Archive for the 'Religion & Spirituality' Category

Resurrecting the Christmas Ghost Story Tradition

Why should Halloween get all the fun?



From The Smithsonian,


A Plea to Resurrect the Christmas Tradition of Telling Ghost Stories
Though the practice is now more associated with Halloween, spooking out your family is well within the Christmas spirit

By Colin Dickey


“For the last hundred years, Americans have kept ghosts in their place, letting them out only in October, in the run-up to our only real haunted holiday, Halloween. But it wasn’t always this way, and it’s no coincidence that the most famous ghost story is a Christmas story—or, put another way, that the most famous Christmas story is a ghost story. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was first published in 1843, and its story about a man tormented by a series of ghosts the night before Christmas belonged to a once-rich, now mostly forgotten tradition of telling ghost stories on Christmas Eve. Dickens’ supernatural yuletide terror was no outlier, since for much of the 19th century, was the holiday indisputably associated with ghosts and the specters.


“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” humorist Jerome K. Jerome wrote in his 1891 collection, Told After Supper. “Nothing satisfies us on Christmas Eve but to hear each other tell authentic anecdotes about spectres. It is a genial, festive season, and we love to muse upon graves, and dead bodies, and murders, and blood.”


Telling ghost stories during winter is a hallowed tradition, a folk custom stretches back centuries, when families would wile away the winter nights with tales of spooks and monsters. “A sad tale’s best for winter,” Mamillius proclaims in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale: “I have one. Of sprites and goblins.” And the titular Jew of Malta in Christopher Marlowe’s play at one point muses, “Now I remember those old women’s words, Who in my wealth would tell me winter’s tales, And speak of spirits and ghosts by night…”


Read the rest here.
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‘Surely I am coming soon’ — Five Men Who Think They’re the Messiah

They believe. And their followers do too.


From National Geographic,



Meet Five Men Who All Think They’re the Messiah

These men say they’re the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Their disciples agree.

Story and Photographs by Jonas Bendiksen and As told to Jeremy Berlin


‘Surely I am coming soon.’


“The Bible’s penultimate verse, prophesying the return of Jesus Christ, has always fascinated me. When is “soon”? And who is “I”? For the past three years I’ve followed seven men who claim to be the Second Coming of Christ (five are shown here). By immersing myself in their revelations and spending time with their disciples, I’ve tried to produce images that illustrate the human longing for faith, meaning, and salvation.


Religion is somewhat mysterious to me, probably because I wasn’t raised with it in Norway. But I’ve always enjoyed reading Scripture, and over the past decade or so my interest in it has grown. I’ve found myself coming back, again and again, to that mysterious line—a promise that Christianity has been waiting nearly 2,000 years to be fulfilled…”


For the stories and photographs, click here.


All About Henbane, the “flying ointment” of witches

Listen up witches, here’s the scoop on henbane, “the insane seed that breedeth madness”…



From The Vintage News,


Henbane: Egyptians smoked it, witches used it for “flying ointment,” and it poisoned Hamlet’s father

by Magda Origjanska


“The dose makes the poison, the ancient pharmacists once said. Even the most poisonous fauna that Mother Nature produces can be beneficial if used judiciously. The word poison may evoke thoughts of sudden, painful death, but for centuries herbalists and healers exploited the power of natural toxins and venoms as medicine.


Moreover, it is no secret that some “notorious” substances played a hallucinogenic and psychotropic role too. Most of us are quite familiar with the fact that Coca-Cola’s older variants (1886-1929) contained cocaine in varying amounts. At the time cocaine was considered a legal medicine, and it wasn’t the first drinkable product that used the coca plant in its formula.


Among the numerous plants of this kind was henbane, which during the Middle Ages was widely known as “the insane seed that breedeth madness,” although today it is recognized for its contribution to the development of modern medical painkillers…”


Click here for the rest.


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