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Kuru: The Cannibal’s Disease

Kuru is an incurable degenerative neurological disorder endemic to tribal regions of Papua New Guinea. It is a type of transmissible “spongiform encephalopathy”, caused by the consumption of a prion found in humans.

Kuru causes brain and nervous system changes similar to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Similar diseases appear in cows as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow disease”. The main risk factor for kuru is eating human brain tissue, which can contain the infectious particles.

The term “kuru” derives from the Fore word “kuria/guria” (“to shake”), referring to the body tremors that are a classic symptom of the disease; it is also known among the Fore as the “laughing sickness” due to the pathological bursts of laughter people would display when afflicted with the disease. It is now widely accepted that kuru was transmitted among members of the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea via funerary cannibalism. 

The symptoms of kuru are divided into three specific stages.

The first, ambulant stage, exhibits unsteady stance and gait, decreased muscle control, tremors, deterioration of speech, and dysarthria (slurred speech).

In the second, sedentary stage, the patient is incapable of walking without support and suffers ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) and severe tremors. Furthermore, the victim is emotionally unstable and depressed, yet has uncontrolled sporadic laughter. Interestingly, the tendon reflexes are still normal at this point.

In the final, terminal stage, the patient is incapable of sitting without support, suffers severe ataxia (no muscle coordination), is unable to speak, is incontinent (unable to restrain natural discharges/evacuations of urine or feces), has difficulty swallowing), is unresponsive to his or her surroundings, and acquires ulcerations (sores with pus and necrosis). An infected person usually dies between three months to two years after the first symptoms, often because of pneumonia or pressure sore infection.

So if you were to say, find yourself stranded with a group of strangers; food for thought… 😉

Arachne: The Woman Who Spoke the Truth

In Greco-Roman mythology Arachne was a mortal woman, who was challenged by Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, to determine which of them was the better weaver. There are three versions of the story.

**Spiders are called arachnids after Arachne.

Ovid’s Version

In this version, Arachne was a shepherd’s daughter who began weaving at an early age. She became a great weaver, boasted that her skill was greater than that of Athena, and refused to acknowledge that her skill came, in part at least, from the goddess. Athena took offense and set up a contest between them. Presenting herself as an old lady, she approached the boasting girl and warned: “You can never compare to any of the gods. Plead for forgiveness and Athena might spare your soul.”

“Ha! I only speak the truth and if Athena thinks otherwise then let her come down and challenge me herself,” Arachne replied. Athena removed her disguise and appeared in shimmering glory, clad in a sparkling white chiton. The two began weaving straight away. Athena’s weaving represented four separate contests between mortals and the gods in which the gods punished mortals for setting themselves as equals of the gods. Arachne’s weaving depicted ways that the gods had misled and abused mortals, particularly Zeus, tricking and seducing many women. When Athena saw that Arachne had not only insulted the gods, but done so with a work far more beautiful than Athena’s own, she was enraged. She ripped Arachne’s work into shreds, and sprinkled her with Hecate‘s potion, turning her into a spider and cursing her and her descendants to weave for all time. This showed how goddesses punished those who were mortal.

Athena wins

In this version, someone asked Arachne how she learned to weave so well and suggested that Athena taught her and she didn’t know it. Arachne dismissed this and boasted that she could teach Athena a thing or two in weaving. Athena then appeared in the doorway, wrapped in a long cloak, and asked if she really didn’t believe that Athena had taught her to weave. Arachne repeated her boast and Athena challenged her to a contest in which Zeus (Jupiter) was to be the judge. Whoever lost must promise never to touch spindle or loom again. Arachne wove a web thin yet strong with many colours. This was no match for Athena’s weaving, made up of the gods and their glory, shining with their beauty.

Arachne acknowledged Athena’s triumph, but despaired at the loss of her craft. Athena saw that Arachne could not live if she could not weave, so she touched Arachne with the tip of her spear, turning her into a spider so she could weave without spindle or loom.

Arachne wins but hangs herself

In this version of the myth, Arachne was a blessed weaver of Greece. People asked her if she had been taught weaving by Athena herself, the goddess of wisdom. Although this was meant as a compliment, Arachne became angry. She thought that her skill was greater than the goddess’s. Hearing of her attitude, Athena appeared on her doorway disguised as an old woman in a dark cloak. She asked her to respect the gods and goddesses, but Arachne just laughed, and said that even if Athena herself challenged her, it would be an easy win. Athena then revealed herself and challenged Arachne to a competition. The loser would promise never to weave again.

Athena wove a tapestry of the people of Greece, with Poseidon and Athena over them, deciding whose name should be given to the city of Athens. Arachne wove a tapestry about Zeus, and his seduction of Europa and others. Athena saw that although Arachne had insulted the gods, her work was so beautiful that Athena herself was awed. She realized that Arachne couldn’t live without weaving. To make Arachne realize her mistake and also to teach her to respect the gods and their works, she touched Arachne’s forehead with the tip of her hand. The magic worked only partially, filling Arachne with guilt for her insolence, and she hung herself. Out of pity, Athena brought Arachne back to life as a spider, so that she and her descendants could weave all their lives.

And what did we learn?

Arachne’s story teachs us the risks women, even extraordinarily talented women, take when they speak out against the established order, the patriarchy in particular. Even if it is the truth. Rather than speaking boldly, Arachne, as a woman, should have shown “modesty” when discussing her skills. Or not have spoken at all.

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Nephilim

What are they?

Most consider them to be the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” before the Flood.  The name is also used in reference to giants who inhabited Canaan at the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan according to Numbers 13:33.

The majority of ancient biblical versions, interpret Nephilim to mean “giants”. Many  interpretations are based on the assumption that the word is a derivative of Hebrew verbal root n-ph-l “fall”. Those interpretations include “those that cause others to fall down”, “ones who have fallen”, equivalent grammatically to “one who is appointed” (i.e., overseer), asir, “one who is bound”, (i.e., prisoner), or simply “fallen” “apostates”. Symmachus translates it as “the violent ones” and Aquila’s translation has been interpreted to mean either “the fallen ones” or “the ones falling [upon their enemies]”. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon, the basic etymology of the word Nephilim is “dub[ious]”, and various suggested interpretations are “all very precarious”. What all the interpretations seem to agree upon is that the Nephilim were superior to average humans, and dangerous.

The New American Bible commentary draws a parallel to the Epistle of Jude and the statements set forth in Genesis, suggesting that the Epistle refers implicitly to the paternity of nephilim as heavenly beings who came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women. The footnotes of the Jerusalem Bible suggest that the biblical author intended the nephilim to be an “anecdote of a superhuman race”.

Where do they come from?

While the  consensus seems to be that Nephilim are the offspring of angels and men, some early texts suggest that they are actually the offspring of Seth and the “daughters of Cain”. Once such text is the Qumran (Dead Sea Scroll) fragment 4Q417  which contains the earliest known reference to the phrase “children of Seth“, stating that God has condemned them for their rebellion. Other early references to the offspring of Seth rebelling from God and mingling with the daughters of Cain, are found in rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, Augustine of Hippo, Julius Africanus, and the Letters attributed to St. Clement. It is also the view expressed in the modern Ethiopian Orthodox Bible.

Nevertheless, most agree that the Nephilim were indeed the offspring of angels: A number of early sources refer to the “sons of heaven” as angels. The earliest such references to this also appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek, and Aramaic Enochic literature, and in certain Ge’ez manuscripts of 1 Enoch and Jubilees used by western scholars in modern editions of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The earliest statement in a secondary commentary explicitly interpreting this to mean that angelic beings mated with humans can be traced to the rabbinical Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and it has since become especially commonplace in modern-day Christian commentaries.

Some Christian commentators have argued against this view, citing Jesus’s statement that angels do not marry. Others believe that Jesus was only referring to angels in heaven.

Evidence cited in favor of the “fallen angels” interpretation includes the fact that the phrase “the sons of God” (Hebrew, בְּנֵי הָֽאֱלֹהִים; literally “sons of the gods”) is used twice outside of Genesis chapter 6, in the Book of Job (1:6 and 2:1) where the phrase explicitly references angels. The Septuagint manuscript Codex Alexandrinus reading of Genesis 6:2 renders this phrase as “the angels of God” while Codex Vaticanus reads “sons”.

 

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The Book of Enoch: The Grigori

Grigori or Watcher Angels: “those who are awake”; “guard”, “watcher” is a term used in connection with biblical angels. Watcher occurs in both plural and singular forms in the Book of Daniel (2nd century BC), where reference is made to their holiness. The apocryphal Books of Enoch (1st and 2nd centuries BC) refer to both good and bad Watchers, with a primary focus on the rebellious ones. Guess which one I’m going to talk about?

In the Book of Enoch, the Watchers are angels dispatched to Earth to watch over the humans. They soon begin to lust for human women and, at the prodding of their leader Samyaza, defect en masse to illicitly instruct humanity and procreate among them. The offspring of these unions are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillage the earth and endanger humanity. Samyaza and his associates further taught their human charges arts and technologies such as weaponry, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery, and other techniques that would otherwise be discovered gradually over time by humans, not foisted upon them all at once. Eventually God allows a Great Flood (Yes that Flood) to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but first sends Uriel to warn Noah so as not to eradicate the human race. The Watchers are bound “in the valleys of the Earth” until Judgment Day. (Jude verse 6 says that these fallen angels are kept “in everlasting chains under darkness” until Judgement Day.)

The book of Enoch also lists leaders of the 200 fallen angels who married and commenced in unnatural union with human women, and who taught forbidden knowledge. Some are also listed in Book of Raziel (Sefer Raziel HaMalakh), the Zohar, and Jubilees.

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Syncretism

Syncretism is the combining of different, often contradictory beliefs, while blending practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths. Syncretism also occurs commonly in expressions of arts and culture (known as eclecticism) as well as politics (syncretic politics).

Syncretism tends to facilitate coexistence and unity between otherwise different cultures and worldviews (intercultural competence), a factor that has recommended it to rulers of multi-ethnic realms. Conversely, the rejection of syncretism, usually in the name of “piety” and “orthodoxy”, may help to generate, bolster or authenticate a sense of uncompromised cultural unity in a well-defined minority or majority.

Similar concepts: Inclusivism, one of several approaches to understanding the relationship between religions, asserts that while one set of beliefs is absolutely true, other sets of beliefs are at least partially true

 

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Perv Paradise: Ancient Rome V

Perverted Justice

adultery-perverts

When we talk today about a ‘perversion of justice’, we mean it metaphorically. It’s a way of describing how outraged we are, how unfair the trial was. In Roman times, the phrase would have been scarily literal.

According to historian Vicki Leon, both the Romans and Greeks were fans of ‘unusual’ punishment. Not all the time, but in the case of adultery – very much so. Basically, if you were Roman and someone slept with your wife, you would be legally entitled to sodomize them in return; with an audience if you so desired.

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. Despite their, well, ‘love’ of boy-love, the Romans were a deeply masculine bunch. There was literally nothing more shameful for a man to do than take the ‘feminine’ role in homosexual sex – so to sodomize someone would be the ultimate act of revenge: branding them ‘unmanly’ for life. But even within the context of Roman society, this punishment sometimes took a weird turn. Apparently, it was not-unusual for the offended party to sodomize his rival with a radish, as opposed to his own equipment. Why that might be, I’ve no idea. But next time you cheat on someone, just be glad you’re not doing so in Ancient Rome.

The Emperors

elagabalus-perverts

No article on Rome would be complete without mentioning its crazy rulers. Almost every single Emperor to rule Rome was categorically insane – to the point that it often seems like they’re trying to outdo each other in the ‘lunatic’ stakes. Nero, for example, had his favorite boy castrated and attempted to turn him into a woman. Caligula made his horse a senator, converted the palace into a brothel and pimped out his sisters; while Elagabalus spent more time cruising Rome’s red light district dressed in drag than anything else – pausing only to invent the whoopee cushion.

Now, most of what has been written about Rome’s Emperors is probably exaggerated – Tacitus and Suetonius both liked to belittle their enemies ruthlessly – but, if even ten percent of it is true, they were some messed-up people. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that your average Roman was a little crazy too.

 

Posted from http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-reasons-ancient-rome-was-a-perverts-paradise.php

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Perv Paradise: Ancient Rome IV

Religious Sex Parties

orgies-perverts

Imported from Greece, the Bacchanalia were ‘fertility festivals’ that really took hold in modern South Italy. And with good reason: they were devoted almost exclusively to shagging as many people as humanly possible.

Writing about these ‘festivals’ in the Augustan era, the historian Livy breathlessly described scenes of unimaginable debauchery. These ‘festivals’ were alleged to be a place where people met, danced themselves into ecstasy, then fell into frantic copulation with no regard for who or what they might be screwing. This isn’t just Livy going on a fantasy-trip, either. By all accounts, the authorities were so troubled by the practice that they outlawed them, with punishments of severe torture imposed on anyone who continued to practice. Remember this is Rome, at the height of its decadence – so anything they want to ban as ‘immoral’ has gotta be pretty extreme. Yet, for all the threat of torture lingered over its followers, the cult of Bacchus survived for centuries – along with its pervy, orgiastic rites.

Mass Infanticide

infanticide-pervert

Here we get to one of the bleaker sides of Roman culture. Reading this list of debauchery, some of you may have been wondering how the Romans managed so much sex in the days before the pill. Well, according to historian Mary Beard they simply redefined the term ‘abortion’ to a terrifying degree.

And I mean terrifying. Since we now know virtually all Roman contraception methods were useless, all the unwanted pregnancies must have gone somewhere: and that somewhere was apparently the rubbish dump. No joke: there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Roman mothers just casually tossed newborn babies away. From ancient letters advocating the practice, to clues that discarded babies may have been a major source of slaves (the popular slave name Corpeus translates as ‘found on the dung-heap’); the signs all indicate a culture totally at-home with mass infanticide. Chew on that next time someone describes our civilization as ‘violent’.