- Here are 19 must-see vampire movies plus that one Keanu Reeves was in. (Flavorwire)
- A home in Tennessee may be the final resting place of the ghost of Al Capone. (Murfreesboro Post)
- Oxford Journals has put together a whole list of Halloween-themed academic articles. (Oxford Journals via @erikdavis)
- Professor of Poltergeists? Ectoplasmus Emeritus? Meet an academic who researches the paranormal. (Pipe Dream)
- The psychology behind haunted houses. (MJ Wayland via @davidbmetcalfe)
- Looking for a day trip? Here are the ten best places to celebrate Halloween. (Celebrity Cafe)
- And if Salem is your spooktacular destination, read this. (Canoe)
- This bed-and-breakfast boasts a daily continental breakfast…and ghosts! (Chicago Tribune)
- This Wiccan says Halloween gives witches a bad rap. (Times Colonist)
- And this person says we should just ban Halloween all together. (Vancouver Sun)
TransylvaniaPennsylvania school does just that and cancels Halloween. (Fox)
- But let’s not forget the historic origins of the holiday. (Pueblo Chieftain)
- Double double toil and trouble: here’s a talk on magic, charms, and amulets. (Horniman Museum)
- <Insert obligatory story on real witches here> (LaMesa Courier)
- But do real witches wear pointy hats? (Slate)
- Finally, workers at a haunted house in Illinois say the place is haunted for real. In fact, paranormal activity in the building’s basement has led many employees to avoid going downstairs. Others, too spooked for comfort, have quit in fear of what some say is a gateway to Hell. Oh yeah, the building used to be a coffin factory—but that probably has nothing to do with it. (Courier News)
Photo by great beyond.
- Pagan writer Nevill Drury has passed away. (The Wild Hunt)
- Are we hardwired to believe in the supernatural? (NYT)
- The U.S. government has shut down because *spins wheel* Christian Apocalypticism. (Religion Dispatches)
- Here’s something that makes me think the end is near: Hipster Bluegrass Buddhists. (Shambhala Sun)
- The pope summons his “luxury bishop” to Rome to talk about his spending; why there is always a waiting list for the Hermès Birkin. (Reuters)
- An in-depth look at American snake handlers. (NPR)
- And inside the Islamic pilgrimage of the Hajj. (CNN)
- Can the magical papyri shed light on how the ancients read—and performed—holy texts? (Antiquitopia)
- Rik Garrett has done a wonderful investigation of Chicago locations of Thee Satanic Church. Presumably, they all met in the frunchroom of dose bungalows. (Occult Chicago)
- Grab your wine krater an enjoy this comic book-style rendering of the Homeric hymn to Dionysus! (act-i-vate via @HellenicStudies)
- The latest craze in occultism is reconciling magick with Christianity. (Head for the Red)
- And Jason Miller looks at how Christianity and magick are similar. (Strategic Sorcery)
- Jesus magic trifecta! Was Jesus the key initiator of a mystery religion? (Digital Enchiridion)
- Babalon Working comes to the big screen. (Vice)
- One brave soul attends a gnostic mass; maybe eats a cake of light. (Dangerous Minds via The Wild Hunt)
- Looking for a new magic book? Here are some occult publishers to check out. (The Used Key is Always Bright)
- Finally, as membership in Freemasonry declines, many lodges are finding it in their best interest to sell their buildings to condo developers. Residents of these masonic-temple-turned-condos say they love the checkered floors and celestial ceiling murals, but getting tyled by the doorman gets old after a while. (Freemason Information via @masonictraveler)
Photo by Leo Reynolds.
- The Amish say “no” to Obamacare, electricity, cars, shaving and pretty much everything else. Beards are still alright. (Reuters)
- This restaurant’s dinner menu has psychic readings on it. Spoiler: That tall dark stranger is probably just the maître d’. (The West via Gala Darling)
- Learning Latin? Here’s how to roll your R’s. (Exploring Our Matrix)
- Indian women are caught between two archetypes: The Goddess and the Slut. (AlJazeera)
- The Dead Sea Scrolls are now online. Here’s an interview with the guy who put them there. (LXXI via PaleoJudaica)
- And an interview with Robert Mathiesen, a scholar of esotericism. (Albion Calling)
- Interview trifecta! Here’s one with Michael Aquino, founder of that other church of Satan, the Temple of Set. (Disinfo via @BBorderlands)
- And Australia’s census reveals that more people identify as Satanists than Scientologists. (Sunday Mail via A Bad Witch’s Blog)
- But is heavy metal a religion? (Religious Studies Project)
- I don’t like to shill, but Jason Pitzl-Waters does some great work for the pagan community with The Wild Hunt. Why not toss him a few bucks and help him keep the doors open another year? (The Wild Hunt)
- Scholar Sarah Iles Johnston looks at Hellenistic re-constructionists. (House of Vines via @t3dy)
- There’s a new book out on theurgy and gnosticsm. (Forbidden Gospels)
- Esoteric scholars, take heed! The EASR conference is looking for submissions on esotericism. So snap to it! (NGG-EASR)
- Medieval esotericists wished they were Gypsies. And Persians. And pretty much anything other than boring European dudes. (Praeludia Microcosmica)
- You know that other Golden Dawn? Yeah, they’re being accused of paganism. (The Wild Hunt)
- And the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn officially denounces you know who. (HOGD) [Note: I've disabled the links as the site is currently redirecting through a webring...and the 90's apparently.]
- Finally, A popular Chicago restaurant adds a burger named after a Swedish heavy metal band. Bonus: “The Ghost” Burger is topped with a wine reduction sauce and communion wafer. Patrons have described the meal, which has offended some in the Christian community, as sacrilicious, sinful, or any number of other cheeky colloquialisms that conveys a pleasurable state of transgression of religious norms. (NBC)
Photo by chrisinplymouth.
Apocrypha scholars strike a pose for the camera.
UPDATE: Other participants have posted their observations on the symposium…
- The 2013 York Christian Apocrypha Symposium in Retrospect:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three
Tony Burke, Apocryphicity
- Reflections on the 2nd York Apocrypha Symposium
Mark Bilby, Voces Anticae
I’ve been blogging a bit about the York Christian Apocrypha Symposium which took place in September at York University. Many of you may have been wondering what that was all about. (Christianity? On Invocatio? Certainly there must be some mistake!).
No mistake. As a student of ancient religions, Christianity is right there. And Christianity actually has some pretty funky stuff going on, especially once you get beyond the New Testament. When the opportunity came up to help out with the Symposium, I jumped at the chance. Now that the conference has wrapped, I’d like to share with you the student perspective on putting together such an event.
The conference organizer, Tony Burke, asked if I’d be interested in working on the conference back in June. He had already recruited one undergraduate student, but was looking for a second to share some of the duties. I had heard nothing but good things about Professor Burke from my classmates and absolutely jumped at the chance. Really. There was no way in hell I was going to say no.
Since the conference was several months off, I figured I’d have a bit of time to do whatever it is non-students do in the summer. (Go to the beach? Sip drinks on the patio? Relax?) But emails quickly poured in about the conference while I was in Sweden, giving me an indication that we would be hitting the ground running upon my return.
And we did.
My first task was to put together biographies of our speakers. We had twenty-two of them, all top-notch figures in their fields*. As I scanned through their résumés, I quickly realized how accomplished these folks were with their dozens of ancient languages and multiple pages of published works. As for me? I speak a mighty good English and can juggle. So, there. Top that.
My next job was to create a website to showcase all these amazing speakers and make it easy for potential attendees to, well, attend. Furthermore, this was the second in what is planned to be an ongoing conference series, and it just made sense for the Symposium to have its own web space.
Flash forward to the end of September and it was crunch time. Last minute website updates, schedule changes, missed flights—you name it, we were adjusting to it. My role here shifted from behind the scenes web golem to up-front chauffeur, shuttling speakers to-and-from the airport. At this point, I should mention that, while I fully intended to improve my driving skills for the conference, this didn’t happen. Luckily, The Husband shared this role with me. And by “shared” I mean that he drove the car while I mucked about with the radio. What can I say? I owe him one.
The Symposium itself was really strong. We had some really solid panels and a wide variety of speakers. From the first paper to the last, each presentation was a snapshot of the field’s depth and a testament to the way scholars are approaching this material. I’ll admit, some of it was over my head, but it was obvious there was plenty of source material to work with and many avenues of research to pursue.
Our keynote address by Annette Yoshiko Reed did a wonderful job of bringing these texts into the present, giving examples of how fringe Christian works have influenced, among other things, anime and comic culture. This was a nice foray into the modern cultural implications of the apocrypha, and showed how these texts are far from marginal works, but have influenced popular thought throughout the ages and even into the present-day.
For me, the interesting thing was seeing how the conference has grown from the last one. I attended the Secret Gospel of Mark Conference in 2011, which at that time was a one-day event. This year, the scope had widened to include many different apocryphal texts and well as its related genres in apocalypticism and gnosticism. I really enjoyed this aspect, as the shift in material gave one a bit of a break, while also showing how these areas overlap in terms of study.
What’s more, all this could no longer be contained by a single day. This year’s conference was two solid days of presentations and panels. The speaker roster had doubled. When the conference closed with an eye towards figuring out where to go from here, it was apparent that the apocrypha, as a field of study, was large enough to merit more than a footnote in the world of New Testament studies.
And we had our own hash tag. So you know we’ve arrived.
Of course, we had a great team we had working on the conference. I’d mention names, but I’m not sure if they want to be part of the blogosphere, so I’ll remain mum on that point for now! For me, however, I couldn’t have worked with a better group, and I consider myself amazingly lucky to have been a part of something like this at such a hands-on level. My thanks to Tony Burke for including me on his team. Here’s hoping for continued success in the future!
*Please don’t think I am responsible for all the biographies. Putting everything together was definitely a group effort!
Tony Burke was kind enough to cross-post here at his blog Apocryphicity.
- Stonehenge is getting a visitor’s centre. It will include a museum and several fire extinguishers. (BBC)
- People can’t get enough of the apocalypse. (NYT)
- The initiation ceremonies of the Samburu, a Kenyan tribe that’s protecting their tradition from the encroachment of modernity. (National Geographic)
- Driving a car will wreck a Saudi Arabian woman’s ovaries. In related news, men’s testicles have a magic barrier which protects them from damage while behind the wheel. (Guardian)
- You know what pisses off the Taliban? Islamic mystics. (Reuters)
- The Jewish tradition of dream incubation, a divination technique which was widespread in the ancient world. (JMMM)
- What would Jesus tweet? (NT Blog)
- Religious art gets looted during wars, but how does it get recovered? (The Economist)
- Peter Berger on the Americanization of Buddhism. (The American Interest)
- Case in point: What Buddhism has to say about being busy. (Shambhala Sun)
- Religion fits surprisingly well into conspiracy culture. (Religion in American History)
- And, uh, maybe there was more to Jack Parsons’ death than a simple explosion. (Augoeides)
- David Metcalfe on the Obeah tradition. (The Eyeless Owl)
- Can semiotics shed light on mystic experiences? (Occult Experiences in the Home)
- Bruce Springsteen: Working-class hero and…promulgator of the new aeon. (AC2012)
- Here are three reasons to do ritual. (Humanistic Paganism)
- Finally, occult practitioners are getting confused with a Greek neo-Nazi party which calls itself the Golden Dawn. When asked for a statement, the Secret Chiefs said they do not condone the use of the “Golden Dawn” moniker by right-wing groups and observed that “this is the worst thing to happen to modern occultism since Madonna took up Kabbalah.” (Nick Farrell)
Photo by jeeheon.
We’ve discussed some constructions of women in antiquity previously on the blog. Specifically, we looked at how Platonic, Hermetic, Gnostic, and even Kabbalistic texts painted a picture of womanhood that was far from complimentary. Given this dicey outlook on femininity, it would be fair to consider if there was anything at all that the ancients found valuable in a woman.
There is. It’s her butt.
To be specific, it appears that ancient writers prized a large, round derrière. The converse, not so much.
Now, I take no issue with this. In fact, as someone who has been endowed with a rather ample backside, the only way it could get better is if the perfect woman also had a lazy eye and spoke with a Chicago accent. Obviously, these fellows had their priorities in order.
Hesiod, for one, knew the appeal of a lady with a big butt, connecting it directly to one’s sexual allure. However, even a plump booty couldn’t save a woman from her most basic problem: That she was a woman and full of lies.
“Do not let a woman with a sexy rump deceive you with wheedling and coaxing words; she is after your barn. The man who trusts a woman trusts deceivers.” (In Pomeroy, 48)
But why the “sexy rump?” It went beyond personal preference—the larger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’, if you know what I mean. This physical attribute was prized for a very practical reason that had to do with the perils of childbirth in antiquity. Keep in mind that modern birth control was still a couple of millennia in the making. Without access to the things we take for granted, the Greeks practiced anal sex as a contraceptive technique (Pomeroy, 49).
But I digress. Was there anything wrong with a small ass? Well, yeah. It was small.
Heck, even the Romans liked a sizable behind.
Like, Hesiod, the Roman poet Juvenal also outlined the woes women bring in a poem titled simply “On Women.” Every imaginable personality flaw is cataloged in this work, reiterating classical tropes about the female nature. Women are sexually licentious, “simple-minded” and concerned with superficial matters. In comparing various types of women unfavorably with animals, he makes the connection we saw earlier between desirability and butt-size:
Another one is from the monkey. In this case Zeus has outdone himself
In giving husbands the worst kind of evil.
She has the ugliest face imaginable; and such a woman
Is the laughingstock throughout the town for everyone.
Her body moves awkwardly all the way up to its short neck;
She hardly has an ass and her legs are skinny. What a poor wretch is the husband
Who has to put his arms around such a mess!
For Zeus designed this as the greatest of all evils:
Women. Even if in some way they seem to be a help;
To their husbands especially they are a source of evil.
(In Pomeroy, 51)
Juvenal concludes that the only woman worthy of praise is one who is obedient, refrains from talking about sex, and bears her husband a “distinguished group of children.” Also, we can infer from his disparaging remarks about the “monkey” woman that a round behind is a plus, even if it won’t eradicate the evil that women bring to the men around them.
Ironically, in Juvenal’s poem, woman is created by Zeus. One may ask: What kind of god would punish the male species as depicted here? In other words, this whole mess is Zeus’ fault! Perhaps it was a literary device, or just a practical necessity that the chief deity, being male, be responsible for the human race.
Our take away here is two-fold: The ancients didn’t really think much of women. In fact, they were quite awful creatures. However, if you were a man in antiquity, and you couldn’t avoid dealing with one, best choose a woman with a nice, large ass.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. Schocken. 1995.
Photo by Giulio Menna.
- Can Mormonism bridge the divide between Christianity and the occult? (OUP via @t3dy)
- Holy water in Austria is unsafe to drink for people, vampires. (Reuters)
- German churches are sermonizing the sexy parts of the Bible. (HuffPo)
- Meanwhile, Germany says Muslim students can’t skip gym class. (Economist)
- You know who has it tough in China? Shamans. (Guardian)
- Go behind the scenes of the Kumbh Mela, a religious festival which attracts over 20 million people to the shores of the Ganges. (Smithsonian)
- Did you just fall from heaven? Scientists say that talking to people you love is the same as talking to God. (Epiphenom)
- Strategic investing is one way to push one’s spiritual agenda. (Guardian)
- And reinterpreting artifacts is one way to understand gender in ancient religion. (Feminism and Religion)
- What to expect as you move through the Golden Dawn degrees. (Nick Farrell)
- Some wonderful resources on Pagan theology. (Sermons from the Mound via LFHC)
- Do Pagan Pride events make visible minorities uncomfortable? (The Wild Hunt)
- Here are nine principles of magick. (Llewellyn)
- Finally, The Christian Science Monitor mines journalism gold by suggesting that human babies are edible, forcing its editors to issue a lengthy clarification after some readers disagreed with the newspaper’s stance. The Monitor was very apologetic and stated that omissions sometimes do occur and, indeed, babies are not edible unless you marinate them first. They sincerely regret the error. (Romenesko)
Photo by mindgutter.