A suburban teen is set against nature in an unexpected struggle for survival

Chapter I

The little lodge was a quiet place. William sat idly on his phone. It wasn’t like there was much of anything else to do. Perhaps he could read a book. He did, of course, bring several along, although he’d never been able to fully fool himself into thinking he’d get…

Tracking the idea of unseeable, unspeakable god through time

“The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.”

So begins the Tao Te Ching, without a doubt among the most towering of all religious texts, in one of its most universally acclaimed…

Research reveals a rich history of human fixation with the stars

Hall of the Bulls, Lascaux Cave, France

The history of men making myths from the stars is already known to be an ancient one. And yet, most people can’t fathom half of its true historicity. What most think goes back to ancient Greece or Babylon actually appears to go back to the Paleolithic. The tradition of constellational…

A poem of what we are, aren’t, can and can’t be

We do not desire “things”.

Money cannot keep us content.

Fame and status cannot fill our empty hearts.

Natural or man-made; antique or cutting-edge; material or immaterial.

None of them are anything except distractions from what really matters.

And all of them are enemies of real fulfillment.

Not one of…

Centuries of secrets revealed in the stars

For millennia now, the Roman Mysteries of Mithras — famed for its powerful and mystifying bull-slaying scene and its hundreds of temples found abandoned in the old empire — has kept the historical community spellbound. Just what were this underground cult’s beliefs? How did its adherents so suddenly vanish from…

A rich tradition of universal truth emerging from the mist of history

“Lemminkäinen at the Fiery Lake”, Robert Ekman, 1867, depicting the Finnish thunder god Ukko

Chinese Daoism has been a major force in world religion and philosophy for aeons. And, oftentimes, this historical and global prominence has led to its appropriation by modern Westerners with a million different half-baked reinterpretations of its teachings by self-styled authorities. What these Westerners are oft left unaware of, however…

Or, How to Have Purpose During an Apocalypse

photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

Most people have what they think of as a fear of death.

Once, I did too. But now, as someone who’s come close too many times to comfortably recall, it’s not death that keeps me awake. …

Cracking a Case 2,000 Years in the Making

History of the Mysteries

From the formative years to the chaotic end of the Roman Empire, several so-called “mystery cults” — religions whose doctrines were only revealed to their initiates in secretive rites — flourished. Most infamous among them, both for the striking imagery it left behind and for the utter puzzle it presented…

How the last great god of the Mediterranean fell

Mithraeum of San Clemente, Rome, Italy

Roman Mithraism — popularly called the Cult of Mithras or Mysteries of Mithras — remains one of the least understood religions in all of late antiquity. Known only from outside accounts and the artifacts and architecture of the mithraea temples, with any internal religious documents hidden or destroyed many centuries…

Wildfires threaten a conquest of the entire American West

full moon over the Alamo Fire, Santa Maria, CA, 2017 (Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Dept)

Burning Forests & Blood Moons

I lived a million lifetimes in my summer in South Dakota’s Black Hills. They have a rich history and a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Their natural scenery is unique and utterly unparalleled. And they serve as a perfect launching pad into the rest of the west. But my dream…

J. W. Barlament

Writer of the most eclectic mix of material this side of the Mississippi. Author, 2016–2019. Blogger, 2017–2021. Columbia University, 2020–2024.

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