Saturday 28 April 2012

Cell phones Versus RFID Implants as the "Mark" of the Beast

I recently received a comment on the post A Cashless Society - Closer than you may think... which requires a rather lengthy answer, so I thought I would post it on the main section of the blog so that everyone can read. It concerns the primary argument I forward in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse - which attempts to show how the prophecy of the mark of the Beast may have already been fulfilled in the advent of internet-enabled mobile phones. The answer to the question below addresses a number of points that have been raised recently, mostly by people asking that if the prophecy of the mark of the Beast has already been fulfilled, then what are the direct spiritual implications of using these devices now in the present. The original question is given below:

OK--this is my question. If the Mark of the Beast is the cell phone as you say... well... aren't we all now under the mark of the Beast? (Or most of us. I actually don't have a cell phone--but I use a computer!) Aren't we all being decieved now? And does this mean we are putting our salvation in jeopardy if we use one? This is just not clear to me why using a cell phone (and I understand it's not quite up to the sophisticated level you are explaining on your blog--but it's coming along with a cashless society) is somehow sinister and evil. I understand the lack of interaction with people although that's happening now. Families are falling apart, sin is rampant... it's here already!
I also understand that your every move can be detected by someone by these devices, but we're really not that far from that now also. So... I need something to see how spiritualy this sophisticated cell phone Mark of the Beast is going to make me lose the salvation of my soul. Thanks for the interesting blog.

The most fundamental question raised above is that if the mark of the Beast has been fulfilled in the advent of cell phones, then how could the use of mobile phones cause spiritual harm? To answer this, we first need to deconstruct the question itself. The quite reasonable objection that it "is just not clear to me why using a cell phone... is somehow sinister and evil", can just as easily apply to receiving a microchip implant as the mark of the Beast. The word "cell phone" (underlined above) can justifiably be replaced with the word "microchip implant", to form the statement "is just not clear to me why using a microchip implant... is somehow sinister and evil" - since the same logic applies to both. The sole difference is that we have become psychologically conditioned over the past twenty years (since the theory was first introduced) to envision the reception of a microchip implant as the mark of the Beast. This conditioning has generated a considerable amount of fear around the act of receiving a microchip implant itself, to the point where this act has become inextricably equated with the reception of the mark of the Beast, and no other possible fulfilments of this prophecy have been considered. In fact the focus has been concentrated on microchip implants so much that it has blinded the vast majority of Christians to considering any alternatives, allowing for the implementation of the prophecy to be "sneaked through the back door" in a manner which is much more consistent with how the mark of the Beast would have been conceived by Jewish Christians in the first century AD - i.e. as a diabolical inversion of the practise of wearing phylacteries - physical objects bearing the name of God which were only worn temporarily during prayer services. But both the cell phone and the postulated future microchip implant are merely pieces of technology, and both are therefore essentially the same thing. The difference resides solely in how they are worn - if you were to somehow shrink a cell phone and pop it under the skin on your hand it would basically be a much more highly sophisticated version of a "mircochip implant".
One of the primary psychological factors which has enabled the mircochip implant to be perceived as the mark of the Beast is that it is a more permanent mark, and there is also a certain fear over the bodily intrusion this would cause - as if it would be like some form of technological parasite. Over time, the equation of the mark of the Beast with its original inspiration in the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries was forgotten by Christians, as they became more distanced from their Judaic roots. This led to the development of a more literal conception of the mark of the Beast as the actual number 666 being branded or tattooed onto the subjects of the Antichrist - and these forms of brandishings are permanent and indelible marks. So gradually, the mark became considered to be permanent, and when the barcode hypothesis surfaced in the early 1980's after the publication of Mary Stewart Relfe's books When Your Money Fails and The New Money System, which was then combined with the RFID implant theory by Peter Lalonde in his 1991 book One World Under Anti-Christ, this appeared to provide a solution as to how the Antichrist could covertly brandish his subjects with a permanent mark that would be necessary in order to engage in commerce. This idea was then wildly popularised by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins' bestselling Left Behind series, and has since become so deeply entrenched in Christian apocalyptic thought that it is almost impossible to grasp any other alternative way in which this prophecy could be fulfilled.
Yet the advent of non-intrusive biometric mapping (which is already being rolled out en masse in India) renders the use of RFID implants for identification purposes completely redundant. The use of iris and fingerprint scanning by the inbuilt camera in smartphones is already being touted as the most effective way of safeguarding NFC transactions from taking place through a stolen phone (see here). By using biometrics, the smartphone would automatically scan your iris or fingerprint before allowing any transactions to take place, bypassing the need for PIN codes.
When we look to the original practise that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast was based on, we find that phylacteries are physical box-shaped objects worn externally on the person, and they are only used temporarily. The idea of tiny objects containing barcodes being inserted under the skin (so that they would effectively be invisible), would have been extremely foreign to the mind of the original author of the Apocalypse. On a symbolic level, the mark of the Beast was meant to be understood as an open, fully visible display of allegiance to the Beast, just as the practice of wearing phylacteries was a public show of allegiance to God. This is why some Jews indulged in "keeping up with the Jones'" type behaviour, wearing ever bigger and more elaborate phylacteries to show that they honoured God more than anyone else - a practise which was condemned by Jesus:

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
(Matt 23:5-7)

There is nothing in the original Greek text of the Book of Revelation which would suggest that the mark of the Beast would be worn invisibly inside the hand. In fact we find the complete opposite. The original Greek of the Apocalypse concerning the mark of the Beast reads "ἵνα δῶσιν αὐτοῖς χάραγμα ἐπὶ τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν τῆς δεξιᾶς" "hina dosin autois charagma epi tes cheiros auton tes dexias". The word epi used here has the primary meaning of "upon" or "on", giving the meaning of "on" or "upon" their "right hand", rather than "inside" (which would require the word mesa). Moreover, the word charagma, as well as meaning a "mark" or "stamp", can also be translated as "sculpture", or "graven image". The NAS Greek Lexicon gives the definition of the word charagma as follows:

  1. a stamp, an imprinted mark
  2. of the mark stamped on the forehead or the right hand as the badge of the followers of the Antichrist
  3. the mark branded upon horses
  4. thing carved, sculpture, graven work
    1. of idolatrous images
(See here).

And in the one of the other instances in which this word is used in the Bible, in the Book of Acts, we find that charagma is also used in the sense of "graven image".

Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image [chargama] formed by the art and imagination of man.
(Acts 17:29)

Also the word dosin "to give" is usually translated in the sense of the giving of an object, rather than branding with a mark. So the word we have translated into English as "mark" was quite probably originally intended to mean "graven image". Indeed this translation makes better sense in context with the earlier reference to the image of the Beast which is fashioned by the False Prophet:

It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.
And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.

(Rev 13:13-15)

The only difference being that the word used for "image" above is εἰκόνα eikona.
So the true translation of the passage concerning the "mark" or charagma of the Beast can just as easily be (and was most likely originally intended) as follows:

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be given a graven image on the right hand or the forehead...
(Rev 13:16)

The significance of the mark being given in the "right hand" (dexias - from which we derive the word dexterity), could suggest that the "graven image" was in some way usable - as a tool for instance, since the vast majority of people are right-handed. And if the charagma of the Beast is to be directly identified with the image of the Beast fashioned by the inhabitants of the earth at the behest of the False Prophet in Rev 13:13-15, then we are informed that this graven image has the ability to speak, and would in some way lead to a persecution of the Church (to "cause those who would not worship the image of the Beast to be slain"). But those who remain steadfast during this trial to the point of martyrdom would eventually conquer the Beast, along with its image and the number of its name (which are directly linked here), through the reckoning of the seven bowl judgments:

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
(Rev 15:2)

Furthermore, the "mark" or "graven image" of the Beast is presented in the Apocalypse as a parody of the sealing of the saints after the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 7. The first time the Seal of God is alluded to in the Apocalypse is in the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, which is described as a white stone with a name inscribed upon it - meaning that it is a physical object like the Jewish phylactery:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.
(Rev 2:17)

We find that this theme of the sealing with a name recurs a number of times in the Apocalypse, and that it is parodied by the mark of the Beast, which is said to contain a number which represents the name of the Beast.

The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
(Rev 3:12)

“Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel...
(Rev 7:3-4)

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
(Rev 14:1)

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
(Rev 19:16)

Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
(Rev 13:16-18)

So once we examine the textual evidence, we find that the mark of the Beast is presented as a diabolical inversion of the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries, which are worn in a manner to symbolically represent the name of God as El Shaddai. In addition, the original Greek wording can just as easily refer to a graven image, which directly links it to the image that the False Prophet deceives the inhabitants of the earth into constructing for themselves, just as the Israelites were deluded into fashioning the Golden Calf. The image which the False Prophet incites the people into constructing has the illusion of life, and also the ability to speak. It also contains the number of the Beast, which by using the process of Hebrew gematria, can also be used to determine the name of the Beast itself. And the Greek word for "beast" - therion, has the numerical value of 666 once transliterated into Hebrew.
The mark is also the demonic counterpart to white stone engraved with a name in Rev 2:17 - which is to be identified with the Seal of God given to the saints after the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 6. And the opening of the sixth seal, during which these acts of sealings takes place, is marked on earth by a series of astronomical and geophysical signs, including an earthquake, a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse and a meteor shower - all of which occurred around the turn of the millennium at the exact moment of the marriage between cell phone technology and the worldwide web (www) with the introduction of WAP - which will allow for the future of commerce to be conducted solely through the www and mobile phones (see the post Signs in the Sky). In addition, some private revelations have suggested that the prophecy of the sealing of the saints took place during the turn of the millennium (see the post The Seal of God), and Fr Stefano Gobbi predicted that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast would be fulfilled in a time period which would begin in the year 1998 - which is 666 x 3 (see the post Fr Gobbi on the Mark of the Beast).
When we take into consideration that the three letter acronym for the worldwide web (through which all future commerce will be conducted via cell phones) - www, is the numerical equivalent of three sixes once transliterated into Hebrew (using the exact method which the number of the Beast was originally encoded - gematria), then we can conclude that the modern use of mobile phones fulfils every last aspect of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast (for additional information on the equation of www with 666 see the earlier post Hebrew 666?).

Like phylacteries, they are a physical object, temporarily worn externally on the person, and as the original Greek word charagma can suggest, they are a crafted object - or "graven image". In a further correlation to the image which the False Prophet causes the inhabitants of the earth to fashion, they have the appearance of life, and also the ability to speak.
So, in answer to the question if this means that we are "all now under the mark of the Beast?", then we would have to conclude, yes we are - and have been since the first merging of cell phone technology with the worldwide web in the year 1999 (which has a further symbolism in the fact that it resembles three sixes turned upside down - and this was the year after 1998, which is 3 x 666). I understand that this can be a frightening prospect, especially in light of the verses which appear to suggest that those who accepted the mark of the Beast would be eternally condemned to hell, but we have to take into consideration that there is also a symbolic layer to this prophecy which depicts those who have accepted the mark of the Beast as all the evil people who have ever lived - they represent "those whose name was not found written in the book of life" (Rev 20:15). So there is a certain amount of hyperbole included in these verses.
We have to remember that forgiveness is one of the cornerstones of Christianity. It would be extremely difficult to reconcile theodicy (the righteous of God) with the notion that someone would be eternally condemned to hell for accepting the mark of the Beast without any possibility of salvation, especially when they have been tricked into doing so.
Since this is a Catholic blog, I assume that the majority of the readers are of the same religion. As such, Catholics are required to believe that the keys to heaven and hell - the very means of salvation, reside solely in the papacy and the magesterium - which is protected by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially so when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. Whatever form it would take, the mark of the Beast would have to be formally identified as such by the Church before it could be considered to have any spiritual effects as to the destiny of the soul. Until it does so, think of the material presented here as the "case for the prosecution". So I don't believe that using cell phones will have any immediate spiritual effects until the Church reaches a formal decision on this matter. For now, as far as I'm aware, no one of any authority in the Church is aware of these arguments - so any decision on this subject appears to be very far off indeed.  So technically speaking (in theory at least), if you own one now (and the vast majority of the readers of this blog almost certainly do) it should be possible to continue using one until the Church issues a verdict itself.
For Protestants however, who adhere to sola scriptura, unfortunately there is no such protection offered - they would have to form their own decisions in the present.
As to the question concerning how the use of cell phones could be evil in itself - this is fairly simple to answer. If the cell phone can be definitely established by the Church as the fulfilment of this prophecy, this identification alone would make using it inherently evil - since it would be tantamount to accepting the mark of the Beast. There is nothing that would distinguish using a cell phone from accepting a RFID microchip implant - the sole difference being that a large number of Christians already expect the mark of the Beast to be the latter.
Yet the use of microchip implants seems to be positively morally benign compared to the propensity of the cell phone for evil purposes. The cell phone can be used as a medium to browse and upload material onto the www, viewing anything from violent and pornographic images, to arranging hook-ups with random strangers for sex. The lack of face-to-face social interaction often leads to a lack of inhibition and breaking of taboos.  A recent article in the Huffington Post has highlighted the increase in the trend of "sexting" (the sending of intimate photos to partners via cell phones) amongst teenagers - which are very often shared around school yards, and the resultant humiliation and bullying can in turn lead to suicide (see here). And paedophiles are exploiting this craze by pretending to be school children themselves, encouraging children to send them explicit photographs they have taken with their cell phones - which are then circulated around paedophile rings.
The use of mobile phones is changing the way we act and live; slowly breaking down social boundaries through desensitisation and deforming the concept of moral behaviour. A microchip implant could never achieve such a capacity for leading people into immorality.
Yet, unlike a mircochip implant, everyone actually desires to have one. As well as being central to daily business operations and allowing us to keep in contact with family members, they have also become a fashion statement, with the use of older models often being met by sneers and derision - which brings us back to Jesus' condemnation of the ever more elaborate phylacteries worn by the self-aggrandising Jewish leaders in the 1st century. They have become a "catch-all" device, with in-built functions including internet gateway, gaming, camera, video recorder, and calculator. And this level of covetousness is even before they become central to engaging in commerce. The strong inclinations that will undoubtedly prevail in favour of keeping them means that a large number of people will already be programmed to automatically reject the idea that the cell phone could be the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast. They truly are a temptation worthy of the wiles of the Devil.

Wednesday 25 April 2012

The Prophecies of Blessed Elena Aiello

Blessed Elena Aiello (1895-1961), an Italian stigmatic nun, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, also made some prophecies which appear to link the future martyrdom of a pope with a coming chastisement involving a massive earthquake. You can find some biographical information on Bl. Elena at the Mystics of the Church blog here.
“People are offending God too much. Were I to show you all the sins committed on a
single day, you would surely die of grief. These are grave times. The world is thoroughly
upset because it is in a worse condition than at the time of the deluge. Materialism marches
on ever fomenting bloody strifes and fratricidal struggles. Clear signs portend that peace is
in danger. That scourge, like the shadow of a dark cloud, is now moving across mankind:
only my power, as Mother of God, is preventing the outbreak of the storm. All is hanging
on a slender thread. When that thread shall snap, Divine Justice shall pounce upon the
world and execute its dreadful, purging designs. All the nations shall be punished because
sins, like a muddy river, are now covering all the earth.
“The powers of evil are getting ready to strike furiously in every part of the globe.
Tragic events are in store for the future. For quite a while, and in many a way, I have
warned the world. The nation’s rulers do indeed understand the gravity of these dangers,
but they refuse to acknowledge that it is necessary for all people to practice a truly
Christian life to counteract that scourge. Oh, what torture I feel in my heart, on beholding
mankind so engrossed in all kinds of things and completely ignoring the most important
duty of their reconciliation with God. The time is not far off now when the whole world
shall be greatly disturbed. A great deal of blood of just and innocent people as well as
saintly priests will be poured out. The Church shall suffer very much and hatred will be at
its very peak”.
“Italy shall be humiliated and purged in her blood. She shall suffer very much indeed on
account of the multitude of sins committed in this privileged nation, the abode of the Vicar
of Christ”.
“You cannot possibly imagine what is going to happen. A great revolution shall break
out and the streets shall be stained with blood. The Pope’s sufferings on this occasion may
well be compared to the agony that will shorten his pilgrimage on earth. His successor
shall pilot the boat during the storm. But the punishment of the wicked shall not be slow.
That will be an exceedingly dreadful day. The earth shall quake so violently as to scare all
mankind. And so, the wicked shall perish according to the inexorably severity of Divine
Justice. If possible, publish this message throughout the world, and admonish all the people
to do penance and to return right away to God”.
Like various other prophecies (including most famously the Third Secret of Fatima), Bl. Elena foresees the suffering and martyrdom of a pope - who will endure an "agony" that "will shorten his pilgrimage on earth" (see the earlier post Prophecies of the Martyr-Pope for a list of the many prophecies which foretell the future assassination of a pope). The numerous prophecies of the martyrdom of a future pope were sensationally brought back into focus earlier this year by a prediction attributed to Cardinal Paolo Romeo stating that the pope would die sometime in the year 2012 (see the earlier post Pope Benedict XVI Assassination Plot in 2012?). Speaking of the successor to martyred pontiff, Bl. Elena uses language which clearly alludes to St. John Bosco's Dream of the Two Pillars: "His successor shall pilot the boat during the storm". It will be useful to compare this statement with the relevant portion of Don Bosco's dream below, which foretells that it will be the pope who succeeds the martyred pontiff that will lead the Church during the Second Pentecost:
“Suddenly the Pope falls gravely wounded. Immediately, those who are with him run to help him and they lift him up. A second time the Pope is struck, he falls again and dies. A shout of victory and joy rings out amongst the enemies; from their ships an unspeakable mockery arises.
“But hardly is the Pontiff dead than another takes his place. The pilots, having met together, have elected the Pope so promptly that the news of the death of the Pope coincides with the news of the election of the successor. The adversaries begin to lose courage.

“The new Pope, putting the enemy to rout and overcoming every obstacle, guides the ship right up to the two columns and comes to rest between them; he makes it fast with a light chain that hangs from the bow to an anchor of the column on which stands the Host; and with another light chain which hangs from the stern, he fastens it at the opposite end to another anchor hanging from the column on which stands the Immaculate Virgin."

It is also interesting to note that in addition to associating the eschatological earthquake with the martyrdom of a future pope, Bl. Elena also appears to have foretold that fire would fall from the sky to consume the earth after a great flood which would see "the overflowing of streams and the seas" - which also conforms to the mega-tsunami hypothesis I forward in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse (given that tsunamis tend to primarily travel inland along rivers after making landfall).
So this too seems to correspond with the "huge mountain, burning with fire" being thrown into the sea in Rev 8:8, which I argue in the post Mega-tsunami is connected to the future collapse of the volcano Cumbre Vieja in the Canary Islands - which many scientists believe will generate a massive tidal wave that will devastate the east coast of America. This event would almost certainly bring about the total economic collapse of the USA, leading to a shift in world power that will eventually culminate in the battle of Armageddon. As we can see below, the prophecies of Bl. Elena follow this same pattern of a massive flood, followed by a terrible war and the destruction of the earth by fire:

“In so saying Our Lord God disappeared. Then the Madonna appeared to me. She was dressed in black, with seven swords piercing Her Immaculate Heart. Coming closer, with an expression of profound sorrow, and with tears on her cheeks, she spoke to me, saying: ‘Listen attentively, and reveal to all: ‘My Heart is sad for so many sufferings in an impending world in ruin. The justice of Our Father is most offended. Men live in their obstinacy of sin. The wrath of God is near. Soon the world will be afflicted with great calamities, bloody revolutions, frightful hurricanes, and the overflowing of streams and the seas’. ‘Cry out until the priests of God lend their ears to my voice, to advise men that the time is near at hand, and if men do not return to God with prayers and penances, the world will be overturned in a new and more terrible war. Arms most deadly will destroy peoples and nations! The dictators of the earth, specimens infernal, will demolish the churches and desecrate the Holy Eucharist, and will destroy things most dear. In this impious war, much will be destroyed of that which has been built by the hands of man’. ‘CLOUDS WITH LIGHTNING FLASHES OF FIRE IN THE SKY AND A TEMPEST OF FIRE SHALL FALL UPON THE WORLD. THIS TERRIBLE SCOURGE, NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANITY, WILL LAST SEVENTY HOURS. GODLESS PERSONS WILL BE CRUSHED AND WIPED OUT. MANY WILL BE LOST BECAUSE THEY REMAIN IN THEIR OBSTINACY OF SIN. THEN SHALL BE SEEN THE POWER OF LIGHT OVER THE POWER OF DARKNESS’. ‘Be not silent, my daughter, because the hours of darkness, of abandonment, are near. ‘I am bending over the world, holding in suspension the justice of God. OTHERWISE THESE THINGS WOULD ALREADY HAVE NOW COME TO PASS. Prayers and penances are necessary because men MUST RETURN TO GOD and to My Immaculate Heart—the Mediatrix of men to God, and thus THE WORLD WILL BE AT LEAST IN PART SAVED’. ‘Cry out these things to all, like the very echo of my voice. Let this be known to all, because it will help save many souls, and prevent much destruction in the Church and in the world’.
April 16, 1954

The Madonna speaks: “The hour of the justice of God is close, and will be terrible!” “Tremendous scourges are impending over the world, and various nations are struck by epidemics, famines, great earthquakes, terrific hurricanes, with overflowing rivers and seas, which bring ruin and death.” “If the people do not recognize in these scourges (of nature) the warnings of Divine Mercy, and do not return to God with truly Christian living, ANOTHER TERRIBLE WAR WILL COME FROM THE EAST TO THE WEST. RUSSIA WITH HER SECRET ARMIES WILL BATTLE AMERICA; WILL OVERRUN EUROPE. The river Rhine will be overflowing with corpses and blood. Italy, also, will be harassed by a great revolution, and the Pope will suffer terribly.” “Spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart, in order that many souls maybe conquered by my love and that many sinners may return to my Maternal Heart. Do not fear, for I will accompany with my maternal protection my faithful ones, and all those who accept my urgent warnings, and they — especially by the recitations of my Rosary — will be saved.” “Satan goes furiously through this disordered world, and soon will show all his might. But, because of my Immaculate Heart, the triumph of Light will not delay in its triumph over the power of darkness, and the world, finally, will have tranquility and peace.” 
August 22, 1960

Friday 20 April 2012

A Cashless Society - Closer than you may think...

The material below is taken from the financial section of the UK broadsheet newspaper The Telegraph on 19th April 2012. It concerns the widespread rollout of NFC PayTag stickers by Barclaycard, which customers are encouraged to stick to their mobile phones to allow fast and easy contactless payments. The article also explains how this technology is set to replace cash transactions in the near future. For anyone who owns a mobile phone which doesn't have NFC technology already integrated into the handset, these stickers allow easy access to contactless payments. But in the immediate future, all cell phones will have this technology fully incorporated by default.

'Save the Pound” was the cry when we feared Tony Blair was about to sacrifice our ancient currency for membership of the new-minted euro. Having seen off that challenge, those who prefer their money in traditional form face an equally sinister threat from the forces of banking technology...
The end of the cash economy is nigh. Millions of Barclaycard Visa cardholders are about to find they can make “contactless” payments of up to £15 (and from June, £20) by means of a sticker called a PayTag on the back of their mobile phones, which will merely have to be waved over a reader device without need of a signature or a PIN.
Hardly the end of civilisation, I hear you say: what’s so sinister? Like the Oyster Card and pay-by-phone parking, any electronic application that removes the need to carry a pocket full of change – or scuttle to find some when you’re in a hurry and it’s pouring with rain – is surely to be welcomed.
Technophobia can be irrational, and is overcome by familiarity: some of us resisted hole-in-the-wall cash dispensers long after they were introduced, on the grounds that PIN numbers were hard to remember, the machines were in exposed places and often out of order, and we preferred to be handed cash by a polite cashier who addressed us by name. But the technology became more reliable, PINs and passwords became basic tools of existence, and we realised that bank staff no longer knew or cared who we were. So the ATM became part of the furniture of life, with no accompanying sense of unease.
And that’s probably the way it will be, five years hence, for the daily stream of cashless, contactless transactions that will have largely replaced the regular visit to the ATM. The need for notes and coins will gradually diminish, and we will begin to forget why we ever felt emotionally attached to the idea of them.

The article then goes on to discuss the benefits to the various world's governments by the introduction of a cashless society based on electronic commerce through mobile phones:

The potential for reducing cash-related misbehaviour is a big arrow in the quiver of the advocates of cashlessness. It’s easy to count who loses out in the transition: not just the mugger but the market stallholder, the vendor of contraband booze and rolling tobacco, the odd-job plumber and anyone else who routinely fails to account to the taxman. The Spanish government, teetering on the brink of the next episode of Europe’s debt crisis, is proposing to outlaw all cash transactions involving more than 2,500 euros in order to quell the black economy and maximise tax collection – but also proposing to exempt non-residents, so cash-rich British bank robbers can rest assured that they will still be able to live it large on the Costas.
(Read the full article here)

In addition to the world's governments being able to claim billions in lost revenue from tradesmen who are usually paid up-front in cash and can thus can escape paying taxes, it also has the potential to eliminate illicit trades dependant on cash transactions, such as prostitution, drug-dealing, illegal gambling, as well as robberies and the selling on of stolen goods. The world's banks also stand to profit from cashless transactions, as they will escape from having to maintain ATM machines, which require regular restock of cash via costly security transit firms, which are also frequently subject to robberies. It would also lessen the requirement of many of the functions of the humble bank cashiers and physical branches, which largely deal with cash and cheque deposits and withdrawals, meaning that banks would make massive saving on store fees. So it is easy to imagine that this form of cashless society will be eventually pushed through at the insistence of both the world's governments and banking systems.
The reason that mobile phones will become the central component of this form of electronic commerce through contactless payments is simple, as is spelled out in the following article:

The tag is about a third of the size of a normal credit card, and can be stuck onto any flat surface. So it doesn't matter whether your phone is the latest iPhone, BlackBerry or even an 80s style phone the size of a brick.
Indeed, it doesn't even have to be on a phone at all. If you have a particularly chunky watch, or carry an Oyster card with you all the time, the PayTag can be placed on that instead. Barclaycard has chosen to market PayTag in this way because it believes the mobile phone has become the most essential thing to have about your person at all times.
When the time comes to pay for your items, you merely hover your phone (or wherever you've placed the PayTag) over the payment terminal and your payment should be made. I tried it out myself and can report that it was extremely easy – and most importantly, quick – to do.

(See full article here)

The Royal Canadian Mint recently unveiled its vision of how digital currency will replace cash in the near future, with its development of the MintChip. It issued a video which elabarates how this form of digital money is set to replace cash tranactions through cell phones, etc.

The most frightening prospect of this cashless society scenario is that it will become truly impossible to buy or sell anything without owning a cell phone with built-in NFC technology capabilities. So even if we chose to forgo using cell phones now, we would be compelled to own one in the future if we wanted to be able to engage in any form of commerce at all - even down to the tiniest transaction. The only viable alternative would be to live in a truly self-sustaining farm or community - which simply isn't a option for the vast majority of people.

See the related article:

Cell Phones and the Mark of the Beast

Monday 16 April 2012

WWW and 666: The "Mark" on the Forehead?

In Unveiling the Apocalypse, I argue that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast is actually an antithetical parallelism of the ancient Jewish practice of wearing phylacteries (aka tefillin), box-shaped containers worn on the forehead and arm in accordance with Deut 6. It logically follows that the mark of the Beast would have been understood by the original author of the Book of Revelation to be fully visible objects worn in the hand or forehead. Something more akin to an amulet or talisman, than to a brand or tattoo.

See the below video for a demonstration of how phylacteries are worn by Jews today:

As devout Jews, the followers of Jesus would almost certainly have adhered to this widespread practice. And Christ specifically condemned certains sections of Jewish society who were "keeping up with the Jones'" - deliberately wearing ornate and overly elaborate phylacteries in order to exhibit the false impression of piety:

They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
(Matt 23:5-7)

In the book, I suggest that the closest modern analogy to this ancient Jewish custom is the current ubiquitous use of cell phones, which are set to replace the credit card as a means of electronic commerce via "contactless payments" and NFC technology. (See the earlier post The Mark of the Beast?) So in the coming future "cashless society", all commerce will be conducted over the worldwide web (www - which is the numerical equivalent of six-six-six once transliterated into the Hebrew alphabet - see the post Hebrew 666?) and everyday monetary transactions will be made through internet enabled smartphones. See the below Iphone commercial for an example of how this cash replacement technology is currently being employed.

This explains how the "mark" of the Beast is worn in the hand. But how could it be said to worn in the forehead? Although people tend to hold mobile phones to their heads whilst talking, this doesn't seem to fully explain how it could be said to be "worn" on the forehead. In the book, I argued that the future use of "TV glasses" would fit as a modern equivalent of an inverted form of wearing a head tefillin. I'll post an extract of the relevant material below: the not too distant future, the use of internet enabled mobile phones may also provide an explanation for the Apocalypse's assertion that the “number” of the Beast, or “anti-phylactery”, can be worn upon the forehead.
In 2006, a South Korean company known as Kowon Technology, launched a range of “anti-glance” personal LCD TV glasses in response to the surge in demand for TV streamed to mobile phones. Inspired by the annoyance of other people glancing over the viewer's shoulder to catch a glimpse of the latest action on TV, Kowon Technology developed a head-mounted display unit that allows the user privacy of content. This device consists of a pair of glasses with two 4.8 x 4.2 mm, 320 x 240 LCD panels in front of each eye, which provide the user with the illusion of a 32” TV screen hovering at the distance of two metres away from the face. This innovation thus helps to solve one of the most regularly complained about features of mobile TV – the insufficiently small viewing screen.
Although LCD TV glasses are perhaps too bulky at present to attract a wide demographic in the west, it is foreseeable that future wireless, slim-line versions of the device will be indistinguishable from normal sunglasses, thus rendering their appearance as socially acceptable and maybe even as a desirable fashion accessory. This potential may yet ensure that TV glasses will be a future craze in the technology market.
External appearances aside, the sheer practicality of LCD TV glasses should guarantee their future success, as they could help to revolutionize portable personal computing.
Devices such as smartphones and tablet computers look set to replace the laptop pc as the ultimate portable computing device. With the increasing miniaturization of technology and the rise of smartphones, the need for an everyday laptop as a means of surfing the internet has become redundant. However there remains some limitations to the smartphone – the screen size available on a truly pocket-sized device such as a mobile phone renders it inadequate for the purposes of portable computing equipment. Large amounts of text need to be visible and readable on-screen at any given time in order for it to be truly efficient as a personal computer. This problem is easily solved by the ability to use LCD TV glasses with the handset, which can be used to meet the large screen prerequisite that would enable the smartphone to become the ultimate portable handheld personal computing device.
There is a current trend among purveyors of technology to advance the integration of household and portable gadgetry into one compact and easy-to-use format. The very nature of the mobile phone as an essential, pocket-sized piece of kit that can easily be carried at all times, ensures that it provides the best support for the integration of technology into one handheld device. Indeed, we are presently witnessing the incorporation of digital camera, video camera, television, internet gateway and gaming device into the already cumbersome list of the mobile phone’s utilities. The large screen requirement demanded by mobile TV and pocket-sized portable personal computers should ensure that a slimmed down version of the LCD TV glasses will become an everyday item in the near future. Dr Michio Kaku, a leading theoretical physicist and futurist, predicts that a slim-line version of computerized TV glasses will soon have widespread popular use over the course of the next few years.
This future possibility may help to solve the apparently peculiar condition set down by Rev 13:16 that the “mark” of the Beast could also be worn upon the forehead. To gain a better description of what this mark will look like, we must again turn to Exod 13:16, Deut 6:8, 11:18 which are among the major influences behind this particular portion of the Apocalypse. Deut 6:8 states that the commandments should be worn by the followers of Yahweh as a visible sign of the covenant, instructing they are to be bound to the hand, or worn as totapoth between the eyes. Although the true nuance of the word is not fully conveyed by some of the available translations, the Hebrew word totapoth is generally interpreted as “frontlet bands” – namely a band like adornment worn around the forehead as a head tefillin. Could a future application of devices such as LCD TV glasses be used to explain how the mark of the Beast will be worn upon the forehead as a parody of the Jewish practice of wearing head tefillin?
Since the publication of Unveiling the Apocalypse in 2011, there have been some major developments in the field of "TV", or computerised glasses. Google has recently announced that they are currently developing their own version of computerised headwear which it has touted as offering "augmented reality", and unveiled a prototype version working under the codename "Project Glass". You can find a concept video of this techonology below.

The "Project Glass" headset act as an advanced version of the HUD (heads up display) device currently employed in military aircraft, allowing the user access to the worldwide web in real-time in what has been aptly described as "Terminator vision". Prof. Michio Kaku has been predicting this technology for years. See for example some of his ideas on the future applications of this technology (such as the translation of foreign languages in real-time) on the spookily accurate video found here.

In the Project Glass concept video, the users' immediate environment is augmented with various pieces of information floating around in their peripheral fields, such as news, traffic and weather reports, or it can give sat-nav directions to any desired location. It can switch at any moment to include a screen to view and browse the internet, or chat through skype etc. Judging by the video, input to the device is achieved primarily through voice recognition, but later versions will almost certainly include gesture based "Minority Report" style input (such as is already found in technology such as Mircosoft's Xbox Kinect), which will allow the user to browse the www in much the same way they would through a tablet computer. And the headsets would presumably be able to connect wirelessly to mobile handsets, which would allow for greater memory capacity and processing speeds, as well as further motion based input, in addition to the more traditional methods of interfacing.

A more recent Battlefield 5 concept video for Project Glass also appears to suggest that future applications of this technology would allow it to switch at any stage to virtual reality-style video gaming (most likely using a cell phone as a controller device).

Given the various implications that such a device would allow for the user, they will almost certainly prove to be popular amongst technophiles. Although it is highly unlikely that they will ever fully replace the smartphone in popularity. I would expect that most users of these devices would use them in conjunction with their cell phones, and that more advanced versions will be virtually indistinguishable from fashionable sun-glasses. And it is foreseeable that the future of console gaming (which is already more profitable than the movie industry) will be heavily influenced by these head mounted displays.
However given that some users will be using these "augmented reality" devices for long periods of time directly upon their heads, the exposure to EMF radiation and its potentially cancer-inducing effects would therefore be significantly increased. (See the earlier post Cell Phones: Carcinogenic or Not?).

See also the related posts:

Cellphones and the Mark of the Beast
NFC Technology and the Mark of the Beast
Fr Gobbi on the Mark of the Beast
Gematria and the Number of the Beast
Mobile Banking and the Mark of the Beast

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Cell Phones and the Mark of the Beast

Jewish phylacteries - the original inspiration behind the prophecy of the mark of the Beast

As I argue at length in my book Unveiling the Apocalypse, and throughout this blog, the modern use of cell phone technology has some remarkable parallels to the original inspiration of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast. When we study the original meaning of this portion of the Apocalypse, we find that the mark of the Beast is not some ethereal, spiritual mark, invisible to the naked eye (such as a modern microchip implant); but an actual box-shaped object worn on the hand or forehead that was fully visible to all. St. John's conception of the mark of the Beast was based on an inverted, diabolical form of the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries - which were box-shaped devices worn on the arms and foreheads of devout Jews (almost definitely including Jesus and the disciples), during prayer services. The origins of this practise dates back to the time of Moses, and phylactery cases were among the finds uncovered during the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries, which was intended to be a public display of allegiance to Yahweh, was first commanded in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9)
(See the earlier post Cell phones versus RFID implants as the "mark" of the beast, for a more in depth analysis of the exact wording of this prophecy, and how it further ties in with modern cell phone technology)

The practise of laying tefillin (phylacteries) is still used by Jews today, as the below video demonstrates:

The Book of Revelation stood this practise on its head, and foretold that towards the end of time, people would be unable to buy or sell without using a similar box-shaped device, but that this time it would be a public display of allegiance to the Antichrist, and would bear the number 666. Much in the same way that the future of commerce is now inextricably linked to cell phones - which are being actively promoted by various world governments, banks, and above all mobile phone companies, as the future replacement of credit cards, and ultimately, of cash itself.
As the below video shows, it looks like Alex Jone's media company is finally starting to awaken to the possibility that the prophecy of the mark of the Beast has already been realised in modern cell phone technology.

A report made by Paul Joseph Watson states the following:

The development of a new microchip for cell phones that knows the user’s location to within a few centimeters confirms the fact that contrary to biblical fears about mandatory implantable microchips, people have willingly exchanged their privacy for convenience and that the cell phone itself is the de facto “mark of the beast”. (Read the full article here).

Although no mention is made in this report of the similarities between the physical shape of cell phones in relation to the original inspiration behind the prophecy of the mark of the Beast.
The notion that the mark of the Beast would take the form of an invisible RFID mircochip implant only became the mainstream thinking on this subject during the 1980's, following publications such as Mary Stewart Relfe's 1981 book When Your Money Fails. Yet nowhere in the Bible is it suggested that the mark of the Beast would be invisible. Rather, given that it based on the Jewish practise of wearing phylacteries, it quite clearly suggests that the mark of the Beast would be fully visible to all  - and on a symbolic level, it is meant to be seen as an open sign which contains the number of the Beast, which is encoded on the diabolical "anti-phylacteries" through the process of Hebrew gematria. Much in the same way that the original interpretation of the number of the Beast lay in the fact that the numerical value of the name "Nero Caesar" in Hebrew was 666.
Also missing in the deductions reached by is the fact that cell phones are set to replace credit cards as a means of commerce through the use of NFC technology and that all transactions made through these means will be conducted over the worldwide web - www. And when we convert these letters into the Hebrew alphabet, and then ascertain their numerical value through the use of gematria, we find that they are converted to three of the Hebrew letter waw - the equivalent of three sixes - six six six. (See the earlier post Hebrew 666?).

And also that the use of cell phones could lead to a future cancer epidemic in line with the bowl plague of Rev 16:

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.
(Rev 16:2)
(See the earlier post Cell Phones: Carcinogenic or Not?)

In the post The Synagogue of Satan, I also discuss the possibility that the letters www have been deliberately manufactured to conform to the prophecy of the mark of the Beast by some shadowy secret society.

If we look at the section of the Apocalypse concerning the mark of the Beast more closely, we find that the False Prophet constructs an image in honour of the Beast, and breathes "life" into it, causing this inanimate object to have the ability of speech:

And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.
(Rev 13:15)

Furthermore, the original Greek word usually translated as "mark" is charagma - a word which is also used to refer to a graven image or crafted cultic object. So the "image" of the Beast appears to be one and the same as the "mark" worn in the hand or forehead. And the "mark" of the Beast can just as easily be translated as the "crafted cultic object of the beast". The fact that the prophecy of the "mark" of the Beast is based on the practise of wearing phylacteries further reinforces the fact that this particular "graven image" or "crafted cultic object" is a box-shaped device. A box-shaped device which has "life breathed into it" (video-screens?), can speak (either as a phone, through video playback, or through a speak-generating computer program such as Siri), and can issue propaganda (through the www) against those who refuse to embrace it (causing those who would not worship the image of the Beast to be slain).
When we look at the exact words of the prophecy of the mark of the Beast, it tells us that everyone, great and small, rich and poor, will be deceived into constructing this "graven image" and accepting the "mark" of the Beast as an essential component for engaging in commerce.

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.
(Rev 13:11-18)

And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
(Rev 19:20)

So the Bible makes it explicitly clear that everyone would be deceived into accepting the mark of the Beast. This means that those who accept the "mark" do so unwittingly - which is the exact situation we appear to have in the present. If people were literally going to be branded with the number 666 on their hand or forehead there wouldn't be any question of deception - everyone would know exactly what they were doing and exactly what they were accepting. For the prophecy to be realised in the fashion described in the Bible, it would have to be fulfilled in a manner that no-one was expecting.
This scenario prompts us to reconsider what the spiritual effects of receiving the mark of the Beast actually are. Given that it would be impossible to hold that an omni-benevolent God would condemn people to eternal torment for accepting a situation that they were unaware of, we would have to conclude that forgiveness is possible in this regard. So reconciliation with God would be possible for those who repent having been deceived into accepting the "mark", while those who persist in using it, despite having full knowledge of what it is that they are accepting, would open themselves to damnation - since this would be tantamount to aligning themselves with the Antichrist.

Friday 6 April 2012

A Heavenly Annuniciation?

I recently received an email asking if I thought the recent conjunction between Venus and Jupiter, together with the crescent Moon and the Pleiades (perhaps better known as the "seven sisters") on the feast of the Annunciation on 25th March held any significance. I remember reading an interesting blog article on this subject which Spirit Daily linked to around the time of this event, but hadn't really given it much thought until I was asked about it (hence the lateness of this post in relation to event in question). The full article can be found on Daniel O'Connor's blog here, and I'll quote some of the relevant content below:

On March 25, 2012, millions of Christians (Catholic and Orthodox) will celebrate the “Annunciation” – which commemorates the conception of Jesus. This March 25, there will be a neat astronomical arrangement in the sky, that seems to mesh nicely. See the description below:
The sky will be spectacular in the west after sunset on March 25, 2012, with the waxing crescent moon and the planet Jupiter very close to each other in the evening twilight sky. Plus Venus is nearby – the sky’s brightest planet. You’ll see Jupiter and the moon below Venus in the west after sunset. The famous Pleiades star cluster is above Venus.
For centuries Mary has been referred to as the “Morning Star”, the popular name of the Planet Venus. In this configuration, the Morning Star appears with the moon at her feet. The Pleiades (from “peleiades” the Greek word for doves) overshadows the Morning Star. Jupiter, the “King Planet” approaches the configuration. The symbolism is striking. This is a interesting arrangement for the mystery of the Annunciation which heralds Christ’s coming through Mary.

We should first note that while the practise of astrology (attempting to discern future events through an elaborate system of occult interpretation) is condemned by the Church, the Bible clearly teaches that important events are often heralded by symbolic astronomical and geophysical phenomena. For example the birth of Christ was accompanied by the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem. And during his eschatological discourse on Mount Olivet, Jesus explicitly states that great signs would appear in the heavens before His Second Coming:

There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.(Luke 21:11)

 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”(Luke 21:25-28)

This is followed by Peter's eschatological sermon during the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost:

And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.(Acts 2:19-20)

The Book of Revelation also foretold that the unbinding of Satan's chains "for a little while" (which I argue corresponds to the "100" years given to Satan in the Prophecy of Pope Leo XIII) would be signified by a star fallen to earth:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
(Rev 20:1-3)

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit. He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth...
(Rev 9:1-3)

(See the earlier post Tunguska, Pope Leo XIII, and the Opening of the Abyss, where I equate this "fallen star" to the Tunguska event of 1908)

And the sounding of the third trumpet in Rev 8 was predicted to be accompanied by the sign of a great star falling from heaven "blazing like a torch" (which I equate with the last appearance of Halley's Comet and its timing in relation to the Chernobyl disaster in the post Chernobyl, Wormwood, and the Hrushiv Apparitions).

Perhaps most importantly, the opening of the sixth seal in the Book of Revelation was foretold to be accompanied by a combination of an earthquake, a total solar eclipse, a total lunar eclipse and a major meteor shower (which in the post Signs in the Sky, I point out all occurred at the turn of the millennium centred on modern Turkey - the location of Pergamum in Asia Minor, which the Apocalypse identifies as "the throne of Satan" in Rev 2:13).
As I argue in Unveiling the Apocalypse, the eschatological astronomical phenomena described at the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 6, is once again recapitulated in Rev 12. The Woman Adorned with the Sun with the Moon at her feet represents a total solar eclipse - which corresponds to the Sun turning "black as sackcloth" in Rev 6:12. The Moon at the Woman's feet represents the Dragon intent on devouring her Child, and the red colour of the Dragon represents the reddish hue typical of a total lunar eclipse, which in turn corresponds to the Moon becoming blood-red at the opening of the sixth seal. And the Dragon sweeping a third of the stars from the sky in Rev 12:4, directly refers to the stars falling from the sky in Rev 6:13 (which is also recapitulated again at the sounding of the fourth trumpet in Rev 8:12, when a third of the Sun, Moon and stars are struck).
The twelve stars around the Woman's head are traditionally associated with the Twelve Apostles; but they also represent the twelve tribes of Israel, as is shown by the allusion of this verse to Joseph's dream in Gen 37:

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”(Gen 37:9)

The eleven stars symbolise the sons of Jacob who make up the tribes of Israel, with the tribe of Joseph being divided between his two sons - Mannaseh and Ephraim, bringing the number up to twelve.
So the twelve stars around the Woman's head in Rev 12 is a further allusion to the opening of the sixth seal, which includes the sealing of the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel in Rev 7.

The manifold similarities between the opening of the sixth seal in Rev 6 and the sealing of the saints in Rev 7, held in juxtaposition with the unfolding of the Divine Drama of Rev 12 and marking of the inhabitants of the earth with the mark of the Beast in Rev 13, further confirms that the bestowing of the saints with the Seal of God is an antithetical parallelism to those who are marked with the number of the Beast. Chapters 6 and 7 of the Apocalypse are therefore directly connected with chapters 12-13, and forms a theological diptych which deliberately contrasts these portions of the Book of Revelation.

Since they both describe the same events, the astronomical signs at the opening of the sixth seal thus herald the eschatological casting of Satan to earth described in Rev 12 (which must be distinguished from his primordial fall from grace), and the subsequent rise of the Beast from the sea to mark the inhabitants of the earth in Rev 13 should be considered to be a direct inversion of the sealing of the saints in Rev 7 - events which logically would coincide at the same moment in real-time.

Now that we have determined that astrology should be clearly distinguished from the Bible's admonition to regard certain astronomical signs as portentous of contemporary and future world events, we can safely discuss whether the particular planetary conjunction on the 25th March may be imbued with any religious significance.
Since it took place on the feast of the Annunciation, it would follow that any particular event this may signify would only be revealed nine months later - the gestation period of an unborn child. So we could safely assert that we would know exactly if it does indeed herald any future event during the Christmas period - close to the rather ominous date of 21st December 2012. We will only know that it was truly a sign if anything of historical or religious importance occurs around this time period.
As exactly to what event it could herald can only be guessed at. We can be almost certain that it is not the Second Coming of Christ, since the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that this pivotal moment in salvation history is delayed until the future conversion of the Jews - an event which is synonymous with the Second Pentecost and the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the earth:

"The glorious Messiah's coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by "all Israel", for "a hardening has come upon part of Israel" in their "unbelief" toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old." St. Paul echoes him: "For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?" The "full inclusion" of the Jews in the Messiah's salvation, in the wake of "the full number of the Gentiles", will enable the People of God to achieve "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ", in which "God may be all in all".
(CCC 674 See full text here)

We have clearly not reached the stage of the conversion of the Jews at the Second Pentecost just yet, but there are other prophesied events that it may concern. The promised religious revival to take place at the Second Pentecost is almost certainly the next major prophesied event that is to take place - at least according to any provisional schedule which may be determined from analysing the eschatological events foretold in Scripture.
So could it herald the coming of the Second Pentecost itself? This event seems to be intimately related to the prophecies of the ministry of the Two Witnesses and the martyrdom of a future pontiff. And in turn these events also appear to be connected to the "great sign" promised in various prophecies, including those of St. Fautina and Our Lady of Akita. Therefore any of these events are the most likely prophetic occurrences yet to unfold at the highly significant schedule relating to the date of 21st December 2012.
Yet foremostly it has to be admitted that the most likely explanation is that this particular date bears no significance at all to the date of the end-time (especially not to Christianity), and that like every other prophesied date purporting to pinpoint the end of the world, it will come to nought. We can only be left guessing until nearer the time. Either way, it is extremely unwise to tie ourselves to an exact date - especially when we know that the coming of the Lord will be as a "thief in the night" (Rev 16:15), and that we should always be prepared for the arrival of the Groom. Attempting to to preempt this crescendo of salvation history through the process of logic is all but impossible.
We can only conclude with the same prayer as the apostle himself and subject ourselves to the immanent glory of Christ  - Maranatha! "Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev 22:20).