In spring 1994 I took my ships on a four-month commercial expedition down Siberia’s Ob River, from Novosibirsk to Salekhard, a town above the Arctic Circle. The expedition’s purpose was to establish economic ties with the regions of the Far North.

The expedition was called the Merchant Caravan. Our large triple-decker ship held the caravan’s headquarters, an exhibit of what Siberia’s entrepreneurs were producing, and a store. And my quarters, quite stylish for those times. We had combined two first-class cabins and furnished them with modern pieces in order to impress when we were conducting negotiations.

My caravan was to travel three and a half thousand kilometers to the north and stop at both relatively large settlements-Tomsk, Nizhnevartovsk, Khanty-Mansiisk, and Salekhard-as well as ones so small they could only be reached with freight during the brief navigable period.

In the winter, the Ob River ices over. Communication between the towns and the residents of Siberian settlements comes to a halt.
Afternoons, the caravan’s ships docked at points of settlement. The crew blew the ship’s whistles and then pumped loud music through powerful speakers on the upper deck, attracting the inhabitants.
We traded, bought valuable fish from the local population and the gifts of the Siberian taiga-whortleberries, dried mushrooms, and furs-and discussed establishing permanent economic ties with local hunters and fishermen.

The ships traveled at night, as a rule. If bad weather prevented us from continuing along the river, the headquarters ship would moor at the nearest point of settlement and we would hold a party for the local youth. Events like that were a rarity there. The clubs and houses of culture had become quite ramshackle over the previous years, and almost no cultural events were being held.

You can only imagine the response.

Inhabitants of a Siberian village thousands of kilometers from civilization see a beauty of a white ship sailing along the river and suddenly it turns and moors at their shore.
The ship has a restaurant, a bar, and a dance hall with columns.
Not only all the young people but all the adults as well would rush to go on board, take a three-hour cruise, and then see the white beauty off, waving from shore.

The farther the caravan got from the big towns and the closer to the Arctic Circle, the broader the Ob got, and through binoculars you could observe wild animals on its shores.

Sometimes we did not encounter a single even tiny point of settlement in twenty-four hours of sailing. Nothing but taiga along the banks of the river, which was the sole transportation artery for many kilometers.
At the time, I did not yet know that at one of these kilometers a meeting awaited me that would change my entire life.

One day on our way back to Novosibirsk, I had our floating headquarters moor at a tiny village consisting of just a few small houses, tens of kilometers from any large points of settlement. We planned to stop for three hours so that the ship’s crew could walk on land, the local residents could buy various goods and foods, and we could buy their wild taiga plants and fish cheaply.
I decided to take a walk on land as well. As I was going down the gangway, I couldn’t help but notice two old men standing in silence off to one side of the group of local inhabitants planning to climb the gangway onto the ship.

The older man had a gray beard and was wearing a canvas cape that went down to his heels and a hood that covered his head and looked especially odd. As I walked past the old men I said hello. The elder said nothing to me in reply, merely bowed his head slightly, but his companion greeted me.

«Hello. May your good intentions come to pass. I sense you’re in charge here. Right? Can you give orders?»

«Yes, if they’re sensible," I replied, and I was about to proceed on my way.

But the old man continued.

He tried to talk me into giving him fifty or so men (the ship’s crew totaled sixty-five in all) for him to take into the taiga, twenty-five kilometers from where the ship was moored. Take them deep into the taiga to cut down a ringing cedar, as they put it. A cedar that, according to him, reached forty meters high. He proposed cutting it up into pieces that could be carried to the ship. We had to collect all of it without fail. The old man advised cutting each part into even smaller pieces, each taking one for ourselves, and giving the rest out to our families, acquaintances, and anyone who wanted one as a gift. The old man said this was a special cedar. The piece of it had to be worn on the chest, on a string. Moreover, you had to put it on while standing barefoot in the grass and with your left hand pressed to your bared chest. A minute later you would feel a pleasant warmth emanating from the cedar, and then a light shudder would pass through your body.

From time to time, when the desire arose, you would need to use your fingertips to polish the side of the piece of cedar that did not touch the body, holding it with your thumbs on the other side. The old man confidently asserted that three months later the person possessing the piece of ringing cedar would feel a significant improvement in his well-being and would be healed of many diseases.

«Even AIDS?» I asked, after telling them briefly what I knew from the press about this disease.

The old man answered confidently, «Any disease!»
In his opinion, however, this was an easy task. The main thing was that the person possessing this piece would become better, luckier, and abler.

I knew a little about the healing properties of our Siberian taiga cedar, but for it to affect our emotions and abilities-at the time that seemed highly improbable. I thought, «Maybe the old men want to get some money from me for this, what they consider an unusual cedar." I began explaining to them that in the «outside world," in order to be liked, women wear jewelry made of gold and silver, and they wouldn’t pay for a piece of wood, so I was not going to agree to any costs.
«They wear it not knowing," the answer followed. «Gold is dust compared with one little piece of this cedar, but we don’t need any money for it, we can give you mushrooms, dried ones, too, but we don’t need anything.»

Deciding not to argue, out of respect for their age, I said, «Well, maybe someone would wear a piece of your cedar if a master carver put his hand to it and created something unusually beautiful.»
To this the old man replied, «You can carve it, but it’s better to polish it. And much better if you polish it yourself, with your own fingers, when that person’s soul wants to, and then the cedar will be beautiful on the outside, too.»

At this, the slightly younger old man quickly unbuttoned first his old jacket and then his shirt and showed me what he had on his chest. I saw a convex circle or oval. The colors in it were variegated-violet, crimson, a rust color-and comprised a puzzling drawing, and the veins of the tree looked like rivulets.

I’m no connoisseur of works of art, although I have had occasion to visit a few art galleries. World masterpieces have never summoned up any special emotion in me, but what was hanging on this old man’s chest called up significantly greater feelings and emotions than a visit to the Tretyakov Gallery. I asked the old man, «How many years have you been polishing your piece of cedar?»

«Ninety-three," the old man replied.

«And how old are you?»

«One hundred nineteen.»

At the time I did not believe his answer. The old man looked about seventy-five. Oblivious to my doubts, or not paying them any mind, the old man, who was a little excited, began trying to convince me that a piece of cedar polished only by the person himself would be beautiful to others, too, in three years. Then it would get better and better, especially for women. A pleasant, beneficial fragrance would come from its possessor’s body incomparable to anything created artificially by man!

A very pleasant fragrance was indeed coming from the old men. I smelled it, even though I smoke and, like all smokers, my sense of smell has probably dulled.

There was one other oddity about the old men.

I suddenly began noticing in these strangers' speech phrases uncharacteristic of inhabitants of the North’s remotest areas. I remember specific ones even today, even with their intonations.
The old man said, «God created the cedar as a reservoir for the energy of the Cosmos.

«A man in the state of love gives off an emission. In a fraction of a second it reflects off the planets sailing above the person and once more reaches Earth, giving life to everything alive.
«The Sun is one of the planets that reflects far from the full spectrum of this emission.

«Only emissions of the forces of light go from the person into the Cosmos. And only a beneficial emission returns from the Cosmos to Earth.

«A dark emission comes from someone abiding under the influence of pernicious feelings. A dark emission cannot ascend but rather falls deep into the Earth. After it is reflected off the bowels of the Earth it returns to the surface in the form of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and wars.

«The highest achievement of a reflected dark emission is the effect on man of its rays, which strengthen the pernicious feelings directly inside him.

«The cedar lives for five hundred and fifty years. Its millions of needles catch and accumulate light energy, its entire spectrum, day and night. During the cedar’s lifetime, all the bodies that reflect the energy of the forces of light pass over it.

«Even a small cedar has more energy that is beneficial to man than all the manmade energy installations on Earth put together.

«The cedar takes in the energy that comes from man and through the Cosmos, stores it, and, at the right moment, gives it back. Gives it back when there is not enough of it in the Cosmos, which means in man and everything living and growing on Earth.

«One encounters cedars-but very rarely-that store the accumulated energy but do not give it back. After five hundred years of life they begin to ring. That is how they speak, with their quiet ringing. That is how they signal for people to take them, to cut them down so that the accumulated energy can be used on Earth. And so this cedar has been asking with its ringing. It’s been asking for three years. If it doesn’t make physical contact with living people, then in three years it loses its chance to give up what it has accumulated through the Cosmos, loses its chance to give it back to man directly. Then it starts burning the energy inside itself. This tortuous burning and dying takes twenty-seven years.

«Not long ago we discovered a cedar like that. We determined it had already been ringing for two years — ringing softly, very softly. It might be trying to stretch its request out for a longer time, but it has only one year left. It has to be cut down and distributed to people.»

The old man spoke for a long time, and for some reason I listened. The odd old Siberian’s voice first was calmly confident, then very agitated, and when he was agitated, he would polish his piece of cedar with his fingertips quickly, as if fingering some musical instrument.

It was cold on shore and an autumn wind was blowing off the river. The cold wind raked the gray hair on the old man’s uncovered head in bursts, but his old jacket and shirt remained unbuttoned. His fingertips kept polishing his piece of cedar, which hung on his chest open to the wind. He was trying to explain its full significance.

Lidia Petrovna, an employee in my firm, came off the ship and onto shore. She said everyone had already gathered on board, they were ready to sail, and they were waiting for me to finish my conversation. I said goodbye to the old men and quickly boarded. I could not satisfy their request for two reasons: delaying the ship, and for three full days, would have meant a huge loss; and at the time I ascribed everything the old men said to excessive superstition.
The next morning, during our planning meeting, I suddenly saw Lidia Petrovna fingering a piece of cedar on her chest. Later she told me that when I had gone on board she had hung back a little. As I began to walk away, she saw the old man look, distraught, first at me as I left and then at his older companion.

He repeated agitatedly, «How can that be? Why didn’t they realize? I don’t know how to speak their language at all. I couldn’t convince him. I couldn’t! Nothing I said worked! Nothing worked. Why? Tell me, father.»

The elder of the two old men placed his hand on his son’s shoulder and replied calmly, «You were not convincing, my son. That is why they did not realize.»

«When I was already going up the gangway," Lidia Petrovna continued, «the old man who’d been talking to you suddenly ran up to me, grabbed me by the arm, and led me down the gangway onto the grass.
«He hastily took the string to which this piece of cedar wood was attached out of his pocket, put it around my neck, and pressed it with my own hand to my chest. I even felt a shudder in my body. He did it all so very quickly, I never had a chance to say anything to him. As I was walking away he repeated after me, 'Safe travels! Be happy! Please, come here next year! All the best, people. We’ll be waiting for you! Safe travels!'

«When the ship cast off, the old man waved for a long time and then suddenly sat down on the grass. I watched them through my binoculars. I saw the old man you’d been talking to, who had later given me the piece of cedar, sitting on the grass and his shoulders quaking. The older one, with the long beard, was leaning over him and stroking his head.

* * *

 Immersed in my commercial concerns, bookkeeping, and banquets celebrating the conclusion of our travels, I forgot all about the strange old Siberians.

When the ship returned to Novosibirsk I experienced acute pains and was given a diagnosis of a duodenal ulcer and osteochondrosis of my thoracic spine.

In the quiet of my comfortable hospital ward, I was cut off from the daily bustle. My deluxe private room gave me a chance to calmly analyze the results of my four-month expedition and compile a business plan for the future. But my memory seemed to push all the events away and for some reason brought to the fore the old men and what they’d said.

At my request the hospital got me all the literature there was on the cedar tree.

Comparing what I read with what I’d heard on the expedition from the old Siberians, I was increasingly struck by and began to believe what the old men had said. If there was some truth in what they’d said, could all of it have been the truth?

The books on folk medicine said a lot about the cedar’s healing properties. They said that all of it, from its needles to its bark, possessed highly effective healing properties. The Siberian cedar’s wood is beautiful and can be put to good use by master craftsmen, and furniture and sounding boards for musical instruments can be made from it. The cedar’s needles possess a high level of phytoncides and the ability to easily decontaminate the ambient air. The cedar’s wood has a characteristic, very pleasant balsamic fragrance. A small piece of cedar in a home drives away moths.

The popular scientific literature also indicated that the quality of cedars that grow in northern regions is significantly higher than that of those in more southerly regions.

In 1792 Academician P. S. Pallas wrote that the fruits of the Siberian cedar effectively restored male virility and returned a person’s youth, significantly increased the organism’s resistance, and helped him withstand many diseases.

There were also many historical phenomena directly or indirectly linked to the cedar. Here is one of them.

In 1907 the semiliterate muzhik Grigory Rasputin, who came from a remote Siberian village, an area where the Siberian cedar grows, arrived in the capital of St. Petersburg at the age of fifty and astounded even the imperial family, to which he gained entrée, with his predictions. He possessed extraordinary virility. When they tried to kill Grigory Rasputin, they were astounded that he continued to live after he had been riddled with bullets. Could this have been because he grew up on the cedar’s nuts in a cedar region?

This is how journalists of the day assessed his stamina:
«At age fifty, he could start an orgy at midday and keep up his carousing until four in the morning. He would go from debauchery and drunkenness straight to church matins, where he would stand in prayer until eight o’clock in the morning. Then, at home, after tea, Grishka would receive visitors until two in the afternoon, as if nothing had happened. Then he would select some ladies and go with them to the bathhouse, and from the bathhouse he would drive to a restaurant outside the city, where he would repeat the previous night. No ordinary person could withstand a routine like that.»

Nonetheless, the numerous facts and proofs pale before the most important thing, which you can learn for yourself and after which I was left without a shadow of doubt: the Bible. In the Old Testament, in the third book of Moses (Leviticus 14:4), God teaches how to heal people, even how to decontaminate a dwelling using. . . CEDAR!!!
When I compared the facts and information I had collected from various sources, a picture took shape such that the world’s known miracles paled by comparison. The great mysteries that had disturbed men’s minds began to seem trifling compared to the mystery of the ringing cedar. I could no longer have any doubt of its existence. The popular scientific literature and the Old Vedic scriptures dispelled my doubts.

The cedar is mentioned forty-two times in the Bible, in the Old Testament. The Old Testament Moses, who revealed to humanity the stone tablets, probably knew more about the cedar than is written in the Old Testament.

We are used to the fact of various plants in nature being capable of healing man’s ailments. Cedar’s healing properties are confirmed by the popular scientific literature and such serious and authoritative scientists as Academician P. S. Pallas, and this coincides with what the Old Testament says.

Now, pay attention!

The Old Testament points to the cedar and only the cedar and does not mention any other trees. Doesn’t the Old Testament talk about how the cedar is the most powerful therapeutic agent that exists in nature? What is this? A medicinal complex? But how should it be used? And why had these strange old men chosen one ringing cedar out of all the cedars?

But this was still not all. The following Old Testament story talks about something immeasurably more puzzling.

King Solomon built a temple of cedar. In exchange for cedar from the Levant, he gave another king, Hiram, twenty towns of his own kingdom. Incredible! Twenty towns for a certain kind of building material! True, he was rendered one other service as well. At King Solomon’s request he was given men «able to hew the trees.»
Who were these people? What did they know?

I’d heard that even now, in the remotest places, there were old men who had a special skill for choosing trees for construction. But then, more than two thousand years ago, everyone might have had that skill. It took special people, though. The temple was built. Services were held in it and «the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud.»

What kind of cloud? Where did it come from and how did it get into the temple? What was it? Energy? Spirit? What manner of phenomenon was it, and what was its connection to the cedar?
The old men had spoken of the ringing cedar as a reservoir for some sort of energy.

Which cedar was more powerful, the Levant’s or Siberia’s?
Academician Pallas said that its healing properties increased as the growth approached the boundary with the forest tundra. That meant the Siberian was more powerful.

The Bible says, «You will know them by their fruits." That means the Siberian again!

Had no one ever paid any attention to all this before?
Hadn’t someone compared these facts?
The Old Testament, the science of the last century, and modern science were one in their opinion of the cedar.

In Living Ethics, Elena Ivanovna Roerikh writes, «The chalice of cedar resin appeared long ago in the rituals of consecration of the kings of ancient Khorasan.

«The Druids also had a goblet of cedar resin, which was called the Chalice of Life. Only later was it replaced by blood, when the awareness of the Spirit was lost. Zoroastrian fire came from burning resin in a chalice.»

So what-of all our forefathers' knowledge about the cedar, its properties, and its uses-has come down to our days and been preserved? Nothing at all? What did the old Siberians know about it?
All of a sudden, the memory surfaced of a situation from many years before that gave me gooseflesh. At the time, I’d lent it no significance, but now. . . .

At the beginning of perestroika, I, as president of the Siberian association of entrepreneurs, had a call from the Novosibirsk Regional Executive Committee (in those days there were still Communist Party organizations) asking me to come meet with a major Western businessman. He had a letter of recommendation from the government. Present at the meeting were several entrepreneurs and regional committee staff.

Judging by his appearance, the Western businessman was a tough and unusual man of the Oriental type. He was wearing a turban and expensive rings adorned his fingers.
We spoke, as usual, about opportunities for cooperation in various spheres. Among other things he said, «We might buy cedar nuts from you." As he said this he actually tensed up, and his sharp eyes darted, probably studying the reaction of the entrepreneurs present. I remembered this well because at the time I’d wondered why it was he had changed so.
After the official meeting the Muscovite interpreter accompanying him approached me. She said he wanted to speak with me.
The businessman proposed, confidentially, that I organize deliveries of cedar nuts for him, which had to be fresh, and in addition to the official price I would have a sizable percentage for myself.
I was supposed to deliver the nuts to Turkey, where they made some kind of oil. I said I would think it over.
I decided to find out what this oil was. And I did.
On the London stock exchange, the standard for world prices, cedar nut oil costs as much as five hundred dollars for one kilogram! We were being offered two or three dollars for a single kilogram of cedar nuts.
I called an entrepreneur I knew in Warsaw and asked him to find out whether there was any possibility of selling directly to the consumer of this product and to discover the technology for extracting the oil.
A month later he replied.
«No possible solution. I could not get hold of the technology. Also, these questions of yours generally have set in motion forces in the West best left alone and forgotten.»
Then I went to an old acquaintance of mine, a researcher at our Novosibirsk Consumer Cooperative Institute, bought nuts, and financed the work. This institute’s laboratories produced about a hundred kilograms of cedar nut oil.
I also hired people who discovered the following in archival documents.
During the prerevolutionary period and for a short while after the revolution, there was an organization in Siberia known as Siberian Cooperator. The people in this organization traded in oil, including cedar nut oil. They had fairly luxurious offices in Harbin, China, London, and New York, and fairly large sums of money in Western banks. After the revolution, this organization fell apart and many of its members emigrated.
Krasin, a member of the Bolshevik government, met with the organization’s head and suggested that he return to Russia, but the head of Siberian Cooperator replied that he would not help Russia anymore, now that he was outside its borders.
The archival materials also said that the cedar oil was made using wooden-and only wooden-presses in many of Siberia’s taiga villages.
The high quality of the cedar oil depended on when the nuts were collected and processed. 
We were unable to determine when this was, either in the archives or at the institute. The secret was lost.
The oil’s healing properties have no analog. Might one of the ?migr?s have given the secret for manufacturing this oil to someone in the West?
What explained the fact that the immensely healing cedar nut grew in Siberia but the oil’s production was in Turkey? After all, the cedar variety found in Siberia does not grow in Turkey at all.
What forces in the West was the Warsaw entrepreneur referring to? Why should I leave this question alone? Weren’t these forces pumping this extraordinary healing product out of Russia’s Siberian taiga?
If we had such wealth at home, with highly effective properties confirmed by centuries and millennia, why were we buying millions, maybe even billions of dollars' worth of Western medicines and consuming them like half-wits? Why were we losing knowledge known to our forefathers? Recent forefathers, who had lived in our own century!
To say nothing of the Bible, which describes an unusual situation from more than two thousand years ago! What unknown forces were working so assiduously to wipe our forefathers' knowledge from our memory? And not only that, but trying to keep us from sticking our nose where it didn’t belong. They were trying to wipe it away-and succeeding!
I was gripped by fury. I also saw that the pharmacy was selling cedar oil-in imported packaging. I bought one thirty-gram vial and had it tested. I don’t think it contained more than two drops of oil. The rest was some kind of diluting agent. It didn’t compare with what we had manufactured at the consumer cooperation institute. And these two diluted drops cost fifty thousand rubles! What if we sold it ourselves, rather than purchase it abroad? All of Siberia could live well off this oil alone!
We had managed to forget our forefathers' technology, and now, here we were, sniveling that we lived poorly.
All right, I thought, I could still retrieve something. I would set up production of the oil myself and let my own firm get rich.
I decided on another expedition down the Ob, to the north, taking only my headquarters ship, the Patrice Lumumba. I loaded various goods in the holds and equipped the ship’s screening room as a store. I had to hire new people to work. I was not going to ask people from my own firm. My financial affairs had deteriorated while I’d been distracted.
Two weeks after we left Novosibirsk, my security team reported overhearing conversations about the ringing cedar. In their opinion, I had taken on «odd people» among the new hires, to put it mildly. I started calling in individual crew members and talking with them about the upcoming trip into the taiga. Some agreed to go even for free. Others asked for large sums of money for the operation because it had not been part of the agreement when they hired on. It was one thing to be in comfortable conditions on a ship and another to hike twenty-five kilometers into the taiga and carry out a load.
By then my funds were running short. I was not planning to sell the cedar. After all, the old men had said it had to be given away. And I believed the main thing was not the cedar itself but the secret of extracting its oil. And in general I was interested in finding out all kinds of information connected with it.
Gradually, with the help of my security team, I became convinced that I was being followed, especially when I went ashore, but to what end was unclear, as were the people behind the surveillance. I thought and thought about what to do and decided that in order not to foul things up, I somehow had to outwit everyone in one fell swoop.

Книга:  Book I: Anastasia: «I Exist For Those I Exist For»