"Elaborate greetings are the norm, I’ve found, when one enters a Central African village. So it was a surprise when I noticed that many people weren’t shaking hands the morning I arrived in Tiringoulou, a town of about 2,000 people in one of the remotest corners of the Central African Republic, in March 2010. I soon found out the reason: the day before, a traveler passing through town on a Sudanese merchant truck had, with a simple handshake, removed two men’s penises
." [more inside]
posted by not_the_water
on Mar 25, 2013 -
Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education
, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress
, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online
. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines
, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt
posted by filthy light thief
on Dec 3, 2012 -
A critique of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough
by Colin Dickey.
"For all its erudition and analysis, The Golden Bough has for more than a century helped cement the idea that magic is inappropriate, wrongheaded thought. Yet what separates magic from religion or science is not its methodology—Frazer himself notes that it 'is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science'—it’s that ordinary people can do it, transforming their lives with the ambitious power of everyday thought."
Via Lapham's Quarterly's Magic Shows
posted by Kitty Stardust
on Jul 26, 2012 -
"I would point out to you that medical explanations are modern. That Americans today want medical explanations for things that in the 19th century would have been explained by hysteria, and in the 18th century would have been explained by religious conversion experiences in the context of the Great Awakening, when people were having these types of fits, and in the 17th century by witchcraft."
posted by empath
on Jan 30, 2012 -
The Romanian government has changed its labour laws, and in doing so has added a number of professions which weren't previously recognised but which are now subject to tax. Car valets, embalmers and driving instructors are unhappy to be added, but their protests aren't likely to be as scary as those of the...witches
. [more inside]
posted by reynir
on Jan 9, 2011 -
The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft:
A searchable database of people accused of witchcraft in Scotland between 1563 and 1736. Currently, 3,837 people have been identified, 3,212 by name. 113 cases involved fairies, 74 had a known political or property motive, 70 involved some aspect of "white magic". This is the real, and utterly fascinating, history of a hysteria that griped a country and a continent for more than a century. Religion, folk belief, fear and local relations all played out in witchhunts - and we still do not really understand why, why they started or why they ended. Projects like this one are invaluable to help us begin.
(Co-developed by mefite Flitcraft
posted by jb
on Feb 20, 2006 -
American Family Association
is at it again, from their Christian News Media Serivce, Agape Press...
"Rev. Bill Shanks, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship of New Orleans, also sees God's mercy in the aftermath of Katrina -- but in a different way. Shanks says the hurricane has wiped out much of the rampant sin common to the city.... “New Orleans now is abortion free. New Orleans now is Mardi Gras free. New Orleans now is free of Southern Decadence and the sodomites, the witchcraft workers, false religion -- it's free of all of those things now," Shanks says. "God simply, I believe, in His mercy purged all of that stuff out of there -- and now we're going to start over again."
posted by SirOmega
on Sep 3, 2005 -
The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer),
first published in 1486, is arguably one of the most infamous books ever written, due primarily to its position and regard during the Middle Ages. It served as a guidebook for Inquisitors during the Inquisition, and was designed to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of Witches. "Therefore, let us now chiefly consider women; and first, why this kind of perfidy is found more in so fragile a sex than in men. And our inquiry will first be general, as to the general conditions of women; secondly, particular, as to which sort of women are found to be given to superstition and witchcraft; and thirdly, specifically with regard to midwives, who surpass all others in wickedness." link via the always excellent larkfarm
posted by lagado
on Dec 8, 2000 -