Egyptian Handbook of Spells Deciphered (Live Science)
How did the Egyptians in the 8th century A.D. cast a love spell, exorcise a demon or subjugate their enemies? A recently translated codex reveals 27 different spells that were combined for form a “single instrument of religious power.” The book was written in the Coptic language, an adaptation of Greek script, at a time when many Egyptians were Christians. In fact, the book contains many invocations that refer to Jesus Christ.
What is interesting is that several of the invocations seem to originate from a group who called themselves “Sethians.” This was a group that flourished in Egypt during the early centuries of Christianity. They held Seth, who they believed to be the third son of Adam and Eve, in high regard. One invocation refers to Seth as the living Christ.
What is interesting is that before Christianity came to Egypt, Seth was one of the chief Gods of Upper Egypt. He was a desert God of war and strength. (He was also demonized in other parts of Egypt).
This Sethian Cult eventually died out, but it is interesting to see how Pagan ideas and Christianity were blended together in the early days of Christianity.
I think some of the articles about this topic are misleading however, because they call the book an “Ancient Egyptian” book of spells. Since this codex was written in the Christian and Islamic Era, I would hardly say that it was “Ancient History.” I’d be more likely to call it Medieval History.
Once upon a time a boy and his little brother were pretending to be a butcher and a pig. The older brother slices the younger’s throat, only to be stabbed in the heart by his enraged mother. Unfortunately, while she was stabbing her son, another one of her children drowns in a bath tub. So then she hangs herself. When dad gets home, he’s so depressed that he soon dies afterwords.
Now this might sound like the content of a death metal video, but this is actually one of the original tales from The Grimm’s Brother Fairy Tales. Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859), were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, lexicographers and authors who together specialized in collecting and publishing folklore during the 19th century. They are particularly famous for tales such as “Cinderella,” “The Frog Prince,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel” and “Snow White.”
Recently, Jack Zipes, a professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Minnesota, began to explore why the first edition of the tales had never been translated into English, and decided, eventually, to do it himself. “Though the Grimms kept about 100 of the tales from the first edition, they changed them a good deal. So, the versions with which most English-speaking (and German-speaking) readers are familiar are quite different from the tales in the first edition,” he told the Guardian.
His newly published version of the original 156 stories is just out from Princeton University Press, illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, and shows a much darker side to well-known fairy tales. Several more gruesome stories, like the Butcher and Pig tale, are added back into the edition. Zipes also adds the original versions of our well known fairy tales. The evil queen who wants Snow White killed is actually her mother, Rapunzel gets impregnated by the prince after having a “merry time” with him in the tower, Hansel and Gretel were abandoned by their own mothers, and Cinderella’s step sisters cut off their toes in order to make the slipper fit onto their feet.
So why was the English version of these tales made into a PC production, when the original tales were more R rated? One theory is that the tales were rewritten to appeal to more Middle Class, Christian Families. We can’t forget that the more PC version of the tale was also published in 1857, a time when Europeans were beginning to embrace more “Victorian Values,” which meant taking sex and violence out of the discussion, while adding Christian Values.
I remember back when I was taking a Medieval Literature class, I was surprised by how blunt most Medieval literature was about matters of sex and violence – even during an era when the Christian Church was the predominant authority. In the Canterbury Tales, The Wife of Bath remarries 5 times and brags about how she sexually dominates her much younger husbands in the bedroom. In another tale, a priest comes to a woman’s window at night and asks for a kiss, she instead sticks her ass out of the window and he gives her an accidental rim job.Once he realizes what he had done, he proclaims “I did not know my lady had a beard!” If this isn’t scandalous enough, the young lady in this tale was also cheating on her husband with a younger lover. The next night the priest comes back to get revenge on the young lady, but unexpectedly, her young lover who was with her at the time sticks his rear end out of the window and the priest shoves a burning hot poker where the sun don’t shine.
This is not to mention that many Anglo Saxon inspired Medieval Tales had enough violence to make a Quentin Tarantino movie look G-Rated. Such as one tale I read about a Prince who rescues his princess from being married off to another, he interrupts the wedding, massacres all the guests along with the groom, and then rides away with his beloved.
So you have to understand that before The Victorian Era, much of the Folk Tales of the common people were rife with blunt sexuality and violence. It is also believed that the common child was less sheltered from such brutal realities. In terms of sex, before the Industrial Era, a majority of people lived on farms in close living quarters. It is here that children witnessed the realities of reproduction among their domesticated animals. The children who had to sleep in the same room as their parents were probably also more aware of natural human processes.
In terms of other realities, death was much more common in every day life before the Industrial Revolution. Because of the Industrial Revolution, the population more than doubled in London between 1750 and 1850. Before this period, population growth was relatively stable. The Industrial Revolution helped to provide more food and shelter for the masses, while also cutting down on disease, which is part of why the population exploded. Yet before this period of time, people died all the time from things like the common cold, and surviving childhood was a major accomplishment. For example, in London, between between the 16th and 18th centuries, 30% of children died before they reached the age 15. Many women also died in childbirth because midwives did not know to wash their hands, so the poor mother often got infected.
In short, it is not surprising that folk tales were rife with more carnal and morbid details. Death and reproduction were realities that the common adult and child witnessed day to day.
The common practice of shielding our children from violence and sexuality today is quite new – a Victorian innovation. Today we see this in the hysteria of parents trying to shield their children from violent video games or provocative music. Even seeing a woman’s breasts or a man’s genitals in a movie is met with outrage.
Should parents be more open with their kids about how the world really works? Perhaps such children would be less likely to get pregnant on accident, and be more prepared to face the cruel realities of the real world. Many middle class people today are sheltered, raised in a bubble where everyone gets a trophy or a fuzzy banana sticker for merely showing up, and raised to believe that the world is a nice neat place, while being totally clueless about realities such as the plight of poverty in the third world, the destruction of the environment, and the rapes and murders taking place daily in less stable countries.
Children are much wiser and made of stronger stuff than we give them credit. Perhaps it’s time we stop shielding them from the horrors of reality, and start raising them to be people who will approach and deal such adversity with courage, rather than raising cowards who won’t step an inch away from their comfort zone.
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, and so on – have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear – what remains? Nature remains. ~ Walt Whitman
Oh no! According to this video, the fastest growing religion in the world is “no religion.” 1 in 5 American adults have no religion and this trend is growing quickly among internet savvy Millennials. This surely means that everyone is now going to throw morality out the window, and much like the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, we’re gonna start having sex with rocks, raping angels and having gay orgies with the Anti-Christ! The horror the horror!
I mean, isn’t that what life was like before Judeo-Christian religion ever existed, didn’t people just rape babies and cannibalize each other left and right? I mean, there certainly weren’t tolerant, sophisticated pre-christian civilizations in the world like Egypt, Rome, or China – am I right?
Hopefully you understand that so far, this post has been very sarcastic, although much of what I mentioned above about Sodom would make cool content for a metal video.
EDUCATED PEOPLE ARE BECOMING LESS RELIGIOUS
But yes, it appears that all around the world, in the areas where people have more access to the internet and education, they are becoming less religious. Yet the lack of “religion” doesn’t mean that people aren’t spiritual. Even several of the atheists I know take solace in practices like meditation and yoga.
Yes, I did make a post a while ago about how Paganism had one of the fastest rates of growth out of all the religions in America. Yet Paganism is still a very small minority, 0.3% of the population. In terms of rapidly growing religions with a large following, the religious “nones” are quickly booming.
So as I mentioned above, much of this development is because of education. Now that we live in a world where information about a plethora of religions and philosophies are available at the click of a button, people have a greater ability to think for themselves about what they think the truth is. The internet is also helping to bring people together at an ideological level. Before the internet, people were limited to their geography if they wanted to become part of a community, and of course, the central social network in most communities is the church. Many atheists felt isolated from a religious point of view. Yet now many of these atheists have found a sense of community among like minded non-believers on the internet.
THE WORLD THAT EXISTED BEFORE THERE WAS “ONE CORRECT RELIGION”
Is the decrease of religion a bad thing? Does this spell out the moral decline of civilization as we know it? As I sarcastically mentioned earlier, many of the world’s most advanced civilizations existed before the spread of Christianity and did quite well for themselves. If anything, the growth of non-religion will simply take us back to the natural order of things. Monotheistic religion was splinter, a minor aberration in the scheme of time. Why do you think that Pagan holidays such as Easter and Christmas persisted, even as Christianity was shoved down people’s throats at the edge of a sword? Why do you think ideas like hell had to be invented to keep people religious? If religion is so appealing, why do people have to be scared into it? It’s because it is an unnatural system with laws that are not consistent with the laws of nature.
Pagan ideologies were diverse, and they certainly weren’t perfect. But they were the natural outgrowth of a people’s spiritual connection to their surroundings and culture. Paganism represented man’s attempt to live alongside the laws of nature. People revered Gods who were strong, and represented ideals of survival and health. Today’s “religious nones” are not pagan, but as they learn more about science and the natural world, they will hopefully use rational thought and debate to come up with a moral system that exists closer to Natural Law, and represent more realistic ideas about the environment and human sexuality. Nature is the weed and religion is a manicured garden. You can use all the pesticide you want, but at the end of the day Nature and her followers will always win out.
The ancient world was a much more spiritually diverse and tolerant place than the world we live in today. I’m not saying that the ancient world was a nice place. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very brutal place in a lot of ways. The Romans killed a large number of Druids to subdue the Celtic resistance. Leaders like Augustus and Tiberius Caesar were also weary about the cultural influence of Eastern Religions – such as the Cult of Isis in Rome. Yet despite the fact that some ideas were preferred over others, people had the freedom to worship their own Gods as long as they followed the law and paid homage to the emperor.
In a debate about the morality of religion, it has also been brought up that people can develop a framework of values without having a religion that carves such values into stone. For example, the Chinese have followed Confucianism as a key moral ideology of their society for 2,000 years, and while Confucianism promotes good character and social order, it is not a religion.
NOT ONLY CAN YOU BE MORAL WITHOUT RELIGION
BUT RELIGION ITSELF MAY ACTUALLY BE VERY IMMORAL
Is religion dangerous? I think so. Is religion immoral? I think so. If you watched the video above, one person states that the number one book that convinces people to become atheists (even more so than any work by Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens) is the bible. It’s a book replete with genocide, rape, sexism, racism, homophobia, incest, pedophilia, and the celebration of slavery. Here are some wholesome verses for the whole family:
COMMIT A GENOCIDE OF THOSE WHO DON’T SHARE YOUR RELIGION:
“This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (1 Samuel 15:3)
…but what about “thou shalt not kill? ” Now I’m confused.
GO MURDER A BABY:
“Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us – he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” (Psalm 137:9)
…yes, because a merciful and just God glorifies the death of babies.
TIME TO GANG RAPE A HOE:
“So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night, and at dawn they let her go. At daybreak the woman went back to the house where her master was staying, fell down at the door and lay there until daylight. When her master got up in the morning and opened the door of the house and stepped out to continue on his way, there lay his concubine, fallen in the doorway of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, ‘Get up; let’s go.’ But there was no answer. Then the man put her on his donkey and set out for home.” (Judges 19:25-28)
…ah yes, good old gang rape, that’s some quality family values right there.
GOD SPARED ABRAHAM’S SON BECAUSE HE IS MERCIFUL, BUT FUCK JEPHTHAH’S DAUGHTER:
“And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the Lord’s, to be offered up by me as a burnt-offering.’ Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and there was his daughter coming out to meet him with timbrels and with dancing. She was his only child; he had no son or daughter except her. When he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low; you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.’” (Judges 11:30-1, 34-5)
…So God was nice enough to prevent Abraham from killing his son, but I guess the life of a man’s daughter is less important. I mean, women aren’t people – at least not in the bible.
SLAVES, SUBIMIT TO YOUR MASTERS!:
“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)
…Good old fashioned slavery.
ONE PROPHET, TWO BEARS AND 42 DEAD BOYS:
23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. (2 Kings 2:23-25)
…My personal favorite, this must be the original Goldilocks story.
You see, I’m one of those people who read the bible cover to cover. In fact, I didn’t do so as some atheist looking for a good source of snark. I actually did this back when I was still a Catholic. I was looking for answers and hoping to improve my faith. Instead, reading the bible and going to church are probably two of the greatest catalysts for my loss of faith. I ended up finding much more solace in Edith Hamilton’s mythology.
Thus, my read through of the bible made me realize that most Christians must not read the entire bible. Because surely this book of peace, love and wisdom that they discussed was not the same book that I was reading. And if they did read the whole bible, cover to cover, they must have done a triple back flip in mental gymnastics to assure themselves that the parts about not touching pig skin (a foot ball), or eating seafood, or marrying your rapist were simply metaphor, but the parts about gay sex were literal law.
Therefore, after reading the bible, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not only a silly book, but that anyone who truly follows its commands – down to the last letter – must not be a good person. A man named A.J. Jacobs tried one year of living biblically and even wrote about it. Yet the truth is that it was impossible for him to truly do everything the bible commanded. There is even one humorous part where he tries throwing rocks at people he sees as being guilty for sin.
Honestly, most people I know who follow a religion, even the very conservative ones, are ultimately picking and choosing which verses they are going to follow. What makes them pick what is a good verse and what is a bad one? They are ultimately using their own logic, rather than doing everything the bible says. Therefore, if they are going to use their own logic anyways, they might as well just create their own spirituality at the end of the day, instead of half heartedly following one they don’t entirely agree with.
You see, Religion is just an ideology like any other. Yet here is the difference. Most ideologies open themselves up to room for debate. Ideologies like politics, education, and philosophy can be subjected to the scrutiny of reason, so that they can be improved or altered to produce the best possible results. Even in China, a place where Confucianism was a key framework of morality, there was always the dialectic between Legalism, Confucianism and Taoism.
Yet Religion is different because it is an ideology backed up by a powerful Sky Daddy. It is not allowed to be debated, scrutinized or changed because it is a set of laws written in stone. Such an ideology can support the most murderous of intentions, and no one is allowed to disagree or else they are branded a “heretic.” It is no small wonder that the Roman Empire fell apart after its conversion to Christianity. Without the freedom to question who was in charge, and why things were being done in a certain way, the empire fell into a state of ignorance and decay.
As Christopher Hitchens once stated in a debate, it wasn’t the crusades that halted the power of Christianity, it wasn’t the bloody Reformation that brought about the deaths of millions, and it wasn’t the slaughter of indigenous people in the new world. What halted the power of Christianity was when the Christian nations finally controlled a majority of the planet in 1914. What was the result? Two world wars and a total destruction of the environment. Suffice it to say, people are not impressed, and now the influence of Christianity at a world stage is beginning to fade.
So am I scared of a world that is becoming less religious? No. I am hopeful. I am hopeful that there will be more chance for people to discover their own spiritualities, and find the best way of living through rational debate, rather than superstition and fear.
THE SONG FROM THE VIDEO ABOVE:
SCORPION FROG – BY INFECTED MUSHROOM
I don’t usually post techno/dubstep, but this song was catchy.
Former Christian Minister Leaves Christianity and Starts Atheist Church (Alternet, 11-6-14)