietveld on December 19, 8 p.m.
There is perhaps no other ancient Greek philosopher that has so eluded our full understanding than Pythagoras (582-507 BCE), not because we have so little information, but so much, concerning themes and ideas never considered before about the Mediterranean Sea.
Pythagoras was both philosopher and mystic, teaching reincarnation and mathematics, ethics and the soul, which for him was divided between good and evil. For him, there was this Harmony of the Stars, where planets and stars moved according to exact mathematical equations, which corresponded to musical notes and so create a celestial symphony.
He was a man deeply involved in the mysteries, being initiated into many of them, and adopted a belief known as Orphism, but also taught a deep and mystical kind of knowledge.
He was a vegetarian and taught how we as humans need to be kind and loving to animals and respect nature.
Pythagoras created an exclusive society where many revered him as a god, but he was also all about inclusion and equality, which idealized the inclusion of women as full equals.
As a result, Pythagoras started a women’s movement of philosophers throughout Antiquity that most have never heard of today, including his wife, Theano, his daughters Damo and Myia, Arignote (c.500 BCE), Abrotelia (5th century BCE), Aesara of Lucania (4th century BCE), Phintys (4th century BCE), Timycha of Sparta (4th century BCE), Melissa (c.200 BCE), and Ptolemais of Cyrene (first century BCE).
Join us at Ipso Facto, and together we will unravel mysteries never typically discussed even within academic circles!!!
Thursday, December 5, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Mystical Jerusalem: Archaeology, Three Religious Traditions and Conflict"
Thursday, December 5, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Thanks Nathan Gutierrez for posting the video of this "Mystical Jerusalem" Lecture.
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Jerusalem: sacred city to three of the world’s most influential religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and, often, the center of conflict between all three of them, with everyone laying their own special claim to this ancient metropolis through stories, traditions, and prophecies. In this mix, there is archaeology, the science of evaluating the material culture of ancient Jerusalem, but all too often unraveling yet another story that is sometimes interpreted to validate religious claims by one group or another claims, other times directed to refute them. Everyone has their special “spin” to suit their agendas, even in regards to the archaeological discoveries. Unfortunately, this mystical city, the perceived navel of the Earth according to some, is also the very center of religious and political turmoil. This next Thursday at 7:30 at Common Ground, we will venture into the Golden Gates of Jerusalem, and unravel the ancient mysteries leading directly to the current tensions between these three Abrahamic re
ligions. You will discover the different points of view and realize that understanding all three of the religious perspectives concerning this city directly leads to understanding the crisis involving the entire Middle East today! It is also reveals that there is no easy solution!
Thursday, November 21, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
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Join us on Thursday, November 21, 8 p.m. for a free Salon lecture with Dr. James Rietveld on "CONFUCIUS: HIS LIFE, ERA, PHILOSOPHY, & LEGACY WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF OTHER CHINESE RELIGIONS"
The philosopher Confucius lived approximately from 551 to 479 BCE, in an era when the once unified Zhou state was in decline, with rival nobles fighting for power.
This was a violent era lacking in toleration and characterized by mass destruction of cities, towns, field, and, of course, people, often slaughtered in mass from 60,000 to as high as 400,000 at one point.
People were looking for answers, for hope, and Confucius, was ready with a philosophy that would eventually transform all of East Asia and, in many ways, continues to be deeply engrained in everyday life in the same geographical regions, most especially China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam.
While of lower nobility, Confucius actually grew up in poverty, forced to take odd, often humble, jobs to support his widowed mother, and, yet, he always viewed himself as a philosopher despite what he was doing for a living.
Confucius never gave up this dream and then, through sheer determination, he was eventually recognized as one, and did so without compromising his values.
Confucius believed that long ago, humanity lived in a society where everyone lived together in perfect serenity, perfect peace, because they knew exactly their distinct place within society, knew what they were supposed to do, and were fulfilled because they fulfilled their fundamentally inborn abilities to this society.
Confucius wanted to create an honest and moral society where people believed in sincerity and integrity, where people respected their elders, and no one looked down on others for their rank and occupation.
When Zi Gong, one of his disciples asked one day: Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?
Confucius replied: How about 'reciprocity'! Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.
Join us in our investigation of this great philosopher, his times, and how he fit within the great context of Chinese philosophy and religion, including how Daoism offered another alternative for China’s dilemma at the same time!
Thursday, November 4, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
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Join us on Thursday, November 7, 8 p.m. for a free Salon lecture with Dr. James Rietveld on "Plethon: The Byzantine Intellectual and Mystic Who Inspired the Italian Renaissance."
George Gemistos Plethon (1355-1452/1454), while often declared as one of the most original of all Byzantine thinkers is also one of the most shrouded in mystery because of his very controversial religious and political views for his times, and still controversial today for so many because he thought so far outside-the-box that his thinking is still considered radical by many.
While officially in belief Plethon was Greek Orthodox, he merged his mystical faith with Greek philosophy (especially Plato and the Neoplatonists), Jewish cabbalistic philosophy, Zoroastrianism, the Chaldean Oracles (in the latter case dedicating himself to the veneration of the gods Zeus, Hera, and Hekate).
But, it must be declared that although Plethon lived the majority of his life during the twilight years of the Byzantine Empire, in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, he is one of the most important figures and one of the most inspirational figures of the Italian Renaissance,
the humanistic movement that was to transform the Latin West.
Yes, the ITALIAN RENAISSANCE!!!
As a friend of Cosimo de’Medici, Plethon became the main inspiration for founding the famous Platonic Academy in Florence, changing the philosophical landscape of Renaissance Italy forever!
In fact, this Academy was officially dedicated to him! Plethon not only had admirers and friends in Italy, but students and even a school inspired by him.
He inspired some of the greatest Renaissance thinkers of the age, including Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola either directly or indirectly through his followers.
His philosophical contributions would go on here into the Latin West, restoring Platonic thought, inspiring the Hermetic revival, forging the Renaissance magic tradition, articulating Humanism, and changing our world forever!
Very rarely is so much inspired by one man—and I bet most of you NEVER heard of him! If you wish to tread upon areas often unexplored by even many scholars, this lecture this is the place you really want to be!!!
Thursday, October 24, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"A Brief History of the Evolution of Fear & Horror in Relation to Religious Beliefs & Spirituality."
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Join us on October 24, 8 p.m. for a free Salon lecture with Dr. James Rietveld "A Brief History of the Evolution of Fear & Horror in Relation to Religious Beliefs & Spirituality."
Thursday, October 10, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Incas of Ancient Peru: Celestial Gods, Powerful Lords, Massive Pyramids, Lost Cities, Mysterious Riddles"
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THE INCAS & ANCIENT PERU: CELESTIAL GODS, POWERFUL LORDS, MASSIVE PYRAMIDS, LOST CITIES, & MYSTERIOUS RIDDLES
The mysteries of Ancient Peru, leading up to the Incas, has certainly made an impression both amongst academics and the general public alike from the civilization of the Sechin Bajo dating back to 3500 BCE through to that of the Inca Empire ending with the Spanish conquest in 1532 CE.
Those of ancient Peru were engaged in huge construction programs, often building extensive pyramids that dot the landscape (the Sican built 250 pyramids in the Lambayesque valley alone) and massive stepped temple platforms.
Sometimes they used adobe bricks to build their civic and religious monuments, other times they used massive stones, some weighing up to 360 tons (about the weight of 500 passenger cars) as in the case of the site of Sacsayhuaman. Meanwhile, the Nazca (200 BCE-800 CE) of Peru are most famous for their famous drawings that cover the landscape for miles that can only be understood from far above.
The Incas and other Peruvians often elongated their skulls through binding in early childhood, and were also able to conduct skull surgery by drilling holes in the patient’s heads with a high survival rate.
As for the Inca Empire, this was one of the most organized states in the world, with a complex religious system involving a beneficent Sun god and a semi-divine king derived from him.
Here, royal and noble mummies were revered and even held land long after their deaths. Next Thursday at Ipso Facto on Tues, 8 p.m. we will explore Ancient Peru!!!
Be there to learn more about these fascinating cultures tucked beneath the Andes Mountains!!!
Thursday, September 26, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Shintoism & the Religion of Japan"
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Join us on Thursday, September 26, 8 p.m. for a free lecture with Dr. James Rietveld. "Shintoism, Hellnotes &the Religion of Japan."
Shinto or kami-no-michi is the ethnic religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.
Started at least as far back as 1000 B.C.E. it is practiced today by at least five million people. The word Shinto, which literally means the way of kami (generally sacred or divine power, specifically the various gods or deities), came into use in order to distinguish indigenous Japanese beliefs from Buddhism.
If Japan’s major religions were likened to a tree, Shintoism would be its roots. Shinto, commonly defined as, ‘Japan’s indigenous religion’, is as old as Japan itself.
Its roots and origins trace back to the latter part of the Stone Age, when it is said that the Japanese first began inhabiting the Japanese Islands. The ancient Japanese clan Yamato initially believed in Shinto only as a tribal religion but, as they grew in number, proceeded to propagate it as a means to establish and solidify their reign.
Since those ancient times, Shinto has been influenced by an influx of various religions into Japan from surrounding regions. The notable arrival of Buddhism into Japan in the 6th century CE had a significant impact on Shinto doctrine; thus, it was only to distinguish itself from Buddhism that the term Shinto was initially coined.
Consequently, most Japanese (85 percent) culturally practice a mixture of Shintoism and Buddhism.
Globally, up to 3 million people recognize themselves religiously as Shintoists and although Shinto rituals are still widely practiced throughout Japan, only a minority of Japanese identify exclusively with it.
Nevertheless, Shinto beliefs and practices are firmly embedded in the civilization of Japan and continue to remain an integral part of Japanese culture today.
Join us at Ipso Facto for this fascinating and informative free lecture with Dr. Rietveld.
Thursday, September 12, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Archaeological Evidence Of Sex & Gender Roles In Prehistory: Unraveling The Myths Behind Relations Between Men And Women During The Paleolithic, Neolithic, And Chalocolithic Age (2.6 Million to 3000 BCE)."
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So often we are confronted by references to Patriarchy or Matriarchy, a duality that appears prevalent as old as the time humanity first became aware of their surroundings. Often the supposition is that Patriarchy was always dominant as a rule. Of course, others will say matriarchies dominated the earliest peoples and how they organized their societies at first. But who is correct, and what does the archaeological evidence have to contribute to this conversation?
This question from ancient times has divided scholars as well as others for decades (one example being the controversy over Marija Gimbutas’ views), for to answer this question is to reveal a deeper sense of who we are and how we relate to one another even today.
We will explore the answer to this question directly from an academic point of view, so that you will leave this lecture armed with direct evidence as opposed to assumptions that can fundamentally change your understanding of sex and gender in the past and, yes, even in the present as well.
Thursday, August 29, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Akbar the Great, the Mughols & Sikhism"
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Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, also known as Akbar the Great (1542-1605) was the son of Nasiruddin Humayun, whom he succeeded as ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605 at the age of 14.
Widely considered the greatest of the Mughal emperors, whose reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history, Akbar was descended from Turks, Mongols, and Iranians and was believed to have practiced Sunni Hanafi Islam.
It took almost two decades to consolidate his power, bringing northern and central India into his realm, fighting Afghan tribes, and defeating Hindu king Samrat Hemu Chandra Vikramaditya, pursuing diplomacy with the powerful Rajput caste, and conciliating conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy.
Akbar was an artisan, artist, armorer, blacksmith, carpenter, emperor, successful general, inventor, animal trainer, and theologian. A patron of art and culture, he made lasting contributions with his large collection of literature and art from around the world, commissioned widely admired buildings, and erected a walled capital, Fatehpur Sikri (AKA Fortress of Victory).
Although he never learned to read or write, Akbar established a library of over 24,000 volumes written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by many scholars, translators, artists, calligraphers, scribes, bookbinders and readers.
The library of Fatehpur Sikri was established exclusively for women, and schools for the education of both Muslims and Hindus were built throughout the realm, providing an education system that respected the pupil's needs and culture.
As soon as Akbar came of age, he demonstrated his own capacity for judgment and leadership, starting with recapturing lost territory.
A "workaholic" who seldom slept more than three hours a night, he established a delegated government and personally oversaw the implementation of administrative policies which formed the backbone of the Mughal Empire for over 200 years.
By the time of Akbar's death in 1605, the Mughal empire had tripled in size.
Akbar adopted effective approaches in administering and preserving peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, winning the trust and loyalty of his native subjects.
He employed various ethnic groups in the service of his realm, was known for respecting human rights and religious tolerance.
He also created a tax revenue schedule based on a decade's worth of statistics, that was tolerable for the peasantry, while providing maximum profit for the state.
An astute ruler, Akbar worked hard to win over the hearts and minds of Hindu leaders whose religion dominated the majority of the population.
He recruited and rewarded Hindu chiefs with high ranking posts in government; encouraged intermarriages; personally celebrated Hindu festivals such as Deepavali, or Diwali, the festival of lights; and abolished poll tax on non-Muslims.
As Akbar increasingly came under the influence of pantheistic Sufi mysticism, he shifted from Orthodox Islam and adopted a policy of tolerance towards the Shias and held much respect for the Sikhs, fostering cordial relations between Sikhs and Muslims during his reign. He was also greatly impacted by the teachings of the Jains, embracing vegetarianism and banning animal slaughter.
With holy men of many faiths, poets, architects, and artisans adorning his court from all over the world for study and discussion, Akbar began a series of religious debates where Muslim scholars would debate with Sikhs, Hindus, Cgrvgka atheists and even Jesuits from Portugal.
Founding his own synchronistic religious ethical system, the Din-i-Ilahi or the "Divine Faith", Akbar enshrined his theory of "rulership as a divine illumination," and accepted all religions and sects, drawing from Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and Buddhism.
He encouraged widow re-marriage, discouraged child marriage, outlawed the practice of sati, and persuaded Delhi merchants to set up special market days for women, who otherwise were secluded at home.
India during the 1500, was a place where religious pluralism was accepted and even encouraged by Akbar, bringing together Muslims and Hindus as well as Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Christians, and Jews together in a way not achieved before and--after the two successive rulers of his dynasty--not achieved after either.
The Sikhs, as founded by Guru Nanak during the earlier part of the Mughal Empire, thrived under Akbar and were able to become a major world religion because of his tolerant rule.
His era also saw the rise of Bhakti Yoga within Hinduism, focusing upon the path of love. Meanwhile he himself embraced Sufi Islam, believing that Allah was ultimately Divine Love and was the God behind the other beliefs.
He created a giant research library, took care of the poor and hungry, and encouraged constant interactions between those of different beliefs within his audience hall, often positioned on a catwalk high above listening and asking questions of those having the conversations below.
One thing he did not tolerate was fundamentalism in any form.
This precedent was followed until the reign of Aurangzeb, who reversed any policies of tolerance in favor of his own Muslim fundamentalism, destroying Hindu temples, taxing non-Muslims, and persecuting the Sikhs.
This position destroyed the unity of India, as much of the subcontinent broke out in rebellion.
As a result, the Mughal Empire quickly deteriorated during the 1700s, providing the British East India Company the opportunity to take over the region and exploit it.
Eventually India became a British Crown Colony in 1858. Had the policy of Akbar continued, the British may have never been able to achieve what they did. Fundamentalism within any religious system is never beneficial to the majority and always dangerous--and the examples are endless throughout history up to the present day.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"St. Francis of Assisi-Mystic of Spiritual Love for Humanity, Nature & Animals"
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St. Francis of Assisi, , born in Italy in 1182, was the quintessential mystic, with a sense of spirituality and a love of Nature that continues to inspire so many today within all religions and others besides!
Instilled with a love of God and the Eucharist, St. Francis believed humanity was becoming too materialistic, too cold and calculated, and too removed from Nature.
In fact, St. Francis believed that Nature herself was the mirror of God, calling the Sun brother and the Moon mother.
He dearly loved animals, talked to them, and even, at one point, preached to them!
St. Francis was the creator of the Franciscan order (actually three orders) and hoped to change the face of Christendom.
Yet, by the end of his lifetime, he realized his ideals did not match how they were carried out and understood.
Join us for a lecture that will reveal the thoughts and intentions of this most dynamic mystic, who was more pagan and tolerant of different beliefs that most realize, and discover what he truly wanted to contribute to humanity.
Come and be inspired!
Wednesday, July 24, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Faeries and Other Northern European Elemental Traditions"
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Join us on Wednesday, July 24, 8 p.m. for a free Salon lecture "Faeries and other Northern European Elemental Traditions" with Dr. James Rietveld.
In this lecture we will discuss other Northern European Elemental traditions, particularly faeries, that could fit into our last well attended Elementals lecture due to time constraints.
Time permitting, we will also explore those of India and Japan.
Elementals are mythic beings described in occult and alchemical works corresponding to the four elements of antiquity: earth, air, water, fire.
The Elemental Kingdom contains such mythical creatures as fairies, goblins, gnomes and elves, leprechauns, tree people, brownies, undines, mermaids and sylphs.
Elementals are made up of the ‘ethers’ and are ‘ethereal’ and therefore invisible to (most) of us, living among the trees, rivers, plants, swamps, and mountains.
They attach themselves to practically every natural thing. Earthly Elementals are the metaphysical; they are the cause of earthquakes, floods, gales, thunderstorms, and wildfires.
More importantly, Earthly Elementals are responsible for creating, sustaining, and renewing life on Earth.
Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"King Midas & Ancient Phrygia in Anatolia"
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In antiquity, Phrygia was a rich, powerful, advanced Bronze Age kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia (now Turkey), whose legendary king Midas (aka Mit-ta-a) ruled in the last decades of the eighth century B.C.
The mythic Midas of Thrace (Eastern Macedonia), was famous in heroic Greek mythic legends where satyr Dionysus bestowed upon him the famous "golden touch."
In one account, discovering that turning food into gold left him hungry and thirsty, Midas traveled to Asia Minor to wash away the gift, transferring gold into the river Pactolus. There he was adopted by childless Phrydian king Gordias (famous for the legend of the Gordian knot) and taken under the protection of the Great Mother goddess Cybele.
Another Midas legend was of the divine gift of the asses’ ears, awarded by Apollo for publicly disagreeing with his decision in the Apollo vs. Pan musical contest. Despite concealing his donkey ears in a turban, and swearing his barber to secrecy, enchanted reeds and wind conspired to broadcast the King's shameful secret.
Aristotle wrote that Midas died of starvation as a result of a "vain prayer" for the gold touch, but historian, Strabo, documented Midas' despairing suicide by bull's blood during an attack in which the Cimmerians destroyed his city and kingdom around 695 B.C. Nonetheless, Phrygia continued to exist and prosper for decades afterwards.
The 1957 discovery of the Midas Mound, thought to be the final resting place of the legendary King, or possibly his father Gordias, revealed burial artifacts and the remains of the funeral feast, providing new insight into Phrygian history and culture.
Come join us to hear the legends and history of this colorful King of Ancient Phrygia.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Jewish Christianity- The Forgotten Branch."
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Listen to Podcast of this lecture on Magik Pizza
The phrase "Jewish Christianity" often gives pause to scholars and non-scholars alike as to exactly what it means.
For this talk we will explore what happened to these early Jewish Christians, who had origins in the Hellenistic Judaism embraced by Ptolemaic Egypt, Greece, Anatolia, Syria, and Judea.
We will follow these Jewish Christians, who continued to worship in synagogues for centuries, discuss Jewish Messianism of the first century, The Gospel of the Hebrews, and the schism that arose in the Church leading to the rise of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the conversion of some to Islam.
Early Jewish Christianity split into two distinct groups: The Nazarenes and the Ebionites.
The Nazarenes believed that a Gentile could become Christian without becoming Jewish, and was not required to follow dietary laws or circumcism practices. This group eventually merged with the Syrian Orthodox in the
7th and 8th centuries.
The Ebionites asserted that to become a Christian meant to convert to Judaism in every way, believing that Jesus was anointed by God as a prophet, much like Moses or Elijah, understood as "Messiah," but still just a man.
One notable Ebionite Christian, Waraqa, was related to Muhammad and the third convert to Islam after Khadijah and Ali. As Ebionite Christianity was influential on Muhammad, it lead to many Ebionites converting to Islam in the seventh century.
Interestingly the Ebionites viewed Apostle Paul as a false prophet, who corrupted Christianity, comparing him to Simon the Magician, even writing polemics against him.
This story is worthy of an epic movie! Don't miss it!
Wednesday, June 12, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
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Elementals are mythic beings described in occult and alchemical works of the European Renaissance, particularly Paracelsus' 16th century "Philosophia Magna", drawing from older mythological and religious traditions (i.e. Greek mythology), with common threads in folklore, animism, and anthropomorphism.
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa also wrote of four classes of spirits corresponding to the four elements, and later Rosicrucian initiates used an alchemical substance to see elementals.
Paracelsus described four catagories of elementals: gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders, which correspond to the four elements of antiquity: earth, air, water, fire.
The Elemental Kingdom contains such mythical creatures as fairies, goblins, gnomes and elves, leprechauns, tree people, brownies, undines, mermaids and sylphs. Elementals are made up of the ‘ethers’ and are ‘ethereal’ and therefore invisible to (most) of us.
The task of Elementals and the Elemental kingdom is to look after the nature kingdom. Elementals (or Earth spirits) live among plants and animals. They are responsible for the therapeutic effects you feel when outdoors amongst nature, at the beach and sea, at lakes and rivers, in parks and nature reserves, national parks and bushland.
Elemental spirits possess supernatural powers and are usually invisible to humans, living among the trees, rivers, plants, swamps, and mountains. They attach themselves to practically every natural thing. Earthly Elementals are the metaphysical; they are the cause of earthquakes, floods, gales, thunderstorms, and wildfires. More importantly, Earthly Elementals are responsible for creating,
sustaining, and renewing life on Earth.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Notre Dame & French Religious History"
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Join us for another free salon lecture with Dr. James Rietveld on Wednesday, May 22, 8 p.m.
on "NOTRE DAME & THE RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF FRANCE," which will explore France's Religious history, The French Revolution and the eventual conversion of the Church into a more secular Temple of Reason.
We will delve into what existed in Notre Dame Cathedral's location prior to its' French Gothic Medieval era construction with its' inclusion of mysterious alchemical symbols and depictions of Lilith.
We will also learn what priceless artifacts were lost in the devastating fire and what was saved for future generations.
Join us for this discussion, a microcosm of French Religious history through the lense of Our Lady Cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Augustine and the Latin West"
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Join us for another free salon lecture with Dr. James Rietveld on Wednesday, May 8, 8 p.m. on "AUGUSTINE & THE LATIN WEST," investigating this controversial figure and the worldview he helped create (which is very different from the Greek East).
In 410 CE, the once proud city of Rome succumbed to the rabble of pillaging Visigoths under the leadership of a very determined Barbarian by the name of Alaric. News of the sack of Rome spread quickly throughout the Roman world. After the initial shock, the question was asked on how this cataclysmic disaster could have happened.
Augustine responded with a passionate work articulating his particular worldview of what was going wrong and right in the universe known as the City Of God. The City of God was published over a period of time, from 416 to 422 CE and was contained within 22 books. In the very modern sense of the word, the City of God was a bestseller, read by all types of people, wealthy landowners, soldiers, clergymen and farmers.
All wished to know how to respond to this crisis.
In the City of God, Augustine vigorously told his audience that they were not to look at temporal things, to cities that will ultimately turn to dust, but to invest themselves in treasures that will last forever, treasures stored in heaven and not on earth.
This city was--of course--the "City of God", which, as opposed to the opposite "City of Man", was eternal. Without question, it was Augustine who truly created much of the foundations of the theology of the Latin West, a religious perspective that would dominate Catholic Theology throughout the Middle Ages and even today.
Yet, I also looked into just who was Augustine? You may be surprised to find out that Augustine was once a proponent of Manichaeism, a Persian Gnostic dualistic religion, and later also a devoted Neoplantonist. In fact, Augustine’s views kept on changing, evolving, and so we have to be careful to note just which Augustine we are quoting at any given time.
The difficulty with Augustine is that he constantly fighting his own
cravings more than most--for example, one time when he was young he stole fruit from a neighbor's tree, not because he was hungry, but because it was forbidden, leading him to believe eventually that we naturally choose what is sinful rather than righteous.
When Augustine was young he engaged in every possible indulgence, and so embraced religion to control these appetites, namely Zoroastrianism, where that which is material is inherently evil and under an Evil Spirit and that which is spirit is inherently good and under the God of Light."
Eventually, Augustine balanced himself out, embracing Christianity that blended readily with Platonic ideas, and, for awhile, he was at peace with himself and the material world.
But his mother, Monica, followed him wherever he went, tried to dominate his every move, and tried to force her version of Christianity upon him, which was highly dualistic and, worse still, the love of his life, his concubine with whom he had a son, she forced him to leave after a decade and a half, to be betrothed to a ten year old girl of a noble family, planning for him to marry her when she was twelve.
Ultimately, he chose to vow celibacy and when Monica died soon after, his form of Christianity became very anti-material and dualistic.
When Rome fell to the Visigoths, it was only naturally for him then to create a City of God which was spiritual and a City of Man which was material, and there is almost a Zoroastrian sensibility to it all.
His conversations with Pelagius further hardened him and so his version of "Original Sin" that being always evil (and not simply imperfection) and always unavoidable came about.
And my source you ask? Augustine himself--I used the majority of his own words for the talk which provides an insight often missed by more modern theologians attempting to place him in the best light possible.
I honestly like Augustine during his middle years--but the last two decades, which, unfortunately, are currently the most influential, are problematic--and, well, not well-rooted in the New Testament.
You see, Augustine could not read Greek--who said so?--He did--and at length in his own writings!
And his understanding of the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek, is also problematic, and always seen from a Latin interpretation.
I think most of us take for granted that he could read and understand the Bible in the original language--but he didn't and that does make him even difficult to place him as a competent theologians in contrast to such greats at Gregory of Nyssa or Basil the Great.
Unfortunately, Augustine forms the basis for much of the theology of the Latin West and that legacy still influences not only the Church, both Catholic and Protestant, but even much of Western Society itself on the view of humanity.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Jewish Magic"
Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Magik Pizza podcast with full audio file of this lecture.
Join us for another free Salon lecture on Wednesday, April 24, 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld "Ancient Jewish Magic."
In this lecture we view magic through the lense of Judaism using sources such as the Hebrew Bible, written works of the Ancient Babylonian Community, Hellenistic and Roman writings, all the way through the Middle Ages.
Reading from magical papyri sources we will learn how rituals and spells were performed, the magic of the Jewish household, Jewish protection amulets, the mystical elements of the Kabbalah, the lore of Lilith, and the legend of the Golem.
We will also discuss early Christian scholar John Chrysostom's denouncements and attempts to prevent 4th century Christians from taking part in popular Jewish festivals and customs.
Join us for this fascinating lecture of Judaism's rich cultural tradition of magic which informs much on modern occultism, and on which many customs and spiritual practices are based.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Mycenaean Linear B Tablets"
Wednesday, April 10, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
For this talk we will delve into the Linear B syllabic script tablets and examine examples of ancient Mycenaean Greek language for what they reveal about their society.
With Mycenean religious and cultural records we will explore fascinating details about Mycenaean culture, language, Gods and Goddesses, worship and rituals.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Spirit of Eastern Orthodoxy: Monks, Mysteries & Hidden Histories"
Wednesday, March 27, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Some of the most profound spiritual mysteries reside behind the veil of Eastern Orthodoxy, especially as espoused by the mystics, monks, priests, theologians, and philosophers living from the 300’s to the 1400’s, but today their revelations are virtually unknown, trapped behind the label "Christianity" and, because of this fact, lost to certain stereotypes and popular generalizations.
The Divine Light of God was believed to be able to be seen here and now, moving through us via various meditative practices, including the Hesychast Prayer.
In fact, "Union" with God was possible in connection with "Deification", participating in the uncreated light of God as seen on Mount Tabor.
As for halos around the saints, they were seen as real, believed to be visible emanating from these mystics.
When asked what is possible in a spiritual life, Abba Joseph stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’
As for the position of Heaven, the Eastern Orthodox proclaimed, "As Above so Below", for this world was to be transformed into a mirror Heavenly Kingdom, with Constantinople as the New Jerusalem.
God was viewed as in Nature, Gregory of Nyssa insists, found everywhere if we so wish to open our eyes and we were to become the lovers of God, in endless pursuit that leads to the most ecstatic of experiences. The philosopher Plato was not only revered, but his ideas became directly part of how the Eastern Orthodox articulated their worldview—YES, so much of Eastern Orthodoxy is mixed with Platonism. It is through Orthodox intellectuals like Plethon that Plato returned to the Latin West again after his absence since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, for the Christian East through the Church preserved his important legacy! As for the Eucharist, this ceremony was understood as the most holy of mysteries, transcending time and space, with the elements connecting us to this divine principle.
Prepare to have your minds blown as we explore some of the deepest mysteries behind Eastern Orthodoxy from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance!
Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Luwian Religion"
Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Magik Pizza Podcast with full audio recording of this lecture.
Join us for another free salon lecture on March 13, 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld "Ancient Luwian Religion."
We will explore recently revealed religious beliefs of the Luwuans who occupied Western Anatolia and had been hidden for many years in academia behind the culture of the Hittites.
As it turns out the Luwians had their own unique beliefs.
While they shared many of the same gods as the Hittites, they had different interpretations and their own magickal practices which we will examine, such as newly discovered spellbooks, and magickal rituals.
Recently discovered by aerial photography are over 300 Luwian cities in Western Anatolia, whose treasures and new data we will discuss.
Don't miss this talk on this little known culture which has only recently been reawakened!
Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"Demeter & the Cult of Eleusis"
Wednesday, February 27, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Podcast/Video of lecture
Of all the cults of the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the Mysteries of Eleusis continue to both perplex and enchant us, for while intended to be secretive, having profound inner mysteries with things performed, things shown,
and things said only privy to the initiated this Mystery Cult was also very public, with grand public celebrations in Athens, followed by a procession up to Eleusis, an ancient center for Demeter worship going back to the Mycenaean civilization around 1500 BCE, or even earlier into the mists of time.
The Mysteries included the story of the Goddess Demeter in search of her daughter Persephone, involved the rhythms of the seasons and nature, and promised what so many wished to achieve: the guarantee for those initiated was nothing short of eternal life into a blissful realm after death!
By the Roman period, as long as you could speak Greek, these mysteries were open to all who sought them men and women, free and slave, Greek and Roman and eventually foreigners too.
The art of inclusive exclusion, apparent contradictions, made sense under Demeter’s watchful eye.
At the conclusion of it all, the goddess herself was said to have made an appearance before all those assembled in her sacred hall at Eleusis; a guaranteed mystical encounter for all initiated.
So join us and, become sacred pilgrims parading up to Eleusis and allow yourself imagine how it was to be initiated at Eleusis two thousand years ago.
Let us guide you through what we know for a fact happened during these mysteries as Dr. Rietveld draws from ancient writings and inscriptions as well as archaeological evidence.
Iakch’ O’ Iakche!!!
Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"India and Ashoka the Great"
Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Following his Persian campaign in 326 BCE, Alexander the Great began to conquer India until his troops refused to cross the Beas River.
Having no choice but to stop his quest to possess the entire world, Alexander returned to Babylon to die in 323, leaving behind an empire including everything west of the Indus River that was to be inherited by many Greek rulers after him.
Almost immediately, by 322, another great power known as the Mauryan Empire unified much of the northern Indian Subcontinent east of the Indus, eventually stretching from what is now Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh and Assam in the east.
What is often not discussed is how a vibrant Indo-Greek culture soon emerged throughout the Indian Subcontinent as a result, blending everything from art and architecture to philosophy and coinage styles, with many inscriptions even written in Greek.
We also must recognize that this Greek culture also directly influenced Buddhism too, as two forms began to merge during this time that which is called Theravada and the other called Mahayana!
Ashoka was the greatest of all the the Great of Indias, leaving inscriptions on monolithic stone pillars throughout his empire declaring his love for all his people, the importance of creating a world where all religions are tolerated, and the need to champion animal rights.
Ashoka was a ruler the world had never experienced before and would not experience again until the modern era.
On Wednesday, February 13, 8:00 p.m., at Ipso Facto, we will cross the Indus River to investigate one of the most forgotten empires of Antiquity, where the beliefs and cultures of India and the Greece came together in a blend that would continue to influence the world even into the Roman era.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Trojan War from the Hittite Perspective"
Wednesday, January 23, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Prophet Muhammad"
Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
LIFE OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD: INVESTIGATING THE HISTORICAL FOUNDER OF ISLAM
While we are often hear about Islam and its main religious tenets, when we learn about the Prophet Muhammad it is usually within contexts exclusively focused upon his revelation and the transmission of the Quran, but we must ask:
What about the historical figure himself? Who was Muhammad?
How was he raised? What were his likes and dislikes?
What was it like to meet and to know him?
What was his personality like?
Who were his friends and enemies?
What was the message he most wished to express when he first began teaching?
What were his hopes and goals? And how does actually knowing who Muhammad was in life important for understanding Islam and in interpreting its doctrines?
On Wednesday January 9 at Ipso Facto, Fullerton at 8:00 p.m. we will explore the life of Muhammad and get to know him personally.
You may be positively surprised with what you will discover.
Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Historical Jesus-An Academic Perspective"
Wednesday, December 19, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us for another free salon lecture at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld "The Historical Jesus - An Academic Perspective"
presenting the latest information about what historical records and scholars say about the search for one of the most important figures in world history.
Archaeological finds are breaking new ground in our understanding of Jesus's time and the revolution he launched 2000 years ago.
Is there information that proves Jesus existed from strictly an academic point-of-view?
And, if, after examining the evidence, a figure does emerge, what is the prevailing view for his identity?
Was Jesus a carpenter, or even a carpenter’s son?
What do the writings of ancient scholars, such as Josephus and Cornelius Tacitus, and Roman records of the time have to say about
Join us and find out!
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Egyptian Feline Deities: Bastet, Sekhmet, Mafdet"
Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Pompeii: The Last Days of An Ancient Roman City & The Latest Discoveries"
Wednesday, November 21, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Alexander the Great"
Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us for another free salon lecture at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld on "ALEXANDER THE GREAT: Dynamic Self-Made Epic Hero, Religious Icon, and Catalyst of the Hellenistic Age"
The Ancient Greeks bestowed so much upon world civilization, from democracy, trial by jury, and the historical discipline, to the art of public speaking, machines run by cogs and double gears, and to their diverse philosophies.
They wrote some of the greatest literature and poetry, inclusive of the Iliad and Odyssey, and created harmonious architectural marvels.
The Greeks typically lived in small city-states, each with their own microculture, dotted about a hilly landscape, and while they eventually sent colonies abroad, each remained autonomous.
Then Alexander the Great arrived onto the scene who took this genius and, with his conquests, spread them from Greece, to Egypt, to Persia, to Afghanistan, and even to India.
As Greece was understood as Hellas, Alexander the Great Hellenized the entire Ancient Near East, capturing all these areas in only four years, and from then on, Greek as well as Aramaic would become the international language.
And Alexander the Great was not even Greek, but Macedonian.
But who exactly was Alexander the Great and what made him into one of the most important figures from Antiquity, a single man that literally changed the world?
What was he like what were his beliefsand how did he accomplish what appeared to be the impossible?
On Tuesday, November 7 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto we will delve into these questions as well as some of the mysteries he still leaves behind.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Egyptian Book of the Dead"
Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
MagikPizza Podcast recording of this lecture!
Join us for another free salon lecture at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld on "The Egyptian Book of the Dead."
The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells which enable the soul of the deceased to navigate the afterlife.
Never codified, no two copies are exactly the same, rather they were created specifically for each individual who could afford to purchase one as a kind of manual to help them after death.
The afterlife was considered to be a continuation of life on earth and, one had to pass through difficulties and judgment in the Hall of Truth, a paradise and reflection of one's life on earth.
After the soul was justified in the Hall of Truth, it crossed over Lily Lake to rest in the Field of Reeds which offered all that one had lost in life, so that one could enjoy it eternally.
To reach paradise, however, one needed to know where to go, how to address the gods, what to say at certain times, and how to comport one's self in the land of the dead; which is why one would find an afterlife manual extremely useful.
The concept arose from depictions in tomb paintings and inscriptions dating back to the Third Dynasty of Egypt (c. 2670 - 2613 BCE.)
By the 12th Dynasty (1991 - 1802 BCE) these spells, and illustrations, were written on papyrus and placed in tombs and graves with the dead.
By 1600 BCE spells had been organized into chapters and, by the time of the New Kingdom (1570 - 1069 BCE), the book was extremely popular.
Scribes who were experts in spells would be consulted to fashion custom-made books for an individual or a family.
Prior to the New Kingdom, The Book of the Dead was only available to the royalty and the elite.
The popularity of the Osiris Myth in the period of the New Kingdom made people believe the spells were indispensible because Osiris featured so prominently in the soul's judgment in the afterlife.
As more people desired their own Book of the Dead, scribes obliged them (like today's "print on demand") and the book became just another commodity, with different package options with the quantity of spells, chapters and illustrations, and papyrus quality, limited only by the buyer's financial resources.
Spell 125 is the best known of all the texts of the Book of the Dead, and describes the judging of the deceased's heart by Osiris in the Hall of Truth. The soul must pass the weighing of the heart test in order to gain entry to paradise, so knowing what to say and how to act before Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and the Forty-Two Judges was essential information. Guided by Anubis to the Hall of Truth, the deceased would make a Negative Confession, a list of 42 sins that the person had never indulged in.
Osiris, Thoth, Anubis, and the Forty-Two Judges would confer and, if the confession was accepted, the heart was weighed against the white feather of Ma'at, the feather of truth.
If found to be lighter than the feather, the soul passed on toward paradise; if heavier, it was thrown onto the floor and devoured by the monster goddess Ammut, ceasing to exist.
Join us for this fascinating free lecture on Wednesday, October 24, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Religious Beliefs of the Roman Republic"
Wednesday, October 10, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Dr. James Rietveld's talk on "The Religious Beliefs of the Roman Republic" will discuss the personal religious practices and beliefs of the ancient Romans including household altars to patron dieties, worship of household spirits, family rituals, ancestor worship, community practices, the concept of Pax Deorum, theurgy, superstitions and more.
Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Middle Platonism: The Greco-Roman Philosophical System behind Hellenistic Judaism Early Christianity
Gnosticism The Hermetica & The Kabb"
Wednesday, September 26, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The philosophical movement known as MIDDLE PLATONISM influenced Early Christianity including much of the NEW Testament (note the prologue of the Gospel of John; the theology of the Early Church Fathers (including the formation of ideas such as the Trinity); the Jewish KABBALAH (without which there would be no emanation theology or Seforit); Ancient Gnosticism, and the Hermitica, the mystical writings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus.
In fact, much of the theology of the Greek Orthodox Church is based upon ideas forged by these Middle Platonic philosophers, and also finds their way into the Islamic mysticism Rumi as well.
To be sure, much of Western Occultism is based upon Middle Platonism rather than Neo-Platonism, which followed it.
Yet, with all of these influences, it is rare that this extremely important philosophical system based upon the Writings of Platois ever discussed or properly understood.
Middle Platonism is traditionally asserted to begin around 90 BCE with the philosopher Antiochus of Ascalon and concluded with the advent of Neo-Platonism with Plotinus in the third century CE.
During this roughly three hundred and fifty year span of time, many thinkers were known to embrace this mode of thought, with Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-40 CE), Plutarch (45-120 CE), Numenius of Apamea (late second century CE), the Christian philosophers Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE), and Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) amongst its most notable figures.
Middle Platonism was characterized by its syncretistic tendencies, even adopting ideas from philosophical schools traditionally opposed to one another prior to that time.
For example, the ideas of Plato, naturally central to Middle Platonism, were sometimes qualified or reinterpreted using ideas derived from the Peripateticschool of Aristotle. Aspects of Stoicism, so popular with many Roman intellectuals, most notably the
emperor Marcus Aurelius, was also absorbed within Middle Platonism, along with the mystical notions of Neo-Pythagoreanism, attributed to Pythagoras.
Join us as we investigate this extremely important but
forgotten philosophical system, which will change your understanding of how these religious systems were created.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Fall of the Roman Republic - Economic, Religious, Psychological and Political Mechanisms and Aspects"
Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The Founding Fathers based their government not upon the Greek democratic ideal, but the Roman Republic, a pragmatic form of democracy with its executive and legislative branches and a series of check and balances.
Yet, eventually, the Roman Republic did fall, become an Empire under an authoritarian regime.
How did this happen? What were the causes for the fall of the Roman Republic?
And are there any parallels to the American democracy today?
Can we learn any useful lessons concerning the fall of the Roman Republic that can be applied today?
The Roman Republic in general has great relevance for the United States in that our democracy is based upon this political system and not the Athenian form of democracy.
The Roman Republic, founded in 509 BCE, was actually highly successful, only beginning to decline during the end of the second century and the first part of the first century, many years longer than our ‘Republic’ has been in existence.
The Roman Republic presented the idea of a separation of powers, with an Executie branch (two consuls with one year term limits and no consecutive terms) and a legislative,with a Senate, at first dominated by the Patricians, which was more prestigious and less representative, and an assembly, generally a Plebeian body, which was more representative of the people in general and overseen by Tribunes.
As for their ‘judicial branch,’ a series of judges who were not elected by the Executive looked after the laws which advocated Civil Law, which insures that the law was to protect people and their property from
government, and Natural law, advocating that humanity was naturally good and so we must assume legally that one was innocent until proven guilty. Roman law was extremely harsh, with this two-strike rule and that was basically it,with slavery or death to follow, but very honest. At the cornerstone of the Roman Republic was the ideal of the BALANCE OF POWERS and the importance of constant checks and balances,with the Executive consulship, being like a limited monarchy, the Senate being like an Aristocracy, and the Assembly being like a Democracy.
The fear was over the possibility that the Monarch-like Consuls would become tyrants, the Aristocratic-like Senate would form an oligarchy, and the Democratic-Assembly would fall into mob rule—as Polybius notes. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison made it very clear that this Roman Republican system as described by Polybius was exactly what they wanted for the United States. As for what led to the fall of this Republic, there were numerous reasons, but it was what Polybius feared and our Founding Fathers feared could happen to the United States after him.
The Senate became a rich man’s club, an oligarchy, and only voted to protect their private financial interests, supporting these plantation-like ‘Latifundia’ that were able to outsell the neighboring small farmers until these commoners lost their property and were forced to become part of the urban poor. Soldiers, fighting for Rome, and hoping to return to their farms now feared going home to find themselves instead living in a squalid ghetto.
Fearing the fact that the Senate did not support them, they looked to their military commanders to offer them security and the promise that they would be able to retain their homes and so the military became empowered to overthrow the government if the interest of their soldiers were at stake.
People like Tiberius Gracchus and Gaius Gracchus wanted to make reforms over the assembly to end the dominance of the latifundia and the power of the Senate, but, unfortunately,
as Tribunes, they did not follow the deeply established legal precedents allocated to that office to achieve their objective and manipulated the assembly to do so.
Even though they were both murdered by the Senate, they still created a precedent of ‘breaking the rules’ in order to do a good thing, which, unfortunately meant that someone later on could arrive at that office or another one, like the Consulship, and so ‘break the rules’ to do a bad thing loaded with self-interest objectives and zeal for power.
Also, using violence now became acceptable to achieve such a goal beginning with the Gracchi. And so rose up Marius, a military commander, and Sulla, another one after him, the latter becoming a dictator.
Sulla was by nature arrogant and susceptible to corruption, especially bribery, and was eventually elected to the Executive Consulship, as a result of playing upon the fears of the general Roman Populous.
Sulla was extremely xenophobic, with his men even plundering the Acropolis in Athens.
In 81 BCE, he promised the people to "sweep away the clutter" of Rome (an actual quote) and did so by strengthening the office of consul, giving the office special executive privileges and diminishing the power of the tribunes as well as limiting their veto power.
He made the Executive position unaccountable to both the Senate and the Assembly.
The rest of the fall of the Republic simply followed the precedent created by Sulla, who made himself dictator with absolutely no checks and balances to stop him. All the while, he tried to convince the people, even Cicero, that by the people temporarily losing their power and freedoms he was able to accomplish many crucial reforms and that Rome, as a result, would prosper. The First Triumvirate of Julius Caesar, Pompey, and Crassus followed the precedent created by Sulla earlier—with one or two of them holding the Consulship during each consecutive year-long term, and, basically, the Roman Republic was finished. Sulla realized and the First and Second Triumv
irate after him the latter being Octavian, Antony, and Lepidus that the people’ were more easily convinced by their rhetorical games than the more educated senators and those of the assembly and so decided to appeal right to them, even saying they were the ‘embodiment of the will of the people,' but, in reality, they were manipulating them to believe whatever they wished, for they had the power and resources to do so. The Republic then fell and the Empire took its place.
Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Greco-Roman Egypt- Religion & Society"
Wednesday, August 22, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
When Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and the Hellenistic legacy that he initiated under the Ptolemies continued, the Culture, Religion, Art, and Architecture blended with that of the Ancient Greeks.
When Egypt came under the control of the Roman Empire, Egyptian culture and religion further blended with the Romans.
But the influence went both ways, for not only did the Greeks and Romans influence Egypt, but Egypt managed to conquer its conquerors in many ways.
When it comes to the philosophical ideas, the Library of Alexandria was a contributing factor in the blend of these ideas.
As far as Mystery Cults, both the cults of Serapis and Isis blended elements from both Greeks and Romans. In addition, Hermiticism, Middle Platonism, Neoplantonism, Sethian and Valentinian Gnosticism, are all a mixture of Egyptian, Greek, and Roman ideas. Yet, the influence of the Egyptians upon the Eastern Mediterranean can be traced back even to the Minoans and Mycenaeans and into the Archaic and Classical period. In this
talk, we will discuss both the history of ideas between these societies and even the art and architecture, examining what we know from an archaeological perspective.
Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Gospel of Judas-Controversial 2nd Century Gnostic Coptic Manuscript"
Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Julio-Claudians: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, & Nero--The First Roman Dynasty"
Wednesday, July 25, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Augustus Caesar, through forging together the world renowned military might of the Romans as Imperator, the political powers of its efficient if not ruthless governance through his position as Princeps (First Citizen),
and the deeply seeded tradition Roman ancestor cult refashioned as the Imperial Cult as Pontifex Maximus, established an empire that would last until 476 in the Latin West and the Greek east until 1453.
Yet, the first years of this empire were crucial if this political, religious, military, and social institution was to survive for Augustus, while thorough, could not anticipate all the challenges his Roman Empire would encounter along the way, and, at times, it seemed that this imperial experiment would actually fail.
The Julio-Claudians, those emperors who followed after Augustus and who came from the same family line, were a diverse group of leaders who have become almost household names that being TIBERIUS, GAIUS (CALIGULA), CLAUDIUS, and NERO.
Not one of these emperors were without controversy, and, two of them, specifically Caligula and Nero, were considered quite horrendous as political leaders, let alone human beings.
In fact, Caligula was so terrible, the Senate planned to get rid of the Imperial position altogether.
During these years, however, the empire greatly expanded, the military became even more efficient as a fighting machine, and the Imperial Cult became popularized and interwoven deeply in public life.
The Roman Empire survived and strengthened almost despite itself.
Yet, in Tiberius and Claudius, ability did outweigh many personal flaws, and it is to these men that can be credited to maintaining the empire. The story of the Early Imperial Era is worthy of examination and, we must realize, that the context of this era is the backdrop standing behind the advent of Christianity.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Charlemagne, the Papacy, & the Carolingian Legacy"
Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great, became King of the Franks in 768 CE, and by 800 CE, when he was crowned as Emperor, was the ruler of the majority of Western Europe, uniting this area politically, economically and religiously for the first time since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and was the first Emperor here since the Romans as well.
In fact, Charlemagne is often viewed as the Father of Europe with his Carolingian Empire divided in three areas under his grandchildren, as of the Treaty of Verdun in 843 CE, with Lothair I receiving much of the area that would eventually become the Low Countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg (along with Lorraine, Burgundy and Provence),
Louis the German receiving the region which would be understood as the Holy Roman Empire, understood today as Germany, and Charles the Bald who was allotted the region that became the Kingdom of France.
All areas under Charlemagne became Christianized, a difficult task, especially among the Saxons. Charlemagne continued his father’s policy of supporting the Papacy and legitimizing the Papal State,becoming the defender of the Popes, and, in return, he was crowned by the Pope Emperor,
a very important moment in Medieval History as it made the Pope the King-maker, and so legitimacy was viewed as tied to his official blessing, mixing the link between Church and State that would last until challenged by such kings as Henry VIII. Many of Charlemagne’s religious views,
for example concerning the Filioque, alienated the Church of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) amd so helped solidify the growing division between the Eastern Church, which would become the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Western Church, which would become the Catholic Church.
Yet, Charlemagne revived the art and culture during his rule, creating the Carolingian Renaissance, where even literature revived and there was a renewed focus on preserving the Greco-Roman past.
So much of the success of Charlemagne was due to the force of his very charismatic personality and his keen intellect, as well as his resolve to achieve his goals no matter what the cost, although, because of the latter aspect,
Charlemagne has become a controversial figure up to this day. The force of his sheer tactical skill kept the Moors from invading Europe from the South and warded away the Vikings to the North, but, following his reign, the Viking marauders became emboldened to resume their raiding expeditions,
with much of Western Europe returning to a chaotic state, but never the chaotic state it was before Charlemagne ruled, for his legacy of Western unity would soon triumph, and with it the birth of modern Western Europe.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeology, Manuscripts, Historical Relevance to Judaism & Early Christianity"
Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Dead Sea Scrolls: Archaeology, Manuscripts, and Historical Relevance to Judaism & Early Christianity
From out of the desert of Judaea and lost for two thousand years, the Dead Sea Scrolls from its very discovery in 1946 still evoke mystery and controversy today.
Located near the site of Qumran about one kilometer from the shores of the salt-encrusted Dead Sea, the first scrolls were discovered by Bedouin tribesmen tending their flocks one winter’s day.
Unbeknownst to the Muhammad, the Bedouin who first got there, the greatest academic treasure of the twentieth century had just been discovered! In his hands were the Great Isaiah Scroll, a Commentary on the Book of Habakkuk, and the Community Rule.
Eventually more manuscripts were found in eleven main caves, and more than just the Hebrew Bible were found within them.
But who wrote these scrolls and why were they seemingly hidden away? And how do they change our understanding of both Judaism and Early Christianity?
Join us for answers to all of these questions!!!
Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Apollonius of Tyana"
Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us at Ipso Facto for a fascinating and controversial lecture "Apollonius of Tyana" on Wednesday, June 13, 8
p.m. with Cal State Fullerton professor Dr. James Rietveld.
Apollonius of Tyana was a charismatic teacher, healer, neo-Pythagorean philosopher, traveler, ascetic vegetarian,
mystic and miracle worker of the first century, a "divine man" born 15 c. 100 AD in Tyana in the province of
Cappadocia in Anatolia.
Often compared to Jesus (and apostle Paul) for many striking correlations in their lives, Apollonius is not
mentioned in the Bible, but his story has many sources including Athenian sophist, Philostratus', commissioned
work "Life of Apollonius" (210 CE), Moeragenes' "Memorabilia of Apollonius of Tyana, magician and Philosopher,"
the memoirs of disciple Damis of Nineveh, Apollonius' own letters and books, plus the local traditions of the cities
of Ephesus, Tyana and Antioch.
Beginning with a miraculous birth, the sage of Tyana became an unusually precocious young man who went on an
itinerant preaching ministry, urging others to not live for the material world, but rather for what is spiritual.
Apollonius was a teacher of asceticism with an understanding of mathematics and philosophy, who also
performed miracles as mystic and magician, casting out demons, healing the sick, and receiving direct revelations
from the gods.
It is said that he saw a vision of the death of Emperor Domitian as it occurred, and gave warning to citizens of
Ephesus of an impending plague, which went unheeded until pestilence struck. Thenceforth, they sought further
advice of the man they thought to be a mighty and prophetic magician.
Apollonius also reportedly resurrected the deceased daughter of a Roman consul, and rescued a former student,
Menippus of Corinth, from a terrible fate on his wedding night, by making the wedding banquet and some guests
disappear, revealing them to be illusions of the evil vampire bride, who promptly confessed.
The mystery surrounding Apollonius' death has several versions including ascending to heaven while on trial for
"magic" before Emperor Severus, and mysteriously vanishing from the temple of Dictynna.
Apollonius' legacy continued to unfold as a hero of Pagan culture in late Antiquity, and was influencial to medieval
Islamic alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, whose "Book of Stones" attributed analyses of alchemical works to him.
European advocates of Enlightenment saw him as an early proponent of a universal, non-denominational religion
compatible with Reason.
Later admirers include radical English deist, Charles Blount, Voltaire, the Marquis de Sade, Theosophists C.W.
Leadbeater, Alice A. Bailey, and Benjamin Creme, Madame Helena Blavatsky, and Ezra Pound.
Variously called an Ascended Master, one who taught the same "high moral truths as Jesus," Apollonius's
existence is perhaps more provable than his contemporary, Jesus, whose story, some say, was inspired by
If this sounds interesting, then you won't want to miss this lecture on Wednesday, June 13, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Book of Revelation"
Wednesday, May 23, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us on Wednesday, May 23, 8 p.m. for Dr. James Rietveld's lecture on "The Book of Revelation."
The Book of Revelation is at the forefront of the modern discourse on the end of the world.
Via its' narrator John, an exiled Christian who writes down all that God reveals to him, it draws from divergent sources such as Jewish apocalyptic stories and the Roman Imperial cult.
In his vision John meets God, Jesus, angels, elders, and six-winged creatures inhabiting the heavenly realm.
When the seven-eyed lamb (Jesus) open the seven seals, God's fury is loosed on Earth with rivers of blood, plagues of locusts, and giant hailstones.
Midway in this wild stitched together tale, we meet a powerful goddess figure with Marian attributes, and a dragon, 7 headed monster and the 666 beast who have lead humans astray.
Once they are thrown in the lake of fire, the remaining faithful are ushered into a splendid city in the sky to live happily forever.
So, what does 666 mean?
How does the new Jerusalem and new heaven figure into the story?
Why was the book of Revelation considered heretical until the fourth century?
Who wrote the book of Revelation?
This lecture will answer these burning questions and likely raise more queries.
Join us and find out!
Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Creation of the Papacy"
Wednesday, May 9, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us on May 9, 8 p.m. for a free lecture by Dr. James Rietveld on "The Creation of the Papacy."
For Catholics, the Pope is understood as the ultimate head of the elaborate ecclesiastical hierarchy; the
quintessential authority believed in place since the beginning of the Church.
Many take it for granted that
Christianity always had its Pope, its Vatican, its cardinals, even its bishops, presbyters and deacons right from
The image that comes to mind is that of Peter with Jesus telling him that upon this rock he
would build his church; with this rock understood as Peter and this reference understood to refer to the
Papacy as situated in Rome.
But is this really a valid assumption? Was the papacy present right from the
beginning, heading up the church from its base in Rome, or are we basing our evidence upon centuries of
hindsight and speculation?
Join us for this public lecture on what historians believe happened during those early
centuries--and the answers might surprise you!
Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Flavian: Vespasian, Titus, & Domitian: From the Jewish Revolt and destruction of Pompeii to the rise of the Imperial Cult & Pragmatic Emperors"
Wednesday, April 25, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The Flavians: Vespasian, Titus, & Domitian: From the Jewish Revolt and destruction of Pompeii to the rise of the
Imperial Cult & Pragmatic Emperors
The Flavians were a Roman imperial dynasty ruling the Roman Empire between 69 CE and 96 CE, encompassing
the reigns of Vespasian (69-79 CE), and his two sons Titus (79-81 CE) and Domitian (81-96 CE).
The Flavians rose to power during the civil war of 69, known as the Year of the Four Emperors, which featured
Galba and Otho both meeting their deaths quickly, and Vitellius ultimately being removed.
Victorious in the Second Battle of Bedriacum, Flavian forces swept into Rome, influencing the senate to quickly
declare Vespasian emperor of the Roman Empire.
Thus commenced the Flavian Dynasty, which proved to be short-lived, but significant. Several historic,
economic, and military events took place during this time, including the siege of Jerusalem during the Great
Jewish Revolt, the conquest of Britain, eruptions of Vesuvius and Pompeii, and massive building programs
including the erection of the Colosseum and restoration of the Capitolium.
In order to restore peace in post civil war Rome, Vespasian deftly used the currency of his military victory to
create stability at a difficult time when the concept of the emperor had been under scrutiny.
With his military prowess, religious identity and rustic Italian public persona, Vespasian presented himself as a
new imperial founder, a rival for Augustus, with the public image of his family as the dynasty for Rome’s Flavian
future. His model drew from Roman cultural traditions, historical examples of the Julio-Claudian period,
traditions associated with Roman urban topography, and military leadership.
Vespasian’s concept of the imperial dynasty also, unfortunately, challenged important symbolic roles that
women, especially mothers of emperors, played in the Julio-Claudian imperial household, by reducing their
importance, with a few exceptions.
When Vespasian, 'most distinguished' ruler, retired from public work, he left running the Empire to Titus, the
'august ruler.' Vespasian died of natural causes on June 23, 79, to be immediately succeeded by Titus.
Titus, for his part, distinguished himself militarily in Judaea during the siege of Jerusalem and Alexandria. In fact
Titus’ likeability had been a major factor in Vespasian’s ability to gather support from
military leaders and
soldiers during the Civil War. Also Titus had acted as intermediary to Herod Agrippa and held the office of
ambassador to Alexandria, whose grain supply was a necessity of Roman life.
Interestingly, Pliny the Elder described both Vespasian and Titus as benevolent patrons on behalf of the Roman
people, but only mentioned that Domitian wrote poetry, (though actually he was a significant cultural contributor
to the literary culture of Rome.)
This was carefully crafted Flavian propaganda, with the three emperors working together as a coherent and
unified group united by pervading physical, ethical, and political similarities, to promote each one in succession,
so that the Roman people had a roadmap as to whom to support.
Domitian ran the empire for Vespasian and Titus when they were away from Rome, coming into his own after
Titus' death from fever in 81 two years into his reign, but lacked the support that the others had enjoyed.
Cohesion was further derailed by Domitian’s increasing autocracy and tyranny, and his gradual rejection of his
father's and brother's examples in favor of the Julio-Claudian emperical mold.
Flavian rule came to an end on September 18, 96, when Domitian was assassinated by his many enemies and
was succeeded by Flavian supporter and advisor Marcus Cocceius Nerva, giving rise to the long lived Nerva-Antonine dynasty.
Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Hercules/Heracles and the Hero Tradition"
Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
This lecture will discuss Hercules/ Heracles and the hero tradition and myths, inclusive of gods and other heroes in both Greece and Rome.
Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The World's First Temple, Gobekli Tepe of Ancient Anatolia"
Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The World’s First Temple, "Gobekli Tepe," in Ancient Anatolia was discovered in south eastern Turkey, impeccably preserved for 12,000 years from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A Period (c. 9600-7300 BC.)
The temple complex contains the remains of multiple temples with mystical rock statues carved with animals and abstract symbols, some combination scenes, plus stylized human beings, or perhaps the earliest images of the gods or demiurges, with no eyes, mouths, or faces.
Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, the stunning stone temple, which would have required many people to move the heavy columns and stones, upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization itself.
With no stone tools, settlement or society to speak of, and farming still a far cry away, in a world of only roaming hunter-gatherers, the complexity and developed blueprints of these temples represent another enigma for archeologists.
Do we have to change our vision of how and when civilized human history began? The plot thickens...
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Justinian & Theodora-6th Century Byzantine Emperor & Empress"
Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Emperor Justinian (527 to 565 AD) ruled Byzantium with his wife, Theodora who exercised considerable influence as augusta, but not co-regent, yet her superior intelligence and deft handling of political affairs caused many to think that it was she who ruled.
Theodora's colorful past as an actress meant that special legislation to be passed to allow her to marry Justinian.
She proved to be such an asset to the realm that when two rival political factions led an opposition to the government and set up a rival emperor, Theodora advised Justinian not to flee as his advisors recommended, but to stay and save his empire.
The result was an epic win, with Justinian’s general dealing the final blow by herding the rioters into the Hippodrome to cut them to pieces.
Theodora is remembered as one of the first rulers to recognize the rights of women, and ending persecution of the Monophysites, of which she was a pratictioner.
Justinian, born of peasant stock, arose to power thanks to a high ranking uncle who ensured that he received a good education. Justinian eventually was adopted by emporer Justin, served as co-emperor and after Justin's death, ascended to the throne.
He was notable for his administrative reorganization of the imperial government,as a legislator, and for his sponsorship of a codification of laws, the Codex.
Genuinely concerned with promoting the well-being of his subjects, he rooted out corruption and provided them accessible justice.
Justinian was known for public works eg. building aqueducts, bridges, rebuilding cities devastated by earthquakes, monasteries, orphanages, hostels, churches such as Hagia Sophia, fortifications and defenses.
He also considered it his duty to regain previously lost provinces, and engaged in several wars, followed by truces and treaties.
He launched a succesful attack on north Africa and brought it under his control, yet he was plagued by constant attacks on the northern frontier in the Balkans, by barbarians.
Both Justinian and Theodora are saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with his history of promoting good government of the church and upholding orthodox teaching, but also directing actions against paganism.
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Idaean Dactyls, Mount Ida, Ancient Anatolia"
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
This free lecture with Dr. James Rietveld (of Cal State Fullerton) will cover a little known topic, the Idaean Dactyls.
Two mountains are called Mount Ida by the Ancient Greeks and are both considered very sacred, one located in Asia Minor, known as Kaz Dagi today, positioned in the Troad, southeast of Troy, and the other on the island of Crete, the highest mountain on the island.
The Idaean Dactyls were very mysterious magical creatures considered not only agents of magic but also of musical
notes and metalworking, especially forging iron, living along the lower parts of Mount Ida, hence the fact they were referred to as Idaean. According to Pausanias, the Idaean Dactyls protected baby Zeus from the devouring father Cronus after Rhea gave birth to him below Mount Ida on Crete.
The Mount Ida in Asia Minor was connected to the Great Mother Adrasteia, also closely related to the goddesses Rhea as
well as the Phrygian Cybele. The Goddess Rhea is associated with both the mountains on Crete and in the Troad, with a legacy traceable back to the Minoans. According to Strabo, both the Kuretes and Korybantes were offspring of the Idaean Dactyls who originated from the Mount Ida in the Troad. In some cases, the Kuretes were viewed as identical to the Idaean Dactyls, and were known for protecting Leto from Hera as she gave birth to Artemis and Apollo at Ephesus, performing the very same protective task as the Idaean Dactyls on Crete in regards to Zeus. In fact, the priests of
Artemis of the Ephesians will become known as the Curetes, and will be responsible for reenacting the role of these guardian spirits every year in the Ortygia Gardens, where Leto was said to have given birth to the twins according to Ephesian tradition. Again, in relation to Ephesus, Clement of Alexandria directly connects the Idaean Dactyls with the invention of the Ephesian Letters, believed to be one of the most powerful magical word combinations throughout the Mediterranean in Antiquity, and inclusive of the word which also happens to be one of the personal names of the Idaean
Dactyls. Clearly the Idaean Dactyls played an important role in the religious beliefs of Western Asia Minor and the Aegean. The question most be asked what exactly were their origins and how do they relate to two separate sacred mountains, to the goddesses Rhea and Artemis of the Ephesians, to the Kuretes and the Korybantes, and, finally, to the magical tradition of the Ephesians Letters? The possible answers will be explored in this presentation as we investigate the evidence residing within the shadowy religious world of the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BCE) and the Early Iron Age (1200-1000 BCE), and the mixture of cultures inclusive of the Minoans, the Luvians, and the Mycenaeans.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Greek Goddess Leto"
Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
LETO was one of the female Titan goddesses, a bride of Zeus, mother of the twin gods Apollon and Artemis, friend of the Trojans, and highly beloved and respected in Greek mythology. The goddess of motherhood and, with her children, a protectress of the young, Leto's name and iconography suggest she was also goddess of modesty and womanly demure. She may also have been a goddess of the night, or alternatively of the light of day.
According to Greek legend, when Leto was pregant with the twins, the goddess Hera persecuted her and pursued her relentlessly, driving her from land to land, preventing her from finding a place to rest and give birth. Zeus saw to it that the floating island of Delos provided her refuge, as Python persued her, and when Leto gave birth to Apollo, the baby slew Python.
Join us on Wednesday, February 7, 8 p.m. to hear these and other stories when Dr. James Rietveld recounts the legends of Leto along with lesser known information at this free lecture!
Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"Maximus of Ephesus Neoplatonist Philosopher"
Wednesday, January 24, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Maximus Of Ephesus, Neoplatonist philosopher and theurgic magician whose most spectacular achievement was the animation of a statue of Hecate.
Through his magic he gained a powerful influence over the mind of the future Roman emperor Julian, and was invited to join the court in Constantinople when Julian succeeded to the throne in 361.
Later imprisoned by the emperor Valens after Julian’s death, Maximus was released but finally executed for complicity in an assassination plot against Valens.
The most detailed source for the life of Maximus is Eunapius in his Lives of the Sophists, and he is also referenced by Ammianus Marcellinus, emperor Julian, Libanius and Christian writers, albeit in negative terms.
At that time, many Neoplatonists practiced theurgy (attempting to commune with God by special ritual actions), and testimony describes Maximus successfully breaking a love-spell cast
on the philosopher Sosipatra by a relative.
Maximus taught Julian philosophy in Ephesus, until he became emperor, and they kept in touch with Maximus becoming a trusted, influential advisor and discussion partner.
Upon Julian's death from combat wounds, Maximus' influence continued with Emperor Jovian, but upon his death, Maximus found himself besieged by enemies, imprisoned and tortured for
so-called "illegitimate enrichment."
Eventually freed by the proconsul of Asia Clearchus, a supporter of the old religion, Maximus began teaching philosophy once again, returning to Constantinople.
In 370 Emperor Valens was informed that an oracle predicted that he would "die a strange death," allowing a new emperor whose name began with "Theod" to rise to power.
Valens ordered a massacre and persecution, which ensnared Maximus in false accusations that led to his execution in 372.
The oracle proved true when Theodosius I became the next Roman Emperor.
Join us for this fascinating lecture with Dr. Rietveld on Wednesday, January 24.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Emperor Hadrian:: Life, Policies, Relationships with Pagans, Christians, and Jews"
Tuesday, January 10, 2018, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
You may know the name of Hadrian, emperor of Rome from 117 to 138, who built "Hadrian's Wall," marking the empire's northern limit in Britannia, to keep the violent and barbarous Celts out of the Roman Empire.
As one of the "Five Good Emperors" of Rome, Hadrian was also famous for rebuilding the Pantheon, and constructing the Temples of Venus and Roma.
A man ahead of his time, Hadrian sported a full beard, unlike his predecessors, and supposedly even forged his own adoption papers in order to become emperor.
Taking the time to fully explore the empire's furthest reaches to quelch disturbances in the provinces, he notably defeated Bar Kochba (declared the Jewish Messiah by Rabbi Akiva and other Jews) during the second Jewish Revolt. A pagan Roman city named Aelia Capitolina was built on the same site.
Hadrian has been called "omnium curiositatum explorator," an explorer of everything interesting, with his curiosity bred of a keen intellect and anguished spirit.
He came to look upon his reign as a new Augustan age, redrafting onerous laws and inspecting troups, while becoming adept in astrology, writing poetry, and designing architecture.
Another of his many accomplishments was the establishment of a mystery cult in honor of his fallen lover, Antinous, a Bithynian Greek youth, after his Nile River drowning death under mysterious circumstances, after which the the city, Antinopolis, was established in his memory.
Accomplished and expert at keeping the empire together, Hadrian rose above society's dim view of homosexuality, even after failing to father a male heir to the Roman throne with his wife.
The highs and lows of Hadrian's reign as emperor, marked by both military and political prowess, make an epic tragic tale of immense love, scandal, sacrifice, and mystery.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, December 19, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, December 19, 8 p.m. for another free Salon lecture with Dr. James Rieveld on The Amazons!
In Greek mythology, the Amazons were a tribe of brutal and aggressive women warriors related to Scythians and Sarmatians, who were said to have founded the cities and temples of Smyrna, Sinope, Cyme, Gryne, Ephesus and more.
But did they really exist?
Often depicted in battle with Greek warriors, the Amazons appear on numerous occasions in Greek literature, from history to rumor and back again.
From Euripides "Hippolotus" to the Hercules myths, as well as Virgil, Plutarch, Homer and more, they are consistently represented as women with a will of their own.
Join us at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, December 19 to hear the exciting tales of the Amazons, and to separate fact from fiction to arrive at the answer to our question.
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, December 5, 8 p.m. for another free Salon lecture with Dr. James Rieveld on Apollo, one of the most important and complex Olympian deities
in classical Greek and Roman mythology and religion.
Son of Zeus, and twin brother of chaste huntress, Artemis, he was a sun god to the Ancient Greeks, and patron of medicine and healing,
god of battle and victory, music, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, poetry, archery, crops and herds.
With origins in Anatolia, spreading to Egypt by way of Syria and Palestine, Apollo became the most widely revered and influential of
all the ancient Greek and Roman gods. From the time of Homer onward he was the god of divine distance, who threatened from afar;
made men aware of their own guilt and purified them of it; presided over religious law and the constitutions of cities; and who
communicated with mortals through prophets and oracles his knowledge of the future and the will of his father, Zeus. Even the gods
feared him, and only his father and mother, Leto, could easily endure his presence.
Lauded in the Homeric hymn, the Iliad, with its' legends of the Trojan War, it was Apollo's legendary slaying of the dragon Python
(four days after his birth!) which led to his acquisition of the famous Oracle at Delphi, an important shrine of prophecy, festivals
and Panhellenic games.
Another story follows Apollo's tenure as lowly groom and herdsman to King Admetus of Pherae where he protected flocks from wolves as
penance for slaying Zeus’s armourers, while beguiling the hours with music on his famous lyre.
Known for numerous love affairs with both mortals and goddesses Apollo amazingly wooed all nine Muses at once.
But most of these unions were tragic such as that of Daphne, whose efforts to escape him, caused her to be changed into a laurel, his sacred shrub.
If the legends of this rock star of Greco-Roman mythology are of interest, you won't want to miss this free Salon lecture on December 5th!
Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Artemis of Perge - Goddess of Ancient Anatolia"
Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Youtube video of last 15 mins of this lecture.
Let's talk Turkey!
Not the bird, but rather ancient Turkey, aka Anatolia, and in particular the city of Perge, which flourished well into the third century.
The Goddess Artemis, rooted deep in ancient history, was Queen of Perge, a city located in Pamphylia in Southern Turkey.
Her cult goes back to the time of the Minoans and Hittites, if not earlier.
Most scholars assert she was a localized Luwian goddess, her exotic block-like image, resembling a meteorite, retained since the Bronze Age.
By the Hellenistic and Roman era, images of the goddess also show her as a huntress, with a bow in her hand, and sphinxes or stags at her side, as she later takes on attributes of the Greek Artemis.
Yet, side by side with these images, Artemis of Perge retained the earlier exotic image and so it appears that much like Artemis of the Ephesians, Artemis of Perge was a very popular composite goddess, mixing both Greek and ancient Anatolian attributes.
But why did the Greeks identify this goddess of Perge or even the goddess of Ephesus with A
is and is Artemis originally really Greek at all?
Through this study of Artemis of Perge, we can examine various versions of Artemis throughout Anatolia, and reaching an earlier stratum of this goddess going deep into the Bronze Age.
Her hilltop temple, known for its beauty, size and magnificent architecture, stood above the town where annual festivals were held in her honor, yet, for some reasons, this giant temple is somehow lost?
Where are scholars currently looking for this temple site?
A recently discovered 1,800 year old Greek mosaic in Perge depicts the famous legend of the sacrifice of Iphigenia, daughter of king Agamemnon and Clytemnestra during the Trojan War. When Iphigenia’s father killed an animal consecrated to Artemis, she caused the winds, necessary for the fleet set to leave for Troy, to stop. Agamemnon's entire army waited for him to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia, but just as the sacrifice is about to commence, Artemis sends a deer which is offered in her place. Thus, the winds start
blowing, the fleet sails to Troy, and Iphigenia becomes a nun in the temple of Artemis.
Hear this and more fascinating ancient tales and new information when Dr. Rietveld discusses Artemis of Perge at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, November 21 at 8 p.m..
Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Apuleius and the Cult of Isis & Osiris"
Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
This lecture promises to be a fun one as Dr Rietveld discusses Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis (c. 124c. 170) writer, platonist philosopher,
accused sorcerer, rhetorian, high priest of the Imperial Cult, popular philosophical orator, and author of
"Asinus Aureus" aka "Metamorphoses" ("The Golden Ass") the only ancient Roman novel in Latin to survive in its entirety.
The plot revolves around the protagonist's insatiable curiosity and desire to see and practice magic.
When a spell goes awry, he is transformed into an ass, leading to a literal and metaphorical journey, which concludes with his salvation
through the intervention of the goddess Isis, whose cult he joins.
Apuleius' insatiable curiosity, especially about religion, mythology, mysticism, and magic, occasionally got him into trouble as well, and it
is believed that The Golden Ass displays autobiographical elements.
Another of Apuleius' great works is his Defense (Apologia) refuting the accusation of seduction by magic (punishable by death, for which
he was aquitted), a valuable resource on ancient magical practices.
Also known for his pious Isis work and writings on Platonic philosophy which put forth the concepts of the First God, the World Soul and
Matter underlying everything, Apuleius also posits that each person's soul has a daemon: the highest, intuitive part of the mind, a divine
spark or spirit. In addition, one has a guardian daemon, who accompanies them through life and is their advocate after death.
Apuleius also writes that ethics teaches one how to live well, Virtue is a state of mind, and one of the most important virtues is wisdom,
which he defines as "knowledge of things divine and human."
Join us at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, November 7, 8 p.m. to discover more about this amazing scholar, seeker and public figure, Apuleius of
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"An Exploration of Ghosts, Spirits & Apparitions From the Greco/ Roman Era through Present Day Through an Anthropological Lense"
Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
One constant around the world, both today and in the past, is the belief
not only in the supernatural, but in what are often called "ghosts" the
problem is that there exists great confusion beyond this word, for what
exactly is a ghost?
Is a "ghost" the spirit of a lost soul, a spirit of a soul
that is sending a specific message or prophecy, telepathic entities
entering our mind, glitches in the fabric of time-space, spirit beings that
have never been living souls, an angel or demon, a natural phenomena
or historical echo that occurs when the time or temperatures are just
right, or even an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of
cheese, a fragment of underdone potato?
What is most curious is that
from the Greco-Roman Era to the present-day, the descriptions of
ghosts are more alike than different. Is this due to the transmission of
similar stories and ideas across cultures, a result of human psychology
reacting to perceptions in a similar way because of our intrinsic
commonalities, or is it because there is really something out there that
could be understood as a "ghost" and that is why the responses are so
similar? Yet, most scientists will either deny the existence of ghosts or
will not comment on this topic, leaving the research often to those who
are deemed to be advancing a pseudo-science.
For this lecture at Ipso
Facto, we will investigate the history of ghosts as well as the research
into this topic, seeing if we have a ghost of a chance in deciphering this
"An Exploration of Ghosts, Spirits & Apparitions From the Greco/ Roman Era through Present Day Through an Anthropological Lense"
Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Osiris Egyptian god of the afterlife, the underworld, the dead, god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration."
Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Osiris, the Egyptian God of the Afterlife and the Underworld, was also the deity of Resurrection, Regeneration, and Immortality, with one myth telling how
while the desert god Seth murdered him, he, as a god of the soil and moisture, returned to life again via the magical, life-giving powers of his wife and consort Isis,
only to find himself as the enthroned judge of the Underworld.
Hence, Osiris was the Egyptian form of the well-known Dying & Rising fertility God encountered throughout the Ancient Near East.
In this capacity, Osiris became connected to the cycles of the seasons as well as the rise and fall of the Nile River.
He was also connected to the movement of the stars, to the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius.
The falcon-god Horus was the offspring of Osiris and Isis, and while Pharaoh was alive, he was anointed and possessed by Horus, yet, in death, Pharaoh became associated with Osiris, with the Cult of Osiris very much part of the Egyptian cult of the Dead. Declared as the both the “Lord of Love
and the Lord of Silence, this enigmatic deity often proves allusive and even intentionally obscure, as he stands at the very threshold of the mysterious realm beyond.
At Ipso Facto, Dr. Rietveld well provide an academic explanation for how the Ancient Egyptians viewed this god and also offer up insights into the Egyptians’ views of life and death.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Early Human Migrations: Discrediting the Myth of Purity from both a Historical and Scientific Perspective"
Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
So often we focus upon what divides us as humans rather than what unites us, buying into the illusion that we are to be
categorized into this or that race or ethnic group, when, in reality, we are all very much the same in the grand scheme of things,
we are all humans, all of us arriving out of Africa, and then gradually spreading across the globe.
About two millions and then gradually spreading across the globe. About two millions years ago, humans in the form of Homo erectus
migrated out of Africa. Next, Homo heidelbergensis emerged out of Africa, reaching Europe in about 600,000 BCE, the likely origins for both the
Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, the latter modern humans.
Rather than staying in isolation, Homo sapiens migrated to wherever they deemed best for survival, inclusive of climate and food sources, and,
while doing so, met other humans encountered along the way, with who we readily mixed, and that included even archaic humans groups such as Neanderthals and Denisovans.
When it comes to our actual DNA there is no such thing as purity of genes in any regards, and one group of Homo sapiens were not necessarily more advanced than others when
we examine the archaeological record. Homo Sapiens, then, continued to spread over the entire globe, with isolation virtually impossible as one group migrated and mixed with
the other, this includes Europe, one of the most mixed areas of all with the idea of purity of race in this region, as advocated by some even recently, being a complete fabrication
based upon prejudice and ignorance. Come to Ipso Facto, to listen to a talk that will make us realize there are no pure breeds when it comes to humanity, for we are just a bunch of mutts
from the perspective of history!
Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Emperor Theodosius I - The Twilight of Greco-Roman Paganism, & its Integration with Christianity"
Tuesday, September 5, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Theodosius I, aka Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from AD 379 to AD 395
and the last to rule over both eastern and western halves of the Roman Empire.
He was a distinguished general, fighting against and eventually creating treaties with
barbarian Visigoths and surviving bloody civil wars.
When serious illness threatened his life, Theodosius sought baptism by the Catholic
Church. After his recovery, the emperor set about establishing Christianity as the
religion of the state, vigorously suppressing paganism and Arianism.
Theodosius established the creed of the Council of Nicaea (325) as the universal norm
for Christian orthodoxy and directed the convening of the second general council at
Constantinople. Interestingly, Theodosius was excommunicated in 390 for the
massacre in Thessalonica and only allowed back into the church after doing penance.
This excommunication was historic as it showed the sheer power the church had
gained, even enforcing it's will on the emperor, who closed pagan temples and forbade
their worship by threat of harsh punishment in 391.
Theodosius' importance rests on the fact that he founded a dynasty which continued in
power until 450, whose policies influenced the emergence of Nicene Christianity as the
orthodox belief of the vast majority of Christians throughout the middle ages, and
ensured the destruction of paganism.
Join us on Tuesday September 5, 8 p.m. for this fascinating lecture with Cal State
Fullerton professor Dr. James Rietveld.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Julian the Great or Julian the Apostate? The Last Pagan Roman Emperor & The Twilight of
Ancient Greco-Roman Religion"
Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Julian the Great was Emperor of Rome from 361 to 363 BCE, following the Christian emperors Constantine the Great (306-337) and
his son Constantius (337-361), and was known for attempting to return the Roman Empire back to their traditional gods, adding
features inclusive of Neo-Platonism, the Chaldean Oracles, and various other philosophical and magical systems popular at the time.
Upon his succession to the throne, Julian re-established the
Pagan State Religion, reversing the political gains achieved by Christianity during the last two reigns in only a matter of three years.
Believing himself the reincarnation of Alexander the Great,
Julian commanded his legions to proceed eastward, attacking Persia in hopes of reaching even further afield.
Yet, for all of his ambitions, Julian was fatally wounded when the Sassanid army raided his column, leaving a question in the
minds of many historians of what would have happened had Julian survived and his legacy
permitted to become better established. Julian was a notable philosopher and author, writing volumes of letters and other works,
including To King Helios and To the Mother of the Gods.
As revealed in these and other sources at the time, Greco-Roman paganism was
quickly changing up to and during the reign of Julian, becoming more mystical, more philosophical, and more magical,
as a new mixture of ideas from the East began to influence its very nature.
At Ipso Facto in Fullerton,
I will discuss in depth the life of Julian the Apostate and attempt to capture the spirit of this dynamic era just
prior to the complete political ascent of Christianity, which resulted in the suppression of these beliefs, or, in many cases,
the re-appropriation of these beliefs to conform to the new Christian expectations, which were far removed from the ideals of early Christianity.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Hittite Religion & Culture"
Tuesday, August 8, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join Dr. James Rietveld at Ipso Facto, Fullerton, CA, for an exploration of the religion and culture of the Ancient Hittites of Anatolia who thrived from 1700-1200 BC.
A society of wide ranging ethnicity and linguistics, the Hittites were the first to discover and use the hyphen in their cuneiform inscriptions, clay tablets and hieroglyphic carvings.
They forged a mythological universe replete with colorful dieties including "The God Who Disappeared;" the underworld god, Kumarbi; the cloaked, horned lion, Sandan; and Ubelluris who carried the earth and sky on one shoulder.
Lelwani was the goddess who ruled over the subterranean land of the dead, and goddesses, Istustaya and Papaya, spun the threads of each mortal’s destiny by the shores of the Black Sea.
Join us in unraveling the mythology and culture of the early Hittites with newly translated texts of their fascinating mythology and culture.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Join us for this exciting lecture on Tuesday, July 25, 8 p.m. with Dr. James Rietveld.
Hekate (aka Hecate) is popularly known as the goddess of magic, of the crossroads, of the night, of entranceways, of witchcraft, of ghosts, of necromancy, of poisonous plants, of the light, and,
for those who followed the Chaldaean Oracles, even worshipped as the
Cosmic Soul itself. She inhabits the fringes, the liminal places, the realms that defy the conventions. She straddles the world of Olympian and Titan, being both, yet neither.
Divergent stories mask her origins, with Classicist and archaeologist alike trying to
discover what resides beneath all the traditions. Where does Hekate come from and why is she the mysterious goddess that still kindles out curiosity today?
On July 25 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto, we will following Hekate holding her torches into the underworld of Greek myth and legend and, perhaps, deep into the underworld of humanity’s subconscious as well.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Poseidon, the son of Cronos and Rhea, was the brother of Zeus and Hera and was often known by many names. With the division of the universe between Zeus, Hades and Poseidon, while Zeus gained the sky as his lot, he gained the sea.
Hence, it was Poseidon that they seafarers cried out to for a safe passage. Poseidon was also the god of earthquakes, a leftover attribute from when he was actually revered as an underworld deity. The sea god also loved horses and was their special deity, despite the fact that they are creatures that reside upon the land. In fact, horses were often drowned as offerings in his honor. He was often a moody god, calm and serene at one moment, but angry in the next, striking his trident on the ground and so causing tidal waves, sudden destructive springs coming out of the earth, and earthquakes. Poseidon lived under the ocean in a coral and gem palace, traveling about in a chariot pulled by horses.
His symbols include the trident, three-pronged fish spears, and the dolphin. But the past
of this sea god is riddled in mystery, going back to the era of the Minoans and Mycenaeans. It is just these ancient origins we will unravel when you join us on Tuesday, July 11 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Hades and the Underworld"
Tuesday, June 27, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Considered the oldest son of Cronus and Rhea, Hades was designated ruler of the Underworld, while his brother
Zeus received the realm of the sky and his other brother Poseidon was allotted the realm of the sea.
But who was Hades? What were his origins? And how did he rule the realm of the Underworld?
This god, often known as "the Unseen One" has often baffled scholars, with many roads leading into the almost impenetrable past.
Fear of even saying his name
even led many to call him the wealthy one, since he oversaw the rich resources of the earth, the word Plouton eventually evolving into the name Pluto.
On Tuesday, June 27 at 8:00 PM, we will together descend into the Underworld of Hades,
exploring the realm from whence few return, and attempt to unravel the mystery of this controversial deity.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The Sibylline Oracles, were allegedly the utterances of Sibyl, a legendary Greek pagan prophetess of the oracle of Apollo, whose estatic revelations were divined in a frenzied state.
A valuable source for information about classical mythology, they denounced Rome's libertinism and idolatry, predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the eruption of Vesuvius, and incorporated fiery apocalyptic final judgement stories similar to the Book of Revelation.
A mixture of Paganism, Hellenistic Judaism, Gnosticism, and early Christian legends, the Sibylline Oracles greatly impressed early Jewish and Christian clergy alike, as their doctrines were confirmed by external testimony.
The original Sibylline Books, ascribed to the ancient Etruscans, were considered destroyed (burned by Flavius Stilicho) in the fourth century CE.
Surviving passages, however, are preserved in the Sibylline Oracles, from an extensively rewritten and redacted 6th or 7th century edition, arranged in 14 books and chaotic fragments of various authorship, date, and religious conception.
Were the Sibylline Oracles genuine eschatological predictions or were they after-the-fact Jewish and Christian writings from between 150 BC and 180 AD?
Find out by attending this free lecture at Ipso Facto with Dr. James Rietveld on Tuesday, June 13, at 8 p.m.
You can read the Oracles yourself here:
Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"Marcus Aurelius & Stoicism"
Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire from 161 to 180 BCE, and was known as one of the "Good Emperors" of the second century
(for his son, Commodus, was a disaster according to most sources), and, as most would agree, he ruled during an
era of transition, for during his reign Rome faced the threat of a revitalized Parthian Empire attacking from the
East and the threat of German Barbarians attacking all along the northern frontier.
Meanwhile, a great plague
spread across the empire, killing thousands to the point of depopulating entire cities. Marcus Aurelius faced
these threats directly and resolutely, known for his wisdom and great piety, for, after all, he was viewed not
only as an Emperor but a Philosopher as well, devoted to the philosophical practice known as Stoicism, which
gave him the fortitude to meet these challenges.
He even wrote a work known as the Meditations, considered one of
the great works of the Western World.
In this lecture, Dr. James Rietveld intends to paint a portrait of the man and his p
hilosophy by using exclusively sources from ancient times, capturing the zeitgeist of this age of turmoil, and the
hope is that we can understand how he was able to retain the same composure in the face of a crisis like he did.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Chaldean Oracles"
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Arising in ancient southeastern Mesopotamia, (modern Iraq), the Chaldean Oracles were an
attempt to philosophize the wisdom of the Semitic nation of Chaldea, whose mysterious and
enthusiastic cults and wisdom-traditions fused Alexandrian Hellenistic religious beliefs and
social organization with Persian-Babylonian, Israelite and Egyptian cultures.
Ascribed by the Souda (a Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world) to a
father and son, both named Julian, living in the late second century CE, the Chaldean Oracles,
were widely acclaimed by Neoplatonist philosophers Porphyry and especially Iamblichus in
his formation of the idea of theurgy.
What survived of the mysterious Oracles are fragments dating back to the 2nd century AD
consisting of Hellenistic commentary on a single mystery-poem, a syncretic combination of
Neoplatonic elements with Persian or Babylonian oracular sources.
What we can glean through these remnants are intended to be revelations from the gods that
inform that the world is dualistic, much like Zoroastrianism, with the upper realm of the
Intelligibles consisting of spirit and collecting form "the Good," and the lower realm of matter
which is the material and evil.
The Chaldean Deity, like the Christian trinity, is understood in three parts, but there the
The first component is the eternal and impenetrable Monad, known as the Paternal Intellect
or the First Fire.
Emanating from the Paternal Monad arrives the Second Intellect which is dyadic, because it
unites the Paternal Monad with the physical world of the Second Intellect’s creation. The
Second Intellect thus acts as a bridge between the two worlds, and is often called the
Finally, the third part of the Chaldean deity is the Cosmic Soul.
What is very curious is that fact that the Chaldean Oracles identifies the Cosmic Soul as
Hekate, making her as the Power that both brings together and keeps apart the First and
Second Transcendently Fires.
To delve further, join us on Tuesday, May 16 for a baptism in the ways of the productive
principle from which intellect proceeds, as transmitted from one of the most ancient wisdom
Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Neoplatonism is the philosophy of Plato (424-347 BCE) as reinterpreted by the philosopher and mystic Plotinus (204-
270 CE), adding to this philosophical system many religious elements that will combine with the Greco-Roman religions of the day, and Christianity soon after.
While all begins with "the One", this Monad emanates the Nous (Thought), which, in turn, produces the World Soul.
Plotinus, believing our souls have fallen into the material world, believes proscribed as form of mysticism that he asserted one
could return and merge with the One once again.
Well, once his beliefs spread to his followers, everything becomes very complex and magical, with the expanse of the emanations from the One (Monad) filled with various gods and goddesses,
as well as demons, both good and evil, fighting one another, with rituals of invoking called theurgy as performed by magician-like followers intended to try to control these various powers, or, at least, persuade them.
At one point, the pagan emperor Julian created a new religion to compete with Christianity based upon Neoplatonic ideas in the fourth century.
Neoplatonism also merged with the theology of the Church, and still today upholds many crucial ideas, especially in Eastern Christianity.
Yet, many scholars had detected at its basis many ideas that appear to have arrived from India as well.
Join us on Tuesday, May 2, 8 p.m. for Dr. Rietveld's fascinating lecture on Neoplatonism.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, April 18, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Many of the Ancient Egyptian and Greek wisdom traditions were associated with the legendary sage Hermes Trismegistus, evolving
into the Hermetic writings by the second and third centuries CE.
Hermes Trismegistus himself combined two deities, the Greek god
Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth, both of them connected to magic and the art of writing.
The earliest Hermetic texts focused upon
alchemy, astrology, and invoking spirits, but eventually becoming more philosophical, adopting ideas from Middle Platonism and
Neo-Platonism, as well as other philosophies popular during the Greco-Roman era. Theurgy, divine magic based upon agreements with
angels, archangels, gods, and spirits also became a central idea said to be inspired by the words of Hermes Trismegistus.
Undergirding Hermeticism was the idea that a primordial True Doctrine resided behind all things, with wisdom leading the way to the
discovery of the oneness of all things. Hermeticism revived during the Renaissance, as ascribed by such great thinkers as Marsilio
Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, and Giordano.
Join us for Dr. Rietveld's lecture on Tuesday, May 2, 8 p.m. where we will
discover the mysteries and magick of Hermeticism.
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Manichaeism was founded by the charismatic, self-proclaimed Apostle of Light, Mani, born in southern Mesopotamia in 216 CE (today’s Iraq) and martyred for his faith sixty-six year later.
His belief may be best described as a dualistic and Gnostic hybrid religion, combining elements from both East and West.
In fact, Mani, who was raised a Jewish-Christian, but suddenly what he described as his twin mystically fell upon him, this epiphany compelling him to create a very ecumenical religion, where deliberately fused
Christian, Zoroastrian, and Buddhist elements with his own teaching and having a very central gnostic message.
This dynamic religion became as popular as it was controversial, embraced by such figures as St. Augustine before he converted to Christianity, and soon spread all along the trade routes clear through to China.
In fact, Manichaeism was one of the main religions throughout Central Asia and China for hundreds of years, but now this religion has almost completely disappeared or has it?
On Tuesday April 4 at 8 p.m., James Rietveld will reveal much about this forgotten religion and where some of its remnant may indeed continue to survive!
Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Cross-Pollination of Ancient India with Greco-Roman Culture"
Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Link to YOu tube video of this lecture.
How did the concept of Reincarnation gain popularity in the cultures of ancient Greece
and Rome, and lay the foundation for Western enlightenment?
How was Greek philosophy influential in the development of Buddhism?
Find out when we discuss the "Cross Pollination of Ancient India With Greco-Roman
Western Culture" on Tuesday, March 21, 8 p.m. with Dr. James Rietveld.
Following his Persian campaign in 326 BCE, Alexander the Great began to conquer India
until his troops refused to cross the Beas River.
Having no choice but to stop his quest
to possess the entire world, Alexander returned to Babylon to die in 323, leaving behind
an empire including everything west of the Indus River that was to be inherited by many
Greek rulers after him. Almost immediately, by 322, another great power known as the
Mauryan Empire unified much of the northern Indian Subcontinent east of the Indus,
eventually stretching from what is now Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh and
Assam in the east.
What is often not discussed is how a vibrant Indo-Greek culture soon
emerged throughout the Indian Subcontinent as a result, blending everything from art
and architecture to philosophy and coinage styles, with many inscriptions even written
We also must recognize that this Greek culture also directly influenced
Buddhism too. The Greeks were also in Afghanistan (Bactria) for many centuries,
blending their culture there as well.
But the influence went the other way as Indian
Philosophers and travelers arrived in the West, spreading their ideas about the
Mediterranean, mixing their ideas with Greek philosophy and introducing such ideas as
reincarnation to both the Greeks and Romans.
In fact, it was through the trade routes
that this trade in ideas and beliefs moved easily between India and the West, a fact
that is only now being appreciated by scholars.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Orphic Mysteries"
Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Who was the legendary ancient Greco-Roman mythological figure who heroically attempted to
retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld?
Who was this classical mythic hero who, as harpist and companion, aided Jason against the
bewitching Sirens in the epic poem Argonautica?
Who was this venerable musician, poet and prophet who died, fatally ripped to shreds by
Thracian Maenads, while his severed head continued to sing?
Amongst the many legends of Orpheus, he is credited as an auger and seer, practitioner of
magical arts and founder of medicine.
His descent into and return from Hades, the realm of death, gave many initiates hope that if
they followed the Orphic Mysteries they could also survive and return, as had their much
revered Persephone. Orphics were even entombed with gold-leaf tablets intended as road
maps to salvation to ensure a blissful afterlife.
Later traditions opined that Orpheus invented the Mysteries of Dionysus, whose Orphic version
recounts Dionysus' twice born saga. By order of Zeus' wife Hera, the infant was dismembered
and cannibalized at the hands of the Titans, yet father Zeus recreated him.
Philosopher Pythagoras, one of the most noted followers of Orphism, infused Orphic elements
into the philosophy of Plato, while his followers helped spread worship, shrines and oracles all
over the Mediterranean.
Join us on Tuesday, March 7, 8 p.m. to hear the many colorful legends of Orpheus.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Who was the fickle Mesopotamian goddess of love turned fatal, who demanded entry to the Underworld of Kur with furious, naked rage, unintentionally causing celibacy amongst humans?
To the Assyrians and Babylonians (c3500 BCE) she was Ishtar, a petulant and ill-tempered goddess featured in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Her symbols were the eight pointed star or rosette, lionesses, and the constellation Virgo, along with attributes of fertility and plenty.
The Sumerians worshipped her as Inanna, meaning "Lady of Heaven," a war diety associated with rain, and the planet Venus, whose rituals involved pansexual Gala priests dedicated to her worship.
She played a central role in the myth of "Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta," and the epic poem "Inanna and Enki" where she cunningly stole the blueprints of human civilization from the the Sumerian god of culture using clever rhetoric.
Join us at Ipso Facto in the next installment on love goddesses for Valentine's month, on February 21, 8 p.m. for a wild journey of love, war, sex, fertility and power with Ishtar/Inanna with our lecturer Dr. James Rietveld of Cal State Fullerton.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 8:00 p.m. CANCELED|
"Valentines’ Day: The Fascinating History of the Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient who Inform on this Modern Celebration"
Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
What were the ancient traditions which inform on our modern celebration of
Are you curious about the fascinating tales of great gods and goddesses who
were patrons of love such as Eros, Venus, Cupid, Freya, Bastet, Turan, Inanna,
Pothos, Peitho, Kama and others?
Join us on February 7, 2017 at 8 p.m. to sate the desires of your curious mind
and heart with this free lecture on the ancient view of love as informed by the
gods and goddesses who have skewered hearts from century to century,
culture to culture, leading up to our modern celebration of Valentine's Day.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, January 17, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
How did Persephone, a beautiful Greek goddess of spring, harvest and fertility,
daughter of Zeus and Demeter, become Queen of the Underworld and wife to Hades?
How does her myth explain the cycle of the seasons with Nature's death and
rebirth in connection to her grieving mother, Demeter, goddess of the bountiful harvest?
Join us on January 17, 2017 at 8 p.m. with speaker Dr. James Rietveld of Cal State Fullerton to learn more about
her connection to pomegranates, the Eleusinian Mysteries, and the quest of Hermes to rescue her from the clutches
of Hades in the sunless subterranean land of the dead.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 8:00 p.m.|
Tuesday, January 3, 2017, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Who was the goddess who bested the immodest Medusa, turning her into a
Which same diety also transformed the boastful weaver, Aracne, into a spider,
damned to spin endlessly and constantly in vain?
The Greek virgin goddess of reason, learning, justice, wisdom, arts and literature,
mathematics, strategic warfare and daughter of Zeus, having emerged full grown,
clad in armour, from his forehead.
Fierce and brave in battle, but also the patron of handcraft and agriculture, she
invented the bridle, trumpet, flute, rake, plow, ship and chariot.
As Zeus' favorite child she was allowed to use his weapons, even his famed
thunderbolt and aegis.
After besting Poseidon in a contest, she became the patron goddess of Athens,
which hosted the annual festival Panathenaea in honor of their protectress, and
worshipped her in the Parthenon temple.
Also associated with the olive tree, her gift to Athens, Athena was often depicted
as an owl or bird goddess.
Portrayed as tough, clever and independent, her
attributes also included humility, enlightenment, eloquence, power, truth, justice
and moral values.
In the Illiad, by the poet Homer, Athena's many adventures depict her as an astute
companion of heroes and patron goddess of heroic endeavour, inspiring great
courage, and giving valuable aid to defeat the much hated Trojans.
In the tale of Odysseus, Athena accompanied him to the dark world of the dead
and brought him home to safety despite storms, shipwrecks, monsters, giants and
fearsome Poseidon himself.
Athena also helped Hercules drive away the Stymphalian birds, and aided Perseus
in his defeat of Medusa.
To hear Dr. James Rietveld speak about these and other fantastical tales, join us
at Ipso Facto on Tuesday, January 3, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The History of Alchemy"
Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Equal parts science, magic, theology and philosophy, early
Alchemists attempted to uncover the secrets of nature
through laboratory experimentation, which eventually gave
rise to the development of modern chemistry.
Developed in ancient Rome, Egypt, China (via Taoist Monks),
Greece (Hermeticism), India and the Muslim world,
Alchemical texts made their first appearance in Western
Europe in 1050 C.E., reaching a Golden Age between the 13th
and 17th centuries.
Amongst its' foremost practitioners were Heinrich Cornelius
Agrippa, Roger Bacon, Jabir ibn Haiyan, Wei Po-Yang,
Paracelsus, Isaac Newton, Glauber and others.
While the pursuit of artificial life-creation, life-elixers, and the
transmutation of lead into gold are associated with the
practice, experiments sometimes yielded unexpected results
such as the Chinese invention of gunpowder, the discovery of
sodium sulfate and laudanum, and the development of pharmacology.
Join us on Tuesday, December 13, 8 p.m. for a riveting
exploration of Alchemy's long and storied history by Dr. James Rietveld.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ba'al & the Religion of the Ancient Canaanites"
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Who was this ancient horned, bearded fertilty god described in the Old Testament's Song of Solomon, demanding child sacrifices in lofty places in times of crisis?
In the pantheon of Canaan (now modern Israel) their creator god was El, with his
consort, mother goddess, Athirat, walker of the sea.
El's mistress Asherah, whose followers practiced sympathetic magic via ritualized
sex and eventually religious prostitution, gave birth to the fearsome ram-horned
Ba'al evolved into the dominant Canaanite diety and interestingly, Asherah, became
A storm and fertily god, Ba'al came to dominate other gods such as his major
adversary Yamm, the primordial chaotic sea god, who became synonymous with
Old Testament sea monster, Leviathan.
Associated with Yamm, was Lotan, the seven headed dragon/serpent who was slain by the fearsome Anat, sister (and wife) of Ba'al.
A goddess of war with her necklace of human heads and belt of human hands, Anat not only dispensed with gods Mot
and Lotan, but in a victory celebration, laid waste to an entire town of warriors and
later copulated with her brother Ba'al disguised as a cow.
We mustn't forget Mot, the deathly prince, the god of sterility and the underworld
with his cosmically large jaws and throat, a euphemism for death itself, who fiercely
battled Ba'al in many legends, taking him to the underworld for a time.
Moloch, described in the Hebrew Bible, was the king god to whom child sacrifices were made.
These bloodthirsty Canaanite legends and beliefs of the early Iron and Bronze ages
cross pollinated with Mesopotamian and Egyptian religions, as evidenced by their
Cult of the Dead, with their customary grave offerings, and also the Greeks and
Romans, with whom they traded their prized purple wool dyed from molluscs
exclusive to the Canaanite coast.
Also, there is a clear connection between Vedic/Hindu gods and imagery and Baalism.
One can certainly see the origins of Christianity's Satan in the fierce and sexually potent
Ba'al, hearkening back to the Old Testament which demonized the Israelites for giving equal tribute to
both Yahweh and Ba'al.
Now with the discovery of the Ras Shamra cuneiform texts we can discern from a
firsthand source the meaning behind the death and rebirth cycle of Ba'al and his
battles for supremacy against Yamm, as a representation of "the mythological
prototype of the short Syrian winter with its gales, rain, hail and tides."
Join us on Tuesday, November 29 at 8 p.m. to hear these and other gloriously
bloodthirsty myths and legends of Canaan which cross pollinated with ancient
Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture, and influenced the religions of the Lavant .
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophical Society"
Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Without question, the history and beliefs surrounding Helena Petrovna Blavatsky is steeped in mystery and controversy, which is perhaps oddly expected in someone widely
regarded as one of the most important figures in reviving Western esotericism of the nineteenth century, combining the Greco-Roman philosophies of Hermiticism and Neoplatonism
with that of Eastern philosophies, most notably Hinduism and Buddhism. Coming from a wealthy Russian-German family in Ukraine, the largely self-educated Blavatsky claimed to have
traveled much of the world in search of wisdom before ending up in the United States, where she founded the Theosophical Society in 1875, and publishing the famous work Isis Unveiled
in 1877, which she viewed as "the synthesis of science, religion and philosophy." Viewed as everything from a guru and spiritual master to a charlatan and dishonest spiritualist,
Blavatsky was both beloved and hated by many and, even today, her views are often misunderstood on a number of topics. Those who admired Blavatsky included Lewis Carroll, Robert Duncan,
Thomas Edison, T.S. Eliot, E.M Forster, Carl Jung, D.H. Lawrence, Jack London, Henry Miller, Jean Sibelius, and Thornton Wilder.
Here at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, we will delve into the history behind this key figure and see if the veil lifts a bit to reveal some insights into her mysterious beliefs.
Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Hatshepsut & The Other Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt Lecture"
Tuesday, November 1, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
"Hatshepsut & The Other Female Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt: An Investigation of Gender Relations in the Land of the Nile," A Salon Lecture with Dr.James Rietveld.
The life and accomplishments of the Pharaoh Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE) were impressive indeed, one of the greatest builders of Ancient Egypt, who also strengthened the internal infrastructure of the Land of the Nile;
encouraged the worship of the goddess Pakhet (a combination of Bast and Sekhmet); and led Egyptian forces as far south as Punt (Somalia). Yet, Hatshepsut was only one of many female Pharaohs, which also included Nitocris,
Tausret, Merneith, Ahhotep, Neferneferuaten, Khentkawes, Sobekneferu, Cleopatra I, and, of course, the famous Cleopatra VII. Yet, we must remember, these powerful women were a product of a civilization that recognized women
as having almost equal right to that of men, with women able to own their own businesses, transact their own affairs, and, in some cases, hold some of the highest administration position in the land.
On Tuesday November 1st, at 8 p.m. we will investigate the role of women in Ancient Egypt as especially represented by these female pharaohs.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Vampire: Myth, Legend, and Lore Throughout History and Across Cultures"
Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The vampire as a classic and iconic legend has found favor with audiences in every generation. Building on John Polidori's 1819 publication of "The Vampyre," Bram Stoker's 1897 gothic horror novel, "Dracula," treated Victorians to "the most blood-curdling novel of the paralysed century."
From the release of the silent classic Murnau film, Nosferatu (1922) and 1931's Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, Hollywood has continually reinterpreted the vampire in literature and film for new generations, as in Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicals," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Blade," "Twilight" and many more.
But what are the sources for the vampire myths and legends expressed in books, movies, and our nightmares?
How did the various aspects of vampiric lore such as garlic, rice counting, crosses, sunlight, and wooden stakes come about?
What are the links between vampires and real life contagions and diseases such as rabies, and the mysterious wasting disease, Porphyria?
Why does the vampire appeal to so many cultures from the modern Latin American Chupacabra to Slavic/Eastern Europe and Chinese Traditions, and reaching back as far as the ancient Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews?
How does one identify and protect oneself from a vampire?
Delve into the lore and legend of the Vampire with us as we traverse the murky world of coffin dust and lusty neck bites when you join us at Ipso Facto on October 18, at 8 p.m.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Christian Magick: The Integration of Belief and Ritual Practice during the Roman Empire"
Tuesday, October 4, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Often when we think about magic or any activities applying ritual practice, utterances,
or material objects to effect nature in some way we do not think about such a system as
within Christianity. Yet, ancient Christian magical papyri have been discovered
throughout the Mediterranean, especially in Egypt, revealing that many Christians did
indeed combine their beliefs with a magical understanding of the world. The New
Testament, including the episode related to Simon Magus, as well as early Christian
writings during the first centuries reveal that many Christians integrated their religious
faith with magical practices, not perceiving any contradictions. In fact, many Christians
and even Jews and Pagans believed Jesus was a magician himself according to primary
sources from the time. To be sure, many early Christians were not able to discern the
fundamental difference between what constitutes as "magic" and a "miracle" or a prayer
versus an invocation. As with many other beliefs at the time of the Roman Empire,
Christianity amalgamated with other ancient systems of belief and practice. At Ipso
Facto in Fullerton, we will investigate this controversial topic, not through a theologian's
lense, emphasizing what is true or not true in a doctrinal sense, but rather to discover
what people actually believed as revealed through the textual and archaeological
evidence, via a historical and scholarly examination of religion and archaeology.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Mystery of Seafaring Pirates, The Sea Peoples, Who Felled Three Bronze Age Civilzations: The Egyptian New Kingdom, The Hittites and the Mycenaeans"
Tuesday, September 20, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
THE MYSTERY OF SEAFARING PIRATES, THE SEA PEOPLES, WHO FELLED THREE BRONZE AGE CIVILIZATIONS:
The EGYPTIAN New Kingdom, The HITTITE Kingdom, and the MYCENAEANS.
Around 1200 BCE, three MAJOR CIVILIZATIONS COLLAPSED all at the same time:the
New Kingdom of ancient EGYPT, the kingdom of the HITTITES of central Anatolia, and
the MYCENAEANS of mainland Greece. When they fell, the entire Eastern Mediterranean
succumbed to a dark age, where once vast cities became tiny villages or wiped out
altogether. In some regions, all knowledge of writing was forgotten. Constant war and
violence became a way of life again, with the fall of the Bronze Age cultures. In some
cases, this Dark Age lasted three centuries. So what happened? What could possibly
cause three of the most powerful civilization of ancient times to fall at once? The
answer: They all fell to those called in ancient documents the SEA PEOPLE, a
mysterious and forgotten group of people. Known as great warriors, they managed to
singlehandedly change the entire known world. Join us at Ipso Facto where we will
investigate the exact identity of the Sea People, how they were able to achieve what
appeared to be impossible, and finally look into their legacy, which, believe it or not, we
still, live with to this day! This lecture will examine the most recent archaeological
evidence concerning the Sea People, much of which is not yet common knowledge!
Tuesday, September 6, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"RUMI: 13th Century Persian Sufi Mystic, Poet & Truth Seeker"
Tuesday, September 6, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Our fascinating talk on MUSLIM MYSTIC RUMI, will provide a historical perspective on the famed mystic and poet of the 13th
century, who is globally recognized as the pinnacle of the Persian classical poetry movement, alongside Hafez and Omar
Who was Rumi and what forces shaped the man who continues to influence us today?
How did he become America's most read poet, while also the national poet of Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan?
Rumi's life story is full of intrigue and high drama mixed with intense creativity.
A charming, wealthy nobleman, a genius theologian and brilliant, sober scholar, Rumi (1207- 1273) was in his late thirties when
he had a chance meeting with wandering, wild Sufi holy man, Shams, who became his spiritual mentor.
Rumi was thenceforth transformed from a bookish, disciplined, orthodox religious scholar to an impassioned seeker of truth and
love filled with yearning and desire.
Through his inspirational words, Rumi believed that music, poetry, dance, (such as the famous Whirling Dervishes) and other
forms of mystical expression were actually doorways ready to be opened to reveal the threshold of God.
The key ingredient for this opening was Love.
For Rumi, "The lover’s cause is separate from all other causes. Love is the astrolabe of God's mysteries."
Through these loving expressions, bringing in harmony the movements of the mind and body in focus of God, one could journey
to the Perfect One, the Creator of the Cosmos.
For Rumi the life of mystics is a "gathering of lovers, where there is no high or low, smart or ignorant, no proper schooling
Join us on this soulful journey with a writer who is not bound by cultural limitations; touching each of us with his independent
soul yearning to be truly free.
Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"SOPHIA: The Religious and Philosophical History of Divine Wisdom in Ancient Greece, Judaism, Early Christianity, Gnosticism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Paganism"
Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
SOPHIA: THE RELIGIOUS & PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY OF DIVINE WISDOM IN ANCIENT GREECE, JUDAISM, EARLY CHRISTIANITY, GNOSTICISM, EASTERN ORTHODOXY, AND PAGANISM
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, but it is more than a word, it is both a religious and a
philosophical idea that spans the centuries, often personalized as a goddess, angel, or a spirit. Sophia is always a she, and so
understood as feminine both in language and concept, as early descriptions and much ancient artwork make all too clear.
Philosophically, the Ancient Greeks revered her attributes, especially Socrates and Plato, and she was central to Hellenistic Philosophy. From
here, she emerged as the equivalent of the Jewish idea and spirit Chokmah during the
Hellenistic Age, becoming central to much of mystical Ancient Judaism, where she then
entered into Early Christianity, viewed as the Holy Spirit according to the Early Church
Fathers as derived from the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Luke along with other places trough the Old and New Testaments
(Proverbs 9:1). Sophia was also pivotal in both Jewish and Christian Gnosticism. Sophia continued to be central to Pagan thought and
philosophy, especially Platonism throughout the era of the Roman Empire. Of course, Eastern Orthodoxy, even today, views Sophia as central
to their theology. Sophia also continues to thrive as the basis of much Neopagan, New Age, and Goddess spirituality, especially as a result
of introductions by Rudolf Steiner and Helena Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy. Next Thursday, at Common Ground (7:30) I will
discuss the history of Sophia over the centuries, seeing how she evolves and appearing to have a life all her own.
Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"MEDIEVAL FEMALE MYSTICS: Experiences of Ecstatic Union with God, Validation of Women’s Authority & The Mystical Theology of Love"
Tuesday, August 9, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
MEDIEVAL FEMALE MYSTICS: EXPERIENCES OF ECSTATIC UNION WITH GOD, VALIDATION OF WOMEN’S AUTHORITY, & THE MYSTICAL THEOLOGY OF LOVE
We often hear about prominent male mystics in the Medieval Church, such as St. Francis of Assisi and Bernard of Clairvaux, but the
HIGH MIDDLE AGES was the era of so many FEMALE MYSTICS who either sought a deeper role within the Church or to reaffirm
their own unique relationship with God that transcended Patriarchal culture. While not
permitted to teach because of the traditional ecclesiastical hierarchy, through their mystical relationship with God, women discovered new avenues of
AUTHORITY TO INSTRUCT AND INSPIRE OTHERS that they believed did not need the sanction of the Church, for, after all, their
experiences were arriving directly from God. And so for a period of time, the Medieval Church took note and validated
this mode of expression as authoritative, at least for a little while. Mystics like Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) and Saint Catherine of
Siena (1347-138)advised Popes who seriously considered their words with
as much gravitas as any man. Many female mystics viewed themselves as mystically married to God, using imagery as beautiful as it is passionate, and even erotic
at times, Gertrude of Helfta (1256-1302) and Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) good examples of the latter. A few of female mystics were associated with all female
communities known as BEGUINES, who were under their own Rule as governed by a
Grand Mistress, such as Beatrice of Nazareth (c. 1200-1268) and Hadewijch of Antwerp (c. 1200’s). Unfortunately, male
authority was eventually reasserted and, as a result, many of female mystics found themselves persecuted by the INQUISITION,
often accused of witchcraft. Marguerite Porete (1248/1250-1310), for example, was
burned at the stake.Join us in this exciting examination of these female mystics in their own words!
Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Myriad Faces of Lilith: Goddess, Elemental Spirit, Angel, Demon, Serpent, Monster, Succubus, & First Wife of Adam"
Tuesday, July 26, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
View a Youtube video of this talk here.
The Myriad Faces of Lilith: Goddess, Elemental Spirit, Angel, Demon, Serpent, Monster, Succubus, & First Wife of Adam
One of the most controversial religious figures of both Antiquity and today is that of Lilith, understood as so many different
identities dependent upon the culture and era, as she frequently evolves from one kind of being to another.
For the Sumerians and Babylonians, Lilith was the "Daughter of Heaven" closely associated with the Goddess Inanna,
while for the Assyrians and early Israelites, she was primarily a water elemental spirit. By the eighth to tenth
centuries CE, Lilith evolved into Adam’s first wife, arising from the very same dust as Adam when she was created
in contrast to being fashioned from Adam’s rib as was the case of Eve. Yet, Lilith will abandon Adam for the
Archangel Samael. Lilith will also be depicted in Ancient and Medieval Jewish literature as everything from a
monster and serpent to a succubus, draining away the life-force of unsuspected men as they sleep.
Together we will explore the complexity of Lilith, unraveling some of her mysteries, which often open up new questions that often defy explanation.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"AKHENATEN, NEFERTITI, & TUTANKHAMEN: THE CONFLICT OF MONOTHEISM &
POLYTHEISM IN ANCIENT EGYPT "
Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Youtube Video of this lecture courtesy of Pamela Linares.
AKHENATEN, NEFERTITI, & TUTANKHAMEN: THE CONFLICT OF MONOTHEISM &
POLYTHEISM IN ANCIENT EGYPT
Ancient Egypt was known for its plurality of gods, from Ra and Horus to Isis and
Osiris. But then the Pharaoh Akhenaten (1367-1350 BCE) changed something that
would seem unthinkable to a society as monolithically entrenched in tradition as
Ancient Egypt was, he forced his people to move from a polytheistic to a monotheistic
system of belief, saying there was only one true universal God and that was Aton,
represented by the disc of the sun. Akhenaten did not start out as Pharaoh denying
the Egyptians gods, but ascended to the throne like most of the other rulers of Egypt,
giving the deities of the land of the Nile their proper due. Eventually, however, he and
his wife Nefertiti completely changed Egyptian religion, right down to the details of
worship itself. But what were some of the causes for this change? Why did Akhenaten
decide that monotheism was best for Egypt? Then, after his and Nefertiti’s death, his
son, Tutankhamen restored the traditional polytheistic system. Why did he reverse his
father’s policy? On Tuesday, July 12 at Ipso Facto (8:00 p.m.) in Fullerton, CA I will
explore just this question, entering into the conflict between polytheism and
monotheism in Ancient Egypt!
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE ETRUSCANS: An Investigation of their Mysterious Origins, Religion and Culture"
Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Video of this Lecture on You Tubecourtesy of Pamela Linares.
The Etruscans dominated the Italian Peninsula from 900 to 300 BCE, when they were
effectively conquered by the Romans, but, in so doing, the Romans, being the consistent
utilitarian society that they were, absorbed much of their religion, culture, and technology
on the latter, for example, the use of the arch, quick-drying cement, and raised aqueducts.
But, much of the identity of who the Etruscans were continues to be shrouded in mystery,
with their culture and religion a strange mixture of elements arising from Crete, Asia Minor,
Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Greece. Most of their language is still not deciphered, but, while
written in Greek script, we do know it is not Indo-European, and so arising from people before
the patristic Indo-Europeans migrated into Europe and West Asia. The Etruscan religion was
highly animistic, with their rituals of reading signs in the sky and through the entrails of
animals preserved by the Romans. Unlike the Romans, women appeared to share in the very
same power positions as men, participating in a culture that by all intents and purposes was
egalitarian. Greeks and Romans claimed Etruscan society was devoted to luxury, debauchery,
and sexual orgies. On Tuesday, June 28 at Ipso Facto in Fullerton I will fully explore this
ancient culture, explaining their origins, detail out their specific religious beliefs (right down
to specific rituals and their gods and goddesses), and even discuss evidence we have
concerning the role of Etruscan women. As always, I will refer to primary source information
and the very latest archaeological evidence.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT: An Archaelogical Investigation of Historical Development and Religious Significance"
Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
THE PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF THEIR HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT & RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE
Much mystery and sensationalism surrounds the PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT:about how old they are, who built them, and their purpose.
For instance, the Pyramids of Giza were considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, with the Great
Pyramid the tallest structure in the world until the Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1311 CE, rising 481 feet
into the sky. Of course, with any mystery, many are anxious to fill in that void, with various people advocating
everything from these structures being built by Ancient Aliens (or with their advise) to being used for storing
grain. On Tuesday, June 14th at Ipso Facto, Fullerton, I will explain the exact history concerning the
development of these magnificent structures, their ages, their builders, and their meaning.
As a trained historian, archaeologists, and scholar of religion, I will make sure you will leave this talk with
enough information to satisfy your inquiries, and, hopefully, help create new questions to take their place!!!
Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"RELIGION & CONFLICT IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND:REFORMATION, PURITANS, WITCHES, TUDORS STUARTS"
Tuesday, May 31, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Watch Youtube video of this lecturecourtesy of Pamela Linares.
RELIGION & CONFLICT IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND: REFORMATION, PURITANS, WITCHES, AND THE TUDOR & STUART MONARCHS
England during this pivotal era from 1485-1707 through the Tudor and Stewart monarchies saw conflict between medieval superstitions and scientific empiricism, where the Enlightenment often fought against Christianity.
It was an age of Henry VIII establishing the Church of England and Elizabeth I beginning a global British empire; of a Reformation revolution spread by the printing press; of John Dee and others creating magical systems based upon ancient Neoplatonism and Hermiticism; and for those presumed to be witches to be hunted down.
As the old world passed away, thinkers such as Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and John Locke (1632-1704) sought to progress the world further.
Join us for this lecture where we will enter into this turbulent age, discovering together the very roots of the modern world!
Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Playing with Plato: Philosophy, Epistemology, Psychology, Mysticism, Ethics & Atlantis"
Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Click to watch the Youtube video of this lecture.courtesy of Pamela Linares.
We've all likely studied the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, widely considered the most
pivotal figure in the development of Western philosophy, the most reliable ancient source on
Socrates, and author of one of the most controversial, tantalizing stories ever written about
For this lecture we journey into Plato's world of metaphysical, otherworldly matters of myth,
mysticism, esotericism with a look into his personal life with his own stories.
Plato and his school of thought, known as "Platonism," helped create some of the most basic
foundational ideas pre-eminent within many philosophies and religions, both ancient and
Plato's famous work, the Republic, blends ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, and
epistemology and his Theory of Forms espouses that the world known through our senses is
only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms.
His understanding of how the universe operates still influences many modern thinkers,
educated Christians, progressive Muslims, Jewish Cabbalists, philosophical neo-pagans,
and Gnostics today.
Plato also developed very complex ideas concerning the afterlife, reincarnation, and free will.
Most philosophy students have heard about his Allegory of the Cave, but Plato also
examined science and religion
through a philosophical perspective, often seeing them as
two sides of the same coin, and so creating the
background influencing many mystical movements throughout the Western World.
There is no reading of parts of the New Testament, the Early Church Fathers, Augustine,
Nicholas Copernicus, or even Rumi, the famous Muslim Sufi mystic without seeing the hand
of Plato’s great influence somewhere in the mix.
Plato was also notably the founder of the first institution of higher learning in the Western
world known as Academy in Athens.
Yet there are still more, bits and pieces most do not know about this prolific ancient
Join us for an investigation of Plato and his legacy: an illumination of some often-neglected
corners and curious threads, exploring Atlantis and the most arcane of hidden mysteries on
Tuesday May 10 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, CA!
Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE:AN ACADEMIC
INVESTIGATION OF HER ORIGINS, WORSHIP, AND
Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Watch video footage of this lecture on Youtube courtesy of Pamela Linares.
APHRODITE: GODDESS OF LOVE: AN ACADEMIC
INVESTIGATION OF HER ORIGINS, WORSHIP, AND
MYTHOLOGY. This femme fatale, known as VENUS to the Romans, from Greece's Mount Olympus was considered
irresistible in her beauty and ability to make all those she deemed fall utterly and completely in love. But who was
this goddess from a strictly academic and historical point of view? What were her origins? How was she worshipped?
How did she change in the perception of those of knew her over a period of time? We will not only discuss
Aphrodite in myth and literature, but also from an archaeological standpoint investigating her presence and
influence throughout the ancient Mediterranean, including her son Eros, also known as Cupid. Beginning on the island
of Cyprus, we will explore her association as fertility goddess of the Ancient Near East, and move on from
there. This will be both a fun and informative talk that will also open up discussions of how those in the ancient
world viewed love in general!
Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Goddess Cybele"
Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Watch video footage of this lecture on Youtube courtesy of Pamela Linares.
THE CULT OF CYBELE, THE GREAT MOTHER GODDESS OF ANATOLIA: ORIGINS, MYTHOLOGY, PRACTICES, CONTROVERSY, & LEGACY
The Cult of Cybele was dedicated to the worship of the Great Mother (Magna Mater) of Anatolia (current day Turkey), with origins going back to Catalhoyuk in the sixth millennium BCE. The Cult of Cybele came from Pessinus in Phrygia, the heartland of ecstatic religions of all kinds (later inclusive of the Christian ‘heresy’ known as Montanism and the Whirling Dervishes of Rumi). By the Greek and Roman era, the Cult of Cybele was still very hierarchical, exclusive, and exotic, and included a mythology that often shocked classical sensibilities and very strange rituals to accompany them. For example, males who wished to become part of her priesthood castrated themselves, then lived as females, and often performed violent acts of self-flagellation during the major holidays. While the Cult of Cybele arrived in Rome as early as 204 BCE, mass appeal for this belief system was slow and only expanded significantly in the first century CE.
Eventually, however, the Cult of Cybele as the Magna Meter accommodated to synch
ronistic and universalistic pressures, as well as to create an ingenious rite of individual initiation called the taurobolium, which was the baptism by the blood of a bull. OnTuesday, April 12 at Ipso Facto at 8:00 p.m. in Fullerton we will investigate one of the most controversial belief systems of antiquity and peak behind the veil into practices going back to the Neolithic Age.
Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Divine Feminine Concepts in Judaism & Early Christianity"
Tuesday, March 29, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Watch video footage of this lecture on Youtube courtesy of Pamela Linares.
Chokmah (Sophia), Ruach, Shekinah, the Holy Spirit, Mother Mary, Lilith.
What do these have in common?
These female dieties of early Christianity and Judaism are not the goddesses of Classical,
Celtic or Hindu mythology that our Western conditioning brings to mind in relation to feminine
concepts of God.
Such associations with paganism and Eastern religions create a curious duality between
masculine and feminine forms translating to concepts of Patriarchy and Matriarchy, Linear
and Circular, Judeo-Christianity and Islam versus other beliefs, often falling under the label of
the "Old Religion" or paganism.
Today, hotly debated ideas and beliefs concerning feminine aspects within the Divine in
Ancient Judaism and Christianity, would have barely raised an eyebrow amongst ancient
Jews & Christians, even though they were living in an even more Patriarchal world than this
Modern Judeo-Christian ideals, firmly wedged in popular culture, are still holistically
Patriarchical with their explicitly big male deity whose big male name evokes, by inference,
oversized male attributes to match!
This type of imagery, as an iconic anchor, has a way of cementing ideals of male gender
superiority upon popular consciousness and Western conventions, effecting us ethically and
socially since the Ultimate often becomes the paradigm for what is mimicked in the world
below, "so in Heaven so on Earth" "As above so below."
But this is NOT true of early Christianity and from the perspective of a historian you will hear
exactly why from evidence this was not the case in Antiquity.
In fact the vocabulary of ancient Judaism and Christianity does indeed carry with it
perspectives pregnant with the Feminine Divine, a narrative which presents both male and
female. The irony is chilling and worthy of investigation!
Be there on Tuesday, March 29 at 8 p.m. to find answers--what really happened may shock
Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Reincarnation: Greco-Roman, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian Perspectives"
Tuesday, March 15, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Thanks to Pamela Linares we have a video series of this entire lecture on YouTube. So enjoy, learn and join us next time!
Reincarnation lecture Part 1 on YouTube:
Reincarnation lecture Part 2 on YouTube
Reincarnation lecture Part 3 on YouTube
Reincarnation lecture Part 4 on YouTube
Reincarnation lecture Part 5 on YouTube
Reincarnation lecture Part 6 on YouTube
When we hear the word reincarnation, we often think about Eastern Religions, in particular Hinduism and Buddhism
among others, but rarely do we think about the Greeks and Romans or some Jews and early Christians believing this
particular mortal life is not all that there is, but that the soul continues and enters into further lifetimes
within a literal physical body. Tuesday, March 15 at 8:00 p.m. at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, we will investigate beliefs in
reincarnation within the contexts of both the East and the West. We will decipher the very first evidence for such beliefs,
and offer explanations for why they developed (or were realized depending on your perspective). You will journey all over
the world, including the Americas, comparing different perspectives on reincarnation. You will realize there’s more diversity
to beliefs regarding living multiple lifetimes then is commonly taught! Remember, this lecture will be from an academic
historical point-of-view and not a faith-based perspective, so whatever your beliefs on
this topic, you are most certainly welcome. I promise you that this talk will be both informative and entertaining!:
Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Archaeology: Ancient Sites, Excavation, Examination, Dating Systems, Humanity's Past, Present & Future"
Tuesday, March 1, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Intro to Archaeology:
For this lecture at Ipso Facto, we plan to chip away at the amazing science known as Archaeology, which uncovers the mysteries of the past in the present so we may have a better grasp of the story of humanity in the future.
When one hears the word archaeologist, two possible mental images come to view: the one is heroic, like Indiana Jones, and the other is the sun-baked aged professor toiling over a piece of dirt with bits of pottery all over the place.
Real archaeologists fall somewhere in the middle, although one encounters the latter nerdy stereotype from time to time.
For those who really want to know what archaeology is all about and find this occupation interesting, this lecture is for you.
We will discuss all about exactly how archaeologists find an ancient site, excavate a dig, examine artifacts and date them.
This presentation is for the general public and will be fun, humorous, and interesting.
We look forward to you joining us!
Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Mary Magdelene: Her History, Mythology, Legacy and Leadership in the Early Church"
Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
MARY MAGDALENE: HER HISTORY, MYTHOLOGY, LEGACY, AND LEADERSHIP IN THE EARLY CHURCH
For this lecture we will be exploring the enigmatic figure of Mary
Magdalene, and her importance amidst the hierarchical politics of early Christianity.
How did the power struggle in the early Church between egalitarian female/ male
leadership and the Roman male dominated model inform on the view of Mary
Magdalene and women's leadership roles in religion that we have inherited today?
Was Mary Magdalene merely one of the many followers of Jesus or was she indeed different from the rest?
Was she the Apostle of the Apostles, the repentant prostitute, the closest companion of Jesus,
or even his wife? What did the early Christians believe?
How did the discovery of the gnostic Gospel of Mary redefine Mary Magdelene as a mystic and
role model and present a radical interpretation of Jesus' teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge?
Have the other gospels purposely diminished her role (and the legitimacy of female leadership)
in order to elevate Simon Peter's apostolic authority?
Come to Ipso Facto, Tuesday February 16th at 8:00 to find out!
Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY: GNOSTIC SECRETS REVEALED"
Tuesday, February 2, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
THE NAG HAMMADI LIBRARY: GNOSTIC SECRETS REVEALED
Thanks to the Da Vinci Code films you may have heard of Gnosticism and one of the greatest
discoveries of ancient documents in recent history, the long hidden, non-canonical codices known as the Nag Hammadi library.
The study of Gnosticism is important for its' influence on the general philosophy of the era of
the second century CE and early Christianity. Gnostics believed that they had secret
knowledge of God and humanity, of which the rest of the general population was unaware.
They practiced tolerance of other faiths, and were non discriminatory against women, unlike the early Christian Church.
While the movement and its literature were almost wiped out before the end of the 5th
century CE by heresy hunters and the Roman Army, its' beliefs are currently experiencing a rebirth throughout the world.
In 1945, when an Egyptian camel driver unearthed a clay jar containing Gnostic material, no
one could have imagined the knowledge that would emerge, along with intense controversy
that would rock Christianity to its' core. Amongst the controversial books discovered in the
collection were the Gospels of Thomas and Mary Magdelene, along with the Gospel of Truth,
the Gospel of Philip, the Sophia of Jesus Christ and the Secret Book of John.
During my years in the PHD program at Claremont Graduate University, I became well
acquainted with this very important collection of ancient texts and the scholars who translated them.
For here at last is another history, an intentionally suppressed history, come to light.
On Monday, February 1, 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto I will reveal the inside story of how these texts
were discovered, preserved, and what they really mean for the history of ancient religions.
At Ipso Facto on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, I will reveal the inside story of how these texts were discovered, preserved, and what they really mean for the history of ancient religions.
Monday, January 18, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Controversy of Constantine the Great and Council of Nicaea"
Monday, January 18, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
Constantine the Great: There’s hardly a historical figure that brings about both so much controversy and so much confusion.
An emperor with an impressive military and political career, Constantine strengthened,
expanded and unified Rome, while making administrative, financial, social, and military reforms.
Emperors were viewed as head of the pagan priesthood, yet Constantine expressed a tolerance for Christianity that would prove unpopular.
Constantine's summoning of the famed Council of Nicaea resulted in the making of the Julian Calendar and the Bible, and new pronouncements regarding persecution, Arianism, etc Still, whenever a controversy erupts regarding the Roman Empire in relation to the Christian
Church, you will find the name of this emperor filling the gap.
Is this a fair assessment?
What did Constantine actually do historically. What did he accomplish?
Further still, was Constantine "pagan" or "Christian" during most of his rule?
If not, what did he believe and how did he make political use of these associations?
On Monday, January 18th, at 8 p.m at Ipso Facto we will provide exact answers to these
questions and perhaps uncover many more questions!!!
Monday, January 4, 2016, 8:00 p.m.|
"Medieval Spain: Muslims, Christians and Jews"
Monday, January 4, 2016, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
When we set out on our quest to discover the history of Medieval Spain, we find ourselves encountering
many conflicting geographical, religious, political, and ideological forces: North versus South; Europe
versus North Africa; Catholic Christianity versus Arian Christianity and then, in turn, Catholic Christianity
versus Judaism and then Islam; a mentality of accommodation and compromise versus a mentality of
rejection and intolerance; polices of acceptance versus polices expulsion; religious rhetoric versus
pragmatic plain-speech; and, of course, cultural identity versus cultural ambivalence. Yet one single thread
moves through them all despite the contradictions, the Spaniards ultimately sought to unite the Iberian
Peninsula as one! This unity was sometimes pursued through attempting to assert the domination of one
ideology over the other. Other times, this unity was sought through consensus, with those advocating this
view believing there could be unity in diversity. What makes the history of Medieval Spain so interesting is
that just when it appears one force will be triumphant over all others, suddenly, out of nowhere, another
force or event occurs (usually violent) completely reversing the situation. Unlike the ebb and flow types of
transformations characteristic of many lands at some point, it is the marked style of Spain to be drastic,
severe, moody and brash. Historically and religiously speaking, Spain had much at stake globally, for the
mentality created in this very atmosphere during the Medieval period would eventually influence first the
violent epic of the Crusades, and then the rest of the world as a result of Spanish and Portuguese
colonization in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Even before this period, because Spain was a bridge
between Christian and Islamic domains, whatever occurred here in the way of ideology and scholarship,
vastly impacted both the history of Europe and the history of the Islamic world. Join us for a fascinating journey into a formative cultural and religious period in Medieval Spain's history.
Monday, December 21, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, Krampus: A Story Of Christian-Pagan Amalgamation & Popular Mythology"
ST. NICHOLAS-SANTA CLAUS-KRAMPUS: A STORY OF CHRISTIAN-PAGAN AMALGAMATION & POPULAR MYTHOLOGY
On Monday, December 21 at Ipso Facto in Fullerton we will discuss the origins of the popular Christmas icon known by so many
names. For some he is Santa Claus, for others he is Father Christmas or Sinterklaas, but whatever the name, his origins go back
to a certain ancient Greek Saint called Saint Nicholas, who lived in what is now Turkey in the fourth century CE. Yet, the
story of Saint Nicholas began to spreads across Europe and as it did so, his story would change, taking on the various
characteristics of other revered or even feared figures along with the traditions accompanying them these included the Wild
Man and the god Wodin/Odin! Together we will parse out this elaborate amalgamation of stories accumulating around this man,
seeing what came from where, whether Christian or pagan, along with investigating his various companions, whether it be
elves, reindeer, Krampus, or Zwarte Piet!!! This talk will be very scary at times, but also very merry!!!
Monday, December 7, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"RELIGION & THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: CONFLICT IN WORLDVIEWS, THE MANDATE OF EMPIRICISM, AND THE RATIONAL UNIVERSE OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT"
Monday, December 7, 2015, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
The Renaissance, with its emphasis on the freedom of inquiry influenced not just the arts but the sciences as well. If I were to tell you that the Earth was the center of the universe and
that all the planets and even the Sun orbited it you’d think I’m crazy, yet if I proclaimed the very same view five hundred years earlier, I would be considered quite rational indeed, at least
in Western Europe. Science and Religion do not often go together they should really, for both seek answers to questions regarding the Nature of Reality; one through belief (and sometimes a validated
by mystical experience) and the other through the empirical method through observation. Yet, these two worlds began to collide in a very dramatic way between the sixteenth and eighteenth century when
a series of scientists began to challenge the status quo religious and cultural beliefs. This era if often called the “Scientific Revolution which eventually evolves into the Enlightenment.
The titans of this age include Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Rene Descartes (1596-1650),
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), and John Locke (1632-1704).
Soon the scientific world became dominated by Newtonian metaphysics and Lockean epistemology as the essential foundation to understand the universe around them. And what of religion how did Catholics and
Protestants react to these new scientific advances in Western Europe? The picture is a combination of rejection, acceptance, and compromise. Also a new belief system arose at this time known as Deism,
asserting that since Nature was rational, God who created Nature must also be rational. Hence, the Deity could only be reached through reason as opposed to what was considered superstition. Deism influenced
many of the Founding Fathers of the United States including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin,
James Monroe, John Adams, and George Washington. On Monday, December 7 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto we will investigate this highly charged era when Religion and Science came into conflict the clash of ideals
resulting in the Modern World as we known it today, where, it must be said, the clash continues.
Monday, November 23, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Oracles: Sites of Prophecy, Divination & Portals of the Underworld: Greece, Rome, Asia Minor, Eurasia, Norse, Celtic"
Monday, November 23, 2015, 8 p.m. Facebook event listing
ANCIENT ORACLES: SITES OF PROPHECY, DIVINATION, & PORTALS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Ever since ancient times, humanity has sought to know the future, to decipher the events to come, in order to
somehow make life more manageable, more secure, or to perchance control others with the threat of what was to
come. Many believed it was possible to decipher knowledge of the future from signs arriving from the natural world
around them, believed as infused with supernatural energies, for example from reading the patterns of the stars
above, in astrology; discerning the condition of the entrails of animals; observing the flight of birds; and, especially,
the perceived direct human contact in a mystical way with the spirits and gods of the heavens and underworld,
whether it be the biblical prophets or the Greek and Roman Pythia and Sibyl. In connection to these prophecies,
places of divination were designated as especially associated with these events, oracle sites that were often quite
extensive in layout and elaborate in ritual, from the Oracle of Delphi in Greece and the Oracle of Dodona in Epirus to
the oracles of Didyma and Claros in Asia Minor. In many cases, the participant wishing to learn the future was led
down deep tunnels into what they were told was the underworld to hear from the dead themselves about their fate
or the fate of others, as in the case of the Oracle of the Dead at Baia in Italy and in the recently excavated Oracle of
Hierapolis in Asia Minor. Beyond the Greek and Roman world, oracles were important to everyone from the ancient
Celts and Norse, to cultures throughout Eurasia and into the Americas, inclusive of India, Tibet, and China. Next
Monday, November 23rd at Ipso Facto, let me lead you down deep mysterious tunnels and before the Phythian
prophets, as we explore these ancient oracle sites along with ancient understandings of their significance. Because I
have visited many of these sites myself, I will bring my own observations to this lecture, especially through the
investigation of the archaeological discoveries made at these mystical convergence points.
Monday, November 9, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancestor Veneration: Beliefs & Ritual Observances: From Offerings to Hungry Ghosts & Dia de los Muertos to the Practices of Rome, The Natufians, China, Japan, Thailand, Africa, Madagascar, Mexico, The Americas"
Monday, November 9, 2015 Facebook event listing
ANCESTOR VENERATION: BELIEFS & RITUAL OBSERVANCES REGARDING FAMILIAL SPIRITS ACROSS THE GLOBE FROM ANCIENT TIMES TO TODAY
Ever since the dawn of history, humanity has wondered where we go after death, but, for many the belief was those who died
were obviously the first to know, and that those of the dead who happened to be one’s own family members would in some way
retain aspects of the same relationships, the same kinship values, and the same loyalties, with those of the same blood as
they did in life. Because of this conviction, these ancestors were believed to stand in positions to act as intercessors
between the world of the living and the world of the dead, able to hear special requests and possible even answer them from
their now heightened position on the other side. But they also had to be honored for who they were, and, in some cases, kept
alive and strong in this realm of the dead with all kinds of offerings. The concern was also that forgotten ancestors who
received no offerings may became angry and wrack havoc in one’s life and the life of the community that they may become Hungry
Ghosts!!! The veneration of one’
s ancestors then is one of the most ancient forms of religious belief and is still alive and well today.
Join us Monday, November 9 (8:00) at Ipso Facto as we explore ANCESTOR VENERATION in all its myriad of forms, from the skull cult of the
Natufians, the Roman Cult of the Paterfamilias, and the family possession cult of the ancient Chinese, to the reburial cult of Madagascar,
the ecstatic ancestor dance-cult of Northern Thailand, and the Day of the Dead celebrations of Mexico and the Philippines.
For this talk, we will journey across Eurasia, into Africa, and across to the Americas as we discover that ancient and even current
ancestor veneration is more similar around the globe in many ways than different!
Monday, October 26, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Origins of Halloween"
Monday, October 26, 2015 Facebook event listing
THE HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN: A CELTIC, ROMAN, & CHRISTIAN CELEBRATION
With Halloween well on its way here, I thought it appropriate to discuss some of the controversial origins for
this holiday. Any cursory surf on the internet or even in depth research in some dusty archive (like the one in
my own home!) will reveal that hardly any one source agrees completely about anything beyond the basics, even the
origins of Trick or Treat and carved pumpkins is a source of fierce debate. On Monday, October 26 (8:00) at
Ipso Facto I will discuss the multiple legends and stories related to Halloween and tell you what history has to
say about this holiday, everything from the Celtic celebration of Samhain to aspects of various Greek and Roman
holidays dedicated to Pomona and the Roman dead (Feralia) from other times of year, and, of course, All Saint’s
Day. We will talk about where "Trick or Treat" came from, bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, the belief of
spirits haunting about, and other traditions. But, like always, the approach will be historical, offering a deeper
factual understanding to a very unusual day of celebrations.
Monday, October 12, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Hildegard Von Bingen"
Monday, October 12, 2015 Facebook event listing
Hildegard of Bingen, (1098 to 1179) was a celebrated Benedictine abbess, writer, mystic, philosopher, musical
composer, and visionary. As a writer, Hildegard wrote about everything from theology and poetry, to works on
medicine and botany. She also helped produce elaborate illustrations depicting her mystical beliefs that still
stir us today. Beginning at the age of three, Hildegard had these visions that dominated all her senses, whether
sight, hearing, taste, smell, or touch. She felt God in nature and revered it. Eventually, through the power of
her gifts, Hildegard became one of the most influential of individuals in twelfth century Western Europe,
corresponding with abbots and abbesses, emperors and popes. In theology, Hildegard brought the sacred feminine
aspect back into discussions of the nature of God. On Monday, October 12, at 8:00 p.m. at Ipso Facto, we will
explore the life of this powerful medieval woman canonized in 2012, a woman, while revered by so many in the
twelfth century would have been burned as a witch in the fourteenth century!
Monday, September 28, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE RENAISSANCE: ANCIENT REVIVALS, HUMANISM, RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS & RISE OF CEREMONIAL MAGICAL TRADITION"
Monday, September 28, 2015 Facebook event listing
The word Renaissance, from rinascere, translates as to be reborn, but as to what exactly is being reborn, the
designation embraces all of what the Italians (and later others) believed was the finest accomplishments of
Classical Antiquity, from art and architecture to poetry and philosophy and all along reviving Classical Latin
and Greek, yet also elevating the use of vernacular languages. This cultural phenomenon
began in Italy in the 14th century, during the period often called the Late Middle Ages, and eventually spread to
Northern Europe, lasting until the 17th century. In a sense, the Renaissance forms the intellectual bridge between
the Middle Ages and the Modern era, awakening the inquisitive spirit of humanity concerning the natural realm
around them, but rather than simply applying traditional, often Church-proscribed definitions for everything
they observed, the centuries of ecclesiastically-enforced stagnation were reversed, permitting fresh perspectives
based upon empirical evidence, giving rise to the Scientific Revolution in the 17th century.
But this was not all that was becoming popular during the Renaissance, for interest in magic and ancient
mysteries were also on the rise, with the bourgeoisie and nobility exploring Hermetic and Neoplatonic ceremonial
magic, the Jewish Kabbalah, and other forms of supernatural phenomenology. On Monday, September 28 at 8:00 p.m.in
Fullerton we will dive into this pivotal era in the story of humanity, where the two worlds collide, giving birth
to the modern world!!!
Monday, September 14, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE ROMAN EMPEROR & THE IMPERIAL CULT: INTERACTIONS WITH GRECO-ROMAN RELIGIONS & CHRISTIANITY"
Monday, September 14, 2015 Facebook event listing
The identity of the Roman Emperor as forged by Caesar Augustus combined the authority as representative of the people (Princeps) with the power of the military as
commander-in-chief (Imperator). Yet, a third power, that of head of the Roman Public Religion called Pontifex Maximus, gave the person of the Roman Emperor religious
authority as sanctioned by the gods of Rome. Upon this lofty edifice, the Imperial Cult was born, where each Roman Emperor was viewed as the representative of the gods
to the people of the empire. Because Julius Caesar was declared a god by the Roman Senate (believed by many to actually undergo a literal apotheosis), Augustus Caesar,
his adopted son, was declared Son of God and, for his so-called restoration of the Republic, also called Savior. Lo and behold, it was during the reign of Augustus
that Jesus was born who would later be declared as both Son of God and Savior, who, in addition, declared the Kingdom of God was coming, sewing the seeds for future
misunderstandings and conflict to come! Meanwhile, the Imperial Cult became entrenched in everyday life, with emperors worshipped at every public festival and game.
They were even expected to be worshiped privately at various altars set about the Roman Empire. All the most popular emperors were declared god after their deaths,
adding to the imperial pantheon including Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Claudius, Vespasian, Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius!
Eventually, almost every major Greco-Roman religion and cult accommodated the worship of the emperors, whether it was the cult of Isis or Artemis Ephesia.
But there were two notable exceptions, Judaism and Christianityand here conflicts would arise and persecution that would eventually change the world!
On Monday, September 14 at Ipso Facto (8:00) we will investigate the grandeur that was Rome and the power of the Roman Emperor, learning how their influence greatly increased through one of the most organized public religious systems ever created.
Monday, August 31, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"PALMYRA & PETRA: THE PRE-ISLAMIC ARAB CIVILIZATION &
Monday, August 31, 2015 Facebook event listing
So often when we in the West hear about the Arabs, especially
in relation to their beliefs, we automatically think of Islam and
the great Arabic Civilizations established following their
seventh century CE expansion over much of the Middle East,
South Asia, and North Africa into Spain. But before the advent
of Islam, the Arabs were polytheistic and often created very
sophisticated civilizations that thrived beyond Arabia and into
what are now Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. The Roman
archaeologist Warwick Ball declared: When viewing the
spectacular ruins of Petra or Palmyra it is not often
appreciated that one is examining Arab civilisation as much as
if one were examining Islamic Damascus or Baghdad. The
Arab Nabataean Kingdom did indeed create the sculpted
wonders of Petra, while the Arab Palmyrene Kingdom, centred
upon the major trading metropolis of Palmyra, even challenged
the power of the Roman Empire itself. As far as their beliefs,
the Jinn, who were later incorporated into Islam were often
appeased or feared by these ancient Arabs, while they
worshipped such gods as Dushara, Manat, and al-‘Uzza, the
latter described as the mighty goddess. The Islamic State
(ISIL), especially Palmyra, today is threatening much of these
regions. We will learn why this Palmyra is so important even
from a modern standpoint. In fact, we will learn how much of
this Arab legacy continued into the Islamic era. On Monday,
August 31 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, be there as we
explore the rich Arab heritage that was already thriving long
before Muhammad in the seventh century CE.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE FIRST CIVILIZATIONS FROM THE PALEOLITHIC INTO THE NEOLITHIC ERA: AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE WORLD’S EARLIEST SOCIETIES INCLUSIVE OF CULTURAL & RELIGIOUS BELIEFS"
August 18, 2015 Facebook event listing
By definition, a complex society is considered to be a civilization, often, but not always, involve populated settlements that are stratified into hierarchical social classes and overseen usually by a ruling elite; have some form of territories that include rural areas; connected to pursuits in agriculture, manufacturing, and trade; defined by religious beliefs and cultural value; and weld an organizing power over humans as well as dominating the natural environment around them for their own needs. So what were the earliest civilizations? We will often say Mesopotamia or Egypt around 3000 BCE. But archaeology has revealed far earlier civilizations, going back at least 7000 years earlier if not more. So many of the components of the Neolithic Revolution around 10,000 BCE already reveal civilizing forces at work. By definition, the Natufians of the Levant from 13,000 to 11,000 BCE, those that built Gobekli Tepe in Turkey around 9,130 BCE, the Pengtoushan culture of China from 7,500 BCE, and those of Çatalhöyü
k around 6500 BCE are all understood as civilizations. And, the question must be asked, were there still older civilizations? What can archaeology do to illuminate this most ancient past and how does it change our entire understanding of the human race in general, of who we understand ourselves to be. On Tuesday August 18, 8 p.m., at Ipso Facto, we will both dig deep into the soil as well as deep into the nature of who we are!!! You will not wish to miss this talk!!!
August 4, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"MAGIC & THE EARLY TO MEDIEVAL CHURCH: COMPETITION, SYNTHESIS, & PERSECUTION"
August 4, 2015 Facebook event listing
From the dawn of the human need to cope with the Natural World the
unpredictability of her forces nurturing life or ushering in death religious
actions were performed in hopes of mitigating, even appeasing, the elements,
thereby gaining via ritual contract just enough of this supernatural power to
protect the hearth and home, to keep the game plentiful and the harvests rich,
to achieve the boon of fertility even within the womb, to keep back foes
whether natural or human and, yes, to even acquire positions of power for
those aspiring to lead their respective communities. With magic so deeply
entrenched in the human psyche of every day life, the arriving Church certainly
faced a daunting challenge, for the Christian clergy taught that the Age of
Magic was over, that Christ had ushered in a new age, one where prayers and
petitions replaced invocations and spells, where miracles replaced magic. But
the majority of commoners lacked a coherent knowledge of advance theology
and, it must be said, so did the majority of the priests, with the result that from
the Early through Medieval Church and even into the Reformation, Christianity
itself, as it competed with the local paganism, often adopted the very same
practices, becoming a hybrid between both perspectives. This Tuesday at Ipso
Facto in Fullerton at 8 p.m. we will investigate this curious blend of Christianity
and Paganism, and then we will go on to discuss exactly what eventually led to
the drastic changes enforced by the Church, culminating in edicts against
magic and the witch trials! Be prepared to be shocked!
July 21, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"GODDESSES OF INDIA: AN EXAMINATION OF FEMALE DEITIES FROM THE INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION TO TODAY, FROM THE YAKSHIS, DURGA, & KALI TO SARASVATI, LAKSHMI, & PARVATI "
July 21, 2015 Facebook event listing
On Tuesday, July 21 at Ipso Facto (8:00) in Fullerton, we will journey to the
Indian subcontinent to investigate the ancient goddesses worshipped here from
the earliest known eras, for example during the Indus Valley Civilization and
when they were often in the form of either mother goddesses or animistic
spirits called Yahshis, to their subsequent repression under the Indo-Europeans
arriving around 1500 BCE, under the cultural-religious system called
Brahmanism, and then on to the liberation of goddess worship with the advent
of the popular religious movement known today as Hinduism (which scholars
believe begins with the Upanishads composed between 700 to 500 BCE).
Because in Hinduism the Supreme Reality known as Brahman manifests itself in
both male and female form, each major god will eventually receive a goddess
counterpart or consort, for example Brahma with Sarasvati, Vishnu with
Lakshmi, and Shiva with Parvati and also with Kali and with that Shakti power
of his with quite a few others as well (hehehe). With Vishnu, when he manifests
as Krishna in his avatar form, his consort will be Lakshmi in the form of Radha
and when he manifests as Rama his consort will be Lakshmi in the form of Sita.
Also many Hindus worship the Great Goddess exclusively. As you can imagine,
this lecture will be filled with the usual stories and tidbits that will shed light on
this very intriguing topic.
July 7, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"CLEOPATRA & GRECO-ROMAN EGYPT: EXAMINING THE HISTORICAL, CULTURAL, AND?RELIGIOUS LEGACY OF THE PTOLEMIES"
July 7, 2015 Facebook event listing
Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, was the very last of a long line of Hellenistic rulers
known as the Ptolemies that redefined Egyptian religion and culture and
blended it with that of the Greeks. Traditional gods like Isis and Osiris
underwent a transformation, with the first becoming a goddess in connection
with a Greek Mystery Cult and the second mixed with other gods, including the
Greek Hades, to become the great hybrid god Serapis. Egyptian and Greek
wisdom traditions also became associated with the legendary sage Hermes
Trismegistus, evolving into the Hermetic writings by the second and third
centuries CE. Here philosophy, alchemy, and astrology were understood as one.
The Ptolemies made Alexandria their quintessential capital, establishing the
famous Library of Alexandria, making the city an intellectual center, where
some of the greatest ideas and inventions of Antiquity took place, such as the
practice of autopsies, the idea of a dictionary, punctuation marks (.,;), and
realizing the circumference of the earth. The Ptolemies were at first effective
kings, adopting Egyptian practices and deeming themselves as Pharaohs, but
later ones were less effective and often corrupt. And then there was the final
one of their line, Cleopatra, brilliant, a shrewd negotiator, and a Queen who was
able to capture the hearts of the two of the most powerful men of Ancient
Rome, Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and ignite the entire Roman realm in
civil war. On Tuesday, July 7 at Ipso Facto (8:00) in Fullerton we will investigate
this powerful female leader of Egypt and those who came before her, entering
an age that still deeply impacts us today in almost every facet of life!!!
June 23, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE HISTORY OF GYPSIES: THEIR ORIGIN, MIGRATIONS, CULTURE, SYNCRETIC BELIEFS, FOLKLORE, MAGIC, & RECEPTION BY OTHERS OVER THE CENTURIES"
June 23, 2015 Facebook event listing
On June 23rd at Ipso Facto in Fullerton we will journey deep into the provocative history of the Romani, yes, the Gypsies!!!—a story so often misunderstood, and also so often covered in intentionally misleading lore and contradiction. We will discuss exactly how we know the Romani originated from India, discussing the historical, linguistic, and genetic evidence for this absolute FACT which was once argued as otherwise before recent advances within the last two decades. Next, we fill trace the migrations of the gypsies from India, across the Middle East, and into Europe, talking about exactly when they arrived in each place and their reception by the people living there. From here, we will describe in detail the customs and the beliefs of the Romani, from the veneration of Saint Sarah, often called “Kali Sara” and Shakti worship to the concept of Kuntari, universal balance, and purity laws mirroring Hindu ones. Beyond that we will delve into the controversies, the magical beliefs (including the supposed
gypsy curse), the rich folklore, and the resulting persecutions of one of the most misunderstood peoples on the planet.
June 9, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Zoroastrianism: The Light Versus the Dark"
June 9, 2015 Facebook event listing
One of the world's oldest monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism arose out of Ancient Persia 3500 years ago (500 years before Christianity), and continues to thrive today, particularly here in Southern California and India. Interestingly Queen's Freddie Mercury was a practictioner, and adherents number anywhere from 145,000 to 2.6 million; their exact numbers obscured due to persecution.
Their fascinating rituals include daily ritual magic at a personal altar, Exposure of the Dead, and purification rites where man must enlist in a cosmic struggle because of his capacity of free choice. End time battles, final judgement, a born-of-a-virgin miracle worker are aspects that certainly remind one of religions that came later.
Founded by the prophet Zoroaster, who at thirty years old had a divine vision of God during a ritual purification rite, radically transforming his view of the world.
Rejecting the religion of the Bronze Age Persians, Zoroaster believed in one creator God, the only one worthy of worship.
He believed that the deities of the old religion, the Daevas, who appeared to delight in war and strife, served Angra Mainyu, the force of darkness and God's adversary, and it was the forces of light, represented by Ahura Mazda, who fiercely fought against them.
Facing opposition in his homeland, Zoraster sought a place more open to new ideas, which led him to Bactria (present day Western Pakistan/Eastern Afghanistan) whose King and Queen eventually made Zorastrianism the official religion of their kingdom.
With the founding of the Persian empire by Cyrus the Great, the Archaemenian kings, themselves pious Zorastrians, ruled in accordance with the law of asha (truth and righteousness), without imposing Zorastrianism on their territories, and famously allowing the Jews to return from exile in Babylon.
Today one can still see the legacy of Zoroastrianism, which directly influenced the development of both Judaism and early Christianity.
On Tuesday, June 9 at Ipso Facto at 8 p.m., we will explore the beliefs, the stories, the sacred texts, the rituals, the magic, and even the holidays of this often forgotten major world religion!
May 19, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Egyptian Mummification"
May 19, 2015 Facebook event listing
Tuesday, May 19 at 8 pm at Ipso Facto we will investigate ANCIENT EGYPTIAN MUMMIFICATION, explaining the reasons why they pursued this form of bodily preservation and exactly how they did it. We will also discuss why they often mummified animals as well as humans.
Throughout history, humans have strived to live forever, to be immortal, and often saw this present life continuing on into some form of afterlife. Just how this happened, of course, varied dependent on the society.
In some cases ancient people believed spirit would go on, others thought that both body and spirit would continue on together, with the body fully reconstituted from its decayed state and so become vibrant flesh once again. For the Ancient Egyptians, this present body continued to be the chosen vessel that carried the spirit over to the other side following death.
Because this physical body was special, the Egyptians believed it was important to preserve some semblance of it, either symbolically by preserving its outer form even if the flesh fell away, or even in actuality, applying embalming techniques to actually preserve it as much as possible.
Of course, this process of preservation as applied by the Ancient Egyptians is known as mummification, a technique which evolved over a long period of time.
May 5, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Inquisition: The Power of Unrestricted Religious Indoctrination Mixed with Politics Creating a Policy of Intolerance and Terror"
May 5, 2015 Facebook event listing
The INQUISITION:it’s very name immediately brings to mind one of the darkest eras of the Catholic Church in Western Europe, where those perceived as heretics were hunted out, placed on trial, tortured, imprisoned, and often put to death, typically by being burnt at the stake but through other cruel means as well.
Beginning in 1184 and continuing with fury into the 1400 and 1500’s in Spain and Portugal, the Inquisition attempted to end theological innovation, stop “believed" attacks by the devil, and especially silence what was often called "free thinking" via their well-organized methodology of intimidation and terror. But the modern world was rising, and as much as this institution attempted to end divisions in the Church and end open expression, with every one group suppressed, another arose, until the number of those who joined the Protestant Reformation overwhelmed its ability to keep up and eventually diminished its power.
In this lecture we will not only hear stories from the perspective of the Inquisitors, but also the beliefs of those they tried to silence; and, in some cases, successfully. We will learn about the beliefs of the mysterious dualistic Cathars; the Waldensians; the Spiritual Franciscans; the Knights Templar; and the Beguines (part of an all female mystical movement).
We will learn about those deemed as witches and the persecution of the Jews in Spain. On Tuesday night, May 5, at 8:00 p.m., at Ipso Facto, be prepared to encounter one of the darkest chapters in human history, and to realize that even during these times, there was still hope that the world could change, and it did.
April 21, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE KABBALAH: Historical Prespectives of a Jewish Mystical Tradition"
April 21, 2015 Facebook event listing
When we hear the word Kabbalah many thoughts come to mind, inclusive of the famous Kabbalistic Tree of Life with the Ten Names of God, the mystical esoteric traditions that are
often sources of controversy, and, of course, movie and music stars who often make this tradition more high profile than many more conservative elements within Judaism would like.
We are told that the Kabbalah starts with a special revelation of God to Moses upon Mount Sinai that is encoded within the very text of the Torah, at a level that only a few can decipher
and only if properly initiated. But what of the ACTUAL HISTORY of the Kabbalah? What do academics say about the origins of this mystical tradition of Judaism? Many start around the twelfth century in Medieval Spain, but is this really an accurate observation? Next Thursday
(8:00 p.m.), at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, CA we will reveal the often overlooked and sometimes
intentionally neglected story the path where the historical evidence illuminates this often misunderstood Jewish mystical tradition!
April 7, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Hypatia of Alexandria, Female Intellectual, Philosopher, Pagan"
April 7, 2015 Facebook event listing
HYPATIA OF ALEXANDRIA: Female Intellectual, Christian-Pagan-Jewish Conflicts & the Twilight of Antiquity.
By all accounts, Hypatia, the famous female intellectual and philosopher from the city of Alexandria in Roman Egypt was an anomaly of her age, thriving during a time when so much of what she represented was systematically being rejected by the changing world around her. A Pagan woman in a Christian age dominated by religiously-charged power politics rather than ethical concerns, Hypatia was accepted by the enlightened of all faiths, whether Pagan, Christian, or Jew, viewed by them as a wise and seasoned adviser, while others, those steeped in the growing superstition and bigotry of the age, cried out that she must be a vile occultist practicing magic to deceive minds. Michael Deakin declares:
Almost alone, virtually the last academic, she stood for intellectual values, for rigorous mathematics, ascetic Neoplatonism, the crucial role of the mind, and the voice of temperance and moderation in civic life. The violent public murder of Hypatia by those who failed to understand what she represented truly demonstrated that an Age of Ignorance had arrived, the Classical world of Greece and Rome was no more, and the medieval world had begun! On Tues, April 7, at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto, we will introduce you to this deep and insightful woman who fought so hard to maintain a world of toleration against all odds, never losing sight of her sense of purpose.
Hypatia was a true hero, one that needs to be recognized, but, also, the age she lived in serves as a warning to how far a society can fall when knowledge and education are abandoned for power politics and superstition.
March 24, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR: FEARLESS WARRIORS, GUARDIANS OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT, & KEEPERS OF MYSTERIES"
March 24, 2015 Facebook event listing
THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR: FEARLESS WARRIORS, GUARDIANS OF THE TEMPLE MOUNT, & KEEPERS OF MYSTERIES with Dr. James Rietveld:
Wearing their hallmark red crosses over their white mantles, the Knights Templar went from a humble order of knights protecting Christian pilgrims to Jerusalem to one of the most powerful religious, political, and economic powers in Western Europe, founding, in many ways, our modern banking system. Originally based on the site of the Temple Mount of Jerusalem, the full story of what occupied them while there is considered a mystery. The Knights Templar came to be known as one of bravest of all Crusader warriors. A Templar Knight is truly a fearless knight, and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith, just as his body is protected by the armor of steel. He is thus doubly armed, and need fear neither demons nor men. But suddenly, on Friday, October 13, 1307, this proud order of knights was deemed heretical, proclaimed to adhere to odd, even pagan rites.
As a result, the fires of the Inquisition burned many, while still others were forced into silence, and went underground, creating
a tangle of legacies both mysterious and profound. On Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m. at Ipso Facto, we will together unravel the mysteries of the Knights Templar, from the Temple Mount to the reasons for their fall from grace and how their story, unexpectedly, continued on.
March 10, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
Mystery Cults of Ancient Greece and Rome
March 10, 2015 Facebook event listing
Join us on Tuesday, March 10 at 8:00 p.m. at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, when we will present a lecture on the Mystery Cults of Eleusis, Dionysus, the Phrygian Magna Meter, Mithras, and Serapis with Isis, which greatly influenced modern magickal traditions and personal power systems.
Mystery Religions or Cults always raise an eyebrow or two when brought up within public and academic contexts inclusive of the Mysteries of Ancient Greece and Rome, where, traced back to the seventh century BCE, they increased in popularity following the conquests of Alexander the Great.
Mystery Cults in Antiquity had initiations, vows, secret rites, esoteric knowledge, magic words, votive offerings, and emphasized the importance of personal choice in one's beliefs rather than what was expected by society. But the mysteries were only powerful as one's belief in them, so faith became a key component for effectiveness, enabling a person able to successfully meet the challenges of everyday life, and ultimately offering salvation for the soul.
Journey with us to discover the roots of today's occult philosophy, ceremonial magick, and modern personal empowerment systems, in the ancient practices and traditions which influenced Aleister Crowley, Ordo Templi Orientis, and Freemasonry.
This talk is definitely not a one to be missed!
February 24, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Artemis of Ephesia" Lecture & signing for Dr. Rietveld’s book "Artemis of the Ephesians: Mystery, Magic & Her Sacred Landscape"
February 24, 2015 lecture event listing on Facebook
In this definitive work on Artemis of the Ephesians, Dr. Rietveld examines the cult status and representations of Artemis Ephesia in the ancient world. Delving into personal religious perspectives and relationship to the city’s sacred geography, the book reveals how her belief system permeated the daily lives of the Ephesians via material culture they left behind. Although understandings of Artemis Ephesia changed as Christianity spread, her legacy survived as goddess of protection, material prosperity, and guardian of virginal chastity. Via the Via Sacra, Artemis’ role as protective mother extended beyond the Temple of Artemis to the city itself, and throughout the Greco-Roman world via the Via Sacra and Ephesian Letters.
Beautiful original color photographs accompany the groundbreaking text.
February 10, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Ancient Troy and the Iliad"
February 10, 2015 lecture event listing on Facebook
Ancient Troy is positioned in the realm between myth and history, between story of the Iliad and the unraveling story constantly being uncovered by historians and archaeologists today. For so long all we knew about Troy was from the perspective of the Iliad and other Greek myths, but that is now changing. The writings of the Mycenaeans who were the Achaean Greeks referred to in the Iliad is deciphered, providing much pertinent information concerning the legendary story of the sack of Troy. What many people do not know is that ancient Hittite is also now deciphered, revealing a very different story about Troy. On Tuesday, February 10 at Ipso facto in Fullerton, CA, I will tell a story of Troy you may never have heard before that will fundamentally change your understanding of not only the Iliad but the ancient Greeks in general. This is one lecture you do not want to miss!!!
January 20, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia, the Supernatural Quest for Survival in a Hostile Land"
January 20, 2015 lecture event listing on Facebook
Join us for the next installment of the Salon Lecture Series with Dr. James Rietveld on the topic of "Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia: The Supernatural Quest for Survival in a Hostile Land"
Situated around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Ancient Mesopotamia refers to many great civilizations located here, whether Sumerian and Babylonian, or Assyrian and Chaldean. This turbulent land gave rise to one of the most inventive society in human history, forged by a determined people who did whatever they possible could to harness the necessary forces to survive floods, draughts, famines, and wars, whether natural or supernatural. Their religion was a dynamic one—of passionate gods and goddesses, great myths like the Epic of Gilgamesh, magical rites, astrology, and divination. According to Jewish belief, Mesopotamia was also the cultural context from which Abraham arose! At Ipso Facto on Tuesday, Jan 20th at 8 p.m., we will travel to this ancient land, now politically the nation of Iraq, and uncover through narrative and archaeology some of the deepest and most profound mysteries concerning their religious beliefs and its origins.
January 6, 2015, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Mysteries of Dionysus: God of Ecstacy"
January 6, 2015 lecture event listing on Facebook
On Tues, Jan 6, 8 p.m. we will explore the MYSTERIES OF DIONYSUS: GOD OF ECSTASY at Ipso Facto. Constantly accompanied by his troops of maenads and satyrs, Dionysus was a god reveling in ecstatic celebration, dancing with his devotees within dark forests and upon open glades. Dionysus became intimately associated with the seasons, the natural processes of life, death, and renewal of life once more, as he lived in the spring and summer, died by winter, and rose again with the following spring, becoming understood as a god of resurrection. Many believed if Dionysus could rise again, so could they, holding fast that participating in his sacred energies held the key. But what exactly were these mysteries and how do they influence the history of western religious thought? And how does Christianity fit into the picture? Join me for this public lecture and I promise to tell exactly how with enough details to stimulate many conversations to come!
December 16, 2014, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Library of Alexandria"
December 16, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The Library of Alexandria: Even its very name conveys an aura of myth and legend, of lost books filled with the secrets of the ancient world and hidden knowledge. Many continually mourn the loss of this great depository of ancient literature, philosophy, history, science, and medicine. For this lecture I will investigate the shapers and makers of this library, the great discoveries achieved here, the heart wrenching dramas, what kinds of books were actually on its shelves, and when the library was actually destroyed. Best of all, I will demonstrate that the Library of Alexandria continues to influences us today in many ways that may be quite unexpected. And are all the mysteries of the library lost to us? No, and I will reveal some of these secrets. You will not be disappointed! "
December 2, 2014, 8:00 p.m.|
"The Goddess Isis: Universal Mother & Mistress of Magic, The Transformative Goddesss"
December 2, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
Isis proclaimed: I am nature, the Universal Mother, Mistress of all the Elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, Queen of the Dead, Queen of the Ocean, Queen also of the Immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are, my nod governs the shining heights of Heavens, the wholesome sea breezes. Though I am worshipped in many aspects, known by countless names ... the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning and worship call me by my true name...Queen Isis”—so spoke the goddess according to Apuleius, in his novel The Golden Ass written in the second century CE. As all encompassing as this proclamation may sound, the goddess Isis was perceived by the Egyptians, then Greeks, and finally the Romans in different ways over the march of centuries, as she constantly evolved to suit new religious and cultural movements. On Tuesday, November 18 at Ipso Facto at 7:30, we will investigate this magical goddess, who went from the wife to the deceased pharaoh in the Egyptian
Old Kingdom to Universal Goddess during the Roman Empire! And still her legacy goes on"
October 28, 2014, 7:30 p.m.|
Angels and Demons: A Historical Perspective of the Ages and Within Different Religious Traditions"
October 28, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
Angels and Demons are often depicted as believed or perceived spiritual entities all around us, fighting on opposite teams as agents of Light and agents Darkness. So often ethical choices between good or evil are shown as an angel on one shoulder and a demon or devil on the other. Yet, they are always subordinates to their masters…well, almost always…And we so often hear their names, whether it be the angelic Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, or the demonic Beelzebub, Krampus, and Lilith. Opinions vary concerning whom and what they are dependent on the individual’s personal beliefs, but amongst this sea of opinion, there are scholars investigating some of the most inspiring as well as the most frightening academic landscapes concerning these mystical beings. What does history tell us concerning angels and demons, believed supernatural beings that appear in stories, legends, and myths from all around the world and within many religious systems? Be there on October 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Ipso Facto to find out!
October 14, 2014, 7:30 p.m.|
The Aztecs and the Spanish Conquest
October 14, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The story of the Aztecs and the Spanish Conquest is more a product of rhetoric and revisionism today than an accurate account of what really happened, to the point where current school textbooks up through the university level are incorrect in both Mexico and the United States. People today want simple answers, cut and dry good guys and bad guys, but the authentic story is as far more nuanced, muddled and disturbing. If you wish to learn what really happened as we know from the primary sources at the time AND archaeological evidence from the time (so all sides are represented), you know where you want to be Tuesday night, October 14 at 7:30—Yes, at Ipso Facto in Fullerton hearing the story so many consider too political incorrect to tell because current agendas are considered more valuable than historical facts! (And you KNOW you’re really curious anyway!)
September 30, 2014, 7:30 p.m.|
The History of Astrology: Origins, Ancient Significance, & Regional Contexts
September 30, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
I’m sure from time to time most of us have heard the question, "What’s your sign?" with a range of meanings streaming from inquiries by mystical types wishing to forecast your future to cheap pick-up lines in dingy bars, and, of course, everything in between. Whether you believe in its intrinsic spiritual value, see it as a science on a cosmic order, feel it’s a load of rubbish, or view it as a doctrine of demons, like it or not, astrology is part of our collective past and still a feature of contemporary life within many contexts. Every ancient culture at some point or another created a complex astrological system, whether it was in Ancient China, India or Egypt. For the ancients, astrology and what we consider today as the science of astronomy were viewed as one and the same, so to separate the two from one another would be out of context to understanding how the ancients viewed the phenomenological universe. Tuesday, September 30, (7:30 PM) at Ipso Facto in Fullerton, I will delve into the HISTO
RY OF ASTROLOGY, revealing the development of this system of belief over time. You will just love this fascinating topic!!!
September 16, 2014, 7:30 p.m.|
Of Minoans, Mycenaeans, and Trojans: The Forgotten Age of the Ancient Greeks.
September 16, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The splendor of the Minoan civilization is almost proverbial. They were sophisticated in their organization, brilliant in their trade, egalitarian in their gender roles, playful in their games, passionate in their spirituality, and believed in the ideal of art for art’s sake. For them, making something beautiful could be an end in itself and Nature was to be venerated! Then one day, with a mighty volcanic explosion, it was all over. No wonder legends concerning Atlantis find their origins with the Minoans! The Mycenaeans who replaced them were patriarchal warriors, as brutal as the Minoans were peaceful. Yet then another disaster occurred, an apocalypse so devastating that entire civilizations were wiped off the map about the Mediterranean and Near East. Soon the Mycenaeans too became the stuff of legends, spun into the stories by traveling bards. The Iliad and the Odyssey became their legacy!
On Tuesday, September 16 at Ipso Facto in Fullerton we will together unravel the often-untold story of the early age
of the Ancient Greeks and offer up some staggering conclusions based upon the most recent discoveries.
September 2, 2014, 8 p.m. |
The Archeology of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
September 2, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are almost proverbial, a list often memorized by schoolchildren to represent the very best sites about the ancient Mediterranean, a list that should not be missed according to ancient perspectives. Five ancient writers mention this list—Antipater of Sidon and Philo of Byzantium among them. For the most part they agree that the Seven Ancient Wonders were the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. For this lecture we will not only discuss who chose these Seven Wonders and why, but we will investigate their overall importance, especially focusing upon the archeological evidence that remains of these sites today. How can archaeology unlock the secrets of these lost treasures?
August 19, 2014, 8 p.m. |
Mayans and the Sacrificial Cosmos.
August 19, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The Mayans were obsessed with the heavens above, the movement of the stars and planets, believing they were representations of their gods—gods they so hoped to please or appease in any way possible. For them, this meant sacrifice, often on a brutal level. While the Mayans created great stepped pyramids, observatories, and incredibly accurate calendars, certainly a tribute to their genius, all of these achievements were intimately connected to their religious beliefs. But just what were these beliefs that so compelled them to act upon them the way they did? The answer may both frighten and fascinate us! At Ipso Facto on August 19 (8:00 PM), we will investigate these beliefs and arrive at possible answers often not discussed in a public forum!
August 5, 2014, 8 p.m. |
Death, Burial and the Afterlife in Ancient Rome.
August 5, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The Ancient Romans were not only monumental in life, but also monumental in death, with the wealthy buried in elaborate tombs prominently along the roads of the empire and those less wealthy having their ashes in urns interred on a niche in a vast underground columbaria complex or their bodies placed along a long catacomb tunnel. Roman views of death and the afterlife were a complicated affair, with elaborate funeral rituals, feeding the dead ceremonies, and magic. At Ipso Facto in Fullerton on August 5th at 8:00 we will descend into the Roman underworld, exposing its ghosts, and uncovering some of the secrets long buried!
July 22, 2014, 8 p.m.|
The Magic, Mystery and Mythology of Ancient Egypt.
July 22, 2014 lecture event listing on Facebook
The allure of Ancient Egypt has long captured the imagination of visitors from the Greeks and Romans on, with its monolithic temples and pyramids, its exotic gods, its magical rituals, its mummies, and its mythology of the afterlife. Come Tuesday, July 22 to Ipso Facto at 8:00 PM, where Dr. James Rietveld will take you to this enchanted land and unravel some of its most profound mysteries!