Frankincense and Myrrh – Ancient Treasure


Incense Kingdoms of Southern Arabia

The incense kingdoms of Southern Arabia (today’s Yemen and Oman) produced the finest quality frankincense and myrrh – two of the most sought-after commodities of the ancient world. They also had a virtual monopoly on the transport and distribution of these two valuable items.

In the comparative peace brought by the Roman Emperor Augustus, at the end of the first century BC, demand for frankincense and myrrh was soaring. Thousands of pounds of incense were making their way by land and sea to Alexandria, Rome and Gaza, to the former Persian Empire now controlled by Parthians, to India and even China.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Frankincense – Good as Gold

Frankincense, the resin from the Boswellia tree, was as expensive as gold at the time of Jesus. Frankincense was the ancient world’s equivalent of crude oil. It was an indispensable element of public and private life, of all religious and state ceremonies in the Roman Empire as in the rest of the then known world.

Frankincense was probably the most essential luxury of the ancient world, and it made the kingdoms of Southern Arabia fabulously wealthy.

Myrrh – More Expensive Than Frankincense

Myrrh, a thorny bush, which like frankincense grew in Southern Arabia, was the essential ingredient for embalming bodies. More expensive than frankincense, it was in less demand and used less frequently in religious ceremonies.

Like frankincense, myrrh was mixed in cosmetics and perfumes and was used as a cure-all, including to prevent poisoning. It was also used to relieve pain, which may have been why Jesus was offered a mixture of myrrh and wine before the crucifixion.

More About Frankincense…

Ingredient in Worship by Various Traditions

  • Temple of the Greek sun-god Apollo.
  • Roman God of war Mars.
  • Babylonian sun-god Bel.
  • Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Buddhist temples in India.
  • Italian peasant farmer shrines.

Variety of Uses

  • Used to fend off the stench of ordinary living if you could afford it.
  • In oils for massages at the baths.
  • In face packs for pampered women.
  • To perfume Cleopatra’s barge when she sailed from Egypt to Tarsus for her first encounter with Mark Antony.
  • Mixed in the mortar of houses.
  • Was the aspirin of its day, used as a cure for anything from depression to dysentery.
  • In eye makeup.

And Man Created God
And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus

Selina O’Grady



Selina O'Grady
Selina O’Grady

. Selina O’Grady (website)

Selina O’Grady is a writer, producer, and speaker.

O’Grady is the co-editor of two books: Great Spirits: The Fifty-Two Christians who Most Influenced their Millennium and A Deep But Dazzling Darkness. She has reviewed regularly for the San Francisco Chronicle, Literary Review and Tablet.

O’Grady was a producer of BBC1’s moral documentary series Heart of the Matter presented by Joan Bakewell, Channel 4’s live chat show After Dark, and Radio 4’s history series Leviathan.


Finding Meaning – A Lifelong Quest

Human existence is the quest for meaning – meaning for ourselves, meaning for society, meaning for the cosmos. It is the quest for meaning, and not the possession of final answers, which is the key to human existence.

The meaning of life has to be custom-built, tailored to individual circumstances, relative to time and place. There is no value in simply repeating, like a ventriloquist’s dummy, the meaning which has come out of somebody else’s life. The meaning of a person’s life is very personal and unique to that person.

Tomorrow's God: How We Create Our Worlds
Tomorrow’s God: How We Create Our Worlds
Lloyd Geering



Lloyd Geering
Lloyd Geering
born 1918

National Portrait: Lloyd Geering, the honest heretic (2016 article from Stuff, New Zealand news site)
. Westar Institute
. Wikipedia

Lloyd Geering was born and lives in New Zealand. Geering is a theologian, popular lecturer/commentator, and prolific author. Geering holds a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Otago, New Zealand. He began his career as a Presbyterian minister, then turned to theological teaching in 1956.

In 1966, Geering published an article on “The Resurrection of Jesus” and, in 1967, another on “The Immortality of the Soul,” which together sparked a two-year public, theological controversy that culminated in charges by the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand of doctrinal error and disturbing the peace of the church. After a dramatic, two-day televised trial, the Assembly judged that no doctrinal error had been proved, dismissed the charges and declared the case closed.

Geering is a member of the Jesus Seminar and a participant in the Living the Questions program. He is also a member of the Sea of Faith Network (New Zealand), as well as Principal Lecturer at St Andrew’s Trust for the Study of Religion and Society.

Geering was honoured in 1988 as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In the 2007 he was made a Member of the Order of New Zealand.

Books written by Lloyd Geering include:

The Courage of Truth in Theology Series – Part 8 of 10 – Lloyd Geering

How is the Brain Our Personal Time Machine?

Back to the Future

Our Personal Time Machine

The possibility of time travel has intrigued people for centuries. Notwithstanding all the creative books and movies, as well as, serious scientific research, one thing remains constant – our brain, the best time machine of all, is already part of our everyday existence.

The human brain, the most sophisticated device in the known universe, lies hidden away within our skull. The brain, a gelatinous mass weighing on average 3 pounds, consisting of 100 billion cells, is an organ that serves as the center of the nervous system.

Four Reasons Why the Brain is a Time Machine

1. The brain is a machine that remembers the past in order to predict the future.

The brain is at its core a prediction or anticipation machine. On a moment-by-moment basis your brain is automatically attempting to predict what is about to occur. These short-term predictions, up to a few seconds into the future, are entirely automatic and unconscious.

We also continuously attempt to make long-term predictions. In order to predict the future the brain stores a vast amount of information about the past, and adds temporal labels (dates) to these memories, allowing us to review episodes of our lives organized on a timeline.

2. The brain is a machine that tells time.

Your brain performs a wide range of time-sensitive computations, including those necessary to recognize a face, or to choose the next move in a chess game. When your brain performs the computation of telling time, it not only measures the seconds, hours and days of our lives, but recognizes and generates temporal patterns, such as the intricate rhythms of a song, or the carefully timed sequence of movements that allow a gymnast to perform a round-off backflip.

From the ability to throw a spear at a moving target, to timing the punch line of a joke, to playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano, to the ability to regulate daily sleep-wake cycles and monthly reproductive cycles, virtually every aspect of our behavior and cognition requires the ability to tell time.

3. The brain is a machine that creates the sense of time.

Unlike vision or hearing, we do not have a sensory organ that detects time. Time is not a form of energy or a fundamental property of matter that can be detected via physical measurements. Yet, much in the same way that we consciously perceive the color of objects (the wavelengths of reflected radiation), we consciously perceive the passage of time.

Like most subjective experiences, our sense of time undergoes many illusions and distortions. The same duration – as measured by an external clock – can seem to fly by or drag depending on a multitude of factors.

Distorted or not, the conscious perception of the passage of time, and that the world around us is in a continuous flux, is among the most familiar and undeniable experiences of all.

4. The brain allows us to mentally travel back and forth in time.

The race to predict the future was won by our ancestors when they developed the ability to understand the concept of time and mentally project themselves backward into the past and forward into the future – that is, to engage in mental time travel.

Abraham Lincoln reportedly said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it” – this is exactly what mental time travel has allowed us to do. We went from predicting nature’s capricious ways to creating the future by overruling nature itself.

We have all mentally re-experienced the joy or sorrow of past events and run alternative simulations of those episodes to explore what could have been. In the other direction we jump into the future every time we dread or daydream about what may come, and we simulate different plot lines of our future lives in the hope of determining the best course of action in the present.

Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time
Your Brain is a Time Machine: The Neuroscience and Physics of Time
Dean Buonomano


Dean Buonomano
Dean Buonomano
born 1965

. Wikipedia
. Buonomano Lab

Dean Buonomano is an American neuroscientist, psychologist and author. Buonomano is a professor at UCLA. He joined the UCLA faculty in 1998 and has worked in the department of Behavioral Neuroscience there ever since. His research focuses on neurocomputation.

Buonomano has been described as one of the “first neuroscientists to begin to ask how the human brain encodes time.” He is a proponent of the theory that timing and temporal processing are so critical to brain function that most neural circuits are capable of telling time. He developed the influential theory that the brain tells time and processes temporal information not through an internal clock as scientists worldwide had previously theorized, but instead as a result of neural dynamics.

Buonomano is one of the developers of the general neurocomputational framework that he refers to as state-dependent networks or dynamic attractors, and others refer to as liquid state machines or reservoir computing.

Buonomano Lab utilizes research methods such as computational modelingin vitroelectrophysiologyOptogenetics, and human psychophysics to conduct research observing how individual neurons and the brain as a whole perceive and respond to time.

Books written by Dean Buonomano include:

“Your Brain is a Time Machine” – Talk by Dean Buonomano at Google, 2017

Opening ‘Pandora’s Box’ – How Mythical References Pervade Our Language

Pandora's Box
Pandora’s curiosity getting the best of her

Cultural & Linguistic Afterlife of Greek Myths

Classical mythology has had an extraordinary linguistic afterlife, giving it an unshakable presence in our common culture. In large part, this is because classical mythology proceeds from concrete stories rather than, as with philosophy, from abstract concepts. This is also why mythology can, even today, address everybody: inspiring children with as much fervor as adults, crossing not only social class and age but also traversing the generations – as it has done virtually without interruption for nearly three millennia.

Many everyday images, figures of speech, and expressions are directly borrowed from Greek mythology without our knowing their meaning or origin. These expressions often bear the memory trace of a mythical or fabulous episode, usually the crisis point in the adventures of a god or hero.

Some of the Many Common Phrases Based on Greek Mythology 

  • to go off in search of the “Golden Fleece”
  • to “take the bull by the horns”
  • to “fall between Scylla and Charybdis”
  • to introduce a “Trojan horse” to our enemies
  • to have an “Achilles’ heel”
  • to feel nostalgia for a “golden age”
  • to look up at the “Milky Way”
  • to take part in the “Olympic” Games
  • to play a “Cassandra”
  • to sink into the “arms of Morpheus”
  • to be blessed – or cursed – with a “Midas touch”
  • to be endowed with “titanic” or “Herculean” strength
  • to stretch on a “Procrustean bed”
  • to embark on a “Promethean” undertaking
  • to open unwittingly a “Pandora’s box”
  • to have a “Oedipus complex”
  • to be a “narcissist”

The Wisdom of the Myths: How Greek Mythology Can Change Your Life
The Wisdom of the Myths: How Greek Mythology Can Change Your Life

Luc Ferry

Background on Luc Ferry