- Iraq adds Syriac to its list of official languages. (PaleoJudaica)
- The giant sculpture of Christ of the Redeemer in Brazil was recently damaged by storms. Here’s a breathtaking look at its restoration. (Hypervocal)
- Vicarious religion is just one model with which to analyze the beliefs of social groups. But, like all things, haters gonna hate. (RSP)
- Liberals say they are more special than those sheeple who go to church. (Religion Dispatches)
- What happened to the Ark of the Covenant? Is it now buried treasure? Probably not. (Live Science)
- The University of Toronto is hosting a series of lectures on religion and culture in the ancient world. Bonus: Jewish angels. (SCRA)
- And here’s a conference on Western Esotericism and Its Scholars, which is organized by some scholars of Western esotericism. (Amsterdam Hermetica via @WJHanegraaff)
- Why Egyptologists need to stop using Budge. (The Seven Worlds via @ARCE-PA)
- Zombies, eating braaaaaains and terrifying people since antiquity. (Graeco Muse)
- Statistics do wonderful things, like prove the veracity of the Icelandic sagas. (ASNØC)
- Finally, everybody freaks out over a questionable tarot reading, but I’d be thrilled if I had this tarot card in my future. Personally, I prefer my trump cards with double mushrooms, but why be picky. (Daily Drawings)
Photo by Susanne Koch.
- York University (in Canada, eh?) accommodates a student who says he can’t work with women based on religious grounds. (Globe and Mail)
- The pope says women can breastfeed in church. Giggity. (CNN)
- Maybe its because some devotional practices involved fondling the virgin mother’s breasts. (Antiquitopia)
- The new Stonehenge visitor’s center gets a resounding “meh.” (BBC)
- Mindfulness is good for some things, bad for others. Namaste. (NYT)
- Can you tell the difference between a cult and a minority religion? (Telegraph via @ProjectRS)
- After Satanists propose a monument in Oklahoma, some are asking whether or not the
Church of SatanSatanic Temple is sincere. (Religion Dispatches)
- And Peter Berger weighs-in on contemporary Satanism. (The American Interest)
- The revelatory imperative of Mormon polygamy. (Three Principle Rounds)
- Meet Dr. Jenny Butler, a scholar who studies Irish Paganism. (Albion Calling)
- The AAR’s Western Esotericism Group wants papers. (AAR via @mjdillon13)
- The Looking Through the Occult conference posted audio files of its lectures. (LTOC)
- Will Paganism suffer as it becomes an institutionalized religion? (The Wild Hunt)
- Finally, audio purists not satisfied with dodgy mp3 downloads of Aleister Crowley’s Enochian calls can now enjoy the dulcet tones of the Great Beast on vinyl for the first time since 1984. Reviews are mixed about the new release, as critics say Crowley has loads of innate talent, but overreaches on occasion and gets a little pitchy in the Second Aethyr. (Boing Boing)
Photo by thaths.
- Christians are mad at Beyoncé. (Charisma News)
- Some good advice for avoiding academic burnout. (Scientific American)
- Religious fundamentalism is on the decline. (Salon)
- Unless you’re the Church of Satan. (CNN)
- Can older traditions still be accurately categorized as New Religious Movements? (Religion in American History)
- A photographic look at how various faiths celebrate their traditions. (NYT)
- The Egyptian goddess Mut had a personal beer maker. Here’s his tomb. (Egyptiana Emporium)
- And maybe now is a good time to grab a pint and read this introduction to Egyptian funerary mythology. (Graeco Muse)
- Want to go further? Here are a bunch of digitized Egyptology books. You’re welcome. (UofM)
- Are you in England and pissed you can’t get read esoteric websites anymore? Well, you can with this work-around. (Augoeides)
- Alchemy, history and religion. (Forbidden Histories)
- Finally, London’s premier atheist church recently underwent its first schism. Patrons cite ideological differences for the split, saying that it was just too difficult for everyone to agree on the appropriate foam content of a venti double-shot, no-whip latte; or why they were even meeting in the first place since everyone is an atheist. (CNN)
Photo by quinn.anya.
- The top 10 Biblical references in rap. (Rap Genius via RNS)
- From the other end of the musical spectrum: The infernal origins of Hall & Oates. (Salon)
- The SBL seeks paper proposals from academic bloggers. Abstracts should be 300 words or less and in leetspeak. (Exploring Our Matrix)
- Two words: Muslim hipsters. (NPR)
- A town in England revives the practice of neolithic burial mounds, complete with a mead-drinking ceremony. (BBC)
- And the British Museum re-discovers a Viking witch’s wand. (Daily Mail)
- How cool is this? A secret campaign to save war-torn Mali’s medieval manuscripts, which represent a golden age of Islamic thought. (Smithsonian)
- Well, duh: Sexy people are into the Occult. (Ultraculture)
- Did hallucinogenic drugs influence some of the world’s major religions? (Atlantic)
- Drugs or no drugs, traditions are so powerful that even atheists need rituals. (Guardian)
- Finally, one Pennsylvania homeowner man recently learned the best way to entice potential buyers was to list his house as “slightly haunted.” Real estate agents say it’s not exactly the best selling feature, but its a step-up from their other more “cozy” listings with loads of “quint charm” and “DIY Appeal.” Socket wrench, ghostbusters not included.(Roadtrippers)
Photo by Wolfram Burner.
Those who study esotericism in North America will will be interested in the upcoming conference of the Association for the Study of Esotericism (ASE). Taking place in June, it’s considered to be the American counterpart to the ESSWE conference, which you no doubt have heard much of here.
I am super-excited from this conference because I will be presenting my first conference paper at the ASE! My research topic will be a bit of a digression from my main squeeze of the ancient world, but it is an interesting one nevertheless. It’s on vampires.
This past semester I took a course on religion and identity in the Balkans. The result was a paper called “The Disenchantment of the Vampire: Balkan Folklore’s Deadly Encounter with Modernity.” In some ways this paper coincided with areas I was already working with: Rhetorical strategies, Orientalism, and occult-y themes. In other ways, it was totally different. Most obviously it was modern and concerned itself with the intersection of Western perceptions of the Balkans and so-called “Modernity.” (I say “so-called Modernity” because this Modernity is a problematic construction that more appropriately describes a specific worldview of a certain portion of society than an all-encompassing evolution of thought.)
In short, I’ll be analysing the cognitive dissonance created by the Balkan vampire on the Western European scientific mindset as “Modernity” emerged. This is depicted here in broad strokes as an interaction between the rational, Modern West and backwards, superstitious East. This weighty topic will be focused through the various representations of the Balkan vampire, and how it changed over time to fit Western prejudices of the Balkan region. I’ll be looking at historical reports of vampirism, literary depictions of vampires, and of course, Dracula.
Velvet suits are optional. Capes are not recommended as this is an academic conference.
I hope to see you there in June!
Photo by CMPhotography.
- Here are the top 10 religious news stories of 2013. (Reuters)
- Meanwhile, Pagans encourage the Associated Press, who sets the standards for many newsrooms, to capitalize their religion. (Letter from Hardscrabble Creek)
- Remember Jesus’ wife? Yeah, everyone else forgot too. (NT Blog)
- Does edutainment hurt Biblical scholarship? I’m not saying it’s possible, but it’s possible. (Apocryphicity)
- Learn a bit about Zoroastrianism, Iran’s ancient religion. (IranWire via @UPennRELS)
- And you might want to learn about that ASAP because Zoroastrianism may be dying out. (Guardian via @Aarleks)
- The Poles seek out the help of witches to solve pressing dilemmas. (Witchcraft Incorporated)
- What’s up with ancient magical palindromes? (PhDiva)
- Erik Davis says Yoga is totally religious, except when its not. (Interfaith Voices)
- And victims in the Bikram Yoga™ sex scandal speak out. (Vanity Fair)
- Knock once if you know history of the Ouija board. (Smithsonian via @Sommer_HPS)
- Finally, when not ingesting crack cocaine in a drunken stupor, Toronto mayor Rob Ford enjoys a quiet evening at home with the classics. Really. A recent interview with the Toronto Star suggests the embattled mayor knows his emperors well enough to give a mini-lecture on Julius “Big Julie” Caesar. Rob Ford, making Toronto horrified—yet proud—at exactly the same time. (Rogue Classicism)
Photo by the Catholic Church.
- One percent of American women claim to have been immaculately conception-ed; don’t know anything about those steamy emails you found. (Jezebel)
- Icelanders are concerned an environmental project will disturb the local elves. (The Atlantic)
- But maybe that’s OK because those elves are nasty buggers who will steal all your food! (Smithsonian)
- For those of you who want to put the Saturn back in Saturnalia, here’s a bit on the history of everyone’s favorite Roman holiday. (Latin Language Blog via Rogue Classicism)
- Ah, but the Talmud says Saturnalia was originally Jewish. (Forging the Sampo)
- Atheist attempts to neutralize Christmas misappropriate Pagan traditions. (The Wild Hunt)
- Meanwhile, Atheists reclaim the Solstice as a humanist holiday, where they listen to NPR and bond over locally-sourced, artisanal cranberry sauce. (Vancouver Courier)
- Atheists may not need Jesus, but Satan sure does! So why not learn a bit about the other man in red? (Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean)
- We hear a lot about the War on Christmas, but what if it was real? (Mother Jones)
- Finally, meet Sweden’s Yule Goat. This holiday beast once brought good tidings and presents to those living in the North, but now he’s burned in effigy instead. Well, if if there is anything Scandinavians are good at, I suppose it’s burning stuff. (io9)
Photo by caruba.