Saturday, December 31, 2005

How divine

I've been given a copy of Divination For Beginners (For Beginners)

I always enjoy Scott Cunningham's work so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this one. I'll let you know (I've already divined that)

Friday, December 30, 2005

No Jobs for Dogs

Chinese tradition holds 2006 will be a year of bad luck for people born under the sign of the dog, but misfortune has come early for some looking for jobs. Companies looking for new recruits had deliberately passed over candidates born as dogs in China's ancient 12-animal astrological cycle to ward off the bad luck expected for people in years of their same sign.

(The rooster will make way for the dog at Chinese Lunar New Year on 29 January)

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Singing Reindeer

A White Christmas

More on Poinsettias

The Aztecs called poinsettias "Cuetlaxochitle." During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye.

Montezuma, the last of the Aztec kings, would have poinsettias brought into what now is Mexico City by caravans because poinsettias could not be grown in the high altitude.

William Prescott, a historian and horticulturist, was asked to give Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name as it became more popular. At that time Mr. Prescott had just published a book called the Conquest of Mexico in which he detailed Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant. So, Prescott named the plant the poinsettia in honor of Joel Poinsett’s discovery.

Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first United States Ambassador to Mexico and during his appontment he wandered the countryside looking for new plant species. In 1828 he found a beautiful shrub with large red flowers.

The botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, was assigned to the poinsettia by the German botanist, Wilenow. The plant grew through a crack in his greenhouse. Dazzled by its color, he gave it the botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima meaning "very beautiful."
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Friday, December 16, 2005

Help The poinsettia poisoned me

OK. Some joker sent me this

Don't ever let your kids eat the poinsettias! They are deadly poisonous, and every year several poor unsuspecting little ones are killed at Christmastime by taking just the slightest nibble from a poinsettia plant.

Crikey! Luckily it's not true. It's a wonderfully persistent myth though, and it seems to have arisen from a long-ago death of a child's being attributed to the wrong cause. From a fact sheet prepared by Ecke Poinsettia Growers:

The poinsettia poison myth had its origin in 1919 when a two-year-old child of an Army officer stationed in Hawaii died of poisoning, and the cause was incorrectly assumed to be a poinsettia leaf.

Since that non-poinsettia death in 1919, there haven't been any real ones either. And no wonder: a 50 lb. child would have to eat more than 1.25 lbs. of poinsettia bracts (about 500 to 600 leaves) to exceed the experimental doses, according to the POISINDEX Information Service.

Send your name to the Asteroid Belt

Dawn Community
Send your name to the asteroid belt on the Dawn spacecraft. Your name will be recorded onto a microchip that will be placed aboard the spacecraft accompanying it on its mission to the asteroid belt. After entering your name below, you will have the opportunity to print a document that verifies your journey aboard the spacecraft

Friday, December 09, 2005

Favourite Book 2005 #1

Drone On!: The High History of Celtic Music
My #1 pick as Favourite Book 2005

This is a weird, wild, wonderful read. Despite her name, Winnie Czulinski is an avowed Celtophile and has written extensively in the field.

Reading Drone On, subtitled "The High History of Celtic Music," is like an evening in an Irish pub. The teller of tales mixes fact, fiction, speculation and downright lies to make the night a joy to recall and Winnie takes us on a breakneck tour of the various Celtic lands and legends. The book also looks at the Celtic contribution to country and American folk styles of music, as well as the transition of songs like "The Patriot Game" into "God on Our Side," with the tune coming from the Appalachians as "The Merry Month of May" and popularised as "Bold Grenadier".

This is a wonderful book in the old sense of the word, being full of wonder.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Some Railway Lore

Ghost Train

I was a railway fireman back in those days, working on the CPR line in Alberta. I did a hard day's work and earned me a fair wage. I was young then, and my pretty little bride was just setting up housekeeping in the little cottage that was all we could afford. Life was good, and I thought everything would continue rolling along that way.

Then came that fateful day in May of 1908. I was working nights that month, and my buddy Twohey was the engineer. We were about three kilometers out of Medicine Hat when a blazing light appeared in front of the engine. It was another train on a collision course with us. Twohey yelled at me to jump, but there was no time. The light was right on top of us. I thought we were dead. Then the oncoming train veered off to the right and ran passed us, its whistle blowing and the passengers staring at us through the windows. But there was only a single track in that stretch of hills, and it was the one we were on. I looked over at the shrieking, rumbling Ghost Train and saw that the wheels were not touching the ground!

Well, we were mighty spooked by the incident. Twohey decided to take some time off from engineering and began working in the yard; but I kept working the night shift as a fireman, not wanting some Ghost Train to drive me away a job I enjoyed.

A few weeks later, I was stoking the fire for an engineer named Nicholson when we heard the shrill whistle blast through the calm night air. We were on the same single track just outside of Medicine Hat, and the brilliant light of the Ghost Train burst out of nowhere, blinding us. Nicholson gave a shout of terror and I thought my heart would stop. As before, the Ghost Train veered off to the right at the last possible second. I saw it race passed us on tracks that did not exist, its passengers staring curiously at Nicholson and I from out of the windows.

That did it. I wasn't about to go back on the tracks after that. I did yard work for the rest of the month of May and a few weeks in June. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and I gritted my teeth and resumed my role as fireman.

I was firing up an engine in the yard one evening in early July when the report of an accident came in. The Spokane Flyer and a Lethbridge passenger train had a head-on collision on the single track three kilometers outside of Medicine Hat, on the exact spot where the Ghost Train had appeared. The Lethbridge locomotive had derailed and its baggage car was destroyed. Seven people were killed in the accident, including the two engineers. One was my buddy Twohey, and the other was Nicholson.
retold by S.E.Schlosser

Australian Railway Folk Songs

In eighteen hundred and fifty-one,
I did what many men had done,
Oh, me dungaree breeches I put on,

Chorus: To work upon the railway, the railway.
I'm weary of the railway.
Oh, poor Paddy works on the railway.

In eighteen hundred and fifty-two,
I had some work that I must do,
So I shipped away wid' an Irish crew,

In eighteen hundred and fifty-three,
I packed my gear and went to sea,
I shipped away to Syd-en-ee

In eighteen hundred and fifty-four,
I landed on Australia's shore,
I had a pick-axe an' nothing more,

In eighteen hundred and fifty-six,
Me drinks I could no longer mix,
So I changed me trade to carrying bricks,

In eighteen hundred and fifty-seven,
Me children numbered jist eleven,
Of girls I'd four an' boys I'd seven,

In eighteen hundred and fifty-eight
I made a fortune, not too late,
An' shipped away on the Frances Drake.

The Afghans with their camels played a leading role in the building of the Australian Railways and they've been commemorated with the naming of the trans-continent train, The Ghan. It is said there are more wild camels in the Australian outback than the entire Middle East.


We're just three lonely fettlers located right out West,
Midst heat and sand and desert we try to do our best;
Each morn at six you see us with shovels, bar and jack,
All day long through heat and dust, we toil along the track.

Our camp is on a sandhill, there's nare a soul to meet,
'Cept for a weary swagman who wandered off his beat;
Just twice a week arrives a train with our supplies,
Just old corn beef and taters, some bread, and jam and flies.

You've got the lot the guard says, then gives the rightaway,
That train's our only visitor till our next ration day;
So listen all you fettlers who've never been outside the old suburban,

Any day – come pop along our outback way,

You'll get a family greeting, be sure you will not rust,
For water is so very scarce, you'll eat your pound of dust;
Just keep your courage growing and keep your chin well up,
Then life will be worth living, for full will be your cup.

(By Railwayman Jim Gordon. The Retired Rail and Tramwayman magazine April 1940)

The Railway Hotel plays an important place in Australian architectural heritage and folklore. Usually these buildings, with their distinctive awnings and signs, dominated the main street that inevitably grew up around the train station. It was at these hotels that travellers over-nighted, railway workers were sometimes lodged, commercial travellers used as a base, and the town gathered socially.

The German like his beer
The Englishman his half and half
The Irishman likes his tot and
The Scotsman likes his hot
The Aussie has no national drink
So he drinks the bloody lot!

A man and his wife check into the Railway Hotel. The husband wants to have a drink at the bar but his wife is extremely tired so she decides to go on up to their room to rest. She lies down on the bed... just then, an elevated train passes by very close to the window and shakes the room so hard she's thrown out of the bed.

Thinking, this must be a freak occurrence, she lies down once more. Again a train shakes the room so violently she's thrown to the floor. Exasperated, she calls the front desk and asks for the manager. The manager says , "I'll be right up."

The manager is sceptical but the wife insists the story is true. "Look... lie here on the bed -- you'll be thrown right to the floor!" So he lies down next to the wife. Just then the husband walks in. "What do you think you're doing!", he says. The manager calmly replies, "Would you believe I'm waiting for a train?"

Warren Fahey

The Railway Children
A Ghost Story

One of the more famous urban legends in Texas is that of the haunted railroad crossing in San Antonio just South of the San Juan Mission. It is here that the ghosts of children, killed when a North bound train collided with their stalled school bus, push cars across the same tracks to a safety they could not reach themselves. According to the legend, a bumper dusted with talcum powder will reveal tiny hand prints of the ghost children, left when they pushed the car across the tracks.

At the website folklore the hardy chaps are trying to document the phenomena should it really exist. (That's what they do, document ghosts)

The Once and Future King

The Legend of Arthur and his court at Camelot lives on - it's a human story and a classic tear-jerker after all. It would beat any television soap opera hands down. A man who dreamed of peace and order, his life marked with tragedy and wild misunderstanding, with a wife who didn't love him, a best friend who betrayed him, a son who killed him, yet who still managed to be an ideal king.

The personality of Arthur is unknown and unknowable. But he was as real as Alfred the Great or William the Conqueror; his impact upon future ages mattered as much, or more so. Enough evidence survives from the hundred years after his death to show that reality was remembered for three generations, before legend engulfed his memory.

Caerlon was the site of one of Britain's three Roman Legionary Fortresses and many believe it to be the location of Camelot.

Interview with King Arthur Pendragon

It's not every day that you get to sit in a pub garden with the King of England, supping pints of cider and smoking endless cigarettes. UK Online Senior Editor Chris Russell did just that and found King Arthur Uther Pendragon a thoroughly decent monarch.

'I'm not a king of the country, I'm a king of the people,' with a shrug of the shoulders the third reincarnation of Arthur Pendragon leans casually back in his seat and flicks the ash from his cigarette to the floor.

'Legend says King Arthur will return to Britain when he's needed. Obviously that time is now.'

The former Hells Angel, soldier and gardener is quite relaxed about his role as leader of the people. Unlike traditional monarchs he's very laid back and doesn't stand on ceremony, a far cry from the pomp and circumstance demanded by Queen Elizabeth II. But then, Arthur says he's very different.

'The current Queen is forced down people's throats. She's the queen because the population of the country are told she's the Queen. Me, I'm Arthur Pendragon and if people want to believe I'm some nutter who thinks he's the reincarnation of King Arthur that's their choice.

'My belief is unshakeable. It could be questioned but but it doesn't matter. I'm not out to convince anybody I am the contemporary King Arthur.

'I've known since childhood that I was different but I didn't know what I really was. I had dreams of the Dark Ages and it was all very confusing. It only dawned on me in 1986 what it was all about and it hit me like a bolt of lightning.'

Not for this King shining platemail armour and festooned horses, however. Instead this King insists he's Arthur the warrior. A warband leader, who travelled the country with his loyal Shield Knights sorting out problems caused to the populace by Saxon invaders who tried to create a nation of slaves.

But when it comes to battle, Arthur, who gives his real age as 1,542 but admits to being a spritely 42 in this incarnation, says passive actions speak far louder than violent ones.

Strapped to his side is Excalibur, the famed sword of old that was passed to the previous Liege by the Lady of the Lake. That weapon, it seems, is gone for ever. Instead Arthur uses the sword made for the Hollywood movie Excalibur. A four-and-a-half feet long Celtic broadsword it has been specially blessed and granted magical powers by several druidic orders - orders to which the King belongs.

'I have said that I will never draw my sword in anger,' he explained. 'I have it by my side always and it is a magical weapon but that doesn't mean it has to be used.

'There's no point in violent protest, it doesn't really solve anything and it just creates bad publicity. It's much better to protest peacefully. That way you make your point and win people round to your way of thinking.'

Arthur has certainly been involved in some protests in his time. Most notably in 1990, he spent the winter sleeping under a tree whilst maintaining a picket of Stonehenge. Many would have given up when it got cold and damp, but then, not everyone is the King of England.

'It was bloody cold and it was bloody damp but it had to be done. I survived a lot of the time on handouts from the Americans who seemed totally phased that they could walk along and almost fall over a bloke in robes who said he was King Arthur.

'By the time the winter was over I was in a bit of a state and I lost a lot of weight, but on the plus side I made my point and met a lot of interesting people.'

These days the cold isn't so much a problem as Arthur spends most of his time on the road, travelling from protest to protest and providing a focal point for demonstrators.

'If people need me, I give them my help. When I'm around it's not uncommon for someone to call me and say :'Oy mush, get your bum over here and give us a hand.' That's all I need and I'm off.'

King Arthur Pendragon
Being the one and only authorised Web site of King Arthur Uther Pendragon, The Once And Future King.

The Accolade, 1901

The Accolade, 1901

Buy this Art Print at

Tristan & Isolde

Tristan & Isolde

Blair-Leighton, Edmund

Buy this Art Print at

"What would ye that I did?" said Sir Lancelot.
"I would have you to my husband," said Elaine.
"Fair damosel, I thank you," said Sir Lancelot,
"but truly," said he, "I cast me never to be wedded man."
"Then, fair knight," said she, "will ye be my paramour?"
"Jesu defend me," said Sir Lancelot, "for then I
rewarded your father and your brother full evil
for their great goodness."
"Alas," said she, "then must I die for your love."

Le Morte D'Arthur.
Book XVIII Chap. XIX.

The Camelot Project is designed to make available in electronic format a database of Arthurian texts, images, bibliographies, and basic information.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Beowulf, Ghosts and Ogopogo

Beowulf on the web

The earliest surviving epic poem written in English, Beowulf was most likely "composed in the seventh or eighth century, but being more precise depends on where one believes the poem was composed. ...[A] contender, which has come seriously into the reckoning as a result of the Sutton Hoo discovery, is seventh century East Anglia. Not only was the ship burial (which dates to 625AD) uncannily like the burials of Scyld and Beowulf, but the grave goods revealed the East Anglian court of the Wuffingas to be unexpectedly sophisticated and closely linked to the Swedish royal house at Uppsala. It is now thought possible that both these royal lines shared a common ancestry. As the scholar Howell Chickering asked: 'Was it through the early East Anglian court that detailed knowledge of Scandinavian tribal history in Beowulf became available in England?' And one might add, was the poem composed as a way of telling East Anglians something of their semi-historical, semi-legendary Scandinavian ancestors? There is, perhaps, a good case for believing that Beowulf was composed in Suffolk, at the palace of Rendlesham, within living memory of the great ship-burial in 625AD."

(from Angelcynn's Historical Background to Beowulf which has unfortunately vanished from the web)

If only these resources were available when I was at school, it would have been easier if we had computers back then too

Syd Allan's excellent starter site

David Breedon's wonderful modern translation

Beowulf in Hypertext: text in Old English and modern translation

Ghosts of Tombstone
Like so many other places in the Old West with violent histories, Tombstone is said to be one of the most haunted in Arizona. At its most famous place - the OK Corral, several witnesses have reported ghosts of the Earps as well as the Clanton brothers. At the nearby Boothill Graveyard, reports of apparitions and strange lights have frequently been given in this place that harbors several old outlaws beneath its wooden tombstones.

At the historic Buford House, an 1880’s adobe home, which now serves as a Bed & Breakfast, the ghost of a man named George Buford apparently refuses to leave. In the late nineteenth century, George, a gold prospector, lived in the house with his father when he fell in love with the girl across the street, Cleopatra, more familiarly called Petra. After returning from a long prospecting trip, George accompanied Petra and some other friends on an outing. For some reason, the girl decided to accompany another man on the walk home. George, sure that he had lost his promised girl, became angry, despondent and reclusive. Soon, when Petra visited him, he shot her twice, then turned the gun on himself. Despite her wounds, Petra recovered, but George died of his self-inflicted gunshot.

Like others who died tragic deaths, George continues to walk the earth, apparently lost in space and time. Both the owners and guests have seen him walking inside the home, as well as along the street in front of the old adobe structure. Often, the doorbell rings in the middle of the night, seemingly, of its own accord. Others have reported hearing knocking on walls, faucets turning themselves on and off, and strange lights appearing. Once in a while, women report that that they have felt someone touch their hair or stroke the back of their necks when no one is around.

Legends of America

Ogopogo on the list of endangered species

British Columbia's Lake Okanagan. The lake is a remnant of the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, and lies on the Pacific slopes of the Rocky Mountains. It is seventy-nine miles long, two-and-a-half miles wide, and in places, more than 800 feet deep, providing more than ample room for any large water beast, which the eyewitnesses claim resembles a huge snake.

As early as the 1700s, the Okanagan Indians knew of a water beast living in the lake. They called the creature N'ha-a-itk, meaning "snake of the water," and their Native superstitions demanded certain traditions before entering N'ha-a-ith's domain. One of the traditions was the ritual sacrifice of a small animal as a peace offering before crossing the lake. Tying their horses behind their canoes, they would paddle out to where they believed the serpent lived in a cave beneath the water---known as Squally Point---and make their offering, thus insuring that their horses would not be dragged under and drowned by the monster.

In 1890, Captain Thomas Shorts was steaming on the lake when he saw a finned creature about sixteen feet long with a head like that of a ram. The creature promptly disappeared when he turned his ship in its direction, and virtually no one believed him when he reported it. But other reports soon followed at two or three a year, and people began to examine the lake in more careful detail. Today, the local population fervently believes in the creature's existence. They call it Ogopogo, and have named the island where its traditional home is Squally Point, Ogopogo Island.

Lake Okanagan's relative position with respect to that of Loch Ness has some scientists believing that the presence of an unidentified sea creature living in the depths of the lake is not as outlandish as it seems. Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster, also thrives in a deep glacial lake, and some zoologists actually theorize that Loch Ness may be connected by underwater channels to the sea---that the Loch Ness monster is, in fact, a sea serpent of some kind traveling back and forth between the lake and the ocean. They also claim that hundreds of other lakes located in the same approximate latitude bands as Loch Ness could have similar connections to the sea and could be the home of mysterious sea creatures.

There have been reported sightings of creatures like the Loch Ness monster in approximately sixty other lakes around the world...places like Lake Storsjon in Sweden, Lake Rybinskoye in the Soviet Union and Lake Tsuchiura in Japan. All these lakes fall into the same latitude band as Loch Ness in Scotland, as does Lake Okanagan. But finding the creature, or the carcass, has proved elusive. Most monster lakes are far too large to be systematically searched, and many, like those in Scandanavia, are far too remote and rarely visited.

It is clear that a lot of people have seen something in Lake Okanagan that they suspect is a water monster, but what is it exactly that they are really seeing? Scientists know there are several species of fish which, when left undisturbed, grow to enormous size. The best example is the sturgeon, which averages ten feet in length, but has been known to grow much larger. In 1956, two Indians fishing in a canoe in Lake Seton, British Columbia, saw a sturgeon twenty-two feet long. Ten years later, another couple on the lake in a twenty-five foot boat sailed alongside a sturgeon that was ten feet longer than the boat. In Russia, a sturgeon was caught in the Volga River that was twenty-four feet long and weighted 3,241 pounds. And scientists also point out that there are eels of enormous size, too.

But the Canadian government is taking no chances. It has declared Ogopogo an endangered species, and hunting it is against the law. Most of the people who live on the shores of Lake Okanagan need no further proof. They've constructed a life-sized model of the creature, although it looks more like a dragon than a sea serpent, and have made it the star of an annual festival called, appropriately enough, "Ogopogo Days." For them, Ogopogo is very real indeed.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Thinking about the Sun

I spent last evening at a childrens' concert. You know the sort of thing, you sit watching a dozen or so little children graded in sizes presenting little performances, followed by another dozen or so little children presenting another little performance. And so on.

Everyone is marking time really, the children are lovely but the seats are uncomfortable, the sound system is erratic and we're all waiting to see our own kids on the stage. None of us, of course, can contain the sudden pang, almost painful, when the tiniest children are ushered on to sing a song. The sight and sound of these littlest ones on their very best behaviour brings us to our knees.

The theme of the evening was Cosmic Conundrum

We heard songs about the Sun, Moon and Stars - the Age of Aquarius, Gooday Sunshine and the wonderful standard, Blue Moon. To tell you the truth I can't recall all of the other songs, the children I had come to see were only involved with the songs mentioned.

All of this made me think about the Sun, and the ways we have regarded this giant nuclear reactor over the ages. I never understood the significance of Midwinter until I experienced it in England, a long way from home in a cold dark country where I could never ever, no matter what I did, get warm. I still wonder how it's possible, in a place where water can actually freeze in the tap, to raise the energy necessary to speak more than a few words much less come up with something along the lines of 'Tyger! Tyger! burning bright In the forest of the night, What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry?'. A mystery indeed.

In Australia the Sun is She. A woman who awakes daily in her camp in the east, lights a fire, and prepares the bark torch she will carry across the sky. Before setting out, she paints herself with red ochre, which she spills, colouring the clouds red. Upon reaching the west, she reapplies her paint, again spilling reds and yellows in the sky. The Sun Woman then begins a long passage under the ground back to her camp in the east. During this subterranean journey her torch warms the earth, causing plants to grow

In the Hollow Hills

If you want to enter the Hollow Hills even though you know what may befall you ....

First, before you decide to take the chance anyway, visit The Hollow Hills

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Mysterious Places on google earth

The mysterious places aren't so mysterious when seen on google earth. Indeed some of them are practically invisible.

Here's the co-ordinates of some well known ancient places, just copy them into the google earth search and you wil be taken there instantly

Nazca Lines: -14.73, -75.14
Where are they? Nothing like Von Daniken said

Giza Pyramids/Sphinx: 29.975, 31.13
by far the most impressive

Stonehenge: 51.004, -1.018
once again, where is it?

Rapa Nui (Easter Island): -27.11, -109.35
just an ocean, can you even see the island?

Troy: 39.955, 26.24
or the beaches of useless fruitless avoidable death to Australians (credit for the needless slaughter goes to Winston Churchill)

If you have found some ancient places, please let me know. Likewise if you can actually see anything

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Nine Mile Canyon

Located in a remote part of Utah, Nine Mile Canyon is often called “the world’s longest art gallery” as it contains more than 10,000 images carved onto canyon walls by Native Americans. The canyon also contains many historic sites – including stagecoach stations, settlers’ cabins, ranches, and iron telegraph poles installed by the famed 19th-century Buffalo Soldiers – that stand as reminders of the area’s pioneer history. Now this historic canyon is under increasing pressure from tourism, recreation, and energy development that threaten its significant prehistoric and historic resources

Nine Mile Canyon

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ancient date palm sprouts again

Israeli researchers have germinated a sapling date palm from seeds 2,000 years old

The seeds were found in archeological excavations at Masada, the desert mountain fortress where ancient Jewish rebels chose suicide over capture by Roman legions in CE 73. Carbon dating of a fragment from the Masada seeds put their age at between 1,940 and 2,040 years - indeed the oldest seeds ever brought back to life.

Stonehenge latest

Stonehenge has always mystified.

Julius Caesar thought it was the work of druids, medieval scholars believed it was the handiwork of Merlin, while local folk tales simply blamed the devil. Now scientists are demanding a full-scale research programme be launched to update our knowledge of the monument and discover precisely who built it and its burial barrow graves

Story at

And lovely photos of Stonehenge at

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Battle of Salamis

They were hopelessly outnumbered, but even then the Greeks knew it would be the battle that could change history.

The Asian invaders, had entered the Aegean. The "comeliest of boys" had been castrated; the throats of the "goodliest" soldiers ripped out.

Mounted on his marble throne Xerxes, Persia's formidable warrior king looked over the bay of Salamis, confident that he was about to enslave Europe. But instead of victory came defeat. As the Greeks' triremes trapped the Asian fleet, smashing it with their bronze rams, Xerxes watched incredulously. His soldiers, he said, were fighting like women.

That was 480 BC. Nearly 2,500 years later, a scientific team is searching for the lost fleets of the campaign in the northern Aegean.

Taipei Times

Lion Goddess to the Rescue

In Ethiopa a 12-year-old girl was abducted , kept captive for a week and beaten repeatedly by seven men trying to force her into a marriage with one of them. This is a common occurrence in Ethiopa, where gitls of even younger ages are kidnapped, beaten, raped and then forced into marriage with the rapist, all part of the marriage customs !!

The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, rape and force.

Three lions, hearing the noise of her beatings, appeared and chased off her captors. They stayed next to her as she lay semi conscious throughout the day until she was found by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.

"If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse." said Tilahun Kassa, a local government official. "They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest. A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which is why they didn't eat her".

I say ir was Sekhmet !!!!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Don't mention the war !!

Around the 9th century AD the Norsemen were all kitted out by master sword makers from the Rhine. in fact German arms dealers have been blamed for the Viking invasion of Britain .

Archaeologists working with the Russian Museum of Ethnography found the swords that the boyos used were made in Germany, swords of the highest quality which didn't break even during the fiercest fighting.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fridays are NOT fraught with peril

We may make jokes about Friday the 13th and only kiddingly instruct loved ones to exercise greater care on that day, but those who suffer from a fear of the number thirteen (triskaidekaphobia) or a fear of Friday the 13th (paraskevidekatriaphobia) may genuinely feel limited by the rumored potential for ill luck connected with the date.

The reasons why Friday came to be regarded as a day of bad luck have been obscured by the mists of time — some of the more common theories link it to a significant event in Christian tradition said to have taken place on Friday, such as the Crucifixion, Eve's offering the apple to Adam in the Garden of Eden, the beginning of the Great Flood, or the confusion at the Tower of Babel.

Chaucer alluded to Friday as a day on which bad things seemed to happen in the Canterbury Tales as far back as the late 14th century ("And on a Friday fell all this mischance"), but references to Friday as a day connected with ill luck generally start to show up in Western literature around the mid-17th century:

"Now Friday came, you old wives say, Of all the week's the unluckiest day." (1656)

But it's not ! Friday is a day dedicated to Freya , the Wild Woman of the North. Perfume your house with rose petals for the Lady

The Anger of Pele

Can a souvenir casually pocketed on a Hawaiian beach bring misfortune? Though the more skeptical will scoffingly dismiss the notion as pure hooey, thousands have come to believe that yes, volcanic rocks taken from Hawaii fetch with them a curse of impressive proportions. And the only way to undo the jinx is to return the purloined items whence they came.

Legend has it that Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes, is so angered when the rocks (which she sees as her children) are taken from her that she exacts a terrible revenge on the thief. She is especially protective of volcanic rock and sand, two items tourists almost unthinkingly pocket as mementos of their vacations. After all, who would miss a rock?

Pele will.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and far too many hotels to name receive a never-ending stream of packages containing sand, shells, and rocks from guilty-minded vacationers who are intent upon reversing their sudden downpours of bad luck. Many of these returns are accompanied by notes begging forgiveness of the goddess or detailing litanies of calamities that have befallen these casual purloiners:

Please take this sand and put it back somewhere on your island. I have had very bad luck since it came into my life and I am very sorry I took it. Please forgive me and I pray that once I send it back where it comes from, my bad luck will go away.

Please return to soil. I have been having bad luck.

Ever since we have taken items, we have had nothing but back luck and medical problems. We apologize for taking items, so we are returning same to Hawaii.

We placed the rock last fall on a cast iron chair in our garden, this spring the chair's leg had fallen off. This is the least of the problems we have had since we have taken the rock.

Pele's curse is not a mild-mannered one. Those afflicted by it don't misplace their car keys or develop runs in their stockings — their bad luck is of the grievous variety. Pets die. Jobs are lost. Houses burn down. Sudden and devastating illness strikes loved ones. Marriages break apart.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the sad case of Timothy Murray, a 32-year-old who scooped some of the unusual black sand from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park into a bottle and brought it back with him to Florida. Everything in his life immediately went into a nosedive: his pet died, his five-year relationship with a gal he was to marry ended, and the FBI arrested him in a computer copyright infringement case.

The native Hawaiian view of taking such souvenirs is that it's tantamount to stealing from Pele while visiting her home. Only the return of the stolen items appeases her wrath.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Another God for the Modern World

Beiwe brings greenery to the Arctic.

As a Spring and Sun goddess, she has a special association with the fertility of plants and animals. Reindeer are her favoured creatures and she travels with her daughter Beiwe-Neida through the sky in a cart made of their antlers.

The Saami apparently called on Beiwe for help with the insane. A handy deity to be friends with in the 21st century.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Nicaraguan Celebrations

Nicaraguan legend and folklore offers a parallel recount of the official history narrated on paper by chroniclers of the extensive and complex interaction there was between the indigenous cultures of Nicaragua and their conquerors—These tales have passed down from generation to generation through our oral history, awakening the imagination of a popular memory of transcendental events marked by tragedy, forsaken love, frustration, and horror

Nicaraguan Celebrations

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Ancient City uncovered

Archaeologists have begun underwater excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a temple uncovered by the tsunami off the coast of the centuries-old pilgrimage town of Mahabalipuram,

As the waves receded, the force of the water removed sand deposits that had covered the structures, which appear to belong to a port city built in the seventh century, said T. Satyamurthy, a senior archaeologist with the Archaeological Survey of India.

Mahabalipuram is already well known for its ancient, intricately carved shore temples that have been declared a World Heritage site and are visited each year by thousands of Hindu pilgrims and tourists. According to descriptions by early British travel writers, the area was also home to seven pagodas, six of which were submerged by the sea.

Monday, February 07, 2005

You need a Dragon in your underpants !

If your horoscope is looking a bit worrying for the coming Lunar New Year, a Hong Kong company has just the thing to put it right: feng shui underpants.

The lucky smalls have been designed by Yeung Tin Ming, a master of the ancient Chinese craft of spirit manipulation, or feng shui, and will ward off evil spirits and bring harmony, claims Life Enhance, a company that seeks to bring the wisdom of ancient China to the mass market.

"Our feng shui master says that having something lucky in contact with your skin would bring spiritual balance, so we thought lucky underpants would be ideal -- they are as intimate as you get," said Amy Law, a spokeswoman for the company. Feng shui advocates believe good fortune can be generated by arranging everyday objects in a way that guides invisible energies and "spirits" that emanate from all things.

It is a key part of the ritualism surrounding the Lunar New Year, as each 12-month cycle ushers a different set of spiritual forces and believers will spend time re-arranging furniture and schedules to optimise spirit flows. On Wednesday millions of Chinese around the world will welcome the new year of the rooster, the next in a recurring 12-year horological cycle each of which is represented by a different animal of the zodiac.

Ancient belief has it that each year reflects the character of its associated beast and as roosters are considered unpredictable the coming 12 months are expected to volatile.

The underpants, which come in red, grey and white and in boxers for men and briefs for women, depict a dragon on the front in accordance with Chinese belief that the mythical creatures balance out the erratic nature of roosters.

If you have a dragon on your underpants you will be protected !

Sunday, January 30, 2005

God of Javascript

Originally I thought Thoth would be the God of Javascript. He is, after all, the god of writing. But Ogma is really much better suited.

In France, Ogma is shown as an old bald man, greatly wrinkled and browned by the sun. In Ireland we find him as a muscular young chap shouldering his sheilalagh.

Ogma is the god of communication and writing and he invented the script named after him -- the Ogham Alphabet. The Druids could read it, but no one else. And it's still indecipherable to 99% of the population. Sound like javascript to you ?

Gods for the Modern World

A colleague of mine was wrestling with a bit of javascript recently and complained that " ... the Javascript Gods were having a little fun with me". He wondered if he should try sacrificing a mouse before writing another script to keep them happy.

That's what we're missing in modern society, gods to assist us through the everyday trials and tribulations of the 21st century. Like javascript for example, or traffic gridlocks. Who would you entreat ?

If only there were deities I could sacrifice chicken livers to, and so stock up on goodwill for when I need to ask a favour. Like a god for power blackouts, for clogged vacuum cleaners, for keeping the cat in at night and, last but certainly not least, a god for giving up smoking

Monday, January 03, 2005

How to help after the tsunami

As we welcome in the first month of the New Year, my heart is heavy with sadness on the worst natural disaster of our times.

To help with the aid work after the sea rose up to claim so many lives, I urge you to support the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation or UNICEF

Amazon and paypal are also taking donations, if you regularly use these services, a one-click system is put in place.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year Customs - Did you do them ?

Stocking Up: The new year must not be seen in with bare cupboards, lest that be the way of things for the year. Larders must be topped up and plenty of money must be placed in every wallet in the home to guarantee prosperity.

Paying Off Bills: The new year should not be begun with the household in debt, so checks should be written and mailed off prior to January 1st. Likewise, personal debts should be settled before the New Year arrives.

New Year Customs - First Footing

The first person to enter your home after the stroke of midnight will influence the year you're about to have. Ideally, he should be dark-haired, tall, and good-looking, and it would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts such as a lump of coal, a silver coin, a bit of bread, a sprig of evergreen, and some salt. Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck, and female first footers should be shooed away before they bring disaster down on the household.

The first footer (sometimes called the "Lucky Bird") should knock and be let in rather than unceremoniously use a key, even if he is one of the householders. After greeting those in the house and dropping off whatever small tokens of luck he has brought with him, he should make his way through the house and leave by a different door than the one through which he entered. No one should leave the premises before the first footer arrives — the first traffic across the threshold must be headed in rather than striking out.

First footers must not be cross-eyed or have flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle.

Nothing prevents the cagey householder from stationing a dark-haired man outside the home just before midnight to ensure the speedy arrival of a suitable first footer as soon as the chimes sound. If one of the partygoers is recruited for this purpose, impress upon him the need to slip out quietly just prior to the witching hour.