Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The 'Handbag of the Gods' Decoded

By: Symbologist Michelle Snyder & Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann

Theories about the meaning of the ‘handbag’ in ancient images like the above, range from the idea that it proves time travel – how else could a god from long ago have a designer bag? – to its use for carrying gold while hanging from an ancient Egyptian helicopter.

In order to decode symbols within images, one must first take into consideration their context: when, where, what, who, and how. Symbolic language uses patterns and so one must also be in the habit of counting dots, lines, angles, and other repeated shapes. Geometric shapes were used to depict concepts, nouns, and ideas. Most of our contemporary symbols evolved from those used in prehistory for astronomical, agricultural, and navigational notations. For more on that subject see Symbology: ReVision, or one of my other books on symbology which feature Duncan-Enzmann’s groundbreaking translations.

In the book Ice Age Language: Translations, Grammar, and Vocabulary (Enzmann & Snyder, pub: WKS) Duncan-Enzmann explains the pictorial language used since the ice ages and how this language works. Cardinal images are fundamental to ‘reading’ inscriptions and images; if it is a picture of a duck, it is about a duck – how and when to hunt one, what parts of it are useful and for what, and how to use them. All this information is inscribed on bone, stone, or ivory, preserved for the succeeding generations. Link lines connect symbols that are relevant to each other, lead lines direct the flow of information. It was a grammar of sorts, creating paragraphs of information with pictures. This picture-language was used for tens of thousands of years, and is still evident in modern languages such as Chinese.

To decode what one part of an image might mean, it is necessary to have a general idea of what the rest of the image is telling you, and to do that, you must know the culture and when the image was made. Duncan-Enzmann is a world authority on the subject.

The ‘Handbag of the Gods’ is a symbol found in many cultural as sculptures and imaged as part of  emblems, sculptures, and reliefs. They are always connected with kings, gods, or leaders. According to Duncan-Enzmann, this shape is used to convey a standard weight, just as the megalithic yard was a standard measurement used to build the megalithic observatories. The symbol for this standard of measurement is the rod and cord, found on many ancient images, and again, it is always associated with leadership, power, kings, or gods.

The rod and cord of ancient and prehistoric kings, queens, and gods

One must consider the applications of the concept of weight. Ounces and pounds, or kilograms, depending on where (one must always consider where a symbol is being used), are one idea of weight. But there is also the weight of the law. The weight of tribute. The weight of obligation. The weight of responsibility. This ‘handbag’ represents all of these concepts; which one depends upon the ‘paragraph’ it is in, just as words like ‘ruler’ do. Whether it refers to a king or twelve inches depends upon context.

Duncan-Enzmann traces the ‘handbag’ to ancient Egypt, where the Remen (rod and cord) was a symbol for standard length. The Egyptians used the handbag as a symbol for standard volume and weight. This concept became the Masonic Lewis. The Handbag of the Gods is found around the globe because the culture that used the symbol migrated and settled around the globe. In Gobekli Tepe (image 1) one inscription shows three handbags, which Duncan-Enzmann translates as fractions of standard weight. Image 2 shows four characters. From left to right: Time (patterns and angles), Weight (the handbag), Length (with the rod and cord), and Area (the ashera pole for astronomical reading). Image 3 is an example of weight as the law, the weight of taxes on you.

                1                                       2                                                   3

Another symbol that is consistently used, much of the time in emblems where the handbag is evident, is the flower pattern called a ‘watch’. Again, to some persons this is confirmation of  advanced alien technology or time travel. Yet, it is a watch of sorts, a calendric which shows patterns of the solar and lunar year, and is often shown separately from the ‘watchband’. Image 4 shows us four such ‘watches’ and in them, much seasonal information. In his right hand (your left) a symbol which indicates dry-season rod-and-cord land surveys. In his left hand (your right) we see semi-monsoonal valley floods. The flower pattern circles, left to right, show us a four-season calendric, and reading the rims tells of taxes and percentages of crops to be paid.  


Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann
Physicist, scientist, starship designer, astronomer, mathematician, geologist, cryptologist, archaeologist, historian, linguist, MD, author of Ice Age Language: Translations, Grammar, and Vocabulary; Planetology and Space Mission Planning vols. 1, 2, 3; Expanded Order Theory  

British Embassy School, Peking, China; Univ. London; WW II USN, AC; RN, AB Harvard; ScB Hon., London; Standard, MSc, Witwatersrand; Nat Sci Scholar; MIT course work; Royal Inst. Uppsala Swed.; PhD/MD Cuidad Juarez, Mex.; Pacific Radar: Greenland Gap-filler, Canada DEW-line; SAGE; Pacific PRESS; California ATLAS, BMEWS;  ICBM; Kwajalein Atoll ICBM intercept; TRADEX; Mars Voyager; Cryptography.

Michelle Paula Snyder
Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She  did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.

Symbologist Michelle Snyder
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid 
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Our Night-time Attendant - the Moon

The Enzmann Torch Long Passage Ship, cover of Analog

Astronomy is not a subject most people have much training in. Our age of technology has eliminated the need for each person to be able to direct himself by the stars above, or understand the passing of seasons according to the star patterns that accompany them. Yet the greatest human endeavor is the exploration of our vast solar system and the universe it is in. Without knowledge of astronomy, even our technology will not be sufficient to accomplish this - maps of the stars and planets will be made by humans working with machines. Human knowledge is paramount in any great effort, and for those who look to the stars, astronomy is imperative. And so here I share some lessons designed for young people and adults, to convey the wonders of the heavens to those who seek to know more. They are adapted from Starland, by Sir Robert Stawell Ball, 1899, then from Pillars, by J. R. Snyder & R. D. Enzmann, to be published in 2018.

Phases of Our Attendant – The Moon

The first day of the week is related to the greatest body in the heavens – the sun – and accordingly we call that day Sunday. The second day of the week is similarly called after the next most important celestial body – the moon – and though we do not actually say Moon-day, we do say Monday, which is very nearly the same. In French, too, we have lune for moon, and Lundi signifies Monday. The other days of the week also have names derived from the heavens and we will address this, but for now we are now going to talk about the moon.  
We can divide the objects in the room into two classes. There are the bright faces in front of me, and there are the bright electric lights above. The electric lights give light, and the faces receive it. I can see both lights and faces; but I see the electric lamps by the light which they themselves give. I see the faces by the illumination which they have received from the electric lights. This is a very simple distinction but it is a very important one in Starland. Among all the bodies which glitter in the heavens there are some which shine by their own light, like the lamps. There are others only brilliant by reflected light, like the faces. It seems impossible for us to confuse the brightness of a pleasant face with the beam from a pretty lamp, but it is often not very easy to distinguish in the heavens between a body which shines by its own light and a body which merely shines by some other light reflected from it. I think many people would make great mistakes if asked to point out which objects on the sky were really self-luminous and which objects were merely lighted up by other bodies. Astronomers themselves have been sometimes deceived in this way.
The easiest example we can give of bodies so contrasted is found in the case of the sun and the moon. Of course, as we have already seen, the sun is the splendid source of light which it scatters all around. Some of that light falls on our earth to give us the glories of the day; some of the sunbeams fall on the moon, and though the moon has itself no more light than earth or stones, yet when exposed to a torrent of sunbeams, she enjoys a day as we do. One side of her is brilliantly lighted; and this it is which renders our satellite visible.
Hence we explain the marked contrast between the sun and the moon. The whole of the sun is always bright; while half of the moon is always in darkness. When the bright side of the moon is turned directly towards us, then no doubt we see a complete circle and we say the moon is full. On other occasions a portion only of the bright surface is directed to us and thus are produced the beautiful crescents and semicircles and other phases of the moon. 

A simple apparatus, as in this illustration, will explain their various appearances. The large ball there shown represents the moon, which I shall illuminate by a beam from the electric light. The side of the ball turned towards the light is glowing brilliantly, and from the right side of the room you see nearly the whole of the bright side. To you the moon is nearly full. From the center of the room you see the moon like a semicircle, and from the left it appears a thin crescent of light. I alter the position of the ball with respect to the lamp, and now you see the phases are quite changed. To those on my left our mimic moon is now full; to those on my right the moon is almost new, or is visible with only a slender crescent. From the center of the room the quarter is visible as before. We can also show the same series of changes by a little contrivance shown in the next illustration. 

Thus every phase of the moon, illustrated below, from the thinnest beautiful crescent of light that you can just see low in the west after sunset, up to the splendor of the full moon can be completely accounted for by the different aspects of a globe, of which one half is brilliantly illuminated. 

We can now explain a beautiful phenomenon that you will see when the moon is still quite young in its cycle. We fancifully describe the old moon as lying in the new moon’s arms when we observe the faintly illuminated portion of the rest of that circle, of which a part is the brilliant crescent. This can only be explained by showing how some light has fallen on the shadowed side; for nothing which is not itself a source of light can ever become visible unless illuminated by light from some other body.

Let us suppose that there is a man on the moon who is looking at the earth. To him the earth will appear in the same ways the moon appears to us, only very much larger. At the time of the new moon the bright side of the earth will be turned directly towards him, so that the man on the moon will see an earth nearly full, consequently pouring forth a large flood of light. Think of the brightest of all the bright moonlight nights you have ever seen on earth, and then think of a light which would be produced if you had thirteen moons, all as big and as bright as our full moon, shining together. How splendid the night would then be! You would be able to read a book quite easily. Well, that is the  sort of illumination which the lunar man will enjoy under these circumstances; all the features of his country will be brightly lighted up by the full earth. Of course, this earth-lighted side of the moon cannot be compared in brilliancy with the sun-lighted side, but the brightness will still be perceptible, so that when, from the earth, we look at the moon, we see this glow distributed all over the dark portion; that is, we observe the feebly-lighted globe clasped in the brilliant arms of the crescent. At a later phase the dark part of the moon entirely ceases to be visible, and this for a double reason: Firstly, the bright side of the earth is then not so fully turned to the moon and therefore, the illumination it receives from the earthshine is not so great; and  secondly, the increasing size of the sun-lighted part of the moon has such an augmented glow that the fainter light is overpowered by contrast. You must remember that more light does not always increase the number of things that can be seen. It has sometimes the opposite effect. Have we not already mentioned how the brightness of day makes the stars invisible: the moon herself, seen in full daylight, seems no brighter than a small particle of white cloud.
Just like all other planets and stars the moon appears to rise in the east and set in the west every day, but the moon is the only heavenly object to also revolve around the earth. The moon orbits the earth once every twelve months (moon-ths). The moon’s path around the earth is on the same ecliptic plane as the solar-system disk, the same as the sun and planets of our solar system. Another unique feature of earth’s moon is that while it revolves around the earth every 28 days, it rotates only once. This leaves only one side of the moon facing earth at all times, and therefore the other side, the “dark” side, is always facing away, though the dark side is only dark when the side we see is full at sunset. The phases are the same in both northern and southern hemispheres on earth. In the northern hemisphere, the ecliptic crosses from east to west in the south side of the sky. In the southern hemisphere it follows the ecliptic across the northern sky and phases are seen from the opposite side, illuminated from left to right to left.
When the moon passes by the sun in the daytime, it cannot be seen against the blue sky. This marks the beginning of the cycle of the moon’s phases. This first phase is the “new” moon, when the moon rises and sets with the sun, and it is often symbolized as a dark moon against a dark sky; the new moon is in the blue sky all day, but reflects no sunlight towards earth.
As the new moon continues its orbit around the earth and passes away from the sun, it enters its waxing crescent phase for seven days, with the crescent visible in the sky throughout the day. It sets just after the sun in the west and rises later in the day each morning.
After those seven waxing crescent days, the moon reaches a 90° angle from the earth and sun at its first quarter when we see only half of the illuminated surface of the moon – it is half the circle we see, but a quarter of the moon. The first-quarter moon rises at midday, crosses the mid-sky meridian at sunset, and sets in the west at midnight. This begins its second seven-day phase called the waxing gibbous, when our visible half of the moon is increasingly illuminated and the moon rises later in the day each afternoon.
When the moon rises 14 days after its new moon cycle (seven days after its first quarter), it is 180° from the sun and rises as a full moon in the east as the sun sets in the west. The full moon crosses mid-sky meridian at midnight, sets in the west as the sun rises in the east, and begins its third phase, called waning gibbous. The moon’s face is now illuminated on its opposite side. Its first quarter side darkens as it rises later each night for the last 14 days of its orbit around the earth.
After the seven waning gibbous days, the moon is 270° around its orbit and reaches its last quarter; the other half of the visible illumination reflected off the moon is lighting the other side, rises in the east at midnight, and crosses the mid-sky meridian at sunrise. This marks the final phase, the waning crescent, and it rises closer and closer to the eastern sunrise each night. After seven days as a waning crescent, it begins another new orbit as it rises with the sun as a new moon.

As the moon orbits the earth it appears either slightly above or slightly below the ecliptic.  When it crosses over the ecliptic as a full moon it is directly aligned with the earth and sun, and the earth’s round shadow can been seen on the surface of the full moon in a lunar eclipse.
When it crosses over the ecliptic as a new moon it is directly aligned between the earth and sun, and as the sun is blocked by the moon, its shadow is cast upon the earth in a solar eclipse. Solar and lunar eclipses only happen during new moons and full moons when the moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic at those times. Seeing the earth’s round shadow on the face of full moons helped prehistoric astronomers observe the shape of the world they lived on, and they surmised that the earth is round. The full moon also marks calendar events such as Easter, celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the first day of spring, or the third Sunday of the lunar month beginning on or before March 8th. The Gregorian astronomical calendar, which was calculated in 600 AD, predicts these Ecclesiastical full moons; Easter is celebrated on different Sundays each year.
The moon travels about 13° every 24 hours and makes a complete orbit in twenty-eight days. It progresses through the Zodiac on the same plane as the sun and planets along the ecliptic, and passes through to the next Zodiac constellation every other night. It also begins its new cycle of phases as a new moon in a different Zodiac each month. This makes a convenient way to gauge the passing of time based on the changes of the moon and its position against the stars. A week determines the change in phase quarters, and in a fortnight (14 days) it changes from new to full and full to new each month. Knowing the phases and the positions helps to keep track of passing weeks and months observing the stars that it passes by.
Our prehistoric ancestors predicted the phases of the moon, especially the full moon, which allowed them  to hunt game which was nocturnal. Knowing the cycle of constellations was also critical to survival, as the star pictures above indicated the weather patterns below, allowing preparations for planting, breeding, harvesting, hunting, and most especially winter. 
About Symbologist Michelle Snyder

Michelle Snyder is a professor of mythology, and an author, publisher, speaker, and artist. She  did her post-graduate research at the University of Wales, decoding ancient and prehistoric symbolism, mythology, folklore, and fairy tales.  Her artwork has appeared in galleries from Massachusetts to California. Michelle is co-owner of White Knight Studio.

Michelle Snyder
Non-Fiction - Symbology:
Symbology: Decoding Classic Images
Symbology: Decoding Symbols through History
Symbology: Fairy Tales Uncovered
Symbology: Art and Symbols
Symbology: Hidden in Plain Sight
Symbology: ReVision
Symbology: World of Symbols
Symbology: Secrets of the Mermaids

Michelle Paula Snyder
Fiction – Fantasy Wonder Tales:
The Fairy Tales: Once Upon a Time Lessons, First Book
Call of the Dragon and other Tales of Wonder
A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book one: The Lost Unicorn
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book two The Lost Mermaid
 A Tale of Three Kingdoms, book three The Lost Dragon

Coming Soon: 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Covered Wagon Annie

A Really Truly Story by Roberta Duncan

Stories and tales abound that convey the human condition in colorful, eloquent, or even fanciful terms. Hans Christian Anderson told us of wicked trolls and goblins who long, long ago constructed a Mirror. It was a magical Mirror which had the properties of changing every reflection into its opposite. Beautiful landscapes looked like kettles of boiled spinach. Lovely landscapes looked like piles of rotting corn. Evil, diseased hags and mean old men looked like beauty queens and handsome heroes speaking in pleasant voices.

The trolls looked at everything with Mirror. They even carried it up to look at the angels, on the way laughing so hard at the wickedness that would be seen that they dropped Mirror. It fell, and shattered into many tiny pieces which the winds still blow all over the world.

These tiny, wind-blown shards of wicked dust get into people’s eyes – even into their ears. When that happens, the people see and hear as though the cruel Mirror were theirs. Yet, like a little boy captured by the Snow Queen in that tale, something very beautiful – perhaps a picture, sometimes a song, possibly even a story – can make any of us cry, or if we are grown up, perhaps our eyes just water a little and no one even notices. Many, many years ago, Covered Wagon Annie saw such a picture.

On the front page of Die Bleed, Sept 1, 1980, there was a beautiful image. Americans – middle Americans – practically never saw an Afrikaans publication, certainly never a picture, and such a picture it was. At that time, Annie was an old, old lady. She still had her eyesight. Helped with spectacles and a magnifying glass, she enjoyed the picture for much of an afternoon.

As she sat looking, Covered Wagon Annie was well of one hundred years old. In a bygone century, a littler Annie, with flaxen braids, in a long cotton wash dress and a sunbonnet – usually thrown back off her head – traveled with the last of the American Wagon Trains. The railroads had not yet reached everywhere.

Covered Wagon Annie looked at the picture and remembered the high plains of the Old West. In the spring, these hills, flats, and even mountainsides were painted with wave after wave of flowers. It would last only a few weeks. Old Covered Wagon Annie was sure that it must have been the same way on the hillsides and plains surrounding the area in the picture.

Old Annie, remembering the days when she had little girls, commented: “I tried to make them keep their dresses clean.” Then, smiling, added: “I remember my little granddaughters of so long ago. I just wanted them to play and be happy. I would buy them new dresses so their mommies would not notice, and then wash the old ones.” She continued wistfully: “Now I am happy just to see my great, great granddaughters once in a while – especially the little ones.”

Looking at the picture she felt she could almost pick up the children in it.

Covered Wagon Annie recounted times of danger, two of them, hundreds of miles from the Northward extensions of the Sonoran Desert. The scouts had signaled to Circle the Wagons! Once, they had actually been attacked; it was only a skirmish. Old Annie sighed gazing at the beautiful picture, thinking that there must be someone somewhere, a person of these high plains called the Veld, who remembered similar things.

Annie talked of the difficulties of farming American drylands in the old days. There were no cars, and it was a long way to town on a wagon. Money was scarce. Crops often failed. Education of children was done at home with a reader, a few books, Shakespeare, and slate and stylus. Very few middle Americans had cars in the bitter-dry days before the first World War. Annie said, “it was not like in the movies.”

The first Great War came and went, followed by even bitterer-dry years of the great depression. Covered Wagon Annie was then a grandmother and the farm was profitable, but not yet prosperous. The picture brought back memories and she wondered, “do they (in the picture) remember the same dry years in that country they call the Veld? They must,” she continued, “it looks just like our place did, and just like our place, the flower season must have been short.”

When asked if she might have been happier staying in the prosperous East, never facing the hardships of the Great West, it was difficult to capture the manner and spirit with which she replied. Her squinty old eyes opened wide, blue as cornflowers, and she said: “There is something about the frontier. In my America we called it Liberty, we called it Freedom. So strong is this that the Mormon men, women, and children crossed the deserts with handcarts. It drew us into the Yukon. I have talked with Australians who understood. And yet, it was not the only way. Some found the same beauty just staying in a cottage in New England.” She glanced at the picture in her aged hands. “But in either case this beautiful picture from far away says the same to all of us.”

Today, Covered Wagon Annie is gone, but her pioneering spirit is not. Now, Once Upon A Time To Be, Liberty and Freedom call humanity into a different frontier. Vast and endless, the call to explore space is answered by the same pioneers who explored and settled the harsh yet beautiful wildernesses of Earth. They line up waiting to go, willing to struggle, willing to face the unknown. The ultimate frontier of human exploration is space; seemingly endless, rich in wonder and resources, big enough for all. 

And so I ask you, when the Starships are ready to take flight, eager to pierce the wondrous heavens, would you go? 

Painting by R. D. Enzmann and Don Davis

This story was discovered in the Enzmann Archives, written approximately 1980. Edited by Michelle Snyder, published by White Knight Studio with permission. 

Dr. Robert Duncan-Enzmann, designer of the Enzmann Starship
physicist, scientist,  astronomer, geologist, archaeologist, historian, linguist, medical doctor

British Embassy School, Peking, China; Univ. London; WW II USN, AC; RN, AB Harvard; ScB Hon., London; Standard, MSc, Witwatersrand; Nat Sci Scholar; MIT course work; Royal Inst. Uppsala Swed.; PhD/MD Cuidad Juarez, Mex.; Pacific Radar: Greenland Gap-filler, Canada DEW-line; SAGE; Pacific PRESS; California ATLAS, BMEWS;  ICBM; Kwajalein Atoll ICBM intercept; TRADEX; Mars Voyager; Cryptography.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Creating Our Future

By Zoe Wallis

“Peace is not mass-produced, but handcrafted every day by individuals” – Pope Francis

Seventeen New Earth School students sing merrily as their bus carries them to their final class in descriptive writing. Each carries writing materials needed. This last assignment has the purpose of displaying their mastery of this art and skill; having this work carried out as a field trip is rewarding and exciting. The class has been briefed: Their destination is a beautiful, large old house, now preserved through the Historic Society as a community treasure. They are all familiar with this building, but their assignment intrigues them. They are to settle each at a different window, and there proceed to write all they observe from that viewpoint. They have an hour to write and polish to perfection their descriptions. As when in the school, students who finish before the allotted time are free to roam the premises, but there is no talking. They remain focused on their work. Sometimes one who has left gets an idea or realizes an error made and returns to the task, hoping for time to complete a revision or correction.

This class in language composition is typical of NES. The students range in age from a gifted and precocious ten-year-old boy to a seventeen-year-old girl whose talents are not linguistic. There is no progression year by year of the same students; this school runs every class entirely according to developed ability, each pupil progressing in all studies as personally able. This school year’s extreme is a class in musicianship whose youngest is eight and oldest is eighteen. No opprobrium is attached to older students. All recognize that talents, gifts, and interests differ according to individual Life purpose (during school years, usually as yet to be discovered). All accept exposure to the full panoply of Humanity’s achievements so that preparation for adult responsibility in the world can best be carried out and, more immediately, that personal passions and delights can be unveiled and nurtured. There is no grading. A student who masters the class work is finished with that study. Those students still lacking achievement when the class ends go on to other studies, repeating the incomplete subject later when more capable – because of what has been learned from other successes – to accomplish what is individually difficult.

The school bus arrives at the glorious old mansion, and the students stand and proceed in the order decided before their trip. NES, from kindergarten through graduation from high school has a practice of chance determination who goes first and next. The students find this fair and adhere to the practice faithfully in varied circumstances. Every student has a fabric ball, identical in size and material, but individual in color and decoration. This ball is presented at kindergarten (or later) entry and is personally guarded and cherished during all the years of schooling. When who-goes-when is to be determined, the students involved put their balls into a suitable container and the teacher or a selected student draws forth one at a time. The student whose ball is drawn sings out the number of the drawing, so each student from 1 on knows the order of progression to pertain in this activity.

Now a student sings out  “1!” and stands, first to leave the bus. This student is also the first to choose what window is desired. Every student selecting a window yields if that window is already taken by someone with a lower number. This method is so familiar to all of them that they take it for granted, and good nature prevails. Their teacher is alert but is not surprised that no supervision is required. When “17!” is called out from somewhere upstairs, the teacher knows that all are located in position and are ready to begin their work. A loud hand-bell is rung to announce the beginning of the hour for writing.

The premises of this building have been preserved, but the environment has changed. The house is situated on an elegant tree-lined but now busy street. The front lawn is extensive and handsomely landscaped. The rear windows look over a slim expanse of grass and blossoming gardens bordering a narrow river, in this pleasant weather carrying a number of small sailboats and other craft. On one side the students perceive a commercial establishment: an attractive busy music store. On the other side of the house there is a community home for care of young children. This is enclosed by a high fence which partially obscures view of the premises from downstairs mansion windows, but the second story looks out upon a large play yard beside the adjacent dwelling.

The teacher carries a few dictionaries which he distributes throughout the house where the students can easily locate them. He then settles in a central location in case he is needed – which he does not expect – and reviews his notes. Education at NES is planned for the development of the whole person. The students know that their composition is not the only purpose of this study; they would indeed be surprised if any teacher’s only requirement was a piece of paper with some writing on it. An assignment is like a launching pad for young minds: Students know that every lesson is important for its academic content and must be mastered perfectly, but every lesson is also an occasion for developing non-academic thinking. There had been lively speculation during the bus ride as to what subject could be raised by a visit to an historic building and the scenes from its windows!

When the hand-bell sounds the end of the hour, the students have ten minutes in which to stretch and perhaps run around outside for a few minutes, visit the restrooms, get a drink of water, and present themselves refreshed and ready for intensive mindal activity. In a large upper room, closed off today from casual visitors, the teacher has grouped folding chairs in wide semi-circles. The students settle, friends sitting together; they are free to move chairs as desired. When all are seated the teacher touches the bell and they are immediately quiet.

The teacher gazes around at them, his affection plain on his smiling face.

“Our subject of discussion is truth,” he announces.

This is not a new topic, but not one they had thought of on the way here; they grin at one another.

“What is truth?” comes the question.

The teacher is willing to sit in silence as long as necessary. This is not an unexplored concept and not the first time this question has been presented. Thinking is required, however, because the answer must relate to the activity the class has just undertaken.

One hand after another goes up and the teacher points to the student who is to respond.

“Truth is accuracy in describing what is viewed.”

Several hands go down as this answer speaks well enough for others.

Another speaks out, “Well, this isn’t really different, I was going to say that truth is not embellishing the physical scene, like saying how great it is or something.”

The teacher smiles. “Anyone else? Tracy?”

“I was wondering if truth is related to ability – whether truth depends on one’s capability of observation as well as of representing that in words.”

“I think that’s more about being realistic than being truthful,” an older student pipes up, interest in discussion taking over from receiving permission to speak. “Truth isn’t decided by how much reality has to be included to be truthful – I mean not as a general principle, in terms of quantity. If you wrote about only thirteen things out your window although there were really fifty, it wouldn’t mean the writing wasn’t truthful, would it?”

One after another, students skilled in the art of discussion and stimulated by one another, air their thoughts.

“I want to say something about the personal assessment idea. Since when is it not truthful to say what you think about the quality of something?”

When the statements and questions run down, the teacher gestures that the discussion is at an end.

“You have all spoken truth,” he assures them, “but suppose I ask about the truth in a different way. Suppose I ask this: What is the truth of the surround of this house? Keep this exact question in mind as you read what you have written. Read in order of your numbering and go from one to the other without comments, please.”

After seventeen compositions are read aloud, the teacher announces that every student has demonstrated mastery of descriptive writing and therefore has completed the course. Smiling, he waits for their typical applause, foot stamping, and noisy cheers to pass.

“This class is not over, however. My question stands. We are going to have a skit.”

The students love spontaneous skits.

“Find a partner who looked out a different side of the house from you and perhaps from a different level. Then forget what you know; assume both of you have looked out the same window because there is only one window. Here is the question the skit deals with: How do you describe the site of this building? Don’t repeat your writing; summarize in a few sentences, and you can also say what you think about it.”

Some students begin to get the point; all enter enthusiastically into the skit. Eight pairs of students confront one another with varying degrees of humor, indignation, incredulity, and courtesy (or lack of it) in presenting opposing statements describing the site of the house as seen from one window. They are too accustomed to spontaneous theatrics not to try to make some sense of what they are doing, and the farther along they get the more pronounced becomes the drama. The teacher is paired with the odd student, and their dialog closes the skit.

“Too bad this lovely old building is now next to a commercial enterprise instead of the house that must have been there once,” says the student. “Shoppers coming and going make these premises now sort of out of place.”

The students are keen to hear the teacher’s response. He replies gravely.

“Well, that depends on your point of view; this place brings visitors from the street for commerce in music and keeps up the tone of the area.”

Students, as always, applaud the skit, and the teacher joins in this as he returns to his seat in front of the group. He smiles around at them.

“Good work. Is anyone ready to speak? Glen?”

“Well, it seems evident that you have to look out the same window as someone else if you both want to have the same truth.”

Other hands drop. The teacher nods.

“You speak truth. Nevertheless, those who did look out at the same scene from two windows next to each other didn’t write the same description.”

There is silence, then one hand goes up.


She speaks slowly.

“Even though we're all in the same community, speak the same language, go to the same school, we all know how different each is from the other, like Dan from Dell.”

The students erupt in laughter at this comment about the very different twins in their midst. Ellen smiles.

“This always has intrigued me, how we can all be so different in some ways, even though from our birth, all our parents and teachers seem to agree on everything major. So you might say the reason that we view things a bit differently is that we have an individual window our brain looks out of, onto the moment-to-moment scenes of living.”

The teach nods and smiles. They are on the right track.

Another student adds eagerly, “We have various ways of viewing happenings, as we know from sharing the same experiences in school but not feeling all the same about them. That’s what we’ve learned about truth. Truth is personal, it depends on who and why and where you are, what’s true for you. So those differences are valid and affect even looking out windows on to the same scene. Even if what we all see is the same, which as we just heard it really isn’t, it’s not necessarily described the same way.”

“Good.” The teacher waits a few moments; the students understand that there is something more they need to get. “Let’s take this house as being a metaphor for Life. Can you do something with that?”

After some thinking time, discussion breaks out.

“So this house is a metaphor for Life. Is every window a metaphor for one person’s Life? So even those looking from the same side form the same level didn’t describe what they saw exactly the same. I mean, we already said that, but then it is Life that’s different for everyone.”

“That explains why Mona saw all that stuff I missed! I thought it was just because I didn’t know how to look!”

The teacher raises his hand for a chance to speak.

“You know how to look. You described what was in the treetops in your view. Mona didn’t even mention the trees.”

“Yeah! What someone else sees doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with what you see! But how come Mona looked at the river and Hardy looked at the trees?”

“Because something about her Life is different,” a younger student exclaims.

Another chimes in, “Or because something about each of them is different so they are different in Life.”

Mona leaps to her feet, her pleasure in having at last mastered creative writing spoiled.

“Stop talking about me as if I’m not here! This has nothing to do with who I am or how I see! I can paint you an exact picture of what I saw out the window, and it doesn’t have even one tree in it, that’s why I didn’t describe treetops!”

Dell  stands and says firmly, “Peace.”

There is immediate silence and Mona sits down.

“Sorry,” she mutters.

Sally reaches out her hand and smiles at her. “It’s our fault for the way the discussion went, Mona.”

Mona squeezes the friendly hand and regains her composure. The teacher takes over.

“You all pass the class.”

The students laugh, released from tension.

“You’ve also learned about individuality and about truth. There’s a specific element of Human development involved in what’s just disturbed the peace here that is equally important for you to come to realize.”

The students are again focused, intent on listening. The teacher looks around at them; no one indicates understanding.

“What do you learn from your studies of art about describing what you see from a window? Steve?”

“What I think of is how, in Victorian times after the Middle Ages, perspective was lost and everything was painted flat, as if all in view was in the same place to the painter. Then came the renewal of the enlightenment of realization of perspective.”

“Perspective!” exclaims a student. “None of us said anything about perspective – but you said we all demonstrated mastery!”

“We did write about perspective,” another corrects. “Several of us said something like ‘from this upstairs window, the view is…’ and so on.”

The teacher intervenes.

“You weren’t asked for perspective. You were asked to describe what you could see, which you did perfectly. Perspective is, however, the key to what happened here to disturb our peace. Remember the house as a metaphor for Life. Can anyone explain?”

He looks around; they are not getting it. Then he sees an expression change.


Ted stares blankly at him for a moment, called forth from his epiphany.

“I have an idea,” he admits. “Haven’t thought it through.”

“Come up here and think on your feet,” the teacher suggests.

Ted comes to the front as the teacher sits down. The students are transfixed as he looks around them.

“Well, ok, let me think out loud. What happened was because individuals who didn’t know what they were talking about made remarks that sounded as if they did. I mean, we took it for granted that Mona and Hardy had the same view, but I recall how many times we’ve been called on for making assumptions. I’m thinking how often that kind of thing disturbs the peace, we think we know something but find out we’re mistaken, and haven’t even been aware of some belief or other. Mistakes are all right, but these kinds, making remarks that sound as if we speak everyone’s truth when it’s really only our own views, this disturbs the peace. Why do we do that?”

Ted lifts his hands and lets them fall.

“Looking out windows is a metaphor for what we all do but we don’t think of it that way, don’t realize.”

He smiles at the small signs of recognition from his audience; realization is a major topic at New Earth School.

“If this house is a metaphor for Life, then looking out windows is a metaphor for what we see, and in Life, what we see has a lot to do with our perspective. It’s not that we get perspective from looking out the window, no, I don’t mean that, I mean what we see out our window is actually determined by our perspective.”

Ted closes his eyes for a moment. The students’ attention does not waver.

“Ellen said we go through Life looking out the window of our brain,” he resumes quietly, confident now that he’s able to get this across. “Our Life experiences shape the window through which we view everything. We know that we each have a window that is individual, personal to us, but we haven’t realized this is our entire Life view. I mean we know we have different views, but we haven’t recognized that all these, and really all our behaviors, stem from our brain window, because what we see is what we believe – no, that’s what we take for granted – but the truth is, what we believe determines what we see out our personal window!”

Ted stops, looks at the teacher, who stands, smiling his approval.

“It is clear to me, but I need to think out the implications,” Ted says as he walks back to his seat.

The students rouse themselves and applaud gently. The teacher looks around, focusing for a moment on each face.

“I see the light dawning for some of you,” he tells them. “Do you know the name of this window in your brain which is so definitive in the way you perceive, think, act, and live?”

“Perspective,” three or four voices say.

The students let out various sounds; they are getting it and they are vitalized with this new idea. The teacher briskly brings their attention to the present.

“The practical application of this lesson is to practice awareness of perspective.”

He lets this sink in for a moment.

“Our bus is waiting. Gather your belongings and put your minds to boarding in order. No talking on the way back. Use the trip to come up with a summary statement of this final class.”

Summary statements are customary, but not always easy. After the return trip when they’re settled in their classroom the teacher calls for their final activity.

“Please state your summary, 1 to 17, no comments please.”

When all have spoken the teacher asks, “Is there one that seems to say it all most clearly?”

“Number 11!” “Clara’s!” a few voices ring out almost in unison.

Clara is number 11 today. At the teacher’s request, she stands and repeats her summary of their lesson. “Perspective determines personal truth. Be aware of this, and when there are disagreements, seek the perspectives involved. Knowing perspective enables understanding truth, your own and that of others, explaining differences so we can all be peaceable while we work things out together.”

Clara sits down to cheers, whistles, stamping of feet, and applause. Experienced in these typical demonstrations, the teacher waits until the noise peaks and then lifts his hands for silence, which gradually prevails.

“You’ve been a great class and you’ve done excellent work at all levels. I would like to close by affirming an instruction our youngest student presented as summary. I agree that he has yet to master summaries, but I want to emphasize that he has mastered an important understanding for peace. Please reread your statement, Ralph.”

Flushed with pleasure, the ten-year-old stands and recites without looking at his notes.

“When there is disagreement, stop arguing and work to find out what window each person is looking out of.”

The students, high on success and the end of a semester’s class, again make a din of approval. Then Don stands and yells, “Perspective for Peace!” Grinning and shaking his head a little, the teacher opens the classroom door for them to leave and walks out to the corridor. Almost before he turns around, the students in a 1-to-17 row approach him, each with hands on the shoulders in front of them, marching in cadence and shouting “Perspective for peace!” He moves out of the way as they surge past. 1 leads them down the corridor to the first classroom door she comes to, opens it – being in front, her hands are free – and the group leans toward the doorway and yells out their slogan. 1 closes the door and they tramp noisily on to the next room. Swiftly but missing no room, they disappear around a corner and a few minutes later can be heard pounding up the stairs to continue their campaign.

Their teacher stands gazing after them. Shortly after they reach the school office, the Principal joins him. “Your class, I believe?” she asks mildly.

“I admit it. They may have gone over the creative edge this time. Discipline seems called for.”

The Principal gives his shoulder a friendly pat. “I’ll take care of it. Let them go.”

The teacher laughs, relieved. “I couldn’t think whether or how – or why, to tell the truth – to stop them.”

The last room the performers come to is the Privilege Room of each year’s graduating students. This room is for them only, they congregate here with no supervision but with self-selected coordinators, to snack in the kitchenette, loaf in the overstuffed chairs, and carry out discussions for fun and enlightenment, as well as to work on plans of all kinds. All the grads are in this room at the time the shouting begins throughout the building.

One of them opens the door and looks out. “Something interesting is afoot,” she says, laughing. “A conga line of kids acting up. Let’s get some cookies and juice out for a reward and have them in to explain!”

Two others get up to help bring the refreshments. When the seventeen arrive, they are surprised to be ushered in and told, “Let's hear it for Perspective for Peace! Three cheers now, all together!” After the cheers, the flushed and overexcited students are urged into comfortable seats, presented with cookies, juices, and milk, and when they have caught their breath, commanded: “Now tell us all about this!”

The following morning in all-student assembly, the emcee of the day reads this announcement:

“The seventeen students who interrupted classes yesterday afternoon will undertake the following disciplinary measure: You have one week to prepare a presentation for this assembly for the explanation of your behavior. Whether there will be further disciplinary measures depends upon School Governance’s assessment of the nature of your presentation.”

The requirement of student silence in assembly is not breached by seventeen pairs of hands lifted exuberantly into the air, making the sign of jubilant victory.  

Zoe Wallis is a wordsmith, a Human development specialist, a channel, and a futurist.