The Scandinavian Concept of Ragnarök

In Scandinavian mythology, Ragnarök is composed of a series of events and catastrophes which after having occurred, will ultimately lead to the end of civilization and the world. Ragnarök culminates as a final battle between the gods, demons, and giants, ending in the death of virtually all gods therefore ending in the end of the worlds existence. From this outcome, a new pantheon of deities is created and from this, a new world order. The term “Ragnarök” often stands to represent “the last great battle”

The Etymology of the Christian Demon Name “Lucifer”

The name “Lucifer” in reference to Satan from the Christian faith is derived from the Latin terms, “lucem” and “ferri”, which mean “light” and “bearer”. Lucifer, and from that Satan, holds resemblance to Prometheus, a Greek god who is credited with creating the human race by spawning human beings from clay. Prometheus is also credited with providing civilization with the gift of fire, which resulted in him being punished when caught by having his liver eaten by an eagle by day and then growing back again at night, repeating this cycle ad infinitum

The Reason January 1st is the Beginning of the New Year

The tradition of January 1st being the beginning of the new year is derived from the Ancient Romans. The feast of the Roman god Janus, for whom the month is named, falls upon January 9th of the Julian calendar. Ancient Roman Emperor Julius Caesar felt January to be the perfect month to celebrate the beginning of the new year as it paid tribute to the deity who was responsible for new beginnings as well as doors and gates, personified as a dual faced god that can see both the past and the future

The Agama Texts of Hinduism

Hinduism is not a religion of the book as there is no central source of authority like the Bible or the Quran to refer to, however there is no shortage of scripture. The whole canon of Hindu philosophy thrives upon debate and spiritual inquiry, much of it contradictory. Collected all together, these texts would fill many, many volumes of text. The Agamas were created to be a set of rules to guide those who subscribe to Hinduism and its ideological principles. The Agamas are incredibly vast in their range of topics offering instructions upon temple construction, the intricacies of the guru and disciple relationship, and meditation practices, covering every moment of life from waking to sleeping, from birth to death. The agamas originated in Tamil Nadu and are written in the Tamil language. The agamas provided Hinduism a formal structure which are still considered cornerstones in the practice of Hinduism during the modern day

The Tradition and Method of Selecting a New Pope

Murder, bribery, and nepotism were the primary ways in which a pope would enter or exit the papacy prior to the 12th century. It was during the 12th century that cardinals who were senior clergy in Rome, Italy created what they referred to as a “college” to act as a council which would regulate the elections of future popes. This system became referred to as the “conclave” which refers to the practice of a “private meeting assembly of cardinals for the election of a pope”. The term “conclave” was chosen because of the Latin term “con” with means “with” and the Latin term “clavin” which means “key”, more literally translating to “locked room” as cardinals would be locked away to avoid the interference of outside politics. As of 1274 A.D., all papal elections are held in secret, adhering to this strict tradition in an attempt to remain unbiased. Elections are held again and again until a 66% majority is achieved at which point white smoke is released to signify that the council has reached a decision. The election ballets from each voting round are burned so that the election is completely anonymous and private, even for those who are present in the meeting. It is this burning which creates the iconography of the smoke being released to signify a decision. In the Middle Ages, cardinals added damp straw to the ballots which created black smoke to signify that a pope had not yet been chosen. White smoke was created by burning the paper alone, but during the modern day, chemical additives are added to ensure the white smoke color is as unambiguous as possible

Captain James Morgan and the Rum Named After Him

The tiny island of Île à Vache, Haiti (pronounced “eel ah vash”) was the location Captain Henry Morgan decided to setup a base of operations to harass the French and Spanish who controlled the mainland. The British, French, and Spanish fought furiously 300 years ago for the spoils which came along with the conquer and colonization of the New World. Captain Morgan lives on in modern culture as the Captain Morgan rum manufacturer takes its image and name from this famous British privateer

The Annual Hindu Rain Festival of Ambubachi Mela

For 3 days each June, typically always starting upon June 22 and ending upon June 26, but fluctuating due to various influences, the Hindu festival of Ambubachi Mela is observed. Sadhu’s, that is, holy men of the Hindu faith, and pilgrims from all over India gather at the Kamakhya Temple (pronounced “kah-mah-kee-yah”) in Guwahati, India, a site located upon a hill near the Brahmaputra River, to pray for rain. It is believed by Hindus that the presiding goddess of the temple, Devi Kamakhya, who is the Mother Shakti, goes through her annual cycle of menstruation during this festival. The Kamakhya Temple becomes closed for 3 days during the mela as it is believed by Hindus that the Earth, commonly associated as Mother Earth, becomes unclean for 3 days and therefore should be secluded in the same format that some traditionally practicing Hindu women seclude themselves during their own menstrual cycles. During these 3 days, some restrictions are observed by the Hindu devotees (e.g. cessation of cooking, cessation of performing worship which is referred to as “puja”, cessation of reading holy books, cessation of farming etc.). After 3 days, Devi Kamakhya is bathed by cleaning the statue which represents her with red pigment flowing from her vaginal canal, alongside other rituals which are carried out to ensure that the devi retrieves purity. The doors of the Kamakhya Temple are reopened on the 4th day and devotees are permitted to enter Kamakhya Temple to worship Devi Kamakhya. The devotion of these pilgrims is believed to bring rain and fertility back to the Earth

South Korean Culture and the Importance of Facial Symmetry and Beauty

South-Korean-gwansang

Facial structure is incredibly important in South Korea and professionals are available who specialize physiognomy, the practice of reading facial features the same way palm readers read the lines of the palm to determine ones supposed fortune (e.g. the forehead supposedly represents luck, up to the age of 30, as well as a person’s parents luck and the nose represents oneself in their entirety and can also be indicative of wealth). The facial reading process is a pseudoscience similar to phrenology of the 19th century. The practice of facial queue reading is actually quite commonplace with top employers like Samsung, LG, and Kia using facial reading experts to help decide who the company should hire for various positions. The body is also accounted for in this reading, but on a much smaller scale. Facial readers claim to be able to predict and decode a persons fortune, career, and wealth, not only for the person being examined, but also of their parents. This process is referred to in Korean as “gwansang”

The Traditional Backstory of the Garden Gnome

garden-gnomeGnomes are said to live in and around gardens, and to come out at night to work on said gardens. If the gnome is caught in daylight, they turn to stone, in whatever position they were caught in. This is why gnomes are placed in gardens in a variety of positions. The idea is that they come out every night and are frozen the next morning during sunrise in whatever position they were in when the light from the sun touched them

The Turin Shroud of Christianity

Turin-Shroud

The Turin Shroud which is believed by Christians to have been wrapped around Jesus Christ after his death and to have been left behind by Christ post-resurrection, is approximately 14’6” long by 3’6” wide and bears the mysterious image of the full front and back of a man, a person who appears to have met a violent death. The Turin Shroud negative image was stumbled upon by amateur photographer Secondo Pia in 1898 whilst taking the first archeological photographs of the shroud. Today, the Turin Shroud is kept within the royal chapel of the Turin Cathedral in Italy, under lock and key in a climate controlled, bulletproof encasing. The Catholic Church allowed scientific examination of the Turin Shroud in 1978 and in 1988, but the piece is rarely placed on display for the public, with the last showing drawing over 2,000,000 (2 million) people in 2015. Blood samples found upon the Turin Shroud found that whoever supplied it had blood type AB, a rare blood type found only in 3% of the population, however more common in the Middle East. Much of the skepticism related to the Turin Shroud stems from the fact that it was not historically documented and recorded until nearly 1400 years after the death of Christ, during the Medieval period in 1349. It is suspected that the Turin Shroud could have belonged to the last grandmaster of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay. After being arrested by Philip IV, the then king of France, de Molay was tortured, had a crown of thorns placed upon his head, and was then crucified in 1314. Scientists have theorized that because de Molay was wrapped in a long piece of cloth, the lactic acid built up during torture as well as de Molay’s own blood mixed with the frankincense which was used to keep the cloth white, provided an imprint after his death. The last known historical description and image of de Molay actually matches quite well with the image on the Turin Shroud, both images depicting a male with a large nose, shoulder length hair parted in the center, a crown of thorns, and a full beard