If you have read my book “Virtual Medicine”, you’ll probably remember me telling you about strange energies running under the world’s ocean. Polynesian navigators were able to “see” these energy grids and used them to safely navigate over huge distances, even if a view of the sky was temporarily not possible (no stars, etc.)
Actually, I came across another twist on this. Not so much a “Gaia” thing but still very fascinating, especially for me, in view of my Norse ancestry (Mumby is an old Viking name, traced back to the 10th century).
The Norsemen were renowned sailors and evidence is all-but-concrete, that they were the actual European discovers of North America. Their artefacts are found as far afield as Newfoundland in the west and Syria in the east.
Their remarkable sailing achievements were realized circa 700 -1100 AC, long before the magnetic compass reached Europe from China (it wouldn’t have helped much, anyway, so close to the Magnetic Pole).
How did they steer true course in the long voyages out of land sight, especially in the common bad weather and low visibility of those high latitudes?
According to the ancient sagas, the Norse sailors used “sunstones” to tell them where they were going. Obviously, just hooey, say scientists. It’s myth; poetry.
Then, in 1967, a Danish archaeologist, Thorkild Ramskou, suggested that the Vikings might have been able to detect polarization of the Sun’s light for orientation when clouds hid the sun position.
In the Hrafns Saga it says: “the weather was thick and stormy . . . The king looked about and saw no blue sky . . . then the king took the sunstone and held it up, and then he saw where [the Sun] beamed from the stone.”
What is sure is that the crystal cordierite can be found as pebbles in the coast of Norway. It has special optical properties, changing color and brightness when pointing towards the sun.
Moreover, Icelandic feldspar (“optical calcite”) has powerful polarizing properties. Even today, many high-performance polarizers use that mineral Icelandic feldspar.
It is only within the last 10 years that Ramskou’s theory has been put to the test, and the results, summarised in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B (vol. 366, p 772), claim to demonstrate that the sunstone method does work in cloudy or foggy conditions.
Interestingly, in the late 40’s the US National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) developed a Sky Compass based on the polarization principle. It was inspired by a previous “twilight compass” developed by Dr. A. H. Pfund of Johns Hopkins University. From a NBS 1949 paper: “The principal advantage of the sky compass . . . is during twilight, and when the sun is several degrees below the horizon, as well as when the region of the sky containing the sun is overcast, so long there is a clear patch of sky overhead. The sky compass is thus of particular value when the sun compass and the sextant are not usable. Since the extent of polarization of the sky’s light is greatest at right angles to the incident beam of sunlight, the compass is most accurate in the polar regions, where it is also most useful, because of the long duration of twilight . . .”
The US Navy and Air Force experimented with the sky compass in the 1950’s and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) used it for several years on its polar flights.