Originally posted by Sven Triloqvist on 12/06/06
Cross-posted from European Tribune
The strange tale of a 19th century Finn rummaging in the roots of today’s Middle East conflict
Valther Juvelius was a surveyor-poet-librarian in Vyborg (Viipuri), then the provincial capital of Finnish Carelia. He was interested in Spiritualism and Biblical archeology.
He came to believe, through his readings, that he had discovered the location of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark has variously been described as a sacred chest carrying the stone tablets on which the 10 Commandments were incribed. The Ark was carried by members of the Levi tribe during their wanderings and their battles. It helped to part the waters of the Red Sea.
No-one could look upon the contents of the Ark, and even to touch the chest could bring death. Speiberg’s version can be seen in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. The real Ark was lost in battle to the Philistines who later brought it back, because wherever they took it, the people around were plagued by boils and rats. As a booty call it backfired.
Since those days of the Old Testament – the story of the birth of the world and the Jewish faith – the Ark has been lost. Some suggest it is in Ethopia, held in a small church. Others ascribe it to King Solomon’s Treasures, but they are lost too. Or are they?
Juvelius found what he thought to be a coded passage in the Book of Ezekiel, in Hebrew, which described the location of the treasure in a cave underneath the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.
This starts to resemble the byzantine complexity (or simplicity) of the Da Vinci Code. We also have the Knights Templar coming in to the story, an Irish Clairvoyant who is not Colman, The Turks (The Ottomans controlled Jerusalem at the time of Juvelius) and, son of a Duke, adventurer Captain Parker
We also have the appearance of a Sphinx-like winged beast. And we should note here also that the rock base of the iconic Egyptian Sphinx is rain- weathered – in an area that hasn’t seen torrents of water capable of rock erosion for 14,000 years. But I digress…
Back to Valther Juvelius – a Swedish-speaking Finn from a middle-class family. He also wrote this mystical song, still known today because it expresses the hope of some modern Finns for the restoration of Carelia – a territory lost the Soviet Union after the 3 wars fought during WWII.
O hills of Karelia (Jo Karjalan kunnailla)
Valter Juva (pen name of Juvelius)
O hills of Karelia, the hills of home,
where birch leaves are budding now spring has come,
and the cuckoo calling both high and low —
O hills of my homeland, I love you so!
I know every mountain and tree-capped hill,
your smouldering clearings, nights calm and still;
your looming forests and ancient trees,
and glimmering inlets and lakeland seas.
And oft as I roam in your woodlands fair
through groves of green spruce with nary a care,
I climb to a hilltop, rejoicing to see
all my Karjalan heartland spread before me
Translated by J.J. Mary Hatakka
The two men decided to search for the treasure together. Thanks to his connections, Parker managed to collect $125,000 from various English and American financiers; he then proceeded to Constantinople to get excavation permits from the Ottoman Government. In Constantinople, he came to an agreement with two high officials from the Sultan’s Court and promised them half of the treasure.
In the meantime, Juvelius had met an Irish clairvoyant who had discovered the exact location of the treasure during a seance. The two men would work together and send instructions to Jerusalem for the duration of the expedition.
Now here come the Freemasons….
The revered Master Builder was King Solomon, but could his legendary Mines be the 200 metre long cave near the Damascus Gate? It was used as a quarry and it also holds the Assyrian bas-relief of the Sphinx, shown above.
Captain Parker got his funding to excavate under the mosque of Omar, got permission from the Turks and began his secret work in 1909.
With the help of a few Turkish guards, Parker secretly reopened the shaft Warren had excavated in 1867. In order to placate other foreign archaeologists working in Jerusalem at the time, he asked one of the most important experts on ancient Jerusalem – a Dominican friar called Père Vincent – to help him in his research.
The excavation went on for a few months with no results and Parker’s two Turkish partners went back to Constantinople. The Jerusalem authorities gave Parker a deadline for the end of the summer of 1911. Parker intensified the excavations at the shaft; they were now working day and night. Unfortunately, they found neither the tunnel connected to the esplanade of Solomon’s Temple, nor the treasure.
Parker made a last attempt in April of 1911.
He managed to bribe the Turkish governor with $25,000 and thus received permission to excavate underneath the esplanade where the Mosques were built. For seven nights Parker and his friends, dressed like Arabs, went up to the Mosques and excavated underneath the esplanade at the south-eastern corner.
On the night between the 17th and the 18th of April, following instructions given to them by the Irish clairvoyant, they dug a hole through the floor and went down with a rope to the water wells below.
That same night, one of the attendants who worked at the Mosque had decided to sleep outdoors on the esplanade. He was awakened by the noise, found the infidels digging their way through the esplanade and went round the city streets telling everyone what he had just seen. Parker immediately realised his adventure was over.
He packed his belongings and left Jerusalem in a hurry. However, the news of his excavation arrived in Jaffa by telegraph before he did. He was arrested upon his arrival and accused of stealing King Solomon’s crown and ring, the Holy Ark and Mohammed’s sword. Parker managed to escape and flee the country by sea.
In September of 1911, Parker tried to return to Jerusalem, but was dissuaded by a friend off the coast of Jaffa. That was the end of the adventure. Juvelius and the Irish clairvoyant disappeared and so did the 125,000 dollars.
All this because I googled ‘Shiloh’, as a result of reading this story ‘Church of the Ark’ found on West Bank at the Telegraph.
One thing lead to another 😉
The relevance to today’s situation in the Middle-East is that the land issue is not the real issue. It is the symbols of spirituality about which people are fighting, and about which they have been fighting for eternity. Jerusalem is patinated and stratified by the accumulated spirituality of so many faiths that for one faith to claim it as its own is to deny history, or at least to be very unneighbourly. Jerusalem should be an Open City that belongs to the world, not just one nation.
Finns have a similar spiritual relationship to Carelia, as can be heard in Sibelius’ Karelia Suite. It is a deep pantheist attachment to the forests and lakes that provided the bounty of early Finnish history. Even 70 years ago there were Finnish forestmen who would sing in humility to a tree before cutting it down. And today, in Russia, you can still find clearings in the deep forest where gifts to the spirits of the forest are laid on small covered platforms.
The 270,000 people forced out of Carelia at the end of WWII, to be relocated all over Finland, took with them that spirituality. The spirit was not in a particular place – except in visual memory – it was in all of Boreal nature.
Which is why there will never be fighting over Carelia.