Today I have two topics to discuss. The first is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, and the second is a look at an allegation that a Masonic/Prehistoric conspiracy is operating in American professional sports.
In December 2012, America Unearthed asserted that an Englishman named “Rough” Hurech visited Arizona in 1200 CE and taught the Natives to build cliff dwellings, leaving evidence in the form of a grave stone bearing his name in Anglo-Saxon runes. Yesterday I mentioned that runic scholar Henrik Williams informed me that there is a historical record for a man with the surname of Hurech living in England around 1200 CE, confirmation of a claim made by Alan Butler on the second episode of America Unearthed but denied by the records office in the county where Butler claimed to have received the information. I added this to yesterday’s blog post, but I wanted to take a moment to share the information and what it means.
Most of the old records for Stafford County and Staffordshire were printed in collected volumes in the 1700s and 1800s and formed the basis for most archival research. It is presumably these records that the county archivist used to determine that they had no record of anyone named Hurech living in the area around 1200 when I spoke with the county records department to determine what they shared with America Unearthed.
However, around 1911 or so a deed from April 3, 1377 was discovered which included the name of Peter de Hurech, a tenant of Philip de Kniver, who had been granted the site of the future Whittington Inn for a rent of 20 shillings on or about the year 1200. In 1984 M. R. Greenslade et al. described this in the 20th volume of the History of the County of Stafford, in which Greenslade speculated that this Hurech may be identical with the Peter of Whittington active in the 1180s and who was working as a farmer in 1187, according to a medieval listing of farm rents. This source is the one America Unearthed used, and it is unclear why Stafford County’s archivist was unaware of the material in it when I asked. Alan Butler clearly did not get the information from the county records office, as he claimed on the show; and it appears that Mike Carr was both the translator who identified “Rough” Hurech on the runes and also the man who identified him as Peter de Hurech using the 1984 History volume. It is then impossible to separate out the threads to determine how Carr came to his conclusions, but since only one figure stands behind both parts of the “puzzle,” and his translation is incorrect, there is no reason to connect Peter de Hurech to the Arizona stone, whose runes are actually in the Sudovian language (not English) and refer to someone named Pashka.
De Kniver granted de Hurech and his heirs Whittington in perpetuity, and the 1377 deed traces the landholders down to 1377, implying that de Hurech remained active at Whittington and produced heirs. This isn’t really the behavior of a man racing to Arizona. Similarly, if Peter de Hurech was Peter of Whittington, might well have been in his late 40s or older by the time Philip rented him Whittington (certainly no younger than his mid-30s), again highly unusual for a traveler that America Unearthed alleged taught to the Anasazi to build the Gila cliff dwellings, constructed in the middle 1200s, when Hurech would have been in his 90s! In 1200, 40 was practically decrepit (median life expectancy was 48), and it’s unlikely that a man the age of many grandparents of the era would have been making the arduous journey to America. It is not impossible, though: Marco Polo’s father made two trips to China, once at 36 and again at 41, the latter voyage lasting until the elder Polo was well into his 60s, but only because Kublai Khan would not let him leave.
No evidence whatsoever exists that Peter de Hurech ever went by the name “Rough,” or that he ever left his home county, or that he was an architect. It would have been quite strange for him to rent a manor for 20 shillings and then high tail it to Arizona with just the clothes on his back!
But now I have set the record straight with all of the information at my disposal about Peter de Hurech, whose name and dates Scott Wolter appropriated to fix “Rough” Hurech to the year 1200, and thus, by circular reasoning, conclude that “Rough” Hurech’s rune stone confirms an identity with Peter.
A Different Conspiracy
This month Graham Hancock has anointed Richard Cassaro his author of the month, marking a return appearance for the author who published a fringe history claim on Hancock’s website in 2012. I never paid much attention to Cassaro because his ideas tend to be more derivative than most, but I thought I’d take a look into some of his claims after reading an article that he posted to Hancock’s website. I’m not sure if the former journalist is truly a paranoid conspiracy theorist or merely playacts at extreme paranoia for money, but his oeuvre straddles several areas of fringe conspiracies, making him something of a less qualified, more dude-bro Scott Wolter.
Cassano holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and journalism. Like Wolter, Cassaro claims to be a Freemason and to be exposing the secret and ancient mystery “religion” of the Freemasons that is encoded in medieval architecture. Like Wolter, he is also a dualist who believes that ancient religion was devoted to balancing oppositional spiritual forces. Like Wolter, Cassaro also self-publishes his own books at significant personal expenditure. Indeed, Cassaro went further and incorporated his self-publishing house to release copies of his college homework on “missing” Egyptian history, leading him to be denied unemployment in 2003 because, as owner of an operating business, he was not unemployed. (He claimed it was a hobby.) Eight years later Cassaro began to pursue fringe history as a full-time occupation with the release of his first Masonic conspiracy book. Cassaro also alleges that he is a member of the Theosophist Society, and he claims several media jobs and positions that he refuses to name.
Cassaro makes his claim to originality on his belief that “triptychs”—any set of three windows, doors, statues, etc.—aren’t just aesthetically pleasing architectural details but really a conspiracy pointing back at a lost ancient religion that dates back to Atlantis and the time when Osiris was the first dying and rising savior of humanity.
His newest claim revolves around what he has named the “GodSelf Icon.” This is his collective name for a depiction of any mythological character holding two items away from the body, one in each hand. Rather than conclude that such art derives from the fact the people have two hands and that artists like symmetry, Cassaro concludes that wildly diverse pieces of art are actually evidence of a lost mother culture from the last Ice Age. He believes that we can deduce the existence of a mother culture from similarities in iconography and architecture—essentially Ignatius Donnelly’s argument from Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882), where Donnelly compared pyramids, blades, and pottery to similar effect.
Needless to say, such comparisons ignore significant differences and also fail to account for the limits of art and architecture. There are only so many ways to represent a human figure in two dimensions, and only so many ways to build a strong and lasting tall building without steel supports.
Donnelly also claimed that the appearance of crosses—surely among the simplest of all symbols to produce by coincidence—was proof of widespread Aryan colonization of the New World.
But Cassaro isn’t just an Atlantis conspiracy theorist, or even a religious conspiracy theorist. He has a wide-ranging interest in conspiracy that extends to his belief that major league sports are in cahoots with the government and Masonic elites to brainwash Americans into becoming mindless zombie consumers. It’s a perfect example of how a half-understood realization that capitalism does indeed promote unhealthy levels of obsession and consumption turns into a vast conspiracy claiming that this is not simply the action of financial incentives and social stagnation run wild but rather an intentional program of control.
The rise of professional sports in the twentieth century is complex. Many different factors came into play, particularly the rise of professional sports leagues over traditional adherence to local sporting events and amateur athletics. This, in turn, was made possible only by efficient air travel that allowed for national competition and effective radio and then television communication so audiences could engage with national level sports in real time. Arguably, it was the media and its desire for popular but cheap to produce content that turned professional sports into a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon.
Cassaro sees this as a conspiracy, however, run by corporations in order to distract mass audiences from opposing disruptions to the status quo:
That is to say, the masses need a distraction, something that keeps their attention, keeps them occupied and engaged for long periods of time―like entire “seasons.” The attention of Americans needs to be on “the big game tonight” or the “big series this week” or “the playoffs”―rather than on “the anti-Monsanto rally” this weekend, or the rally against that “corrupt cop who beat up that handcuffed black teen.” By eating the clock, Sports entertainment keeps people down, and minimizes the amount of time people have to engage in social dissidence. You see?
As proof, Cassaro notes that the logos for Major League Baseball and the NBA use the same iconography, a white silhouetted player against a red and blue background. Other sports leagues such as the PGA, the Professional Bowlers Association, etc. use variations on the same style. Cassaro alleges that this is a conspiracy to show a unified control system:
Are these similar sports logos, then, just coincidence? Or is there a subversive reason behind it? Is there some type of long-term strategy happening here that we are not aware of? Are these logos being branded in the minds of the masses, so that “Sports Entertainment” in general grows and grows, encompassing a greater role in American society?
He claims that the design indicates allegiance to the ancient Atlantean religion represented by the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol, which he believes is the prototype of sports logos.
In reality the MLB logo was designed by Jerry Dior in 1968 and approved by a committee. The next year, Dior’s colleague Alan Siegel copied Dior’s design for the NBA. The league’s then-commissioner specifically asked for a logo that looked like the MLB’s in order to give the NBA a visual link to the more popular sport. Other sports leagues followed suit in the hopes of communicating to audiences their patriotism and their professionalism, creating a semi-official visual “language” for national level sports. It’s not terribly different from the way many team logos share the same hyper-masculine visual language despite being designed by different agencies for different teams and even different leagues. Once a visual idea becomes associated with a category, you fall in line or become the odd man out and risk contradicting audience expectations.
Cassaro also feels that shield-shaped logos for the NFL, NHL, etc. are drawn from primal symbolism related to the conspiracy. They are, but not because of a global conspiracy. “This may sound ridiculous,” he writes, “but the shield symbol indeed has this kind of tremendous power on the human psyche. It controls our minds in a stronger way than most people realize.” These shields reflect the shield used on the U.S. coat of arms, itself reflective of European heraldry traditions. It’s not a mystery, and certainly not evidence that “the Elite” are trying to use graphic design elements for mind control, as he alleges.
Cassaro’s claims don’t descend to the level of Scott Wolter’s Oreo cookie conspiracy (about Jesus’ tomb being depicted on Double Stuf Oreos) or his claim that Exxon’s logo encodes the Templars’ fictitious journey to America, or even his wife’s claim that baseball diamonds are secret vaginas, but they are in the same league. I’m surprised Cassaro hasn’t joined Wolter and Pulitzer in the Legion of Doom.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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