Spookatorium 042

This episode we take a look at the Maryhill Stonehenge, a scale replica of the original Stonehenge in Washington state, and the superstitious origins of Horse Brass Medallions. In addition there is music from Polevaulter, Plague Agent, Spectral Aeons, Tho-So-Aa, Akinsa, Anchient, Snowbeasts, Sword Volcano Complex, Terminal Sound System, Kollaps, and Gator Bait Ten.


Spookatorium 036

In this episode, we explore the idea of the Sin Eater and look at some of the superstitions surrounding the Hangman’s Rope. And there is lots of great music from the likes of Intersigno, Ourea, Belt, Swarm Intelligence, Images In Silence, Tribe Of Circle, Volunteer Coroner, Drape Excrement, Pain Teens, Shallow Waves, Dismal Thoughts, and A.M.Q.A

Waterboarding Spirits

During the previous run of the show  I gave a fair amount of coverage to the increasing number of exorcisms finding their way into the news. While the Vatican seemed to be devoting some real resources to it, I also looked at the secular concept of spirit release promoted by a small faction of the psychiatric community.

A recent story from Japan, points to a sect of Buddhism, Nakayamashingoshoshu, also interested in purging evil. In this case via bastardization of the “waterfall rite” known as takigyo. The victim, Tomomi Maishigi, a thirteen year old girl had a history of health concerns, both mental and physical, that doctor’s were not able to bring under control. Her father enlisted the help of Kazuaki Kinoshita, a monk. Kinoshita determined the Tomomi was possessed by evil spirits.

She was belted into a chair where water was dropped on her face from a pump 2.5 meters (about 8 feet) above her. This was an established apparatus at the temple where she was “treated,” indicating she likely wasn’t the first to undergo such a thing.  She was subjected to this over 100 times, before it killed her. She died of suffocation after losing consciousness in the chair.

A spokesperson for Nakayamashingoshoshu’s main temple indicated both the binding of the subject and use of the rite as a means of exorcism is not its intent. It is rather a means of helping one bring their wishes into reality. The participant is meant to endure the ritual standing and the water is not delivered to their face. Whether that is the case, or this exposed a process they would have preferred to keep secret, a 13-year-old girl is dead because she was believed possessed.

Here’s a video of a more traditional application of the rite. It’s easy to see how this could go sideways under the influence of someone with bad ideas.

This one goes to 11:11

A couple days ago my better half pointed at the clock on the stove and said “I always seem to look at the clock when it’s 11:11.” We talked for a minute about numbers that appear repeatedly in life and how it can reach the point of strangeness, and that was that. Today I discovered the “Beyond Reality Radio Show” which is a paranormal show hosted by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of TAPS fame. The episode I listened to they were interviewing Uri Geller, and someone called in to to ask his opinion on the “11:11” phenomenon.

The phenomenon was news to me… There is actually a fair amount of material on this out there and I am surprised I haven’t seen any of it before. Geller has an article on his site about it which you can check out. He seems to focus simply on the number 11, more than anything, and takes ample opportunity to make points about September 11th that seem completely out of place. He does include a few numerology equations as well, some of which seem to have more relevance than others, but this part of the article I found somewhat interesting…

“If you multiply 1111 by 1111 you get 1234321, representing a pyramid, and number 11 is a sacred number of the pyramid with the proportions of the great pyramid being of the ratio 7:11. Eleven is also a number harmonious with Pi. Therefore, it seems that number eleven is of central importance in understanding the mathematical infrastructure of the universe.” – Uri Geller

His is certainly not the only interpretation though, there are those that link it to the Mayan Calendar and the prophetic speculation linked to 2012. It is at 11:11 Universal or Greenwich Mean Time depending on the report that the calendar ceases on 12/21/12. Here’s a sensationalistic video to illustrate that point of view.

So there is a mess of information out there related to 11:11, but no definitive explanation or even real common ground has been found to explain the prevalence the number seems to have in so many peoples lives.

Prof. Gruntsplatter

Why Goats?

A couple stories I found recently got me wondering “why goats?” For centuries they have had a symbolism attached to them that is cross cultural and malleable, but seemingly ever present in some form or another.

The ChristStory Bestiary runs through a lot of them, largely in a negative or neutral light, but to summarize… Christians art uses it as a symbol of the damned, and frequently as the antithesis of sheep. This evolved into the goat as a personification of the devil, and during the European Witch Trials, not to new confused with the equally retarded sequel The American Witch Trials, goats were seen as the witches familiars and it was believed, even had the ability to bestow supernatural rewards upon the alleged witches.

It has been mentioned as a symbol of freewill, lust, lechery, fertility, courage, and spiritual initiation, in alchemy the goat represents sulfur, there is an association with thunder and lightning across cultures… The term scapegoat came about from a Day of Atonement ritual where one goat was sacrificed for Israel’s sins, and one was ritually burdened with the sins of the people and cast out into the world to fend for itself, this was “scapegoat.” Similarly in France and areas of the Mediterranean a “scapegoat” was kept on the farm in the belief that it would absorb bad germs or diseases and thereby protect the rest of the livestock. The Chinese include the goat in their calendar, and someone born in the year of the goat is considered sociable, trustworthy and considerate… In addition, the half man half goat motif appears in many mythologies, and the goat is a popular mount for the gods of multiple cultures to ride while seeing to their godly chores. The International Kiko Goat Association (who knew) also as some additional background on goats in myth and folklore. Perhaps not surprisingly the IKGA site doesn’t really go into the more diabolical connotations of the goat that the ChristStory site does.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the more nature attuned religions and myths, be they from the East or from Pagan Europe are the ones that see the goat in a more positive light, and the Christian faith which separates man from the rest of nature see it in a negative light. Believed to be only second to the dog in becoming a domesticated animal, early cultures would have been living in closer proximity to goats than they would many other animals. This closeness would lead them to a greater understanding of the animals temperament and traits, and thus make them more likely to ascribe personality and human qualities to them. This may help explain why they are so common in folklore and myth.

What am I getting at? The mythic persona of the goat is still alive and well today as outlined by these three stories.

A Wisconsin defense attorney received a package outside her office in late August. The package was a severed goats head in a pink bag . Inside the goats mouth was a note with the attorneys name written on it six times, backwards. The attorney didn’t have any idea who could have sent it, but suggested it may have something to do with the full moon, and the paper who reported the story consulted an expert in Voodoo, who said the scenario wasn’t familiar to him, though he did acknowledge that sacrifice of goats can be part of voodoo rituals he didn’t see any parallels. Voodoo must have been the only alternative religion represented at the local university…

Next up we jaunt from Milwaukee, to Kathmandu, Nepal where Nepal’s official state airline, Nepal Airlines sacrificed two goats to the Hindu sky god Akash Bhairab. It seems they had two airplanes that were having persistent mechanical issues and so the goats were sacrificed before the planes in the traditional manner in hopes of appeasing the sky god and getting the planes back in the air. The planes are flying again, and Nepal Airlines has refused to state what the issue had been.

Finally, we make our last stop in Sweden, where every year since 1966 the town of Gavle has erected a 43 foot goat made of straw and wood to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. It has become a bit of sport apparently to burn down the goats when the opportunity arises, and just 10 goat have survived where 22 have fallen to flame some within hours of completion.

So there you have it, the goat has been woven into our collective unconscious and continues to rear its head in mythical ways today, sometimes even at the airport.

– Prof. Gruntsplatter

Witchery, Angry Peasants and Pre-Mortem Burial

When I initially saw this story, I intended to do a little piece about how I like hearing that there are pockets of the world that still embrace ravenous superstitions. While more often than not it doesn’t serve them well, it is nice to know that that type if life hasn’t been consumed by progress entirely. I stand by that belief, but this story is an excellent example of what can happen if you can’t move beyond that system and I think probably also offers a look back in to the not to distant past for the rest of us.

Papua New Guinea is an isolated South Pacific island off North Australia, in which some tribes had their first contact with the outside world in this lifetime. There are approximately 800 languages spoken among the tribes scattered in pockets across the island. It is one of the last seats of true primitivism that exists on the planet. Papua New Guinea has a vicious HIV crisis, and the public has taken to blaming it on witches. They determine whether one is a witch in some cases based simply on how they walk. Once you have been fingered as a witch the flailing mob takes over and vanquishes the witch in some pretty heinous ways.

This is from a report in the Khaleej Times
“There are reports of women being tortured for days in efforts to extract confessions,” wrote research fellow Miranda Tobias.

“Women have been beaten, stabbed, cut with knives, sexually assaulted and burnt with hot irons. One woman had her uterus ripped out with a steel hook.

“It is estimated that there have been 500 such attacks in the past year,” the independent think tank said.

Since I read all of this, I’ve seen two additional articles detailing just how bad it is there. A recent report from The Scotsman explains how a former British teacher living in Papau New Guinea had had repeated burglaries into his home there and so turned to “black magic” to protect it… Basically he had a local witchdoctor cast a protection spell on his house. When the locals, who were also the burglars, caught wind that he’d been cavorting with witchdoctors (something apparently quite common) they hacked him to pieces with both a hatchet and a machete.

In addition to all of the witchy shenanigans, fear mongering and violence, the people who are actually stricken with AIDS are being buried alive with the hope it will keep the disease from spreading. Buried Alive. Sick but still very much alive, and often crying out in protest they are thrown in a hole and buried. There was an article on this as well but I forgot to hold onto the link.

So yes, I like knowing that there are corners of the world where the bogeyman is real, but science clearly has its benefits too.

– Prof. Gruntsplatter