Everything you were told about religion is wrong

Did religion evolve spontaneously through divine intervention or was it a mind control op from day one? In the mid-1960s, a huge spiritual wave crashed ashore involving a heightened sensitivity to telepathic vibrations. Brian Wilson sensed it when he wrote Good Vibrations, his greatest masterpiece in 1966. Brian was a daily stoner at the time, deep into improvisational ritual theater as a way to manifest spirituality. But spirituality and religion are two different things. State religion started as a conspiracy between a king and high priest to anoint each other with a divine right to rule.

220px-Serapis_Louvre_Ma_1830Consider the history of this dude, Serapis. You don’t hear much about him these days. He was created by Ptolemy I of Egypt, who built many temples in his honor, the largest in Alexandria. Look familiar?

Serapis was created as the God of resurrection and everlasting life, and made Greek in appearance, but wore Egyptian clothes, and displayed a variety of cultural sigils. In other words, Serapis was a hybrid created to appeal to Greeks and Romans to bring them into an Egyptian sphere of influence.

In order to cement this new God into the Greek psyche, Ptolemy invoked the spirit of the recently departed Alexander the Great, who had also sought to unite the spiritual realms of East and West in one temple under one God, and had chosen Amun of Thebes as potentially the most promising. But after being poisoned and on his death bed, suddenly this new statue appears beside Alexander, supposedly the first ever made of Serapis, and Alexander signifies his allegiance to this new God before expiring. The statue quickly finds it way to Ptolemy, who starts building a cult to Serapis in Alexander’s honor.

I’m far from an expert in these matters, but from my uneducated perspective, it appears that Isis (the Egyptian Goddess of magic) and Serapis were involved in fomenting a religious culture that believed everlasting life could be achieved through divine intervention, and these two icons had become dominant spiritual forces of their time, much beloved by common folk throughout the Mediterranean. But then Constantine created modern Christianity through his councils, the first in Nicea, and suddenly all traces of Serapis and Isis disappeared. Perhaps this was done to shake off the Egyptian influence and replace it with a Judaic one? More likely it was done to offset the rise of a recently crucified prophet/artist named Mani, who had also been successfully seeking to unify all religions.

The Vatican was built on Isis’ temple, and they kept many of her sacred objects, especially the pine cone statue. One thing you need to know about Isis: she burned cannabis and frankincense incense in her fumigated temples, only one of which the Catholics kept while banning the other.

Now how does this all figure into Brian Wilson writing Good Vibrations?

Before I explain that, did you know a society of pot-smoking musicians appeared in the Middle Ages in Italy and France and wrote songs exclusively about smoking hash? And these were the first published secular manuscripts, and the Vatican was super pissed off with this society because they wanted to maintain a monopoly on written music. Try searching “Society of Smokers,” although the only thing that likely pops up concerns a composer named Solage who satirized them, and zero on the real society, who were quickly disappeared off the face of the earth, although a handful of manuscripts do remain. I bet the Vatican has more in a vault somewhere, but they will likely never be released.

Back to Brian: In the late 1950s, a group of teens began hanging out on the beach in Southern California and learning to surf while reading Jack Kerouac. In winter, they’d safari down to Mexico, where marijuana was cheap and plentiful. Some became obsessed with spiritual issues and forming communes, while everyone began coalescing around Newport Beach because that town had a huge dance hall where bands could play and hundreds of teens could congregate in one giant room. Yes, it was their temple. These teens were the first hippies because smoking that pot and riding those waves and listening to that rock had clued them into some intense vibrations. Brian was hanging out in this scene practically from the moment it began, which is why he was smoking pot and writing songs about surfing in the first place. Strangely enough, their temple was ruled by a guitarist named Dick Dale, who wrote spiritually-charged power anthems with a middle-eastern tinge (but never smoked pot). Dick didn’t sing, however, which may be why he never became the national figure he should have been.

But suddenly, as this new scene is manifesting incredible energy, a massive wave of LSD is dumped all across America and things start going haywire really fast, including Brian’s psyche. Before long, the temple in Newport is no more and hippies are on the run and hated across the land, a sentiment that continues through to this day.

It sort of reminds me of the birth of hip hop in the Bronx. A lot of potheads were involved in that one too, including Coke La Rock, Busy Bee and Grandmaster Caz to name but a few. But right after that explosion of culture appeared, the Bronx was suddenly flooded with angel dust and crack cocaine, which helped lead an initially non-violent culture straight into gangsta rap.

Of course, maybe none of these dots add up, but it seems you can pretty much derail any spiritual movement based around cannabis by flooding the temples with stronger substances.

Religions are created by and for rich people, doesn’t matter who the original prophet may have been, eventually they exist primarily to serve the status quo and are easily exploited by those in power. However, just because people attend a church doesn’t mean they are under anyone’s mind control. Each congregation creates its own telepathic energy and when people harmonize and share love and empathy in traditional ceremonies to show respect to their ancestors, I believe that’s a honorable act that should be treated with great respect, no matter what the culture.

Beautiful Dreamer: The Brian Wilson story

Brian-Wilson-the-beach-boys-33556918-680-400Showtime is airing a great documentary on the long-awaited Smile album Brian Wilson shelved in the late sixties and didn’t complete until 2004. The film, Beautiful Dreamer, reveals a lot about Brian, who has long been misunderstood.

The film explains why Brian was able to rejoin the Beach Boys triumphant 50th anniversary tour last year, reuniting with all the surviving early members of the band. Tragically, he’s lost two brothers along the way: Dennis and Carl. Their original group, “The Pendletons,” formed when they were California teenagers. They were held back for a few years by an overbearing, abusive father. Cousin Mike Love came up with the name, by the way, taken from the uniform worn by the surfer generation (thick wool shirts and white Levis). Even after they switched to the more commercial “Beach Boys,” they continued to wear their Pendleton shirts at early shows, in homage to that surfer style. Shortly after being signed by Capitol Records, the band fired Murry as manager and producer and that’s when they really took off.

None were surfers (except Dennis), but there was such an incredible scene around Newport Beach at the time. Dick Dale was the ruling rock God and he played a vital role in developing a harder, more vicious electric guitar sound. Initially, the Wilson brothers were a folk act styled on the Four Freshman, but after Carl and his friend David Marks bought electric guitars, they transformed quickly. Brian and Mike wrote most of the songs, and Brian played musical director and sculpted harmonies. The power of Dale’s Newport Beach scene undoubtedly helped inspire Brian to write his early surf anthems. There was an underlying spirituality to the surfer movement that would soon birth the hippie movement. Meanwhile, Dale took rock to a new level by emulating the hellbent surfer ethos, and Fender had to build new amps just to contain his sonic blasts. Yet as big as Dale was in Southern California, he never achieved anything close to a national following. And that left a huge door for the Beach Boys to drive through.

Brian became a stoner right away, smoking pot non-stop. But shortly after his first acid trip he manifested a groundbreaking masterpiece, “Good Vibrations.” Mike came up with the lyrics. Mike had a knack for tapping into the zeitgeist, like his earlier song, “Fun, Fun, Fun,” which was also right on the money at the time. But “vibrations” was something more cosmic. The emerging hippie generation was refocusing energy on telepathic frequencies. “Good Vibrations” became an instant anthem to the psychedelic experience and drove the music scene for a few years as major groups emulated it’s style.

Brian was deep into what I call Improvisation Ritual Theater at the time and on a real quest to find God through the creative process. He’d constantly customize his environment and his collaborators with elaborate sets and costumes, all intended to provoke cosmic responses. He was surfing the Fun Vibe at first, but after “Good Vibrations” decided to start making music people could pray to. In fact, Brian wasn’t sure if Mike’s lyrics were up to his new zeitgeist and asked a verbally gifted young session player named Van Dyke Parks to collaborate with him. First thing Brian wanted to know, could Parks juice up “Good Vibrations,” make it better? To his credit Parks declined to touch the song, but he did immediately start a collaboration with Brian and “Heroes and Villains” popped out first. At this time, Brian was too busy working in the studio to go out on the road, so the band went on tour with brother Carl as musical director. As lead singer and co-writer of the songs, however, Mike was really the heart and soul of the touring band, and he knew it.

But then something really tragic happened. When the band returned from a tour, and Brian needed to lay down vocals for his follow-up masterpiece to “Good Vibrations,” Mike balked and didn’t want to cooperate. The split got so intense Brian shelved the project and promptly had a complete nervous breakdown. Brian didn’t really integrate himself back together until 2004, when he was able to release “Smile,” and get it recognized as the masterpiece it always was.

The repercussions of this continue to reverberate. Although the entire surviving band was able to merge again for a brief time last year, Mike recently announced his return to his old group, sans brother Brian and other two surviving early members of the original band. Brian, meanwhile, booked his own tour with Jeff Beck as opening act. Mike has evolved into one of the most hated figures in rock history, at least partially due to some incredibly dumb comments he made at his Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame induction concerning Mick Jagger.

Even though Brian pulled himself back together, the relationship with Mike never fully repaired. Mike had been hoping the two would re-unite as a song-writing team during the 50th anniversary tour, but Brian clearly retains a preference for the more poetic and obtuse Parks style of lyrics. Maybe someday the Wilson/Love team will write another cosmic anthem. We can only hope.