legend

 
 

Perseus and the Legendary Rescue of Andromeda: Slaying of a Dangerous Sea Monster

It is an epic tale that would stand the test of time and would later be immortalized by Hollywood. Among its mythology there is one specific episode that has stood out from the rest; that is, Perseus’ confrontation with the legendary beast threatening his future wife, Andromeda, and the kingdom of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was ruled by king Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia.

[Cassiopeia] vied with the Nereids in beauty and boasted to be better than them all; hence the Nereids were angry, and Poseidon, sharing their wrath, sent a flood and a monster to invade the land....Read more

William of Newburgh: Medieval Vampire Hunter?

“It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this as a warning to posterity, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony.”

 -William of Newburgh, writing in the 12th century.

Derived from the Latin reveniens meaning ‘returning’ or ‘to come back,’ the word revenant is used in a supernatural context to refer...Read more

Medicine Macabre: The Healing Magic and High Value of Human Fat

What now seems macabre and grisly to many, harvesting parts of the freshly dead human body for use in healing was an old, traditional practice by doctors who claimed it was excellent in treating and curing a host of ailments.

Between skull powder medicine and fresh blood concoctions, ancient doctors working in the field of so-called ‘corpse medicine’ let no part of a dead body go to waste. Not a remedy for the squeamish perhaps, ancient and early modern healers extolled the virtues of human fat and its healing properties.

Pharmacopoeias, or ancient medical texts, listed human...Read more

Defeating Death: The Ancient Quest for Eternal Life through Artifacts, Divine Foods and Elixirs

The very earliest written histories reveal that humanity has had the universal desire to live forever, and has sought countless ways in which to defeat the utterly relentless inevitabilities of time and mortality.

Whether bestowed by deities, attained through acts of extreme good, conjured through magical objects or potions, received as a form of punishment, or acquired through a mishap of science, tales of eternal human life exist in numerous legends, myths, religions, ancient historical texts, and they even present themselves in the modern era through life-extension and cryogenic...Read more

Ancient Automata: The Magic of the Mechanical Realm and Machines Brought to Life

When the dark magician was wheeled out before the audience—with an eerie and inscrutable expression on his face, and dressed in mystical robes and bejeweled turban—a hush fell over the court of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. It was 1770, and inventor Wolfgang von Kempelen boasted that no human would be able to defeat the magician at his game: chess.

This seemed an incredible claim, as the magician clearly had no brain. The magician was not human, but a construction; a prop in man’s clothing. Lifeless and still, it had a human-looking head and torso, a black beard, and was...Read more

Was the Garden of Eden a Real Place?

Mention the Garden of Eden to a group of friends and you are likely to get as many suggestions on its true location as people you ask, plus a fair number who will deny that it was ever a real place at all. Places that have been claimed as the true whereabouts of mankind’s original home include numerous sites in Iraq and around the Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Iran, Anatolia, Armenia, Turkey, Jerusalem, east Africa – and even the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, and Jackson County, Missouri. And those are just the better known claims; there are literally hundreds.

Will we ever know for sure where...Read more

The Dangerous and Powerful Guardian Spirit Queen of the South Seas, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul

Kanjeng Ratu Kidul is a well-known figure in Javanese mythology who is still venerated by the Javanese today as the spirit queen of the Indian Ocean. Living in her palace on the bottom of the ocean off the south coast of Central Java, she rules the ocean, the spirits, nymphs, and other beings from the underworld. Her rare excursions ashore are believed to be accompanied by the occurrence of unusual natural phenomena, such as spring tides. As queen of the Southern Ocean, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul (or Nyai Loro Kidul) is held responsible for disappearances and deaths near or in the ocean. Therefore...Read more

The Strange Origin of the Kappa: Japanese Water Imp

Many supernatural creatures are depicted in Japanese art and literature.  Some seem realistic and might actually exist, since there have been witness sightings, while others are clearly composite creatures.  Still others might have been created by storytellers to explain seemingly inexplicable phenomena.  Such creatures include yuki-onna (snow women), who lure young men out of their beds at night and into the mountains where they freeze to death, and kitsune (foxes) which are thought to be shape shifters, often assuming the form of beautiful young women.  Even today in northern Japan, some...Read more

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