Posts

Showing posts from 2015

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Image
The story begins at Christmastime at King Arthur’s court in Camelot. The Knights of the Round Table join Arthur in the holiday celebrations, and Queen Guinevere presides in their midst. The lords and ladies of Camelot have been feasting for fifteen days, and now it is New Year’s Day. Everyone participates in New Year’s games, exchanging gifts and kisses. When the evening’s feast is about to be served, Arthur introduces a new game: he refuses to eat his dinner until he has heard a marvelous story. Be careful for you wish for.
While the lords and ladies feast, with Arthur’s nephew Gawain and Guinevere sitting together in the place of privilege at the high table, Arthur continues to wait for his marvel. As if in answer to Arthur’s request, an unknown knight suddenly enters the hall on horseback. The gigantic knight has a beautiful face and figure. Every piece of his elaborate armor is green, with flourishes of gold embossing. His huge horse is green, and his green hair and beard are wov…

Merry Christmas

Image

Happy Birthday to the Sun

Image
Happy Birthday to the Gods of the Sun and Light
Sol Sol Invictus "the Unconquered Sun" is the name of a Roman sun (sol) god popular from at least the 3rd century. Before Sol Invictus came to prominence, the Romans already had a sun god, Sol Indiges, who had been worshiped since the period of the Roman Republic. (The meaning of "Indiges" is debated. Sol Indiges could mean the indigenous sun.) The Emperor Nero had built a colossal statue associated with a sun god Sol. Sol Invictus may have been an import from the East. The Roman emperor Elagabalus worshiped a Syrian sun god, but it is Emperor Aurelian who is particularly associated with the Invictus because he, having attributed to the god his victory over the Palmyrenes, set up a temple to Sol Invictus in the Campus Martius, established a priesthood for the god, and created games in his honor (ludi solis), in 274. Aurelian tried to establish Sol Invictus as supreme god of the Romans, particularly among the military…

Beware of Krampus

Image
Krampus is the devilish child punishing companion of St. Nicholas. On December 6th, Nicholas brings joy and presents to good children throughout Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The kindly old Saint leaves the task of punishing bad children to a hell-bound counterpart The Horned Devil, also known as Krampus known by many names across the continent — Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, Klaubauf, and Krampus.
The evening before, “Krampusnacht”, the children are visited by the Krampus, St. Nicholas’s “bad cop” partner, a devil who rises from hell to torment bad children.
Krampus is usually portrayed as a classic red devil figure with fur, cloven hooves, horns and a long snake like tongue. He often carries instruments of punishment, sticks and chains to whip naughty children and a large backpack like wicker basket that is used to imprison children and transport them to hell. Although normally devilish, Krampus has taken on man…

World AIDs Day

Image
During the height of the AIDS epidemic, we lost millions of people on a global level. Today, Dec. 1, 2015, marks World Aids Day — a time for us to reflect on those that we have lost, those who are thriving and the advances our society has made when it comes to the prevention and treatment of HIV.  World AIDS Day, a day started in 1988 to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and work to end the epidemic.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. HIV can progress into AIDS, the final state of the infection when the body is unable to fight disease or infection.
Here are some facts about where things stand today:
An estimated 34 million people have HIV/AIDS worldwide. In the USA, an estimated 1.2 million people live with HIV and one out of every seven are not aware they have the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the most people living with HIV in the world and 70% of all new HIV infec…

The Dead is Rising: Beware of the Draugar

Image
Draugar (being plural of draug) possess superhuman strength, can increase their size at will, and carry the unmistakable stench of decay. "The appearance of a draugr was that of a dead body: swollen, blackened and generally hideous to look at." They are undead figures from Norse and Icelandic mythology that appear to retain some semblance of intelligence. They exist to guard their treasure, wreak havoc on living beings, or torment those who had wronged them in life. The draugr's ability to increase its size also increased its weight, and the body of the draugr was described as being extremely heavy. While land-draugar was simply undead with numerous magical abilities, sea-draugar was fishermen who had drowned at sea, thus being denied the privilege of being buried. Draugar are depicted as having either pitch black or pale white skin.
Draugar are noted for having numerous magical abilities, such as shape-shifting, controlling the weather, and seeing into the future. Amon…

The Dead is rising

Image
As the veils between the world of the living and the dead weaken around this time. Let's remember the monsters and ghouls that scare the crap out of us and the heroes who conquer them. 
In Norse religion the einherjar were spirits of warriors who had died bravely in battle. The name is Old Norse for "one-army-ers" (singular would be einheri). It is often interpreted as "outstanding fighter", but might also signify "those who are all in one army", because when alive on earth they were in many armies and bands, but now they are all in the Army of Asgard. Einherjar warriors are personally trained by the ruler of Asgard and are tasked with protecting Asgard. After they die, the Valkyries escort half of the slain from the battlefield to Valhalla (these are the "einherjar"), which is part of Asgard (commonly described as the "Norse Heaven"); the other half went to Fólkvangr (Freyja's hall). The Grímnismál describes Valhalla as havin…

Seven Wonders of Ancient World: Great Lighthouse of Alexandria

Image
In the fall of 1994 a team of archaeological divers leaded by the archeologist Jean Yves Empereur donned scuba equipment and entered the waters off of Alexandria, Egypt. Working beneath the surface, they searched the bottom of the sea for artifacts.
Ironically, these scientists were using some of the most high-tech devices available at the end of the 20th century to try and sort out the ruins of one of the most advanced technological achievements of the 3rd century, B.C... It was the Pharos, the great lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria worked by 15 centuries and it was the last of the six lost wonders of the ancient world that disappeared. It was one of the greatest architectural feats of the antiquity.
Besides, the Lighthouse was the only wonder that was constructed with practical purposes; since it helped seafaring ships to find the harbor safely. The lighthouse served also as a military lookout for approaching enem…

Seven Wonders of the World: Colossus of Rhodes

Image
Travelers to the New York City harbor see a marvelous sight. Standing on a small island in the harbor is an immense statue of a robed woman, holding a book and lifting a torch to the sky. It is sometimes referred to as the "Modern Colossus," but more often called the Statue of Liberty. This awe-inspiring statue was a gift from France to America and is easily recognized by people around the world. What many visitors to this shrine to freedom don't know is that the statue, the "Modern Colossus," is the echo of another statue, the original colossus, which stood over two thousand years ago at the entrance to another busy harbor on the Island of Rhodes.
In the late 4th century BC, Rhodes, allied with Ptolemy I of Egypt, prevented a massive invasion staged by their common enemy, Antigonus I Monophthalmus and his son Demetrius. In 304 BC a relief force of ships sent by Ptolemy arrived, and Antigonus's army abandoned the siege, leaving most of their siege equipmen…

Seven Wonders of Ancient World: Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Image
In 377 B.C., the city of Halicarnassus was the capitol of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor. It was in that year the ruler of this land, Hecatomnus of Mylasa, died and left control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap (vassal king) to the Persians, had been ambitious and had taken control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. Then Mausolus during his reign extended the territory even further so that it eventually included most of southwestern Asia Minor.
Mausolus, with his queen Artemisia, ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding territory for 24 years. Though he was descended from the local people, Mausolus spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.

Mausolus's Death Then in 353 B.C. Mausolus died, leaving his queen Artemisia, who was also his sister, broken-hearted (It was the custom in Caria f…

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Temple of Artemis

Image
The temple of Artemis is known as one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. It has been built in the areas of Ephesus on a flat area which has over the centuries turned into a swamp. If you visit Ephesus today, you can only see the ruins of the foundations of this marvelous construction of the Hellenistic Age, entirely made of marble and full of sculptured columns' capitals and shafts. The most beautiful remaining of this temple is today exhibited in the London British Museum.
The Temple of Artemis was located near the ancient city of Ephesus, about 75 km south from the modern port city of İzmir, in Turkey. Today the site lies on the edge of the modern town of Selcuk.
The sacred site at Ephesus was far older than the Artemision itself. Pausanias was certain that it antedated the Ionic immigration by many years, being older even than the oracular shrine of Apollo at Didyma. He said that the pre-Ionic inhabitants of the city were Leleges and Lydians. Callimachus, in his Hymn t…