You are browsing the archive for Religion, Myth & Legend.

Decoding the Morse: The History of 16th-Century Narcoleptic Walruses

Adam Green - June 14, 2017 in carta marina, conrad gessner, Culture & History, Featured Articles, morse, olaus magnus, Religion, Myth & Legend, walrus

Amongst the assorted curiosities described in Olaus Magnus' 1555 tome on Nordic life was the morse — a hirsuite, fearsome, walrus-like beast, that was said to snooze upon cliffs while hanging by its teeth. Natalie Lawrence explores the career of this chimerical wonder, shaped both by scholarly images of a fabulous north and the grisly corporeality of the trade in walrus skins, teeth, and bone.

Woodcuts and Witches

Adam Green - May 4, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, christianity, crone, Culture & History, demonology, demons, devils, Featured Articles, king james, occult, persecution, printing, printing revolution, Religion, Myth & Legend, sorcery, witchcraft, witches, wizards

Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.

Woodcuts and Witches

Adam Green - May 4, 2017 in Art & Illustrations, Books, christianity, crone, Culture & History, demonology, demons, devils, Featured Articles, king james, occult, persecution, printing, printing revolution, Religion, Myth & Legend, sorcery, witchcraft, witches, wizards

Jon Crabb on the witch-craze of Early Modern Europe, and how the concurrent rise of the mass-produced woodcut helped forge the archetype of the broom-riding crone — complete with cauldron and cats — so familiar today.

Voltaire and the Buddha

Adam Green - March 8, 2017 in buddha, buddhism, christian missionaries, early reception of buddhism, Jesuit missions, orientalism, Religion, Myth & Legend, Society of Jesus, Voltaire

Donald S. Lopez, Jr. looks at Voltaire's early reflections on Buddhism and how, in his desire to separate the Buddha's teachings from the trappings of religion, the French Enlightenment thinker prefigured an approach now familiar in the West.

George Washington: A Descendant of Odin?

Adam Green - February 8, 2017 in Books, Culture & History, family tree, genealogy, george washington, george washington descendants, odin, Religion, Myth & Legend, scandina, vikings, washington descended from, woden

Yvonne Seale on a bizarre and fanciful piece of genealogical scholarship and what it tells us about identity in late 19th-century America.

Out of Their Love They Made It: A Visual History of Buraq

Adam Green - September 21, 2016 in Art & Illustrations, buraq, buraq iconography, buraq in art, Featured Articles, god, iconography, islam, mi'raj, Prophet Muhammad, qur'an, Religion, Religion, Myth & Legend, richard dawkins

Although mentioned only briefly in the Qur'an, the story of the Prophet Muhammad's night journey to heaven astride a winged horse called Buraq has long caught the imagination of artists. Yasmine Seale charts the many representations of this enigmatic steed, from early Islamic scripture to contemporary Delhi, and explores what such a figure can say about the nature of belief.

Francis van Helmont and the Alphabet of Nature

Adam Green - June 1, 2016 in alchemy, Featured Articles, francis van helmont, hebrew, invented languages, Jan Baptist van Helmont, language, occult, Philosophy, Religion, Myth & Legend, universal language

Largely forgotten today in the shadow of his more famous father, the 17th-century Flemish alchemist Francis van Helmont influenced and was friends with the likes of Locke, Boyle, and Leibniz. While imprisoned by the Inquisition, in between torture sessions, he wrote his Alphabet of Nature on the idea of a universal natural language. Je Wilson explores.

Divine Comedy: Lucian Versus The Gods

Adam Green - March 23, 2016 in Books, dialogues, gods, lucian, Religion, Myth & Legend, satire, translation

With the twenty-six short comic dialogues that made up Dialogues of the Gods, the 2nd-century writer Lucian of Samosata took the popular images of the Greek gods and re-drew them as greedy, sex-obsessed, power-mad despots. Nicholas Jeeves explores the story behind the work and its reception in the English speaking world.

Worlds Without End

Adam Green - December 9, 2015 in electromagnetism, ether, Fournier d’Albe, invisible worlds, physics, psychic phenomena, quantum physics, radioactivity, Religion, Myth & Legend, Science & Medicine, Society for Psychical Research, spiritualism, telepathy, William Barrett, x-rays

At the end of the 19th century, inspired by radical advances in technology, physicists asserted the reality of invisible worlds — an idea through which they sought to address not only psychic phenomena such as telepathy, but also spiritual questions around the soul and immortality. Philip Ball explores this fascinating history, and how in this turn to the unseen in the face of mystery there exists a parallel to quantum physics today.

The Price of Suffering: William Pynchon and The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption

Adam Green - November 11, 2015 in banned books, Books, colonial america, first book to be banned in America, new england, puritans, Religion, Myth & Legend, religious controversy, springfield, thomas pynchon, thomas pynchon ancestor

William Pynchon, earliest colonial ancestor of the novelist Thomas Pynchon, was a key figure in the early settlement of New England. He also wrote a book which became, at the hands of the Puritans it riled against, one of the first to be banned and burned on American soil. Daniel Crown explores.