The Goat Slaughter
When the first goat was killed, it took me by surprise.
My husband Jorge and I had been invited by one of Jorge’s photojournalist friends to this nondescript compound in La Mixteca, the most impoverished region of Oaxaca, Mexico’s most impoverished state, to watch the annual slaughter of thousands of goats. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns
on Mar 14, 2013 -
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj
, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity
venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God.
Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites
, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat
and the ritual stoning of Shaitan
to the circling of the sacred Kaaba
cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily
) and kissing the Black Stone
(colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite
While the city has modernized
to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich
, and tent cities the size of Seattle
-- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders
Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise
to write a rare travelogue
, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine
journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt]
, a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey.
Browse the manual
to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream
to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 4, 2011 -
Labyrinths – not to be confused with mazes
– are being rediscovered
as tools for contemplation
, and community well-being
, as well as inspiration for architecture
, and visual art
. [more inside]
posted by velvet winter
on Dec 20, 2010 -
“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety among religious traditionalists that when you take one step toward egalitarianism, the floodgates are open and everything that seemed self-evident will no longer be. Men go to work, and women raise children. If you undermine that, you have lost your whole universe.”
The Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism have been ordaining women as rabbis for decades, but the religion's most traditional sect, the Orthodox, remains a lone, minority holdout against egalitarianism. Last year, Orthodox Rabbi Avraham "Avi" Weiss (political activist
and founder of the controversial
, liberal, "Open Orthodox" Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
Yeshiva in New York) tried to shake things up by ordaining the first female American Orthodox rabbi
. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 31, 2010 -
Flirting with the Forbidden,
for centuries, Romans and French have enjoyed the pleasures of a unique songbird. Once caught, this tiny bunting is kept in a small cage
, where its eyes are poked out. It is then force fed oats, millet, and figs until it's plumped up to four times its size. It is subsequently drowned alive in cognac, roasted at high heat, then served as an exquisite - and illegal - meal
. Traditionally the diner enjoys this delicacy - approximately the size of a human thumb - underneath an embroidered napkin
. The head is bitten off, the entire body eaten in one crunchy bite. Said to embody the "soul of France
," it was, reportedly, the last meal of Francois Mitterrand
. Writer Michael Paterniti recreates the experience
of dining on l'ortolan
, superbly told in an episode of "This American Life."
posted by Dr. Zira
on Feb 20, 2008 -
Jumping spiders use their legs to communicate courtship interests to potential mates. The minuscule impacts of spider legs tapping against the ground surface are detected by nearby spiders. This "drumming" cadence signals the spider's reproductive interests. The female detects the low frequency vibrations through her legs. She responds by allowing the male to mount her. Absolutely amazing video here.
The sound is the best part, so make sure it's on.
posted by lazaruslong
on Jul 27, 2007 -
The nkondi are the most powerful of the nkisi. They were used to identify and hunt down unknown
wrongdoers such as thieves, and people who were believed to cause sickness or death by occult means.
They were also used to punish people who swore false oaths and villages which broke treaties. To inspire
the nkondi to action, it was both invoked and provoked. Invocations, in bloodthirsty language, encouraged
it to punish the guilty party. It would also be provoked by having gunpowder exploded in front of it, and
having nails hammered into it.
These fantastic Congo nail fetish figures are just one small, wonderful part of the impressive collection of images you can view at the content-rich, gratifyingly obsessive Rand African Art
, a site stuffed with nice large photos, lots
of lovely, lovely links
, and all sorts of intriguing nooks and crannies inviting exploration.
posted by taz
on Nov 13, 2005 -
, a corrupt form of daivum (god), is a popular ritual dance of North Kerala, India. As a living cult with centuries old traditions, ritual and custom
, it embraces almost all castes and classes of the Hindu religion in this region. A performance
(mpg) of a particular deity continues for 12 to 24 hours with intervals. The costumes differ based on the character
(mpg) of the theyyam.
posted by dhruva
on Dec 23, 2004 -
Greek Temple Architecture
: They were houses--houses for cult statues, storehouses of treasures given to the gods--they were not churches. Worship consisted, by and large, of sacrificial ritual
: killing animals and eating them
, for the most part--and, hence, it was done out of doors. The Internet Ancient History Sourcebook's Accounts of Hellenic Religious Beliefs
and Accounts of Personal Religion
give additional flavor and context. Greek religious architecture evolved from wooden structures
and was tradition bound--they built in stone as they had in wood according to variations on a traditional canon called the orders
, first and foremost, the Doric Order
, the Ionic Order
and the Corinthian Order
. Here are some restorations
. I love restorations, on paper or models rather than at the actual sites. The first in a series.
posted by y2karl
on Jun 19, 2003 -
So how will you spend Easter? Are your plans just a tad pedestrian? If egg hunts leave you cold, perhaps you need a bit more edge. For many, things begin this week. In Czechoslovakia, men carry woven willow sticks and whip girls on the legs
, but in Taxco, Mexico, it's all about self-flagellation
. In the U.S., many go theatrical with a living last supper
; in the Philippines they favor more authenticity - every year about 20 people re-enact the crucifixion
, nails & all. If that's too real, you could order supplies
to build a backyard corpus shrine
for next year. - more -
posted by madamjujujive
on Apr 14, 2003 -
105 unconscious children temporarily buried alive in the name of religion.
In a horrible ritual witnessed by an Indian government official, who quit his position shortly afterward
, children were worked until exhausted, wrapped in cloth, and then buried for one entire minute. Sometimes it feels like that we will never shake off the need for ancient tradition, myth, and groundless faith, but there is a bright side. There are more non-religious people now than ever
. As the information age expands, education becomes more accessible and may be the most important factor in determining how religious one is.
Unsurprisingly, a follow-up article
on the mass-burial quotes, "Inquiries also revealed that no educational programme had been introduced anywhere near Perayur in the last six years."
posted by skallas
on Sep 6, 2002 -
US Woman Killed in Malaysia "Police believe an American woman whose remains were recently unearthed in Malaysia was used as a human sacrifice in a ritual to obtain lottery numbers from the spirits..."
The article didn't say if they won. Not that it matters.
posted by mcsweetie
on Jun 26, 2001 -