"International Year Of Polytheism”
(powered by monochrom) wants to overcome the epoch of the monotheistic
worldviews (and its derivatives such as "The West"
and "The Arab World") through the reconstruction of
a polytheistic multiplicity in which countless gods and goddesses
will eventually neutralize each other. Polytheism is democracy,
Monotheism a dictatorship, even in its pseudo-secular form.
Freed from the servitude of monotheism and the fraternal strife
of the trinity, the world would be redeemed in a chaotic baptism
of multiplicity. Besides, we believe that polytheism is the
most suitable form of religion for a modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan
young culture. Improve your C.V. with polytheism. Create your
own heavens and hells. Or try it out yourself with our special
Gods/Goddesses trial subscription. Our qualified operators are
standing by to take your calls!
Fifth event: Door Henge: Doors Of Polytheistic Perception: Anonymous friends of the movement in San Francisco are erecting a polytheism monument on August 19, 2007 in an undisclosed public location. There is clearly a need for secrecy as a result of religious oppression from the monotheistic mainstream. San Francisco, California.
Fourth event: The Divining Pod A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. The balloon is ONE BIG fabric envelope filled with a gas that is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. A SINGLE balloon that is less dense than its surroundings, it rises, taking along with it a basket, attached underneath, that carries passengers or payload. Cluster ballooning is an uncommon form of ballooning in which a balloonist is attached by a harness to a cluster of MANY SMALL rubber balloons. Cluster ballooning is a perfect metaphor for the plurality and democracy of polytheism. Fight the concept of monotheistic single-balloon ballooning! At Maker Faire San Francisco 2007 we want to present the world with the "Divining Pod". Join our effort to fill ballons with helium, tag the balloons with names of air goddesses and air gods, and lift a human being into the skies of diversity! We want to see the heavens open! San Francisco, California. Maker Faire @ San Mateo Fairgrounds. May 20, 2007.
Third event: Eating A Persimmon For Zeus
A Persimmon is variety of species of trees of the genus Diospyros, and the edible fruit borne by them. The most widely cultivated species is Diospyros kaki. The fruit is very sweet to the taste with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. Cultivation of the fruit started in parts of East Asia, and was later introduced to California.
Diospyros kaki translates as "The Fruit of Zeus".
Zeus, is (or was) the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder, in Greek mythology. His symbols are (or were) the thunderbolt, bull, eagle and the oak. When the world was divided in three, Hades received the underworld, Poseidon the sea, and Zeus the sky.
We want to honor Zeus! We want to moan about the dreadful non-divisional monotheistic singularity! Long enough we were dominated by the concept of the God of the Abrahamic religions and/or the Platonic concept of God as put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite! We want to eat persimmons for Zeus! In anger!
Join the force! Eat his fruit! Get a certificate! Los Angeles, California. Sidewalk @ 4810 Sunset Boulevard. February 23, 2007; 1 PM- 1:30 PM.
Second event: Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities
The people present will have an opportunity to be buried alive
in a coffin for fifteen minutes. Volunteers will be able to
experience a semi-traumatic situation and possibly get in close
contact with various gods and/or afterlives.
As a framework program there will be lectures about the history
of the science of determining death and the medical cultural
history of "buried alive". People buried alive not only populate
the horror stories of past centuries, but also countless reports
in specialized medical literature. The theme of unintentional
resurrection by grave robbers also runs through forensic protocols.
Even in the 19th century it was said that every tenth person
was buried alive. February 7, 2007. Blackwood
Gallery, Mississauga/University Toronto, Canada.
The symbolic liberation of Barium Nitrate will signal the opening
of this "International Year of Polytheism". We would like to
invite you to join with us in igniting 10.000 bound sparklers,
free of any judaeo-christian intent. Nothing but a wonderfully
powerful fire signal, whose representational vacuity and lack
of otherwise traditional symbolic meaning might just wake some
of the ignoble gods exiled by monotheistic McKinseyism. We welcome
the gods back from their second-class beyond(s). January 26, 2007. Symposion
Lindabrunn, Lindabrunn, Lower Austria.
Most corporates, of course, do both things--swindle the earth as well as invest in religion. And they take care to bribe the auditors in both places. Especially in India, where Hindus actually worship wealth as a goddess called Laxmi, and where the acquiring of vaibhav (worldly stature, replete with wherewithal) is an endorsed spiritual goal. Like religious institutions of the top order the world-over, the Vatican for one, some of India's temple trusts are among the richest corporates going, and the classes and the masses have an appropriately unequal access to their sanctum sanctorums. And those that are out of caste have none, even as many gods that are installed within have not even a human face.
As civilizations bumped into one another in antiquity, they tended to discover that they had many different gods. But since most pantheons break down gods into somewhat similar areas of expertise, the greeks just figured that the barbarians had funny names for their gods, and combined the two. This eventually got to the point where you could slam almost any two gods with similar areas of expertise together to get something subtly new. Some of my favorite gods, like Mithras and Hermes Trismegistus, come from the intercultural mashups (Persio-Roman and Greco-Egyptian, respectively) that were going on at this time.
[Note: One of the meaner intellectual things Christians did in their efforts at cleaning out the old gods was a tactic called Euhemerism. This revolved around the basic assumption that all 'gods' were actually just people who did interesting things which were in turn remembered poorly. Though they were horrified centuries later to have the rationalist interpretation of religion turned against them by serious-minded Germans, they happily spun tales of barbarian kings and tricky sorcerers who passed themselves off as gods. This was their counter to the sprawling pantheons of late antiquity.]
Interestingly enough, a somewhat parallel process was going the other way, taking people and ascribing to them them powers over aspects of daily life...by which I mean canonization. Catholic Saints are a great place to go to look for adaptations of and placeholders for old polytheism, as saints, especially the 14 Holy Helpers, who can intercede on behalf of the petitioner much as the old gods had. Just as feast days were overlaid with Christian holidays and folk traditions were retconned as christian ones, patron saints gradually appeared to offer help in the areas of their expertise. [Note: while there's a lengthy theological explanation of how you actually pray through the saints to god, the subtleties were usually lost on your average illiterate peasant who just wants some hedge against wild pigs eating his crops]. Saints are also a great place to look for 'the weird old christianity,' before it got uptight and Protestant. For example: St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, reportedly stood 18 feet tall and had the head of a dog.
From polytheism saints came and to polytheism they went, especially in many areas of the African diaspora, where slaves hid their gods by disguising them, and sometimes combining them with the saints. Sometimes this could lead to interesting juxtapositions. Shango, for instance, raging god of thunder and sky father in the Yoruba tradition, was identified either with the bookish Saint Jerome or the virginal Saint Barbara. I for one, am all in favor of crazy legends and folk charms.
So I propose that the international year of Polytheism, in the interest of kick-starting the spread of polytheism, hold an open call for syncretism and de-euhemerism. Combine your favorite gods with modern saints or legendary figures of our times. Let a thousand syncretic gods bloom. Say, for instance, one of those sainted old nuns like Mother Teresa or Mother Cabrini...they might make a good match with a hearth goddess like Demeter, or if you want to push a little farther, with Cybele, mother goddess of the wild earth. Or perhaps Saint Stephen (Istvan) of Hungary, the badass magyar warrior king whose severed hand is a national relic, might well be identified with Labraid Lámh Dhearg (Labraid of the Red Hand), the Celtic sun god whose legecy lives on in the red hand of Ulster.
Secondly, while the innermost unifier today might be the corporate anthem, the postmodern popular culture finds its fullest expression in the mashup. Photoshop contests at worth1000 and gizmodo already supply stunning juxtapositions of new and old, not to mention myriad musical creations (some of which are not indicative of regressive listening). So after creating your syncretic deity or reading about someone else's, why not slam together aspects of the sources into something new? Photoshop your god and saint together! Combine their godly images into a new deity for the 21st century.Why stop there? Cut-up their liturgies like a William S. Burroughs novel! Take their sacred songs and get your bootleg on. What could be better?
"Fast Times in the Public Sphere" (taken at Venice Beach in 2004 by Adam Flynn)
We asked Richie Pettauer of Datenschmutz to write about his favorite deity. He sent us this text...
Johannes asked me to write a review of my favorite god/ess for monochrom's Polytheism blog. The Vienna-based group announced 2007 (ad infinitum) as the year of polytheism: the basic idea is to overcome unnecessary borders drawn by religion and - this is just my personal interpretation - to post-teenage religion.
What do I mean by post-teenage? Once you're in your twenties, you're statistically a lot more likely to rather accept and adopt various styles, be in the field of music or fashion or whatever, than to just hold on to one "scene". Religion in that respect mostly is far behind pop culture, even though during the last decade I sensed a very interesting shift in terms of polytheism, especially amongst economically blessed women in their 40ies who are interested in "esoteric knowledge". Nonetheless, many followers of different gods still don't hesitate to convince others that their own super-being is far superior to the ridiculous error their adversaries refer to as supreme master. Funnily enough just a couple hours before I was asked to write this text I saw a very funny poster at mmoabc.com, which depicts a woman carrying a sign that says: "Says the bible: war is sent by god." The picture is part of series of spoofs of the well-know motivational motives featuring a colorful image and some silly words. The text accompanying this picture says: "Religious War. Killing each other to see who has the better imaginary friend." And this I believe is just what the year of polytheism is all about:
The "International Year of Polytheism" (powered by monochrom) wants to overcome the epoch of the monotheistic worldviews (and its derivatives such as "The West" and "The Arab World") through the reconstruction of a polytheistic multiplicity in which countless gods and goddesses will eventually neutralize each other.
But even though it is easy for me to support the idea and to feel frighteningly in tune with the great polytheist movement, I'm having hell of a hard time answering the question about my favorite god/desse/s, since I worship countless of them. Some live in my flat, some I talk to on a regularly basis, some I had sexual intercourse with and some I have never seen nor even dared to imagine in their full glory. And what exactly does favorite mean in that respect? Is my favorite god the one who brews the coffee just like I like it or is he the engineer who engineered the robot who built my bike? Or the guy who gives me this incredibly self-satisfied feeling when I'm flying high above the clouds in my wildest dream? Or is she the one who made every piece of organic matter live in such a way that we can interpret it as living matter if we want to? Is he the one who gave us freedom or is she the one who enslaved us?
There are many favorite gods, but like in the famous Kung Fu series featuring David Carradine, when the decade of training at the Shaolin monastery is done, only one of the grad students can become the new master. And if all of them surrender their title as their code of honor requires that means they still have to fight. So if I have to give one definite answer I go with the great green frog god, the one who is constantly watching over all frog- and non-frog creatures and makes all other gods tick. Even though Buddha is quite a cuddly roughneck, too...
The Amish are members of an Anabaptist, Christian denomination. So pretty hardcore. They are best known for simple living, plain dress and resisting modern conveniences such as electricity and automobiles.
Establishing first contact is very hard. Several Amish people flee with horse and carriage.
The polytheistic research team decides to visit "Amish Stuff Etc."...
...and is very astounded by the goods this shop offers.
Very concerning. Will heretic atheism triumph? Or some Dungeons & Dragons deities?
'Good fortune and fertility' sought from 'the gods on the structure'
A former employee of a Tennessee insurance company is objecting to a "ceremony" held at the construction site of a new building because it called on "the gods on the structure" for "good fortune and fertility."
The report on the ceremony came in an e-mail from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, which is constructing a new nearly $300 million office building at Chattanooga.
A spokeswoman for the company told WND the report comes apparently from an employee dispatched by the company to celebrate the "topping" ceremony of the building, with the report then transmitted to the insurance company's e-mail list.
"Upon arriving at the construction site we were greeted by the workers preparing to lift this tree with the crane. Why were they lifting the tree to the top of building one? Well according to the Scandinavian tradition from long ago, after the final foundation is complete you are to raise a tree to the top of a building to bless it. It was to 'bless' the house with fertility. But people still use the tradition to bless the structure with good fortune. It is a request for a blessing from the gods on the structure to provide good fortune and fertility," the company's e-mail said.
The International Year Of Polytheism Will Be Endless
In 2007 we started a project to honour religions which are not into that blunt one-church-under-one-God-stuff, but hail to the chaotic postmodern multitude of Gods and Goddesses. Religion should be like a swinger club, we believe. A dark room where you worship a God but you don't even know which God you're worshipping. That would be pretty cool we think. Worshipping Gods and Goddesses doesn't need to be some boring and dull and heteronomous thing for bores and squares clinging to whatever bloody tradition they have inherited. It can be a ride to the shopping mall of the unknown. Go out with one God/Goddess, come home with another. Worship one God/Goddess in your living room, while you hide another God's/Goddess's sacrificial altar in the toilet. Tell everybody you're into Greek Gods/Godesses but actually worship Polynesian ones when nobody's watching. Play off the Norse Gods/Godesses against Hinduism. Let them fight and use their superpowers to entertain you. And so on.
Polytheism is a big party that screams "Bring your own God!" on the invitation. Now you understand why we were so sad about it being over. Damn you, 12/31/2007! Fucking monotheist moderation tricked us again: Fun is an ocean but it ends at the shore! We sat around crying a little and talking bullshit, depressed and weary of life. But then it struck us: If this great polytheism project is about kicking the unhealthy influence of monotheist crap out of our lives, why not kick out the Gregorian calendar which definitely is some Christian nonsense.
Why should polytheists stick to that calendar anyway? Why couldn't the year of polytheism be a somewhat polytheist year of which nobody knows exactly when it will end and when it has started? Nifty! So we went to ask the Gods and Goddesses what they would say at which date the year of polytheism expires. As always they have not come to an unambiguous ordeal yet and they just keep on arguing and arguing. Since they can not notify us, we cannot close the year of polytheism as you will surely understand. So just choose an individual bundle of personal Gods/Goddesses and join us waiting for them to stop their quarrel. You are welcome unless you're a Nazi pagan asshole buying that bullshit of a "true and authentic religion" somehow related to that place in which you were born by chance.
On a recent trip to Budapest, I documented proof of paranormal activity at St. Stephen's Basilica. In this video, we see a ghostbuster cleaning up what appears be some sort of ectoplasm spill. Watch it only if you are a brave soul with an open mind.
Or could the guy even be a monotheistic godsbuster?
René Girard: "What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale."
An interview with René Girard, philosopher and anthropologist.
But aren't the monotheisms the bearers of a structural violence because they gave birth to an idea of unique Truth, excluding any competing expression?
One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don't prove that they are such. It's said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: "The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me"? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God. Our intellectual fashions don't want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the mob movements are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the "friends" – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial. His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity. Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.
Anonymous friends of the movement in San Francisco are erecting a polytheism monument on August 19, 2007 in an undisclosed public location. There is clearly a need for secrecy as a result of religious oppression from the monotheistic mainstream.
A group of Liechtenstein citizens crosses the border to travel to Feldkirch (Austria) to meet with polytheism supporter Johannes Grenzfurthner.
They start a spontaneous demonstration at Poolbar. A wonderful and creative outlet for their anger about the monotheistic majority in their tiny little home country. According to the 2000 census, 87.9% of the population is Christian, of which 76% adhere to the Roman Catholic faith, while about 7% are Protestant. The religious affiliation for most of the remainder is Islam - 4.8%, undeclared - 4.1% and no religion - 2.8%! The horror!
The British Museum in London (UK) is one of the world's greatest museums of human history and culture. Its collections, which number more than 13 million objects from all continents, illustrate and document the story of human culture from its beginning to the present.
Polytheism supporter Harald Homolka List visits the British Museum and is tremendiously shocked! What could be a gigantic shrine for all the gods and goddesses is in fact a cheerless mausoleum!
"They stare at you, Hoa Hakananai'a! But who is hailing you?"
"They put you into archaeological terms, Nereids! I wanna puke!"
"They listen to bullshit on their audio guides when they should be guided by your powerful voices!"
Geeked reports about Maker Faire and the "Divining Pod":
[Maker Faire ...] Everyone and their brother who was within driving distance seems to have already reported on the event, but there were a few things I wanted to personally touch on that I found most interesting.
monochrom’s Divining Pod
The Monochrom crew was back in the states on their Internation Year of Polytheism tour this past weekend. Large balloons, a supply of helium, and small children contributed to an attempt at sending one lucky person to the heavens. To quote Johannes, it was a “semi-total success”. There are tons of videos and photos floating around [...]
I'm sorry if we offended you, but until you identify which "one true god" you are, we cannot take steps to appease you. We included the names of over 90 deities on our "Divining Pod" including several of you jealous gods. You sign your email "You know who I am", but in fact we do not. Are you one of the monotheistic deities such as Yahweh, Ahura Mazda, Akhenaten? Or perhaps just one of those egocentric heads of a pantheon, such as Zeus or Ra?
In any case, it is time to stop being a bully. Those other gods are your peers and you need to treat them with some respect. Chances are that many of them have been worshiped by man longer than you, whoever you are. They say jealousy is a sign of low self-esteem.
We have nothing but respect for you, and all deities. You are a great god, I'm sure, but there are so many deities competing for our attention that we simply cannot spend every second worshiping you. Please don't take this as an offense or a slight. We'll always make room for you at the table. Signed, monochrom
The official uniform of polytheist balloners. As we cannot afford a tailor we have to reuse a German armed forces jumpsuit.
Without waivers we would have no fun at all.
We begin a long period of inflation.
We ask the crowd to bless the balloons with the name of their favorite deities. Romans and Greek gods are very popular, but we make sure to represent all the pantheons. (We even have a "Yahweh" balloon, but he is a little bit jelous.)
Anubis makes a getaway! (Shiva and Ra escaped also, and Loki popped! How fitting.)
All entities in the beyond(s) are pleased with our fine "Divining Pod". But can it fulfill its purpose? More and more people gather around our site.
3:15 PM: We are somewhat behind schedule, but a big (partially faithless) crowd is staring at our activities.
Eli (adult) is getting ready in her (adult size) jumpsuit. [Pic Source]
3:35 PM: The gods and goddesses do not see fit to lift US-American adults, only small children who are pure of heart. Success!
We also lift a Olympus (!) digi-cam to document a flight procedure.
But next time we'll buy a fair amount of liquid oxygen and set up a polytheistic space program. NASA is a perfect metaphor for a monotheistic worldview. Let's build many alternative rockets and write names of deities on them and [...]
[BTW: If you have taken pictures of 'The Divining Pod', please send us the link! May you be blessed by those who you pray to.]
Subject: Mortals, ye shall fail! To: polytheism [at] monochrom.at
Abandon all hope. I am the all powerful god. All those other gods are suckers. You have offended me, the one true god, with your blasphemy. I shall never let your "Divining Pod" off the ground. Signed, You know who I am.
As we prepare our celebration of Polytheism by launching a human into the heavens attached to a "Divining Pod" of helium balloons, we face our first major obstacle: the world is running out of helium.
Did you know that helium is a non-renewable resource that is extracted from the ground just like crude oil? It’s true! Experts say the US reserve will be gone by 2015. And thanks no doubt to the meddling of jealous deity who want our "Divining Pod" to fail, recent plant closures have further clamped down on the world’s helium supply.
Clowns and party suppliers won't be the only ones to suffer. The noble gas is also key to rocket scientists and welders. "We’re so close to the edge now, and every molecule counts," said Leslie Theiss, manager of the National Helium Reserve agency’s field office in Amarillo, TX. "We’re walking the tightrope right now."
Since every deity is equally omnipotent, any one of them could have perpetrated this setback to our "Divining Pod" project. Water gods are the most obvious suspects.
We are currently seeking information to identify this deity so that we can appease them and get our Pod off the ground! We are offering a reward for information leading to the identification of the responsible party. If you have information, please contact us.
"The Divining Pod": International Year Of Polytheism @ Maker Faire San Francisco
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. The balloon is ONE BIG fabric envelope filled with a gas that is lighter than the surrounding atmosphere. A SINGLE balloon that is less dense than its surroundings, it rises, taking along with it a basket, attached underneath, that carries passengers or payload.
Cluster ballooning is an uncommon form of ballooning in which a balloonist is attached by a harness to a cluster of MANY SMALL rubber balloons.
Cluster ballooning is a perfect metaphor for the plurality and democracy of polytheism. Fight the concept of monotheistic single-balloon ballooning!
At Maker Faire San Francisco 2007 we want to present the world with the "Divining Pod".
Join our effort to fill ballons with helium, tag the balloons with names of air goddesses and air gods, and lift a human being into the skies of diversity! We want to see the heavens open!
May 20, 2007 @ San Mateo Fairgrounds, San Francisco.
Gratzer wants to display the polytheism banner, but no one helps him holding it. People are sceptical and hostile because almost two-thousand years of indoctrination lay on their shoulders. A harsh place to spread our democratic message.
Karni Mata temple is a 600 year old temple at Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India. Karni Mata is believed to be the incarnation of Hindu goddess Durga. The peculiarity of this temple is that thousands of rats are worshipped here. The rats are seen as holy, owing to the belief that the souls of the followers of Karni Mata are in these rats and thus they must be looked after. Worshipers also eat and drink from the same bowls as the rats.
Daniel Eberharter of eloquence wants to share his favorite deity with us mortals: Inari.
I am convinced that so many of us (by "us" I mean young, urban, hip, clever, white, etc. people in Europe, Northamerica and similar boring landscapes) reject god or any kind of theological xyz-ism because we get bored so easily. We are the multi-taskers, and to think that one god is responsible for eeeeverything is just too plain simple, too boring, too easy an explanation for all the nonsense out there. And all the beautiful things, too. Cats, photographic paper, the sun, grass and ice-cream, all down to one god? I cannot believe that one god is even interested in creating all these things one after another. I'm sure God likes ice-cream, but what if He doesn't like broccoli? Do you think he'd have created broccoli if He hated it? Give God a break, He deserves it. He's exhausted.
That's why I'm so fond of multiple gods, deities and spirits. I'm especially fond of the Japanese way of doing (in this instance believing) things. The Japanese pick and mix their points of reference. Shintoism, buddhism and apparently some other isms I've never even heard of. Christian traditions also appear more and more, in weddings for instance. They are free to choose whichever ritual they want, at any point in life. I like that a lot.
I also like that so many objects or fortunes (also misfortunes) have their own god. Some are male, some are female. There are deities for trees, for fishing, for good luck, for fire, for earthquakes, and also for rice. The latter god is my pick: Inari.
Inari is the god and godess of food, in particular rice, agriculture, foxes, and, curiously, industry. Each year he or she - Inari can take on any gender - descends from a mountain to the rice fields. The fox is Inari's messenger and it is believed that he/she can assume a fox's shape. If someone fucks with Inari, he/she will take on the form of a giant spider to teach them a lesson.
I really like the idea that each different "thing" out there has its own god that represents it or protect it. And yes, that shall include rice and cats. If you're having rice, thank god, but its god. More than anything else, doing this shows some form of respect for what's around you; just like saying thanks if someone picks up your gloves when you dropped them on the street without noticing.
Another reason why I like Inari is his favorite dish that is being offered to him in his shrines: Fried bean curd parcels that are stuffed with - you guessed it - rice. I absolutely LOVE the fact that "(f)ried tofu is believed to be a favorite food of Japanese foxes, and an Inari-zushi roll has pointed corners that resemble fox ears, thus reinforcing the association." (Smyers, Karen Ann. The Fox and the Jewel: Shared and Private Meanings in Contemporary Japanese Inari Worship)
These little parcels are delicious and usually eaten by regular humans as breakfast. This is hard to find outside of Japan, but Asian food stores will sell you cans of these tofu-shells (called aburage), and you can make the stuff at home. Try it, it's great!
Oh, and before I forget: these little parcels of goodness are called inari-sushi. What else.
Güther Friesinger admires Shiva... and he has good reason to do so.
Shiva has different aspects, that appear different times. He is often the destroyer, and will appear as a naked ascetic accompanied by demons. Sometimes times Shiva is seen as the god of meditation and asceticism. He will be depicted sitting cross-legged with his eyes half-closed. Another common form is that of Shiva Nataraja. This is Shiva engaged in a cosmic dance. It is believed that the energy from this dance sustains the cosmos, and when Shiva is finished with this dance, this universe will end and a new one will begin. Shiva is often depicted carrying a trident, and the three tips of this weapon represent the creation, protection (or sustaining), and destruction of the universe. He might be carrying an ax, which is to symbolize the severing of ties to the material world.
Georg Cracked loves Pan. Georg is a good man and Pan is a good god.
Having spent quite a few of my formative years with an imagined "no gods, no masters"-sticker on my back. I find the notion of a god hard to take. I don't even like people calling Michel Platini a football god and my private opinion that "Nick Cave is god" (done years ago as a review of one of his records) is parts respect of the art of Nick Cave, parts sarcasm of either the status of Nick Cave in the alternative rock world or of the status of god in the overall world. Moreover, Nick Cave would probably deeply resent the label, old monotheist that he is. "Get ready for love" and "there is a war coming from above" and all of that. You know your Nick Cave as well as I do. Back to the theme: even in super hero comics I could never warm up to godlike figures. That big one in Silver Surfer was damn arrogant. On the other I hand I thoroughly enjoy movies and comics turning Christian mythology on its head with cleverness (from "Hellboy" to "Dogma" and from "God's Army" to "Constantine" - hey two of those are comic movies) but that is probably just because Christian mythology is one I know quite well and therefore I can enjoy it a lot more as a backdrop mythology for an action movie. Sort of like James Bond movies or movies about the second world war.
Nevertheless, there is one god, or at least divine personality, that I feel a slight inclination towards, probably because he is a funny guy, likes to drink and party and wants to enjoy life like a neverending spring break party. And he is a musician on top. For centuries he has upset the early Christians due to his loose and easy lifestyle (and that of his followers) but as you know Christianity and its awkward seriousness - I mean, Calvin come on, you weren't all that serious about determination right? - won out in the end. They even used his shape (goats feet, horns) as a form for the devil himself. Christians are fun-spoilers, I tell you.
Drinking was a serious part of Pan's lifestyle as was lusting and leering. He was one of the Dionysus-posse and spent his days the way the rest of us would like to if we would be honest. He had that aromatic essence of lust around him that makes women act like Robbie Williams entered the room. He played the flute, which is the ancient equivalent of the electric guitar. Of course, I am talking about Pan, as he was known to the Greek. In the Roman mythology he was called Faunus. But like P.Diddy and Puff Daddy, that doesn't mean much except that the times have changed. Somewhat. He is the son of Hermes and either the nymph Dryops, Kallisto or the goat called Aix. (I like country-life too, but the blame here is on Hermes - the god of luxury designer handbags - not on the offspring, right?) Officially, Pan is the god of the woods and nature, but then again, when he was around, there wasn't much more than woods and nature. I wouldn't take the words of shepherds as an account for anything, after all the stories they had about the wolf and such.
By the way, the word panic is also derived from him, because when he is disturbed during his siesta he takes revenge e.g. by chasing the flock around and spreading "panic fright".
Why not go for the big man himself: Dionysus? As a god of fornication and ecstasy, the idea is close. But Dionysus is also a very busy man, having to keep all that fornication going and seeing to it that the endless line of suntanned beauties never stops in the land of sunshine. Pan, on the other hand, has a much more easy and laid-back life. Everybody likes him in the crowd, so why head for the big spot. It is a kind of savoir vivre thing.
Finally, some myths insinuate that Pan died a long time ago. But I think he lives on in the form of Hugh Hefner. Every hip hop video tells me that he is still around. And if I get invited to the mansion, I will be there on time.
I remember one fateful day in my life when my brother and me were young boys. This story is is all about our younger sister who we treated meanly even though she never did anything to us. And I mean it! Yes, in those days we acted like a bunch of naughty rascals.
At the time there was a tasty product on the market. It was called "Moby", after Herman Melvilles' great novel "Moby-Dick". Come to think of it, it didn't have too much to do with whale-hunting; it was just half a liter of buttermilk enhanced with strawberry-flavor. Not one of us had ever read the book, and we liked to drink it anyhow.
My sister had a pack of "Moby". She left it trustingly in the fridge over night. She shouldn't have done that, knowing that there were two little beggars living under the same roof.
Drunk with our own stupidity we cut little cubes of sausage into her moby that night when we found it waiting defenselessly for its loving mistress. We laughed loudly about our new creation which we called "Moby Wurst".
Unsurprisingly, the next morning brought a bad start into that bright summers' day for my poor little sister. It took years, but eventually she forgave us for being such childish pricks.
That is because she is soft and gracious, in stark contrast to Challalamma, the Indian goddess of buttermilk, who would never agree to the unwanted marriage with the so far unnamed god of sausage. In her supernatural anger, she hasn't granted me one day of joy ever since the mobywurst incident.
So I pray to her from the bottom of my heart: >>Challalamma please hurt my brother instead of me! It was all his idea!<<
Franz Ablinger's favorite god is from Asia of course. It is the Japanese god Daikokuten. He writes:
When I was in Japan last year, I stumbled over a god that can be found in many Shinto-shrines. He was presented as a fat man carrying a big sack. Wow, isn't that Santa? I asked myself and the people around. No, they explained, the name of this deity is Daikokuten and he is one of the shichi fukujin, the seven deities of good fortune. Tap the mallet on the ground in front of him three times and your wish is granted. Well, it worked. So: what's up with Daikokuten? You can find his picture in many kitchens and as Netsuke, small wooden figures, maybe the ancestors of the small thingies japanese people like to tie on to their mobile phones.
You see a fat, smiling man, wearing a red hat, having thick earlaps - a reference to buddha? - holding a big sack in one hand, a hammer in the other. It is said that when he hits the sack with the hammer, it will be filled with goods. Usually he is sitting on a rice bale. Sometimes a rat, his animal partner, is with him. Sometimes you have to rub the figure, especially if the wish has to do with healing, and sometimes you have to tap it. But in any case you get something from this god. So the idea of Daikokuten being an ancestor of Santa Clause is quite obvious.
I always asked myself where the tradition of Santa Claus comes from. Here in middle Europe we still know the tradition of Saint Niclaus (Nikolaus) and an ongoing dispute in Austria asks wether children should get their presents on December 5, the day of St. Nikolaus, or on Christmas Eve, the eve of Jesus's birth.
In my hometown, St. Nikolaus is always accompanied by a Krampus, a devilish figure wearing a fur and chains. They usually play the good guy/bad guy game to threaten little children and urge them to be good. Nikolaus also has a small book with him where all the good and bad you have done in last year is written down. In my childhood I had much respect for the two until I found out that my uncle was dressed up as the Nikolaus.
St. Nicholas of Myra (lived around the year 300), as we learned in kindergarden, was the ancient name of a bishop who lived around 100km south west of Antalya / Turkey. There are many legends and miracle stories about St. Nicholas. It is said that he was already a saint at birth, and that he took his mothers breast on the days of abstinence (Wednesday and Friday) only once. Other legends include healing miracles.
In switzerland I found most of the original and wonderous traditions about Santa Claus. They know him as "Samichlaus" in many cities (e.g. Küssnacht am Rigi, Kanton Schwyz, Switzerland), still dressed as a bishop. It starts with the tradition of "Chlaus-Chlöpfen" (wakeup Claus) - this is done with huge whips, which are used to make noise to wake up Santa sleeping in his cave. Note that these special whips can make a noise above 100 db. I guess Santa can't sleep through that.
Also interesting: the tradition of "chlausjagen" (hunting claus), where children dress up with masks and go from house to house to get presents. It is still present in the city of Hallwil, Kanton Aaargau, Switzerland, where you can find the original form: There are six different masks, called "Herr" (the master), "Jompfere" (the virgin), "Joggeli" (Jacob, the servant), "Wächter" (the guard), "Möörech" (the black) and "Root" (the red). So you see here are only six of the seven deities of the shichi fukujin left. Which one is missing? And why? I guess I'll start with mapping the ancient masks of central europe with the deities of India to find out. Stay tuned.
Frank Apunkt Schneider's favorite god is Coyote. Why? Well...
To make clear that Gods are categorically different from normal people there has been a long tradition of trickster Gods spanning almost every religious system. Examples include Bampana of the Aboriginals, Cercopes from Greek mythology (who dared even to fool around with bigshot Heracles), to the Q of the Star Trek Next Generation epos.
A trickster God or Goddess is one that disturbs the monotonous lifestyle of utilitarian human culture concerned with solving everyday problems, making profits or conquering worlds.
Trickster deities cross out the semiotics of such a type of reality by swapping around its constituent particles. This is remarkable in light of the fact that most big and bourgeois Gods and Goddesses are there to make sense, to be masters of their fiefdom, to explain how various things came to exist exactly the way they are. Thus they are predecessors of the monotheist Super Gods such as Yahweh, God or Allah which are seen more as invisible omnipotent constructs of meaning than traditional deities who exist more in the physical world.
In contrast to that, trickster deities are smaller sidekick deities of a nomadic lifestyle and appearance. They stand for the ever breeding potential of "anti-sense" - which is a necessary flip side of "meaning" (in philosophical terms).
Trickster Gods mock people, change things in an unpredictable way, turn everything around and upside down. They are like troublesome and annoying insects that whiz around one's head. They are anti-bourgeois because they represent the hidden and repressed knowledge that civilization is built on cruelty, suppression and lies. In North American Indian mythologies the most famous trickster God is Coyote, which also appears as Akba Atatdia, First Scolder, Old Man or Old Man Coyote. He is a bit of a pop star in Native American's history because he incorporates a promise of freedom which has to be unattainable (to form the basis for the modernist notion of freedom), but seems to be even more attractive because of that fact.
What made Coyote so popular is that he was always good for a story. Most of the time this story was more than a mere story... it's more like a pop song that you want to sing and whistle while working through your stupid everyday life.
One very popular story tells of how one of his pranks ended up creating the milky way. This was when Black God (who was kind of a huge amount of black space) tried to make himself up by putting stars all over his black spaceness that he took out of his pocket. Coyote snatched the pocket to try out how the stars would taste but didn't like them so he spat them back into Black God's face. Now his pocket was empty and when Black God was shaking it out only dust fell from it on his black spaceness. The Dust that sticked there and formed our galaxy.
Another story reports how he distracted and interrupted Human Maker while he tried to make men from clay. Due to Coyote's pestering Human Maker and ruining his concentration, all men would turn out to be different by colour, stability and quality.
By that act Coyote, who pranks not only men but also his fellow deities, is important as a kind of "humanize button" in the boring technocratic machinery of the Gods. Through his productive abuse and creative misreading, he helps the world of the Gods and Goddesses make sense by accounting for things that otherwise wouldn't. In short he is a typical punk mash up of Bill Gates and Johnny Rotten.
My favorite deity is Bast (Bastet, Ubasti, Pasht), the cat goddess from Egyptian mythology. She protects cats and people who love cats. I also like her because of her name which literally means (female) devourer. As the daughter of Ra, she was originally a goddess of the sun and usually depicted as a fierce lioness. She was the protector of the Pharao, named Lady of the Flames. Later, her name developed into Bastet, a variation of Bast with an additional female suffix to the one already present. Since Bastet would originally mean (female) of the ointment jar, Bast also became the goddess of perfumes and was bestowed with the title perfumed protector. This gentler characterization led to a decrease in her ferocity. Gradually, she became regarded as a domestic cat rather than a lioness, though sometimes she would still hold a lioness mask. She was also regarded as a good mother, so sometimes she is surrounded by numerous kittens. So, Bast is cute, yet strong, and her name looks neat in hieroglyphs - that's why I like her.
monochrom's polytheist community wants to dissociate itself from any religious back-to-the-roots-movement in Western society, which aims to replace the dominant local monotheism with some older form of religious practice. A practice which they believe to be rooted in the original doctrine of that region and the people grounded in it.
One example for such a practice is given by the neo-pagan movement that is popular in the gothic, dark wave, and parts of the industrial scene. Parts of that movement show a strong (though not exclusive) tendency to oppose modernity with pre-modern conceptions of society and culture that put everybody in their "natural" place. Because of that it is attractive to the neo-fascist subculture within that scene, in the same way as it was attractive to the NSDAP, who thought of returning to worship of Germanic Gods and Goddesses instead of the Judea-Christian God. These ideas were never able to come to fruition because the German leadership needed the support of their Christian allies and followers.
That is not the kind of party we're inviting you to. We fight modern society not in the name of a rootsy culture and its "natural" ways. We fight modern society in the name of postmodernity. Let there be Gods and Goddesses, not tradition!
And never forget: as a human being (whatever that might be) you do not have roots but feet!
So you might enjoy a little hate song about that matter that we borrowed from the famous US-American pop group by the name of Dead Kennedys. If you want to listen to it just put on your old Dead Kennedys "Nazi Punks Fuck Off"-Single and sing along to the lyrics below.
Nazi Polytheists Fuck Off
Polytheism ain't no religious cult Polytheism means thinking for yourself You ain't hardcore cos you deny Jesus Christ When a dualistic structure still lives inside your head
Nazi polytheists Nazi polytheists Nazi polytheists -Fuck Off!
Nazi polytheists Nazi polytheists Nazi polytheists -Fuck Off!
If you've come to preach, get outa here You ain't no better than the Mormons We ain't trying to be pagan When you ape the catholics it ain't religious anarchy
Ten guys convert one, what a man You fight each other, the monotheist state wins Stab your backs when you trash cemeteries Trash a university if you've got real balls
You still think swastikas look cool The real Nazis run your schools They're coaches, businessmen and cops In a real fourth reich you'll be the first to go
You'll be the first to go You'll be the first to go You'll be the first to go Unless you think
Anika Kronberger reports about a frightening (yet compelling) persona from the beyond(s)...
In the Finnish mythology Loviatar (alternative names Loveatar, Lovetar, Lovehetar, Louhetar, and Louhiatar) is the goddess of pain and evil.
She was (or is) the worst of the sisters. Not only was (or is) she eyeless, hideous and black -- in soul as well as in complexion -- but she also was (or is) the mother of the nine diseases: - Pistos (consumption) - Ähky (colic) - Luuvalo (gout) - Riisi (rickets) - Paise (ulcer) - Rupi (scab) - Syöjä (cancer) - Rutto (plague). The ninth -- a witch and the worst of all -- remains unnamed.
In the Finnish epos Kalevala Loviatar was described liked this: "The blind daughter of Tuoni, Old and wicked witch, Lowyatar, Worst of all the Death-land women, Ugliest of Mana's children, Source of all the host of evils, All the ills and plagues of Northland, Black in heart, and soul, and visage, Evil genius of Lappala, Made her couch along the wayside, On the fields of sin and sorrow; Turned her back upon the East-wind, To the source of stormy weather, To the chilling winds of morning."
Not even Google finds a picture of her. Simpatico!
Kixmi submitted a report about Hunuman, the Indian Superman. Thank you very much!
Hanuman the monkey is not a top-level god, but an interesting one nonetheless, as some avatars of his have managed to sneak their way into so-called western culture, from christianity to pop-iconography and, eventually, to the Internet folklore.
Hanuman is a hero from the Ramayana epic (500-100 BCE). He loved god Rama (and his feminine partner Sita) so much that he was ready to sacrifice himself for their sake and to save the world from the menacing forces of evil.
Hanuman was born from a non-sexual sinless intercourse (immaculate conception being the catholic counterpart) between Shiva and a woman that had been transformed into a monkey by a curse. His mother Anjana and his pater-putativus Kesari, the giant monkey, lived in "chastity".
The other gods immediately acknowledged the divinity of the baby Hanuman and decided to make him immortal. This soon proved to be a big mistake.
Hanuman was not a well-behaved child. He used to tease holy men, and drink holy water. The gods eventually became rather fed up with his behavior, and decided to punish him with amnesia. He lost the knowledge of his superpowers, and only remembered them when mentioned by somebody other than him.
It was these very powers that would decide the Ramayana War. Hanuman's tail burnt the entire island of Sri Lanka, and gave victory to the army of god Rama over the forces of devil Ramana.
Hanuman loves every human being. He is a mediator between humans and Rama (like egyptian monkey-god Thot, or Jesus Christ). He sits next to Rama in the kingdom of heaven.
Many Indian holy men claim to have seen Hanuman in recent times. His image is used today against Indian religious minorities by the Bajrang Dal, a far-right hindu paramilitary youth organisation also known as Monkey God's Army. Here is an interesting question for discussion via the International Year of Polytheism: Can gods in a polytheistic context also be used for sectarian bigotry?
In any case, it is the image that makes Hanuman so interesting.
To give proof of his love, Hanuman tears open his chest with his own hands to show his heart, in which the images of Rama and Sita can be seen.
From that image, it is possible to draw a genealogy of chest-opening gods or half-gods. Take for instance the "sacred heart of Jesus", worshipped from the XIth century on, and widely reproduced in catholic and anglican iconography. In the XXth century this image was (consciously or subconsciously) secularized by the creators of the cartoon-character Superman. Superman opens his shirt to reveal a heart-shaped logo under which he is ready to save the world.
The hearts of Hanuman, Christ and Superman are possibly - sublimated representations of ancient human practices of sacrifice, in which the chests of propiciatory victims were sliced open and their hearts extracted in order to be burnt or eaten.
This is a powerful image, a gestalt, an archetype, an iconic virus installed in the human collective subconsciousness since prehistoric ages. Today we could call it a strange attractor. I call it just Kixmi.
Roland Gratzer wants to introduce us to his favorite goddess.
The Carribean religion(s), well known as Voodoo, is famous for adaptions of Christian saints. One day, during the Stuart Wars, many Scottish and Irish men and women loyal to the Stuart crown were deported to the West Indies, and that is how the former Celtic goddess Brigid arrived in Haiti. By the way, she is portraited with white skin and red hair.
And what's her task?
She protects dead people and gravestones in cemeteries. So the first woman buried in any cemetery is Maman Brigitte. Proofs for people possessed by her are torrents of yelling obscenities and the skill to drink pure rum with chili. But fakers watch out! To verify a possession, your genital organs are rubbed with chili too. Only really possessed people are able to survive such treatment.
"Kixmi" reports about 'Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities' and the 'International Year Of Polytheism'.
Kixmi blogerako gehien interesatzen zaidana, ordea, aurten egiten ari diren Politeismoaren Nazioarteko Urtea da. Ekimenak "monoteismoaren mundu ikuspegiaren aroa gainditu nahi du, eta hortik eratorritako "Mendebaldea" eta "Mundu Arabiarra". Aniztasun politeista berriz eraikiz gainditu nahi du hori. Aniztasun horretan jainko eta jainkosa ugarik elkar neutralizatzen dute azkenean. Politeismoa demokrazia da, Monoteismoa diktadura".
David Fine from San Francisco sends us his thoughts about his favorite God:
Like Thor and Zeus, the Sumerian deity Adad liked to ride around in his chariot hurdling lighting bolts and causing wars. During his awkward adolescence he changed his name to Hadad and moved to Canaan where he made thunder by clumsily stumbling around the skies.
As time went on, he grew up and became Ba'al-Hamon, "Rider on the storm", bringer of rain, protector of life. He was such a big shot that he married his sister Anat, the goddess of sex and fertility. Even El, father of the gods, couldn't keep him from ascending to the top seat in the pantheon.
Yet despite winning an epic battle with death himself, Ba'al was eventually defeated by bad press. When the monotheism fad swept the Middle East, the Jewish leaders took exception to his cult of sacred prostitution. They filled the Bible with anti-Ba'al propaganda, renaming him Beelzebub "Lord of the Flies". They stole his original title "Rider on the storm" and applied it to their god in Psalms 68.4.
These days Ba'al is slumming it with Satan, second in command of hell, doubtlessly torturing poor souls with rambling stories of the good old days.
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a gigantic ash tree, thought to connect all the nine worlds of Norse cosmology. In the top of the tree is perched a giant rooster, or more often an eagle named Vidofnir, and sitting upon its forehead is a hawk named Vedrfolnir. Ratatoskr, the squirrel, is continuously spreading gossip. In particular he ferries insults between the eagle Vidofnir at the top, and the dragon Níðhöggr, gnawing at the tree's roots.
I'm not completely sure if it's correct to call Ratatoskr a deity, but at least the squirrel transmits insults for all eternity. And that's something most mortal squirrels can't state about themselves.
Armin H., a regular reader of our site, emails us some info.
I just wanted to send you a beautiful picture I found on Flickr. It was taken in Schönbrunn, one of Vienna's empiral palaces. It shows Perseus and the decapitated head of Medusa. Here is some backround info. Sounds appealing!
Peter Schlager -- a supporter of the "International Year Of Polytheism" -- transmits us his statement about Alan Moore and Polytheism.
As we know from monotheistic movements, culture as a virtual reality can potentially be hacked by stories. When comic revolutionary and reformer of the graphic novel Alan Moore (Watchmen, From Hell, V for Vendetta) writes about semi-godess Promethea, his ambition seems not only to deliver a strong narrative, his aim even appears to (re)create her as a godess herself - with the means of what he does best: coding visual and textual language, or as others call it "the flesh of the gods". Sequential art serves not only as a welcome form of entertainment but also as the strong vessel for modern gods as well as demons. Not as master races but more as urban fauns like Batman or the Swamp Thing as a planetary avatar, myths and legends are created in front of our noses and with the help of gifted authors they become role models and archetypes for a polytheism yet to be created. My belief in the Swamp God or like others call him "Swamp Thing" is a godlike avatar for trust in gajan mind and spiritual growth alike. Only few stories have the strength to shape gods and Alan Moore still seems ambitious to establish polytheism with the powerful alliance of comics and pop culture, as his magical thinking is more about language itself than entities existing independently from the codes of our culture. Mr. Moore himself, by the way, is involved in the cult of the snake god Glycon, which was founded in the mid-second century by the Greek prophet Alexander of Abonutichus. Glycon has the form of a hairy snake with the head of a human, and in an interview with Steward Lee Moore proposes that people obviously seem too different from each other to only believe in one or even the same god. All this becomes clear on the fist cover of Moore's Promethea, one can clearly read in scarlet letters: "If she did not exist... we would have to invent her." And maybe we should.
One supporter of polytheistic multiplicity is already waiting. We offer him persimmons.
He eats one...for Zeus!
And he receives an official certificate.
Further supporters show up...
...but they won't let us take their picture. They say it has something to do with a strange sect or the like. Is the fruit a forbidden one?
We eat some more of the divine fruit, fill out some more certificates and are overall satisfied with the outcome of the gathering.
Hail, son of Cronus and Rhea, youngest of his siblings! Married to Hera in most traditions! Father of Aphrodite by Dione! Know for your erotic escapades! And best greetings to Athena, Apollo and Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus, Heracles, Helen, Minos, and the Muses. (I hope we didn't forget anyone.)
We present medical personnel at Kaiser Permanente and some homeless people round the corner with persimmons. Afterwards, we drive to the "Museum of Jurassic Technology" in Culver City and donate the rest of the produce.
A Persimmon is variety of species of trees of the genus Diospyros, and the edible fruit borne by them. The most widely cultivated species is Diospyros kaki. The fruit is very sweet to the taste with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. Cultivation of the fruit started in parts of East Asia, and was later introduced to California.
Diospyros kaki translates as "The Fruit of Zeus".
Zeus, is (or was) the king of the gods, the ruler of Mount Olympus, and god of the sky and thunder, in Greek mythology. His symbols are (or were) the thunderbolt, bull, eagle and the oak. When the world was divided in three, Hades received the underworld, Poseidon the sea, and Zeus the sky.
We want to honor Zeus!
We want to moan about the dreadful non-divisional monotheistic singularity! Long enough we were dominated by the concept of the God of the Abrahamic religions and/or the Platonic concept of God as put forward by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite!
We want to eat persimmons for Zeus! In anger!
Join the force! Eat his fruit! Get a certificate!
Los Angeles, California. Sidewalk @ 4810 Sunset Boulevard. February 23, 2007; 1 PM- 1:30 PM.
Favorite Deity #1: Seamus Kealy About Mary, Loki And Cúchulainn
We want to start an inspirational series about "Favorite Deities". So we asked artist and curator Seamus Kealy (Toronto, Canada) to send us a statement about his most favorite god or goddess. He emailed us the following paragraphs...
>>In the spirit of polytheism itself, deciding on one deity as a favorite is just not possible for me. So I will describe a few that have fascinated me since childhood:
Firstly, I'd like to counter the polytheism theme in a sense and propose that the Virgin Mary is actually a more subversive figure within Christianity than it might first appear. Along with the idea of the Trinity - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Mother of God figure makes Christianity polytheistic. This may be one reason why Catholicism made it so big with pagan cultures, such as the Irish who had many deities, including strong goddess figures, before Patrick converted them, or the Aztec and Mayan cultures, who along with the Irish, developed into some of the most devout practictioners of Christianity ... despite the colonial aspects to their conversions. The figure of the Mother of God also interrupts the patriarchal history out of Judaism, in another sense. The ambiguity of Mary's virginity, motherhood and her subsequent worship and adoration by Catholics and Orthodox Christians alike makes her, I argue, a goddess figure. Hail Theotokos!
After that brief return to the religion of my childhood, it's time to move onto a few figures that I became familar with in my adolescence, especially after becoming a Dungeon Master on a regular basis (for those unfamiliar - this is the 'master' who controls the role-playing game of Dungeons and Dragons). I learned about Norse gods, Greek gods, and some Indian deities. One of the characters that struck me immediately ... since he seemed to have the right approach to life, I thought ... was the Norse figure Loki. He was not only a trickster, he was actually an imposter. He is the only god-figure that I know who actually sneaked his way into becoming a god. Sadly, the poor fellow is trapped eternally now until the end of the world arrives.
Another figure who was less heavenly and more about the here and now, and who epitomized Voltaire's "je préfère le vin d'ici à l'au-delà", is Dionysus. He always interested me with his love of life and hedonistic impulses, which in fact involves drunkenness, madness, ecstasy and music that is entirely liberating and would bring an end to misery or anxiety. As such, Dionysus is one who gives generously, and one who understands human suffering profoundly. This kinship of a deity figure with the earthly sensibilitiesis something that more monotheistic practises tend to avoid, which is a terrible blunder that isolates these more conservative religions from humanity.
Lastly, where would one be without a hero? Although he's not a deity per se, I was always intrigued by the great Irish hero Cúchulainn. My father told me stories of Cúchulainn's deeds when I was a child in Ireland, and these impressions stuck with me since then. Cúchulainn's abilities and adventures were so outrageous and fantastical that they considerably provoked, I think, the Irish nation's imagination and identity formation for centuries and arguably fuel the Irish fighting spirit to this day: "The Warp-Spasm overtook him: it seemed each hair was hammered into his head, so sharply they shot upright. You would swear a fire-speck tipped each hair. He squeezed one eye narrower than the eye of a needle; he opened the other wider than the mouth of a goblet. He bared his jaws to the ear; he peeled back his lips to the eye-teeth till his gullet showed. The hero-halo rose up from the crown of his head". And so he would enter battle.<<
We plan to stay a couple of days. Naturalist John Muir wrote about this special place:
The most famous and accessible of these canyon valleys, and also the one that presents their most striking and sublime features on the grandest scale, is the Yosemite, situated in the basin of the Merced River at an elevation of 4000 feet above the level of the sea. It is about seven miles long, half a mile to a mile wide, and nearly a mile deep in the solid granite flank of the range. The walls are made up of rocks, mountains in size, partly separated from each other by side canyons, and they are so sheer in front, and so compactly and harmoniously arranged on a level floor, that the Valley ... looks like an immense hall or temple lighted from above. But no temple made with hands can compare with Yosemite.
"Interesting idea", we think. We want to doublecheck with reality and find a) chapels, b) people praying to the "One Lord" during hiking tours and c) even have to witness a mother shouting at her 12 year old boy in the lobby of "Yosemite Lodge" becaue she had caught him masturbating. She told him that "God" would punish him for his sin. We try to tell the poor boy that there are plenty of other gods and goddesses who wouldn't have a problem with his procedures, but it is impossible. Poor child.
We even find a bear (a mighty spiritual power in the religion of the Native American tribes who live(d) in the valley) that has been mutilated into an archangel! The horror!
Why? A possible explanation can be found in every motel room's bedside table.
We have been invited to visit the Google Campus in the depths of Silicon Valley.
It is a major experience to talk to people who are gatekeeping the cyberspace. We try to talk to them about boosting the search term "polytheism", or at least to put it into Google-Ads if you search for "Jesus" or "9/11". But they say that this is impossible and after all they have a lot of "work to do". "Work?" We are confused. They are all just sitting in front of screens!
With the help of a sympathizer we manage to enter George Lucas' "Skywalker Ranch" in Nicasio, California.
We want to suggest Lucasfilm to do a remake of "Clash of the Titans". We think that this is a terrific idea.
Zeus: Perseus has won. My son has triumphed. Hera: A fortunate young man. Zeus: Fortune is ally to the brave. Thetis: What a dangerous precedent. What if there more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us? Zeus: We would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever.
But the supervisors are not really into discussing the idea. Most of the employees are busy finishing an animated series about a Christian-savior-style space hero. We even find a Holy Grail from a 1980s pseudo-archeology movie on display. So that's why!
We talk about Fijian mythology, especially about Tui Delai Gau, who is the god of mountains. He can remove his hands and have them fish for him. He can also take off his head and put it in the sky as a look-out. He lives in a tree.
'The Wild Hunt' Supports 'International Year Of Polytheism'
February 11, 2007.
We here at "The Wild Hunt" fully support the International Year of Polytheism (we romantically believe that every year is the International Year of Polytheism), and we look forward to future commemorative events. Perhaps Monochrom's strident sense of fun and adventure in promoting the virtues of polytheism will spread to certain Pagan groups (who shall always remain nameless) who have forgotten why we rejected monotheism in the first place. Remember, the number of the Beast is One!
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: "monochrom bury the living"
February 8, 2007.
Todd of blogto.com wrote a great report about our free premature burial process.
We would like to quote a short paragraph. Rather fitting for the 'International Year Of Polytheism'.
One woman, upon her resurrection, gushed that while inside the coffin, she had been transported back through time and space to a moment in Vienna when she had sworn upon an Egyptian sarcophagus to leave her failed marriage, which she later did. Upon this recollection, she said she had felt herself tugged 100 ft. downwards - but not in a bad way.
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: "Daytime"
February 8, 2007.
We get an email.
Go to Rogers Television, 3573 Wolfedale Road, Mississauga, ON 1/2 block south of Burnhamthorpe Rd. on Wolfedale (east side) Contact on location: Todd C. Thursday, 10:30am for make-up (make up artists are volunteer and may not be there) 'Daytime' Show will be taped by 12pm The Show will air at 11am, 5pm & 11pm on the same day
Luckily we have time and drive to Mississauga.
We get no make-up, but coffee.
We wait and watch the live TV feed of 'Daytime'.
On our programme we see a Baptist woman inform people about divorce, some lady talk about holidays for high school kids and two chefs prepare a chicken. Afterwards the staff asks us to take a seat in the studio. Our curator/agent Seamus Kealy and team members Grenzfurthner and Friesinger try to talk about burials, media hype and polytheism. At least for 5 or 6 minutes.
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: First pictures
February 7, 2007; 4 PM
A huge crowd of interested people arrive with the first shuttle bus from Toronto. After an 30 minute introductory talk we start the ritualistic funeral routine.
Here is a selection of pictures.
If you have taken pictures or blogged about 'Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities', please send us the link: death AT monochrom.at Thank you very much, and our deepest condolences.
This is how funerals sound all over middle Europe. Bells are ringing, the priest, the brass band and people who are shambling slowly behind the coffin. And, of course, altar boys. Once upon a time, in a village - the name of which is irrelevant - a tipsy priest fell into the hole. The funeral attendants' sobs immediately turned into shrieks while both grave diggers had considerable trouble getting the infamous clergyman out again.
Emotion coming out of the cold! Representing all official state obsequies and other pomp funerals. Chopin's smash hit of death. In this military brass band version it does not lack a certain catatonic iciness.
It is a kitschy cliche that Vienna is a morbid place. But sometimes it is simply true. This sentimental and bittersweet tearjerker is a Viennese Schrammel-style song of death. Schrammelmusik is usually listened to at the typical Viennese wine taverns -- the Heurigen. The song is about a Fiaker -- a horse carriage driver -- who says:
Bring my horses into the stable For today they will get a bag of oats and some hay for the last time. Put a lock at the door for you're getting rid of me today. Because I no longer am a wagoner, for today I'll peg out.
The Serbian death customs are rooted in the pre-Christian belief in a kingdom-come which can only be reached by crossing a river. Other than the river Styx in classical mythology, this river cannot be crossed on a boat, but only on a tree trunk that is used like a bridge. If the dead person has committed too many sins, then he risks falling into the water. Through the water, he reaches the world underneath, the hells, where it is very dark and very dry. To alleviate this possible post mortal dryness, the women still carry full beer mugs to the graveyards in this area. What a nice custom.
So, Jesus died for you? And what about Ruaumoko? In Maori mythology, Ruaumoko is the youngest son of Rangi and Papa. He has never been born for you! And he remains inside his mother's womb. His movements are considered the cause of earthquakes.
A University of Toronto staff member is protesting that the experience of Austrian art collective monochrom's performance piece "#2: Premature Burial as a Field Trial for Near Death Activities" may be too extreme for some volunteer participants.
The live art piece, to be performed tomorrow at the University of Toronto at Mississauga's Blackwood Gallery, buries volunteers in a coffin for up to 15 minutes.
Elizabeth Olszewska, community outreach co-ordinator in UTM's psychology department, says she was shocked when she received an email from the gallery inviting faculty, staff and students to get buried alive.
The Austrian art collective claims that in these conditions, someone would be able to last in the coffin for days.
"There is art and garbage. Everything that brings me down is garbage, it's not the type of art I would like to be involved in," she says.
Weber defines spirit of capitalism as the ideas and habits that favor the rational pursuit of economic gain. Weber shows that certain types of Protestantism favored rational pursuit of economic gain and that worldly activities had been given positive spiritual and moral meaning. It was not the goal of those religious ideas, but rather a byproduct -- the inherent logic of those doctrines and the advice based upon them both directly and indirectly encouraged planning and self-denial in the pursuit of economic gain.
At least twelve river gods or goddesses (plus other divine water entities) would complain about such egregious behaviour!
They sell prayers in shops!
Local polytheistic practices were enslaved...
We return to Toronto. We have to deal with a burial.
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: A Very Short Cultural History
The fear of being buried alive is one of our most primal fears. The mere thought gives us the creeps and makes our heart beat faster. We find reports about people awaking on their alleged deathbed even in classical antiquity. There's more than one text testifying that some poor fellow came back to life right on their cremation table and could not be spared the gruesome fate of being burnt alive. With the introduction of coffins the fear of regaining consciousness six feet under became a considerable factor, developing into a serious case of mass hysteria in Germany and France in the 18th and 19th century. People awaking from death are a powerful literary motif. Stories about apparently dead people in post-medieval Europe are galore. One of the most gruesome stories is that of a young Swedish girl who supposedly died in a state of advanced pregnancy. In the evening after she was buried, the verger hears pitiful groans from the courtyard. Highly superstitious and afraid of ghosts, he runs home and hides under his bed sheets. When he tells the rector about his observation the following morning, the clergyman orders the coffin to be exhumed, not without reproaching the verger for his superstition. The opening of the coffin produced a terrible sight: the girl had given birth in her coffin and died in her own blood. This is just one of many hundreds of ghastly tales in the same vein. In the 18th and 19th century these collections -- like the Thesaurus of Horror, published in 1817 -- attracted thousands of readers and lead to a sudden upsurge in fear of apparent death and premature burial in the 1740s, and for more than 200 years to come, a scientific debate was to keep Europeans of all social backgrounds busy: the controversy over the fallibility of the signs of death. In classical antiquity the absence of a heartbeat was the accepted sign of death. Yet, there is also evidence that there might have been an awareness of the fallibility of this criterion. The Greek physician Galen already recommended great caution in declaring people dead in case of certain diseases like hysteria, asphyxia, coma, catalepsy, and with people who have died from excessive grief or joy, or from intoxication with alcohol or soporific drafts. But the scientific achievements of antiquity were lost in medieval Europe, and the Europeans had to start from scratch. At that time, the average European was never in all his or her life seen by a medical practitioner. It was therefore very common that people were declared dead by educated laypersons. For these laypersons, the absence of respiration and of bodily reflexes was enough to signify death. The idea of death being a transition, a gradual process, did not exist. Thus, a person who did not breathe was dead, and if they came back to life, they were ghosts. Period.
In the 17th century death was still something completely supernatural and inexplicable â€“ the miracle of death. Lots of legends and anecdotes told stories of bleeding corpses, speaking skulls and cadavers growing hair. These incidences were regarded as bad omens, predicting famine and disease, and none of these inspired more careful scrutiny of individuals presumed dead. The common practice of burying bodies as quickly as possible -- especially in times of epidemic plagues -- poses another problem. The usage of coffins provides allegedly dead people with oxygen for about 60 minutes, enough time for somebody who died of, say catalepsy or who froze to death, to regain consciousness and die a second horrible death. The image of this has inspired some of the most gruesome tales of all time. The reader is spared no detail of this torture underground: you hear tales of people gnawing their fingers (sometimes their whole hands) in agony, people whose bodies were found in unnatural positions, with bundles of their own hair in their clenched fists, their faces distorted with the most horrible of grimaces. An image of despair, a foretaste of hell to the fear-stricken reader. There is, for example, the story of a French soldier called Francois de Cirille, who is said to have been declared dead three times! He had been born by cesarean section to a dead mother exhumed from her coffin. After becoming an army captain, he was severely wounded in battle and buried alive in a mass grave. His servant, who wanted to dig his master a more fitting grave, discovered that he was not dead. While he was recovering, a troop of hostile soldiers burst into the house and threw him into a dung heap, where he lay buried for three days until rescued for the third time. According to his gravestone in Milan, he finally died at the age of 105. He froze to death while "serenading the lady of his heart all night long". The most famous story of a premature burial is that of the Lady With the Ring. The story is that of a rich lady who dies and is buried with a very precious ring in the family vault. In the night, thieves break into the vault to steal the ring and the lady regains consciousness. This story exists in different variations all over Europe, in some of which the lady is raped by an obviously necrophiliac grave robber. In others the criminals cut the lady's finger off, and she awakes due to this harsh treatment. Some of the stories tell us that the lady runs through the streets in panic and is killed by frightened inhabitants of the town. Another version has it that her loving husband thanked the thieves for bringing his beloved lady back to life by giving them the ring as a present.
By the end of the 17th century some medical practitioners in Germany developed an awareness for the fallibility of the signs of death and suggested longer waiting periods between the time of alleged death and the burial of the corpse, along with caution in cases of certain conditions, very much like those Galen had in mind.
In 1740 a Danish anatomist, Jacob Winslow, postulated that people are at an immediate risk of being buried alive. He states that (quote) "death is certain, since it is inevitable, but also uncertain, since its diagnose is sometimes fallible." He argues that the only reliable evidence that a person is dead is the onset of putrefaction and the appearance of livid spots. He suggests that no one be buried until they show signs of putrefaction, and that supposedly dead people be taken care of in warm beds and attempts be made to bring them back to life by tickling them with the quill of a pen or by introducing strong smells to their nostrils. But he also suggests rather brutal methods of resuscitation, like putting urine into the mouth of the poor victim, or cutting them with razors, thrusting pins under their nails, or pouring boiling wax on their foreheads, and even worse proposals that involve the most sensitive parts of the human body. Yet, one has to bear in mind that Winslow was only guided by his humanitarian feelings!
In spite of the startling contents, Winslow's work would have had little impact had it not caught the eye of the French physician and translator Jean-Jacques Bruhier d'Ablaincourt. He was a skilled linguist and a scholar with considerable understanding of European history and culture, and, like Winslow, he was a member of the Academy of Science. Bruhier's translation of Winslow's "The Uncertainty of the Signs of Death" was an immediate success. Bruhier himself emerges as a fully fledged campaigner for burial reform and adds some of his own stories to the volume. He argues, for example, that Jesus could not have raised Lazarus from the dead, if putrefaction had been awaited before the man had been declared dead. Bruhier also presented King Louis XV with his idea that bodies ought to be supervised for 72 hours or until putrefaction set it, before being buried. The King was impressed but postponed the project indefinitely after his ministers had estimated the costs of the reform. Nevertheless, Bruhier's book was immensely popular for years. Bruhier rejected all kinds of superstition, he was a rationalist in the Age of Enlightenment. He only makes one mistake: the book also contains a long list of "case reports", all the stories about apparent death and premature burial Winslow and Bruhier could get hold of, and Bruhier defends every single one of these cases, even the least credible ones. As mentioned before, the subject was fascinating and stories on the topic abound, but these are not all case reports; most of these stories serve only one purpose: to entertain the public with tales about resuscitation, necrophilia, and with obviously sadistic overtones. Bruhier therefore had two major groups against him: the Catholic Church because of his atheistic statements, and of course the medical profession (there were quacks and charlatans all over the place), who would not have it that they should not be able to tell a dead man from a live one. But Bruhier's book was elegantly written and convincingly argued, and therefore accessible for the educated laypersons themselves. Hence the crucial information that the signs of death might be fallible went directly to the population, unfiltered by the authorities of church and science. The book was translated into English, Swedish and German, and it caused considerable debate on the subject, which led to an upsurge of fear of premature burial in the mid 18th century, and some people even made wills requesting to be decapitated before their burial, in order to make sure they were really dead. The 1740s were the perfect time for a fear of premature burial to develop. There was still a good deal of superstition around about abnormal fasts, swallows hibernating under water and submarine humans, but the rationalist medical scientists no longer considered these phenomena supernatural and cast doubt on the prevailing signs of death, which were still lack of respiration and pulsation. The scientist Reaumur made the observation in 1740 that an unconscious, breathless and pulseless individual can be brought back into live through artificial respiration, which was a sensation. Bruhier managed to brush all criticism aside and become accepted by a majority of doctors and educated people. As an anti-premature burial activist he had many followers, and the call for a waiting period of at least 12 hours before corpses were buried became louder. Of course, the argument that dead bodies were a risk for public health in times of epidemic plagues weighed heavily. It was argued that the risk was higher to lose many than the gain of saving a few. However, the Austrian court physician Gerard van Swieten agreed with Bruhier that putrefaction was the only certain sign of death, and he proposed to the Empress Maria Theresia that it become obligatory throughout Austria for at least 48 hours to pass between death and burial. Many German states followed suit and demanded a delay in burial of between 24 and 48 hours. Thus, one significant positive effect of Bruhier's work was that it became accepted practice, throughout large parts of Europe, to wait at least 12 to 24 hours before any person was buried. Bruhier's warning that people who died from apoplexy, drowning, freezing to death and "hysteric conditions" were especially prone to be buried alive had the desired effect and probably saved lots of people from a gruesome fate. Humane societies were founded not only in Europe but also in America, and resuscitation on bodies found in lifeless conditions became widely accepted practice. While England turned a deaf ear on the problem of premature burial that shook the continent, Germany developed a downright hysteria on the topic. All over Germany by the end of the 18th century there were calls for so called Leichenhäuser (waiting mortuaries), a concept conceived by the German Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland, who also wrote about the phenomenon of Scheintod (apparent death or death trance). These buildings were designed to keep bodies under surveillance until putrefaction set in. By 1795 Berlin had three LeichenhÃ¤user, the one in Munich even had a luxury department and it admitted visitors for a small fee. Some of these mortuaries also adopted strange alarm systems, like strings attached to the fingers of the corpses, so that the guide would be informed by an alarm bell should a body come back to life and move, and weird resuscitation devices to bring people back to life. Literature on the horrors of being buried alive blossomed. In the 1840s there were riots in Lisbon, where people went out on the street because the huge demand for waiting mortuaries was not met. 90 years later, the waiting mortuaries were still in use, but no longer popular in Germany. They were sinister, unpleasant places, they emanated an overpowering stench and were very expensive. Eventually, they were all closed down. But another branch of inventions to rescue victims of premature burial emerged. In the 19th century lots of so called security coffins were patented worldwide. Most of them had tubes linking the buried coffin with the world above, some had alarm systems like bell ropes. The simpler versions had safety springs that opened the lid if a mechanism was triggered by the inhabitant. Others were supposed to be linked via strings to the church bell. Some offered the luxury of lamps inside the coffin or even air-conditioning. One model was equipped with a pyrotechnical rocket that could be launched through the security tube of the coffin. Somehow, none of these ideas really caught on. By that time the extremely defeatist standpoint was overcome that putrefaction is the only reliable sign of death, and medical science made attempts to find reliable alternatives. The invention of the stethoscope was a huge step, but back then, a stethoscope was more or less a wooden hearing trumpet and therefore still unreliable. Some of the more obscure suggestions included the so called thanatometer: a long thermometer supposed to be introduced into the stomach of the person to measure the temperature in the core of the body. A certain Dr. Labode invented an electronic tongue-pulling machine, because he believed that pulling the tongue will always revive an apparently dead person. A French doctor invented a pair of strong pincers with which to pinch the two nipples. A German called Middledorph even suggested a small flag be attached to one side of a needle, which would then be thrust into the heart. If the person was still alive, and the heart still beating, the flag would wave merrily, he thought. One of the more reasonable ideas came from an Italian named Dr. Monteverdi. He found out that the subcutaneous injection of liquid ammonia produced an inflammatory reaction in a living person but none in a corpse. This method is infallible, but there was the problem that the injection needs to be carried out correctly and syringes were a rather new invention. In the 1820s and 30s the fear of premature burial in Germany began to wane anyway. But now it gained full strength in France. The French newspapers covered thousands of stories of people coming back from the dead, people rescued from the grave and people found in unnatural positions in their exhumed coffins. The French ignored the fact that in Germany the waiting mortuaries were closed, and that there was not one single case of apparent death reported in all the waiting mortuaries in Germany. The Germans were more and more reluctant to deposit their dead there. Yet, there was lots of agitation for the erection of such buildings in France. King Louis Philippe even set up a commission in 1844 to evaluate the truth of the rumors that people were frequently buried alive. In the 1860s the Dutch professor Alexander von Hasselt was the first to contradict Bruhier and Hufeland by stating that the signs of death were perfectly reliable. He also described the role of the French newspapers in this hysteria, and he began to investigate and demonstrate that these stories were all untrue by simply travelling to the villages and asking the people who supposedly awoke from the dead. Basically all of them were impudently made up. Still, the medical advances of the late 19th century had added some arguments in favor of the uncertainty of the signs of death. Scientists discovered that cardiac massage could restart a heart that had stopped beating and that anesthesia could produce a death trance resembling apparent death. By that time the wave of hysteria had crossed the Atlantic, and newspapers in the US featured the same kind of gruesome stories as the French newspapers. But these stories kept nourishing the debate and peoples' suspiciousness of the medical profession which annoyed lots of doctors. In 1905 the anti-premature burial movement gained new momentum through the appearance of a young Swedish girl, a suffragette, who was driven by a burning hatred of the wrongdoings of the medical profession. Her name was Emilie Louise Lind-af-Hageby, and in her sensationalist agitation during speeches she held in Great Britain, she claimed that tens of thousands of people were buried alive each year. Finally, the premature burial hysteria reached England, and a journal was established, the "Burial Reformer". Emilie was very successful with her one-woman campaign. She was witty, bright and elaborate and more than a match for the priests and newspapers that opposed her. But after some years of premature burial activism, she lost interest in the cause and the movement fell into terminal decline. It has to be mentioned that the anti-premature burial activists also had a very strong link to organized spiritualism. Its aims throughout the years were basically reactionary, preferring cleanliness and goodness as the way to health against the discoveries of germs, bacteria, and vaccines. Some even opposed medical research and practitioners as a whole, which might easily have caused a medical disaster. By the way, Hans Christian Andersen, Arthur Schopenhauer and Alfred Nobel lived in fear of premature burial.
So, how high was the risk of being buried alive really?
As mentioned before, on closer examination the gruesome tales of people awaking in their grave and those narrowly escaping the horrible fate of being buried alive basically prove to belong to the realm of folklore, like ghost stories. All the figures are highly exaggerated and there are basically only a few underlying tales that crop up in many variations all across Europe. But what about the newspaper reports? Most of them follow the same scheme and are obviously made up. But there are also reliable sources telling about bodies found in unnatural positions in exhumes coffins. Now we know that these things are easily explained by science. We know that the process of putrefaction makes corpses move their hands and feet. After death the body relaxes and the victim seems to smile, then cadaveric rigidity sets in and the gradual contortion of the musculature may produce a hideous grimace. There are tales about shattered coffins. Even these can be the result of perfectly normal processes. Sometimes corpses explode because they produce a huge amount of putrefaction gases. There are reports of gnawed fingers or hands. These are most certainly caused by rodents feeding on the dead bodies; they always start at the fingertips, working their way up the arms to the torso. But how can the cry for help be explained that is very often part of these reports? Well, the putrefaction gases seek a way out and sometimes they simply pass the larynx, causing a sometimes quite loud moaning sound. Scientists call it the 'Totenlaut'. This sound must also have been what the superstitious verger heard in the story about the girl giving birth in her coffin. And the building up of putrefaction results in highly increased intra-abdominal pressure. It can be strong enough to expel an unborn child from the womb. Well, we have one phenomenon left, which is also part of some of the reliable case reports: the detail that sometimes the clenched fists of the corpses are full of hair pulled out at the roots and matching that on the corpse's head. And there is no natural explanation for this! So there obviously were victims of premature burial, but the figures the burial reformers presented to the public were surely highly exaggerated. It also has to be said that in all the German waiting mortuaries over all these decades, not one single case of apparent death has been recorded!
Well, the question remaining is: does it still happen today?
One of the most famous cases of all times is that of the Frenchman Angelo Hays, who had a motorcycle accident in 1937. His head had hit a wall, and he was declared dead and was promptly buried. Since his father had a life insurance of 200.000 Francs on the boy's life, an insurance inspector had the coffin exhumed to ascertain the cause of death. Two days after the burial he found the body still warm! The young man had been deeply unconscious, which lead to a diminished need for oxygen, and the earth with which the coffin was covered was very dry and therefore permeable. After several operations he completely recovered and became a downright celebrity. He toured through Europe presenting a security coffin he had invented after his "rebirth". It contained library books, food supplies, had air conditioning, a radio, a chemical toilet, an oven and a refrigerator. It cost about as much as an automobile at the time.
But today high caution is taken in cases such as head trauma, drowning, lightning, electrocution, hypothermia, drug poisoning or intoxication with narcotic substances, and with people who freeze to death. One remaining problem is that of suicide attempts with barbiturates in the cold. Lower body temperatures decrease the need for oxygen and barbiturates prevent shivering. There may be just 10 heartbeats per minutes or less and just 2 or three respirations. In this case people may be falsely declared dead by inexperienced practitioners.
So nowadays, with brain death widely accepted as a reliable sign of death (people who are brain dead always die within two weeks without regaining consciousness), there is theoretically only one thing you will have to bear in mind if you want to prevent premature burial: Simply avoid taking a drug overdose when outside in cold weather!
Premature Burial As A Field Trial For Near Death Activities: Basic Info
The people present will have an opportunity to be buried alive in a coffin for fifteen minutes. Volunteers will be able to experience a semi-traumatic situation and possibly get in close contact with various gods and/or afterlives. As a framework program there will be lectures about the history of the science of determining death and the medical cultural history of "buried alive". People buried alive not only populate the horror stories of past centuries, but also countless reports in specialized medical literature. The theme of unintentional resurrection by grave robbers also runs through forensic protocols. Even in the 19th century it was said that every tenth person was buried alive.
February 7, 2007. Blackwood Gallery, Mississauga/University Toronto, Canada.
The Austrian collective monochrom invites you to be buried alive in a private graveyard at the Blackwood Gallery on Wednesday February 7, 2007 from 4:00 pm -- 6:00 pm, and again from 7:00 pm -- 9:00 pm.
Free shuttle buses
#1) Hart House University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto departing at 3:00 pm (returning at 6:00 pm)
#2) Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West, Toronto departing at 6:00 pm (returning at 9:00 pm)
The chemical compound Barium Nitrate is the basic ingredient for so called "sparklers". Sparklers are bound to various monotheistic rituals, making them, in a certain sense, unfree. In Austria for example, they play an important role in the local Christmas celebrations, an event celebrating the birth of the supposed son of god, Jesus Christ. In Great Britain sparklers are used to celebrate the defeat of Guy Fawkes and a Roman Catholic attempt (1605) on the life of the King as representative of the Anglican Church. In the USA they belong to the ritual celebration of the 4th of July, a holiday in which a seemingly secular nation religiously celebrates the metaphysical establishment of their role in the judaeo-christian value system. Barium Nitrate thus stands as a representative of all symbols that have been enslaved and abused by the monotheistic world religions.
The "International Year Of Polytheism" (powered by monochrom) wants to overcome the epoch of the monotheistic worldviews (and its derivatives such as "The West" and "The Arab World") through the reconstruction of a polytheistic multiplicity in which countless gods and goddesses will eventually neutralize each other. Polytheism is democracy, Monotheism a dictatorship, even in its pseudo-secular form.
The Symbolic liberation of Barium Nitrate will signal the opening of this "International Year of Polytheism". We would like to invite you to join with us in igniting 10.000 bound sparklers, free of any judaeo-christian intent (such as celebration, tradition, humility or Andre Heller). Nothing but a wonderfully powerful fire signal, whose representational vacuity and lack of otherwise traditional symbolic meaning might just wake some of the ignoble gods exiled by monotheistic McKinseyism. We welcome them back from their second-class beyond(s).
Freed from the servitude of monotheism and the fraternal strife of the trinity, the world would be redeemed in a chaotic baptism of multiplicity. Besides, we believe that polytheism is the most suitable form of religion for a modern, dynamic and cosmopolitan young culture. Improve your C.V. with polytheism. Create your own heavens and hells. Or try it out yourself with our special Gods/Goddesses trial subscription. Our qualified operators are standing by to take your calls!
Followers of the 12 Greek Gods, who, according to mythology, ruled the Ancient World from Mount Olympus, have cast a thunderbolt at their Orthodox opponents.
Followers say they have been persecuted for 1600 years.
"They are a handful of miserable resuscitators of a degenerate dead religion who wish to return to the monstrous dark delusions of the past," said Father Efstathios Kollas, the President of Greek Clergymen.