Noble words have substance. Constancy may be valuable too. Signs are thought of as "noble words" of Nature, but may needs decoding to be of benefit. Suppose you see a flower on your way. The first thing to see is that the flower is what it is - and hopefully appreciate it deeply too. The second thing to do is to consider whether there is something wrong with you or the course you have taken, for example, if the flower is found in a thorny thicket. There are many sorts of thorny thickets, remember. The same rules apply for pets. Hopefully you can appreciate the one you meet most often, and then you may consider what is wrong with having one. Some do. And some get awfully tired of walking the dog and pick up its excrements. What sort of lot is that?
Those who keep mental space to receive words or signs that appear where and when they appear, could benefit from the signs if they are understood somewhat.
So if you see wild swans ploughing the sky ahead of you, ask yourself whether their unfolding journey says something of value to you andfor you, on your behalf. And next, is there a way that you could progress by, by gradual efforts?
In other times people put a lot of energy into these concerns. An omen - portent, presage - is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying a coming change. In ancient Rome, augurs interpreted the flights of birds. The said art of reading internal organs of sacrificed animals or other parts of them, such as turtle shells, was greatly respected and in vogue as well. The priests would inspect and then deduct something for the future.
Here is the snag: natural events and beings may be interpreted differently - maybe arbitrarity. Thus, in England a black cat across the road is an omen of good luck. In other countries the black cat across the road signifies bad luck, but maybe not so seriously as in the Church, when they went cat-hunting and talked bad of goats too, because these animals did not have round pupils. Crazy gangs existed then, too.
Comets can be considered to be both good and bad omens. Halley's Comet in the sky in 1066 was a "bad omen" for King Harold II of England and King Harald Hardrada of Norway when they tried to seize England, but a "good omen" for William the Conqueror who came right after their battles and conquered the remaining English army. "One man's meat, another man's poison" in that case. or: "One army's bad omen was another army's good omen," if you like.
Omens from some Indian sources
Omens and portents are included in part of a branch of Indian astrology, along with dream interpretations and the faith that events cast their shadows before them and can be presaged, and often are. If the signs are perceived and decoded well, omens may be used profitably. Indians have made rules to interpret various types of omens. The said strength or impressiveness of the omen is figured, and its whereabouts inspected as to where they are placed in relation to the one(s) who note them. A time factor is thought about too, and much else, including speed or motion, expressions, and direction. Several of the handy rules of dream interpretations could apply.
Mind that what are thought to be auspicious omens differ from place to place and country to country, as the black cat across the road.
Among Indians, the following are auspicious things at all times": Curd, mirror, wet soil, cow dung, cow, veena (sitar), flower, medicine box, parasol, elephant, goats, drums, tail of animal used to whisk flies, gold, silver, copper, tree with fruit, fresh vegetables.
To see the following persons is thought to be auspicious: A happy brahmin, a well dressed person sitting on an ox, a child saying something on his own, a beautiful person -
Yahweh said, "As my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared - to Egypt's shame. (Isaiah 20:3-4)
Jesus said he was a sign after the pattern of Jonas - he held up that "role model". (See Matthew 12:40)
Simeon said to Mary: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against". (Luke 2:34)
"Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by . . . signs, which God did among you through him." (Acts 2:22)
There can be future sign value in a name too. (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21; John 1:42)
Apostles were instructed by Jesus to shake up dust of dismay and displeasure as a very alarming sign or portent. (Matt 10:14-5)
It is also said that signs would accompany those who believed, such as "when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them" (Mark 16:17-8). "Many . . . signs were done by the apostles." (Acts 2:43) — "Things that mark an apostle - signs, wonders and miracles". (2 Corinthians 12:12) — "I'll show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below (some day)". (Acts 2:19.21)
"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!" (Proverbs 6:6)
There are flying ants around. And did you know that at least four sorts of woodpeckers eat ants? So "Go to the woodpecker (too), study its ways and learn to rise above those of ants." (Cf. Genesis 1:26-7; Psalm 8, Hebrews 2:6-8).
There was a king of Gerar Abimelech. He sent for Abraham's half-sister-wife Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman."
Now Abimelech said, "Will you destroy an innocent nation? I have done this with a clear conscience."
God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience ..." (Genesis 20:1-7, extracts)
Joseph once came to the Egyptian king's chief cup-bearer and the chief baker one morning, and they were dejected. For "We both had dreams," they said, "but there is none to interpret them."
Then Joseph said to them, "Tell me your dreams." (Genesis 40:2-8, excerpts)
In folklore among sailors the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship. It is said to bring unluck and even death to see it. The later King George V (1865–1936) saw the ghost ship nearby Australia on the 11th July 1881, we are told. And true to the tale, King George V died - about fifty-five years after the event. (Wilson 1999, 18)
The loss of God's favour in the Bible manifested as not getting divined answers, such as in the case of Saul (1 Samuel 8, 10 etc.).
The future is not always unknown to all, if you do not ascribe fit prognoses to good luck. The astrologer William Lilly predicted in his 1644 Almanac a Great Plague of London in 1665 and the catastrophic Great Fire of London in 1666.
Omens and signs may have different sources and purposes, and interpretations differ. For example (for the third time by now), in England it means good luck if a black cat crosses the road in front of you.
And don't forget you could be an omen yourself.
What it boils down to is a practice of interpreting scenes, others, dreams and much else as portents, that is, auspices. Auspices also involve looking at birds, but not exactly as an ornithologist. The basic aim to get at certain portent values.
Mammon can be a sign of God's approval in many Bible places. The Buddhist Middle Path offers great, all-round help towards a good future of great riches and honour; a happy, fulfilling, fit and loving, rewarding long life and climbing a "ladder".
A question is who or what is behind speaking in tongues. Could it be Osiris or someone else of ancient religions?
Glossolalia (speaking in tongues, from Greek 'tongue' etc.) was exhibited at the ancient oracle of Delphi, where a priestess of the god Apollon spoke in unintelligible utterances, supposedly through the spirit of Apollo in her. Plato (428/27 - 348/47 AD) refers to several families who practiced ecstatic speech, praying and utterings while supposedly possessed.
The Roman Virgil (70-19 BC) describes the ecstatic tongues of the Sybilline priestess on the Island of Delos as the result of her being unified with the god Apollo. Mystery religions of the Greco-Roman world record the same phenomenon in the Mithra cult of the Persians; the Osiris cult originating in ancient Egypt, and the lesser known Dionysian, Eulusinian, and Orphic cults cradled in Macedonia, Thrace and Greece. Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-98) in De Dea Syria describes an example of glossolalia shown by a roaming believer of the Syrian goddess June.
Ancient Israelites did it also. Glossolalia has also been observed in shamanism and the Voodoo religion of Haiti. Cannibals in Borneo have been known to speak in tongues too. And when spoken by schizophrenics, glossolalia is considered gibberish.
Glossolalia is featured both in Christian scriptures and in the practice of contemporary Christians. Such a modern Christian practice was revived in the early 1900s in Pentecostal churches in the United States. Speaking in tongues is practiced by up to 20 percent (100 - 400 millions) of all Christians today.
Many of the Churches practice tongue speaking today as it appeared in paganism and non-Christian cults. Historical records show that tongue speaking goes back before Pentecost in Acts 2, so is speaking in tongues from God, or from demonic sources, or is there more to see in the matter? It is said that even the elect may be deceived (Matthew 24:24) - and the first elect ones spoke in tongues. So there is a good reason to test the spirits when you meet them. The apostle Peter was reluctant to baptise non-Jews until they began speaking in tongues (1 John 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Acts 10:44-48).
Paul says somewhere: "first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues . . . covet earnestly the best gifts." (1 Corinthians 12:28-31) He also says, " In the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." (1 Corinthians 14:19). Also, "Timothy, avoid . . . vain babblings." (1 Timothy 6:20)
Glossolalics behave in various ways. A featured claim is that when you speak gibberish it is a sign that God loves you - for the profit of all (let it include yourself, then) (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:7, 30; 13:1; 14)
While speaking in tongues, people experience a sharp decrease in frontal lobe function, the area of the brain that enables reason and self-control. Glossolalia responses were the opposite of those of people in a meditative state. When people meditate their frontal lobe activity increases, while their parietal activity decreases, says psychiatrist Andrew Newberg at the University of Pennsylvania on top of investigations.
But there is more to it: "Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems", and "Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent." (Skeptic's Dictionary, "glossolalia"; NY Times, "A Neuroscientific Look at Speaking in Tongues"
Apparently meaningless utterances are supposedly interpreted by someone with "the gift of interpretation". Such a belief gives the interpreter a carte blanche in "translating". Further, "Typically, the interpretation supports the central tenets of the religious community", someone observes. Without an interpreter, you may have no idea what was said and you could even be saying "so be it" to a curse from the devil as far as you know. The perspective is there. (C.)
One individual's ecstatic speech was tape recorded and played back separately to many individuals who believed that they had the gift of interpreting tongues. Their interpretations were quite inconsistent. Those particular interpreters were unable to extract significant meaning out of the glossolalia. (Excerpts from: Jeff Wehr, "Speaking in Tongues," Our Firm Foundation, Vol. 11, #11, 1996-NOV-11, referred to in "Speaking in Tongues: Religious Studies". Religious Tolerance.
Newberg, Andrew, Nancy Wintering, Donna Morgan, and Mark Waldman. 2006. "The Measurement of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow During Glossolalia: a Preliminary SPECT Study." Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging for 2006-NOV. The International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry.
Wilson, Colin. 1999. Spøkelser og overnaturlige vesener. Oslo: Gyldendal Tiden, 1999. (In English: Ghosts and the Supernatural. New York: Dorling Kindersley.
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