The Immortal Chrysanthemum in East Asian Art

A chrysanthemum is an extremely important Asian symbol in the study of Eastern art forms. One should remember that a chrysanthemum is a very particular kind of plant which is cultured for its elaborate, ball shaped flowers. Typically, this plant blooms in the late summer and autumn seasons. It has a characteristic odor and comes…

A chrysanthemum is an extremely important Asian symbol in the study of Eastern art forms. One should remember that a chrysanthemum is a very particular kind of plant which is cultured for its elaborate, ball shaped flowers. Typically, this plant blooms in the late summer and autumn seasons. It has a characteristic odor and comes in a variety of colors. These colors would include red, yellow, and white. Chrysanthemums are also one of the earliest seasonal and literary themes observed in Japanese lacquer wares. They appeared in the 13th century tebako and kogo (incense containers) of the Kamakura period (1185-1333 CE). In addition to blooming in the early autumn season, chrysanthemums are a metaphor in art for longevity. This is probably due to their lengthy blooming cycle. Furthermore, the dew of the chrysanthemum is often considered the elixir of immortality. The symbol of a chrysanthemum floating in water alludes to the notion of this sort of immortality in Japanese art. In the Japanese language, it is called “kikusui.”

The Chinese poet Tao Yanming (365-427 CE) had a legendary love for the chrysanthemum too. This love was revealed in one of his classic poems this way: “Plucking chrysanthemums beneath the eastern fence, leisurely I caught a glimpse of the Southern Mountain.” This poem was loved by many mostly because of its essential portrait of the literati lifestyle. This existence involved unfettered independence from society and employment. It was based upon improving one's soul through travel and intellectual pursuits. In the guarded lives of Japanese nobility and of the samurai warriors who influenced the powers of government from 1185 to 1868, such an existence as this one appeared ideal. The poet Ki no Tomonori (850-904 CE) is quoted in the Kokinshu and develops the theme of chrysanthemums too. He writes: “Like the hoar frost that settles on the overgrown chrysanthemum hedge, In my garden I'll melt away yearning for you.” In this poem, Ki no Tomonori follows the fashion of his day about frustrated, embittered love. The loneliness of the theme is captured well in a design on an early 20th century suzuribako in the Avant Collection.

On the exterior of this particular box are two fans. They possess landscape designs. One is placed at the upper right, which is layered beneath a second fan at the lower left. This display shows a composition on the theme of chrysanthemums by a brushwood fence near a stream. This recalls the chrysanthemum theme of both Chinese and Japanese poetry. There is also the potential for kikusui or “the elixir of immortality.” On this fan, chrysanthemums and brush clover of an early fall appear in the foreground at the lower left. They are counter balanced by cherry blossoms of early spring in the faraway trees.

The combination of two fans seems to invite a comparison between Chinese and Japanese literature. There is Tao Yuan Ming's encomium to the chrysanthemum. A Genji theme or scene from a noh play looks to also exist in the Japanese way of looking at this work. Neither fan seems dominant though. The fan in the right position is seen first by the viewer who reads from right to left. The left fan is shown laying over the right one. On the interior of the box, the artist has chosen a beautiful and modernistic treatment for an ancient theme. The box is decorated elegantly with gold, silver, and brown takamakie. There is also silver hiramakie with a little red detail and gold kirikane on the black ground.

Often in the study of ancient works of East Asian art we find this kind of interdependence between two great cultures: China and Japan. In no way does this diminish the historic distinctions between these two civilizations. However, it does suggest that the connections run deep in both cultures as Japan has no doubt been affected by China. Therefore, such connections in the past are important to note while each culture retains its own unique taste. In any case, the chrysanthemum is a symbol of immortality, longevity, and even the loneliness experienced from a lost love. Chrysanthemum art work in the Eastern tradition is there else another excellent addition to your Asian home or office. The beauty of this symbol certainly gives anyone a sense of the eternal!

Does Humanity Deserve All That Science Has to Offer – Does Science Deserve Our Humanity?

The other day, I was listening to a video. It was a BBC special discussing how Einstein wrote that famous letter to FDR, as he was gravely concerned about the Germans producing a nuclear bomb. It was from that letter and the consequent meeting that the Manhattan Project was formed. Later, Albert Einstein in his…

The other day, I was listening to a video. It was a BBC special discussing how Einstein wrote that famous letter to FDR, as he was gravely concerned about the Germans producing a nuclear bomb. It was from that letter and the consequent meeting that the Manhattan Project was formed. Later, Albert Einstein in his later years felt that that was the biggest mistake of his life, writing that letter. Because now the genie was out of the bottle and man possessed a horrible weapon.

Einstein lived long enough to witness the Cold War, and some of the nuclear proliferation, and he was not alone in his concerns, as you will recall Oppenheimer are was also horrific at what they had done in the name of science, and he sent the rest of his life trying to get humanity worldwide to ban the use of nuclear weapons. Now then, after watching that show it happened to me to ask myself a question;

“Does Humanity Deserve all that science has to offer?”

In some regards it seems that it does not. In other words, sometimes humankind is not responsible enough to have the knowledge of what our most brilliant “Human +” scientists are able to offer. Yes, that is a sad philosophical conundrum. On one hand we need to technologies for more efficient energy, more efficient transportation, and positive things like space exploration. Unfortunately each time science makes a major breakthrough, it's more than often used for evil, by some rouge time on the planet.

And it's not that nations should not have a defense system to protect themselves from the other humans, the problem is that none of these humans appear to be as ethical, sincere, or careful with their political negotiations as they'd have you believe. After all, they are still just humans. Should we expect more? Of course, those scientists, who are used to build destructive weapons, or are evil thinkers themselves, well, for that I have another question;

“Does science deserve our humanity?”

Now some could argue that there is no such thing as humanity, because a species which is busy killing itself, and cheating would be void of humanity, therefore there is no such thing, or the definition is quite the opposite. And even though those human scientists which we could call “human plus” – they are stillless still human, with the same desires, flawed personalities, and needs as all the rest. What I'd like to do is consider all this from a philosophical perspective – I'm asking you to think about it.

Understanding Russian Culture in Its Myriad Forms

When you talk of a certain community or a nation, you are immediately enchanted by their well-preserved culture and tradition. Such is true with a mammoth called Russia. With a plethora of cultural practices, art forms and traditions hovering around the nation, Russia has lots to offer. Whether it is the theater, history, architecture, art…

When you talk of a certain community or a nation, you are immediately enchanted by their well-preserved culture and tradition. Such is true with a mammoth called Russia. With a plethora of cultural practices, art forms and traditions hovering around the nation, Russia has lots to offer. Whether it is the theater, history, architecture, art forms, the famous Russian nesting dolls, the local customs and traditions, the dressing style, or the folk dance, the list is endless. A true Russian culture enthusiast celebrates elements of this rich culture in more ways than one. Let us have a brief look on the valuable elements of the rich Russian culture:

Theatrical culture:

During the Soviet times, the theatrical culture emerged and evolved rapidly. Russian artists were spread around with immense talent in different forms of theater such as the Muppet Theater, Youth Drama, Musical and Opera and so on. Live performances were a supreme favorite of the Russians. Movie theaters also developed interest among the Russian admirers of visual art; however, while they termed movie theaters as 'cinema' it is the live performances that were termed 'theater'.

The Culture of Education:

Trust the Russians and their high regard for education that it is a culture in itself. In fact book reading is a favorite past time among most Russians. The books too are very cheap and commonly available. With master writer s like Nikolai Gogol, Leo Tolstoy, and Maxim Gorky you can not really blame the Russians for their love for books.

The Culture of Community Work:

Community work forms a major part of the Russian culture. People from different social strata are encouraged to contribute their two bits to the society. The community work is often rewarded with lifestyle incentives based on the community service they people delve in. Incentives could include free or cheap travel allowances, availing goods that are exempt and obtaining better accommodation facilities from the government.

Handicrafts:

There's nothing quintessentially Russian than a series of Russian Dolls neatly stacked one inside the other. The handmade dolls feature multiple figurines of decreasing sizes perfectly fitted within each other and can only be crafted by skilled Russian artisans with years of training and experience. The dolls have become an integral part of every tourist visiting Russia.

These are just some of the things that have collectively managed to shape the average Russian intellect. And if you're looking for proof, speak to an average Russian on the street; you've been surprised with his knowledge.

The Myriad of Art Forms in Russia

Reminded of Russia by snowy environments, fur coats, hats and chapkas, ancient history, uniquely structured places of worship, long-legged women and a toast of vodka are you? But it is different for me, who has had the pleasure to travel around the world, including Russia and Belarus. I would say that there are certain things…

Reminded of Russia by snowy environments, fur coats, hats and chapkas, ancient history, uniquely structured places of worship, long-legged women and a toast of vodka are you? But it is different for me, who has had the pleasure to travel around the world, including Russia and Belarus. I would say that there are certain things that inspire and remind me of the vast country and its people. Whilst in Russia, I was mighty impressed by the Russian hospitality and Russian culture. Not to forget the local customs and traditions that I progressively fall in love with. Oh and the activity I loved to do the most was shopping. Russia is known for its handicrafts, viz .; lacquer boxes, Russian dolls, icon painting, the list is endless.

These lacquer boxes are indeed deeply dipped in Russian flavor and are a major influence to the culture and gained prominence during the communist era. However, skilled artisans who used to handcraft these had to face tough times during the communist regime as they were not allowed to depict religious symbols.

Today among other influences, the lacquer miniature paintings are inspired by popular towns and villages north of Moscow like Fedoskino, Palekh, Kholui, and Mstera. Every image on these boxes and miniatures are thematic representations of Russian lifestyle, people, history, fairy tales and folk tales. In fact the handmade ones are so unique that each one is different from the other.

Basically, these boxes are nothing but objects made up of paper-mache and are often used as bead boxes, treasure boxes, caskets and powder boxes. Fine lines of gold and silver; ornament the immaculate paintings on these boxes. I have personally purchased a dozen of lacquer boxes myself and currently use them as my jewelry boxes and pen boxes. Some are so beautiful that I have preserved them away in showcases as a souvenir of my visit to this culturally blessed nation.

Another art form that is an immediate eye-catcher and is no news to most of us is the Russian nesting doll. Traditionally known as the Matryoshka, these dolls symbolize eternal motherhood. Figurines representing the Russian peasant woman are made in perfect symmetry and fit one inside the other.

It is interesting these days the way artists try and bring innovation in the designs. In fact today these dolls are representative of everything from politicians and pop artists to even cartoon characters. A collection of these heavenly looking Russian dolls jewels my home décor and never sees to cease to be the center of attraction during in-house parties and events.

Russian Dolls and Their Popularity in Russian Culture

People who are interested in art and in collecting varieties of artistic things will unduly be attracted to Russian art, culture, history and Russian craftsmanship. Russian culture includes within itself Russian literature, Russian philosophy, Russian folklore, and Russian art. Russian art includes architecture and making of handicrafts. Among Russian handicraft, Russian nesting dolls rank first.…

People who are interested in art and in collecting varieties of artistic things will unduly be attracted to Russian art, culture, history and Russian craftsmanship. Russian culture includes within itself Russian literature, Russian philosophy, Russian folklore, and Russian art. Russian art includes architecture and making of handicrafts. Among Russian handicraft, Russian nesting dolls rank first. Also known as “Matryoshka”, these nesting dolls have a common feature of following a particular theme. The theme may range from the peasant girl (in her traditional dress) to any modern day character.

Vasily Zvyozdochkin, a doll maker and a craftsman, was the first to introduce these handmade dolls. The concept of nesting dolls is to place one doll inside the other in a nested fashion, until there is a tiny little doll inside. Since these are placed one inside the other, every doll can be separated and the separated doll contains a similar doll but in a smaller size.

Although these dolls are conspicuous of Russian culture, there are several other handicrafts that are presented as popular Russian souvenirs. Prominent among them include Baltic Amber, Lacquer Boxes, Christmas decorative and even Khokhlomas.

As we all know, Amber is a popular material used in making highly worn after jewelry. The specialty of Amber is that each piece of amber is truly unique and when you rub the amber, it emanates light. There's hardly a Russian woman whose collection does not contain amber jewelry. Everything right from earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces are made from Baltic Amber.

But if you are not a fan of amber jewelry, there's a wide variety of things to choose from. For example, you could choose from Faberge eggs, lacquer boxes, ceramic figurines, Cheburashka dolls or many other unique Russian collectibles. Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of online retail shops in the United States that sell Russian souvenirs. Choosing from a US company has its own advantages. These online stores with their base in the United States are often established by Russian artisans and hence assurance of quality. In addition, if you would like to gift these to friends and family member, these companies also provide gift-wrapping service.

Therefore, the next time, you are looking for a gift for a wedding or a birthday; do not look further than an online shop that sells Russian handicrafts. Due to the late entry of Russians to the globalization process, there's very little information about Russia, that's known to the world. But it's the Russian dolls that continued to the beacon for popular Russian culture.

Unlikable Titular Characters in Shakespeare: Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello

William Shakespeare seemed to have had a propensity for unlikable titular characters. Many of his plays, particularly the tragedies, were named for selfish, indecisive, vengeful, or otherwise just unpleasant men. It's difficult to enjoy a work of literature or theater when the protagonist is unappealing, but plays like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello have endured for…

William Shakespeare seemed to have had a propensity for unlikable titular characters. Many of his plays, particularly the tragedies, were named for selfish, indecisive, vengeful, or otherwise just unpleasant men. It's difficult to enjoy a work of literature or theater when the protagonist is unappealing, but plays like Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello have endured for centuries.

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, starts off sympathetically; His father the king has recently died and Hamlet has good reason (if you can consider the word of a ghost “good reason”) to believe that his mother and uncle (who, by the way, has married his mother shortly after his father's death ) planned his father's murder. He is charged to seek vengeance for this wrongdoing, but is unsure of how to act. And is unsure of how to act. And is unsure of how to act. Does he kill his uncle Claudius? Does he kill his mother? Does he kill himself? It's this dilemma that inspires his famous soliloquy (and what's probably the most famous of the Hamlet quotes) “to be or not to be.”

Othello (the Moor), while also unlicable, is very different from Hamlet. He begins the play as a reliably pleasant character; and a modern reader may be inclined to sympathize with him based on her distaste for any racism that she may detect in the other characters. He seems like a strong solider, loving husband, good friend. But soon, his right-hand man Iago casts doubt into Othello's mind about the very innocent friendship between his wife Desdemona and a young up-and-comer named Cassio. Othello's unable to look past his jealousy and extremely suffocates his wife in their own bed, just about eliminating any goodwill he had earned from the audience earlier in the play.

And then there's Macbeth. Quick Macbeth summary: Like Othello, he distinguishes himself on the battlefield and returns home to Scotland as a hero and all-around beloved guy. Then think take a slightly Oedipal turn. Macbeth receives a prophesy from three witches (more on them later) that will ever be made King of Scotland. Unlike Oedipus, Macbeth likes this prophecy and does not do his best to make it come true. In fact, when he tells his wife about the prophecy, she immediately begins plotting the king's death. Conveniently enough, the king is planning to stay with the Macbeths shortly after they make that decision and Lady Macbeth successfully emasculates her husband until he does the deed.

He only gets more unlikable from there. Immediately, once he realized he was capable of murder, he figured what the harm in killing a few more people? Sometimes he becomes so obsessed with himself and his power that he can not even be bothered to mourn his own wife, who was driven to suicide by her extreme guilty. He utters one of the most influential Macbeth quotes, “full of sound and fury; signifying nothing” as he's essentially claiming that his wife's suicide is coming at a really bad time for him, and while William Faulkner may have found those words inspiring, they fall a little flat for the average person.

Under the Catholic Veil: Filipino Monster Myths and the Filipino’s Collective Unconscious

When the Spanish came to the kingdoms of pre-colonial Philippines, they bought their horses, their religion and way of life. The Spanish entered the country in the cluster of islands between the two larger islands of the North and South – the Visayan Islands. It was here that the European influence inflicted the first culture…

When the Spanish came to the kingdoms of pre-colonial Philippines, they bought their horses, their religion and way of life. The Spanish entered the country in the cluster of islands between the two larger islands of the North and South – the Visayan Islands. It was here that the European influence inflicted the first culture shock before they radiated outwards to the rest of the country in the 1500's. Perhaps this is why certain monster myths persist more in this region to this day. It is here that stories of horse-headed monsters and flying vampire creatures abound. The nature of these monsters reveal the repressed fears of a people robbed of their past. Carl Jung once said that “… t he whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. ” A people project the collective undercurrents of their history through the myths that they perpetuate. Two mythical creatures shed light on the impact of colonization to the Filipino psyche.

The Tikbalang , the Horse-headed Giant

The tikbalangs are creatures normally seen at the entrance of woods. They were told to be around 10 feet tall, with the head of horse and a very hairy man's body. Old legends warn that tikbalangs raped women who then give birth to tikbalangs. Apart from that, they are said to lead travelers astray, giving them illusory visions of tall golden buildings. When a victim finds himself in the spell of a tikbalang , his only defense is to wear his shirt inside out. Some believe that the tikbalang was a creation of the Spanish in order to discourage night wanderings. The names are not Spanish in origin, unlike the encandados which are reminiscent of European fairy tales. To this day, locals in that region report seeing these creatures at night. The nature of the tikbalang seems to have a symbolic significance. Horses were foreign to Filipinos before the Spanish arrived. In a Filipino's mind a horse represents a Spaniard. Hairy and tall is also what sets the European man apart from the Filipino man. It seems that the Filipino collective unconscious churned out a creature that symbolically laments the raping of its nation. Since the arrival of the Spaniards, their land became a place to spawn this foreign seed unto its people. The tikbalangs confuse travelers on their way home with illusory promises of wealth and progress, only getting the victim nowhere near home. The only way to find their way back is to wear the self “inside out”. The myth of tikbalangs emerged it seems to call the Filipino psyche into awareness of the dangers of being raped by the influence of tall horse-men.

The Manananggal Vampires

Perhaps more persistent than the tikbalang is the manananggal . This creature was a normal person prior to the passing of a mysterious white rock by the mother, which the next in line is supposedly to swallow. Still looking like a normal person by day; at night, the manananggal roams the woods in search of a secluded place to leave the lower part of her body. The upper part detaches from the waste up. The upper torso grows gigantic bat wings. It would then roam the skies in search of houses of pregnant women. The manananggal feeds on fetuses at night while the mother sleeps soundly in bed using its thread-like tongue that can go through a tiny hole in the roof. The tongue finds it way to a pregnant woman's belly and sucks the blood out of the unborn child. It is believed that to kill a manananggal , you have to find its lower body and put salt on it, preventing the upper half to reattach. When dawn breaks before the manananggal attaches to its lower half, the morning light will burn it to death. This more malevolent creature seems to signify the unrecognized peaks of the Filipinos that it has become separated from its roots. The word manananggal literally means, ” one who removes. ” The demonic quality is surrendered willingly from parents who pass it on by mouth, symbolizing that it is through word of mouth that the cultural vampirism is perpetuated. While the unconscious, represented by lower half of the body, remains rooted in the land; the upper half, the conscious, terrorizes the mind and feeds upon the future generation of Filipinos that will not be born. By purifying the source, the darkness can no longer connect the roots of the land. It is by isolating the part of culture that feeds on the future Filipinos, they can expose the monster for what it is – an infection of the mind that cuts them off from their heritage.

While the legacy of Spain is now an integral part of Filipino life with more than 70% of its inhabitants actively practicing Catholicism, the mutilation of Filipino heritage resounds to this day in the area of ​​the country that felt it the most, the Visayan Islands. Most Filipinos embrace Catholicism completely and continue to make it a part of their culture centuries after the Spanish left the country. But a part of the collective Filipino unconscious is searching for its forgotten identity. There, lurking underneath the fervent praying of the rosary in the daytime and the nightmarish stories of tikbalangs and manananggals at night, is a people that unconsciously mourns the history it has lost.

The Maasai Of Kenya

Much of the early history of the Maasai people of Kenya, Africa is obscure due to their nomadic lifestyle and lack of written accounts. Differ versions of their history exist because of oral methods from conflicting points of view used by various sub-territories within the massive unstructured society. Several historians believe that they originated as…

Much of the early history of the Maasai people of Kenya, Africa is obscure due to their nomadic lifestyle and lack of written accounts. Differ versions of their history exist because of oral methods from conflicting points of view used by various sub-territories within the massive unstructured society. Several historians believe that they originated as an ethnic group for approximately 3000 years. However, their history that we can ascertained from written record begins from the early nineteenth century when foreign settlers invaded their land. Missionaries also provided written accounts of their history as they came into the land to evangelize.

Most historians agree that these people migrated from the Nile between the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, invading, conquering, and settling into the Great Rift Valley. While killing most of the inmates of this massive area, others willingly embroidered and joined the pillagers rather than face death. As they expanded into the region, they traveled between Kenya and Tanzania as the seasons and weather patterns dictated in order to maintain the feeding of their cattle.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, they lost many of their cattle from an epidemic of deadly diseases. A large drought plagued most of the land that they occupied over an extended period. Combined, they lost more than half of their cattle and population. In these weakened conditions, the people became less resistant as the British and Kenyan governments took away more than two thirds of their land to create ranches for settlers, wildlife reserves, and national parks.

Of these national parks, despite the most significant is the Serengeti National Park, the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world. With nearly 13,000 square kilometers, it has a population of more than two million wildebeest, half a million gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra. Serengeti is a word in the Maasai language that means “extended place.” A complex yet undisturbed ecosystem: it is unmatched and unlike any other place on earth.

This society is perhaps the most known tribe associated with Africa, as people from other continents envision naked dancing warriors with tribal masks. These masks, which represent the way the natives express themselves professionally, are highly regarded after as many consider them among the finest creations in the art world. One may find many original and replicas of these masks in museums and art galleries throughout the world. They construct these tasks from a variety of materials including leather, metal, fabric, and various types of wood.

These natives use these masks in their traditional ceremonies including celebrations, initiatives, crop harvests, and war preparations. They believe that their ancestors manifest themselves in the being of the individual who is wearing the mask. The masks also represent the spirits of mythological animals, animal spirits, and other beasts that they deem to have power over humanity.

During the ceremony, the tribal member enters a deep trance where he communicates with one of these spirits. The mask wearer usually delivers a message from the spirit in grunts, broken sentences, or partial phrases. An elder or wise man from the tribe usually serves as an interpreter, delivering an accurate translation of the message. However, modernism has brought up to these people and they no longer practice many of the tribal ceremonies.

While missionaries converted many of these people to Christianity beginning in the early twenty century, those converted still held on to their traditions and participated in their tribal ceremonies. In fact, the people very rarely upon the practice of their ceremonies for entertaining tourists as a way to support themselves. This includes making and marketing tribal masks and other ceremonial hand-made beaded jewelry and trinkets to the tourists. For examples of Maasai carvings and masks visit http://www.karvingsfromkenya.com .

Scarcity, Abundance and the Law of Attraction

How does scarcity and abundance affect the workings of the Law of Attraction? Am I working from a sense of lack if I am prudent with money? Am I being cautious or paranoid when I Google every prospective new partner I meet? Do I have a great work ethic if I work every spare minute…

How does scarcity and abundance affect the workings of the Law of Attraction? Am I working from a sense of lack if I am prudent with money? Am I being cautious or paranoid when I Google every prospective new partner I meet? Do I have a great work ethic if I work every spare minute to build up a really successful business or am I only doing it because I'm scared of being broke? When one analyzes the drivers behind a certain behavior, one can soon see if the moderator for the behavior is through scarcity or abundance. I'm not suggesting that success can not be achieved from a place of scarcity – it can be a very powerful motivator, but it will affect the working of the Law of Attraction.

I very recently received a comment on my Law of Attraction blog from a reader who is doing everything she believes she can, yet not achieving the rewards or desires that she sent rockets out for. When a person begins exploring a law such as the Law of Attraction this is bound to happen. I went through it. I know others that have gone through it, and I feel certain most people go through it. Just like religion the Law of Attraction is based on blind faith. The crucial difference is that that it goes against everything that we are socialized to believe. Deep inside most of us is an ingrained belief that it just CAN NOT work. It can not be THAT simple!

Most of western society is built on the model that we must work hard to achieve success – well, anything in fact. Why is that? Maybe because the system needs cheap labor. Whatever it is, there is a sense of fear built into western society and this creates the feeling of scarcity.

I recently allowed myself to go flat broke. Yes, overdrawn in all my accounts, late in payments – the lot. I had a couple of squeaky moments, but generally never allowed myself to worry about it. I kept saying, “Money's easy to come by. There's loads of money on. I'm good at this. It always comes good. I always have enough. Guess what? Someone paid me back some money when they had previously told me there was absolutely no way they could (sure, I had to threaten them with court, but sometimes people need some encouragement) AND they actuallyave me more than they owed me to cover my loss of time and for some work I did!

Now, I'm not totally reckless. I did not lose my house. I worked a few hours here and there (at a good rate of pay that I demanded) and sent out rockets of desire about the type of work and the returns I wanted in the future. I also sold some things that were cluttering my life up anyway. It took a few months (of not worrying or thinking about it – just visualizing the work and the returns) and I can now report that I have been offered a contract and have just submitted 2 quotes to people that approached me for 2 very lucrative contracts doing exactly what I sent rockets out to do. I have not marketed myself at all! I do not know if I'll get them – and in some ways I do not care because I know things will work out fine. Stop Press! Another request for a quote has just come in.

I know that if I had been worried about money or desperate for these contracts, I would not have got them.

The oddest side of all this is that, even though I have no doubt in my ability to deliver the service I am quoting for, I have never done it before for others and have NO track record. I just believe I can, have studied pretty hard and tried it on my own projects. Consequently, others seem to believe I can do it as well.

As you can see it's all about belief. I do not suggest that you sit around with a grin on your face, visualizing this and that and wait for everything you want to drop in your lap. I do suggest you wholeheartedly believe you can have anything you want and prepare well for that eventuality.

One big reason the Law of Attraction does not work is because when we feel we need something, we create a resistance that the universe notices and this holds us in a sort of limbo. A positive and negative charge acting with equal force. Scarcity means I am scared. You can probably feel the resistance just from the sound of the word.

To successfully apply the law we only need to 'be', believe that everything will be fine, and forget about all the things society has spent our lifetimes imposing on us. Do the things you want to because you want to, NOT because you can afford to. I can report it is possible – I have been doing it!

Living a life of abundance and using the Law of Attraction to bring the things you want into your life does not mean being stupid or irresponsible. It does mean being absolutely confident that everything will work out fine. It does mean being joyful. It does mean appreciation of all success because that state will bring more success to you. It does mean understanding we live in an abundant world and life is meant to be good. It does mean visualizing. It does mean meditating and it does mean being aware when there is resistance.

We attract what we think about. Why not think about wonderful things for yourself, your family and everyone else – it takes the same effort as worry does. Believe that there is plenty for everyone and that you deserve to be happy, and the scarcity or abundance debate can simply become old news.

The Musketeers

Little represents the glory, power, and strength of France better than the musketeers. Romanticized, idolized, and immortalized by modern movies, books, and legends, the musketeer has taken on an almost mythological status in modern minds – and for good reason. Their prowess in battle, dashing style, dangerous lifestyle and romantic demeanor all seem to represent…

Little represents the glory, power, and strength of France better than the musketeers. Romanticized, idolized, and immortalized by modern movies, books, and legends, the musketeer has taken on an almost mythological status in modern minds – and for good reason. Their prowess in battle, dashing style, dangerous lifestyle and romantic demeanor all seem to represent the perfect qualities of a man. Women wanted them and men wanted to be them. This view, however, is only accurate for a very small selection of musketeers through history.

The name “musketeer” applies to soldiers from all over the world which primary weapon was the musket, a precursor to the rifle. It was a muzzle loading, smooth bore gun which was only accurate out to 50 to 100 yards depending on the target. Nations all over the world equipped their infantry with muskets that, with the addition of the bayonet, made both pikes and older gunpowder weapons obsolete. Musketeers became the rank and file soldiers of any army, the basic infantry.

The immortalized image of a musketeer, however, refers to the French Musketeers of the Guard, an elite group of soldiers consisting absolutely of skilled nobles or the high elite of the common soldiers. They defended the king and his household in addition to taking part in almost every French campaign in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were the best of the best; the cream of the crop. Their days were spent training or on guard and they received the best of everything. In war they were rightly scared and their presence could turn the tide of a battle. In duels they were deadly with their pistol or trademark rapier and main gauche. Many competitive nobles lost their lives in honor duels with these elite musketeers.

Highly influenced by Renaissance style clothing of the time, the blue musketeer tabard with the silver cross and fleur-de-lis crest combined dashing style with daring and adventurous practicality. Leather gauntlets and black suede boots along with an undershirt, dueling pants, and a leather cavalier hat completed the look and created a powerful symbol of the ruling French monarchy. Cardinal Richelieu organized a personal musketeer guard for himself and brave them the blood red tabard. Ruthlessly putting down revolts and political opponents in the French government, blood red became a disturbingly accurate color for his “reign” as the king's chief adviser and right hand man. A black colored tabard appeared in Alexandre Dumas' The Man in the Iron Mask.

Their numbers ranged between 150 and 300 depending on which point in history one is looking at, they were soonless a highly reliable and powerful fighting force. Able to fight on foot at long range with a musket or pistol as well as in close, hand-to-hand combat with the rapier and main gauche, the Musketeers of the Guard were ready for every situation called for. In addition to being on foot, they were skilled horsemen and could both fire and fight from horseback. They were promptly completely disbanded in 1816 after 200 years of service as the French government could no longer finance them.

Pirate Adventures

Steel Clashing. Muskiring firing. Cannons booming. Specters appearing through thick smoke with death in their eyes. You've not dreaming; you're under attack from the scourge of the open seas: Pirates. When most people think of Pirates today they picture the ever memorable Captain Jack Sparrow from the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean. You know…

Steel Clashing. Muskiring firing. Cannons booming. Specters appearing through thick smoke with death in their eyes. You've not dreaming; you're under attack from the scourge of the open seas: Pirates.

When most people think of Pirates today they picture the ever memorable Captain Jack Sparrow from the motion picture Pirates of the Caribbean. You know what I mean – the pirate bandana, the tricorn hat, loose shirt and pants with and an outer vest or pirate jacket with strapping boots. As weapons this imaginative pirate most likely has a cutlass in one hand and a flintlock pistol in the other. This idea of ​​pirates, however, does not represent the majority of pirates through the ages.

Perhaps as long as people have been sailing the seas there have been people preying upon them. Some of the earliest known records of piracy are from Phoenicians well beyond 1000 BCE. The Roman Republic frequently had issues with pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, even the famed Julius Caesar spent time as a pirate prisoner. Eventally Rome had had enough and devoted entire armies to removing the problem.

During the Medieval Ages, the most common pirates were the Vikings in northern Europe. Although they preyed mostly on land settlements, the basic promise of piracy was kept alive – plunder, the driving force of all pirates through all ages. Far Southeast of the Vikings, the various Muslim empires and Indian Governments had their own piracy problems as well. The precious cargo coming from the Far East was too tantalizing a prize to resist and merchant ships were often the victims of pirate attacks. Although most of the precious spices and silk that Europe and the Middle East craved so much came from China, China itself had many problems with pirates. During the Qing dynasty, 17th – 20th century, pirate fleets loud powerful enough to rival the Qing navy!

Still, despite the most well known and feared pirates of all time were those of the Caribbean. This is where the iconic image of a pirate comes from. A swashbuckler. Buccaneer. Pirate. Most active during the mid to late 1600s and the early 1700s, pirates plagued the Caribbean at sea and on land. Pirates of this age pillaged and plundered until people became afraid at the very sight of a pirate flag. Yet even in this golden age, the real pirate was very different compared to the idea that most people have of them today.

Pirate ships were some of the first and most effective true democracies since the ancient Greek city states such as Athens. Captains were elected by the crew and although mutinies did happen, if a captain did not fit the desires of a crew they usually just voted him, or her, out. Crews often decided where the ship would go and who it would attack, not the captain. On the other hand, certain captains and pirates did stand out and became a dominating voice in the world of piracy: Blackbeard, Sir Francis Drake, Marie-Anne, Henry Morgan, Bartholomew Roberts to name a few.

Blackbeard and Sir Francis Drake represent two very distinct styles of piracy. Blackbeard was a ferocious warrior with an unstoppable power in battle. He probably wore the very distinct style of pirate clothing and took an added step of putting slow burning matches under his hat to add smoke to his already terrifying appearance, making him appear like a fury from Hell. Sir Francis Drake wear wealthier, Renaissance style clothing and drank tea. Seeming more like a noble, Drake's rich appearance contrasted sharply with the pure pirate look of Blackbeard. Both men, however, are legendary for their exploits. Sir Francis Drake helped defend England from invasion by the Spanish and sunk numerous Spanish ships in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Blackbeard took dozens of ships and terrorized the sea with his fleet, directing it from his flag Queen-Anne's-Revenge.

Pirates in the Caribbean are looked back on as glorious adventurers with a lifestyle full of excitement and danger. Piracy, however, has not died out by any stretch of the imagination. Pirates of the modern age are vicious killers, using RPGs and automatic rifles to take every kind of ship imaginable and either killing the crew outright or holding it hostage. Pirates have been a major issue for nations since the dawn of sea travel and there's little sign of things changing.

The Second Coming of Christ: Will We Even Recognize Him?

A study of astrological ages leads to the conclusion that the religious prophesy concerning the Second Coming of Christ could be very real. And if he did return, there is concern that we might not recognize him. The single most important aspect of Christ's ministry in Palestine was the drama around the Jewish refusal to…

A study of astrological ages leads to the conclusion that the religious prophesy concerning the Second Coming of Christ could be very real. And if he did return, there is concern that we might not recognize him.

The single most important aspect of Christ's ministry in Palestine was the drama around the Jewish refusal to accept him as the Messiah. This refusal led to his crucifixion, and a subordinate hatred within Christendom of the Jewish People for most of this age. The question that arises, was this just prejudice on the part of the Jews, or was there some other reason, one that has importance for us today. The Jewish accessibility to recognize Christ The first time could easily become our own Christian inability to recognize the Second Coming when that happens.

The answer to this lies in an understanding of astrology, particularly of astrological ages. Astrological ages are “the signs of the times” that Christ spoke of when admonishing the Pharisees and Sadducees concerned signs that he was indeed the Messiah. These ages are amazingly accurate at describing the flow of history over many thousands of years, back to at least 9000 BCE. History during this time has not been flat. It is not a straight-line rise from primitive to civilized culture. It fluctuates and changes direction with each age in accordance with the energies of the astrological signs. Along with these changes, religions also change.

The Age of Aries lasted from 2160 to 0 BCE. Aries rules war, and the religions of this age were warrior hero religions, epitomized in the Greek warrior religion of Mount Olympus, with great heroes and warring gods and goddesses. Our own Old Testament religion also honors the warrior hero, with great Hebrew warrior / heroes such as Samson and David, and warrior prophets such as Elijah who slew Canaanite practices with his bare hands. The Promised Land was a land conquered by God, in Aries warrior fashion, leading his army of Chosen People against the indigenous Canaanites.

The last 2000 years have been the Age of Pisces, dating from 0 BCE to 2160 CE. Pisces rules spirituality and transcendence. These qualities bought with it the Pisces spiritual ideal of the guru, saint and sage replacing the older warrior hero. Religions of transcendence, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism among others, have become international, and have replaced smaller local pagan religions in importance. Ahead is the Age of Aquarius, where New Age and New Thought ideals of humanism, self-help affirmations, the law of attraction, science and technology will reign supreme. Science and technology have already replaced religion as the evolutionary thrust for most of the modern world. How does this affect the prophecy of the return of the Christ?

When Christ began his ministry in Israel, he did so at a change of astrological ages, a confusing time of paradigm shift. The Jewish people, especially the religious authorities, the Pharisees and Sadducees, would not or could not accept him as the Messiah. We have traditionally been quick to judge them for their short sightedness, their greed or desire to hang onto their religious power. But there is more to this. The Jewish people could not see Jesus because the signs surrounding his ministry did not fit with the expected signs through which people everywhere to recognize the arrival of prophetic figures.

After 2200 years of an Aries warrior spiritual paradigm, everyone had quite naturally come to expect that the Messiah would arrive as an Aries warrior hero who would lead the Jewish people to rise up against the hated Roman rulers, and create their own spiritual empire. When Christ showed himself as a Pisces savior, in response to the new Age of Pisces, preaching humility, and giving to Caesar that which is Caesar's, he disappointed Jewish expectations in a huge and disheartening way. They just could not reconcile the differences.

What does this have to do with the possible arrival of the Christ today? We are expecting a Pisces Savior at a time when the sign Aquarius is set to become the dominating energy for the future. The Second Coming will likely wear Aquarian dress and symbolism essentially hiding the true nature of this prophesied event. Aquarius rules science and technology, a system of thought that flies in the face of religious prophecy and that is apparently opposed to anything spiritual.

The many prophetic images of this return say that he will come riding in the clouds with power and great glory. One reference has him riding a white horse on the clouds. He is followed by a host of angels and followers riding on the clouds as well. Interestingly enough these images are not strictly Christian. The Hindu Kalki Avatar is expected to arrive riding a white horse in the clouds as well. Islam sees Christ coming down out of the sky at the point of a white arcade. Native Americans are expecting the return of the Pale Prophet, the Christ as he walked the Americas following his crucifixion and ascension in Jerusalem. And Buddhists are awaiting the arrival of the Maitreya Buddha, the fifth Buddha of this present Aeon. He is pictured as a water bearer, which is the astrological image of Aquarius. So, how will this personage, the Christ, the Kalki Avatar, the Pale Prophet or the Maitreya Buddha arrive? He will very kindly arrive with Aquarian science and technology.

Aquarius rules the qualities of uniqueness, revolutionary changes, and the unexpected. His arrival could easily coincide with the highly unusual, totally unexpected, wacko fringe revolutionary ideas of UFOs and Extra-Terrestrials. ET's are said to possess a highly advanced science and technology regardless of whether or not they are the less evolved Greys, as they are called, or more naturally advanced light beings. These advanced light beasts are supposedly intimate with a very high level spiritual science. They fly spacecraft that utilize an extremely advanced technology that allows ships to change direction at full speed, literally on a dime. They are many times faster than our aircraft. They can become invisible. From our perspective, this is amazing Aquarian technology.

One type of spacecraft that they supposedly use is called a cloud ship. These ships supposedly create an enveloping cloud around them that then pulls back when they wish to reveal themselves. Christ, returning riding a white horse in the clouds with power and great glory, could easily be riding in a white or shiny cloudship. These alien ships easily convey the idea of ​​power and great glory, especially if they are the huge motherships that are miles across. This would stand out in everyone's awareness and be seen as technologically powerful and glorious.

That this Second Coming is from the stars will deflate any tendency for specific religions or even the secular community to elevate themselves above others as the chosen group within which the Savior or Avatar arrives. This will create an undeniable and necessary Aquarian equality among all peoples of the earth. And it will be revolutionary.

Presently, ET spacecraft are flying our skies, but not landing or making wide contact with us. This is usually because we live in fear of them, and they respect our feelings. They are supposedly waiting for a more welcoming attitude before they will land to help us. What if they are our salvation in the coming days of earth changes? The idea of ​​the Rapture says that the chosen, among all religions and all cultures around the world, not just Christian, will be taken up to wait out the Apocalyptic destruction that is settling in around us. An army of huge alien space ships is already here to take us up to safety in the clouds. After the Apocalypse, we will then be returned to earth along with light animals ready to help us rebuild and enter into their Galactic Federation as an Aquarius civilized people.

Is this Pisces prophecy, or Pisces delusion? At least this is something that we need to think about, if we are to graduate to the golden Age of Aquarius following the Pisces Apocalypse. Can this happen? The secular scientific view says no, but our present Pisces Age rules prophecy, and more importantly, the fulfillment of prophecy. The Apocalypse is already playing itself out behind devastating weather changes over the last 30 to 40 years. Global warming is now an accepted fact. Ecological disaster is already taking a huge toll on us. Around this, the big prophecy for this age has been that of the coming of an Avatar, the Maitreya Buddha, the Second Coming of Christ. Even with science changing the rules for a new age, we still have the energy of Pisces surrounding us for the time being. It is my belief that prophesy will very likely manifest in this Second Coming. And it will likely come in the scientifically acceptable form of Aquarius.

Do Mythical Creatures Exist?

Ye Old Tales According to Geoffery of Mammoth (11th century) the first people of Britain were said to be tall powerful Giants led by formidable leaders such as Albion. However the Giants became extinct at the arrival of Brutus and his army. Rabelais built whole genealogies of Giants from Biblical to the Renaissance. But, 'Giants'…

Ye Old Tales
According to Geoffery of Mammoth (11th century) the first people of Britain were said to be tall powerful Giants led by formidable leaders such as Albion. However the Giants became extinct at the arrival of Brutus and his army. Rabelais built whole genealogies of Giants from Biblical to the Renaissance. But, 'Giants' could have been people who were 1ft taller than humans. No big deal. But what about the stranger mythical creatures? The Afnac of Wales created floods by swinging its beaver tail, the Jinshin Mushi produced earthquakes and primordial animals like Ymir and Pan-Gu created the world. Scientific understanding has replaced these tales but these myths or personnel has helped people understand their world more easily. (More recently when Russian spacecrafts went missing it was believed that they were eaten by the Great Galactic Ghoul). But then again who knew what lived in the English channel or under Japan? Others beings like the Banshee were simply ancient deities who became low beings as religious beliefs changed.

Bones of the Earth
Many mythical creatures go against the laws of science. Take the Dragon as an example, a beast so big that its body mass does not enable it to fly. In comparison the Ostrich is much smaller and can not fly. But original evidence of these mythical creatures sprang up when their skeletons were discovered. When skeletal structures of long fish were found in the mountains the most feasible explanation at the time was that the long 'lizard' must have flow there. Archaeologists now speculate that the sea creature's body sunk to the sea bed, and over time the sea bed was pushes up to become a mountain. Skeletons of the Archaeopteryx, a dinosaur with wings was the basis for the Griffin and Basilisk. A rhino's skull was believed to be that of the Cyclops (the hole for the horn looked like an eye socket). Science can not always be sure what is extinct. Mythical creatures such as the Basilosaurus, Australopithecus and Neanderthals are apparently extinct but these may be living as Nessie, Bigfoot and as Tsiatko respectively.

Mutated Species
If you were to read the likes of mythical creatures found in the ancient Chinese bistaries like Congcong, Diniao and Xiao, it would be easy to believe that these were simply mutations of ordinary animals. But if you were to see a dog of 6 legs when traveling in the unexplored mountains it would be easy to assume that a whole race of them live there. In the West babies that were born deformed underpinned people faith in God as it seemed that God had failed in his creation of man, and was not a perfect creator. In 'City of God' (c. 5th century), St. Augustine solved this by stating that for every child born abnormally different, God had created a human race just the same.

What the Heck Was That?
Many accounts of mythical creatures are said to have been exaggerated of what was really encountered. Stephen Asma in 'On Monsters' (2010) states beasts fought by Alexander the Great and his army were hugely exaggerated psychologically fear arises, perceptions are distorted. Accounts of fabulous beasts left New World explorers like Christopher Columbus Disappointed when they found no evidence of mythical creatures. Many sightings of mythical creatures were later found to be ordinary animals such as Rosmarus, a walrus and Manta, a stingray. Leonardo Da Vinci said that to describe a new animal you need to base it on a known one. Thus when these mythical creatures are taken literally they sound very strange. Could the head of a dog be a way of describing the head of a mandrill?

The Otherworld
I may be bursting many bubbles here as modern science and documentation of species has pushed mythical creatures to the edge of extinction. But we have not explored the Otherworld that may intertwine with ours. Shamans, and other holy beings conversed with spirits of the spirit realms and people claim to have seen Angels. The flying Gurudas and hissing Nagas were believed to have existed when times were more auspicious and the realms were easily crossed. We should not leave out the Tulpa; a being that comes to life from ones imagination through the power of meditation. There is much to consider.

Jenny Hanivers
But speculation and doubt of so many if not all mythical creatures arose from Jenny Hanivers, creatures that seemed to be real but were later proved as a hoax. It is an art that has been practiced for many years that became popular in Antwerp, Belgium to would sew together animal corpses making them look like real mythical creatures.

So what of the Mermaid, Vampire Werewolf and Centaur? The Mermaid comes from sightings, perhaps a misty sight of sea-lions or dugongs, Vampires a possible premature burial and Werewolves people suffering from lycanthropy. The Centaur is the strangest of all but the Black Devil from South America could explain much. Yet these stories fill our hunger for imagination and have found their way into the ancient Greek plays all the way through to the Hollywood movies. Whether they are either real or false they are sources great inspiration and joy.

The Mysteries of the Kings Chamber

I started out, on a hunt for some information to verify and date the “Black Pullet” and write an article on here about it. What I ended up discovering is something more interesting, at least I think so. We are all familiar with the Great Pyramid of Giza, the nice beautiful structure that held the…

I started out, on a hunt for some information to verify and date the “Black Pullet” and write an article on here about it. What I ended up discovering is something more interesting, at least I think so.

We are all familiar with the Great Pyramid of Giza, the nice beautiful structure that held the remains of the Pharaoh Khufu. Well one thing that is not as well known is the mysterious conditions inside the Kings Chamber. Many famous people have had interesting happenings while experiencing alone time in the chamber. Names like Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Aleister Crowley, and Paul Burton show up regularly when describing the incidents. The Layout of the Pyramid As you can see the Kings chamber is located past the grand Gallery and above the Queens chamber and Subterranean Chamber. With Relief Chambers above it. It lies in the heart of the pyramid and is the main attraction of the place.

Napoleonons Secret

Napoleon ventured into the Pyramid after the “Battle of the Pyramids” in July 1798. While inside the pyramid he roamed to the King Chamber where he spent sometimes alone. How long we are not told, and why he wanted to be alone is not mentioned. What we do know for certain is upon leaving the pyramids, his fellow associates noticed that Napoleon was not right. He looked shook up and bothered.

They continued to ask him what had happened and if anything “Mysterious” had happened while in the Kings Chamber. Napoleon most likely fearing that he would not be believed or better yet thought of as crazy, replied “no Comment”. For years the topic was left untouched until on his death bed, his friend by his side asked Napoleon what had happened that day in the Kings Chamber. As soon as he started to tell him he stopped, stating it “was of no use now you would not believe me”.

What did Napoleon see that day? We never know, there are people and references that point to hints and thoughts that he might have saw what was his destiny. Others believe more elaborate suggestions, but the truth is we will never know now.

Alexander the Great

No Text is found to have proof that Alexander the Great did stay the night or visit the pyramids of Giza, it was assumed to do the popularity of the pyramids that he would have done so ….. yea when I found this out I was a little upset myself ….

Aleister Crowley

Crowley spend time in the kings chamber on the honeymoon of his marriage to Rose Kelley. During the night, he wanted to impress his wife and show his strength in magick. Here is an excerpt from his autobiography.

“The King's Chamber was aglow as if with the brightest tropical moonlight. The pitiful dirty yellow flame of the candle was like a blasphemy, and I put it out. it lessened in intensity as we composed ourselves to sleep. For the rest, the floor of the King's Chamber is particularly uncompromising. In sleeping out on rocks, one can always accommodate oneself more or less to the local irregularities, but the King's Chamber reminded me of Brand; and I must confess to having passed a very uncomfortable night. I fear me dalliance had corrected my Roman virtue. Interestingly enough, shortly after rose was in a trance and instructed Crowley to meet Aiwass and receive the book of the new AEON … making a longer story short.

Scientific Ideas

Many scientist have thought the granite construction would hold residual energy and even possibly be used as a radio receiver. That being said, they have also discovered radioactive material down below the queens chamber. Those two put in combination may inadvertently be the cause of the mysteries … we may never know for certain, I do wish to take a trip out there and do some research and studies myself. One day I hope I will get the chance.

The Immaculate Corpses of Dr Alfredo Salafia at the Palermo Catacombs (Palermo, Sicily, Italy)

The Palermo Catacombs-or, by their proper name, the crypts under the Capuchin monastery of Santa Maria della Pace in Palermo, Sicily-hold the most prodigious collection of mummies in Europe. Their origins date to 1599 when the first specimen, Brother Silvester of Gubbio, was placed in an underground vault, along with the scattered remnants of monks…

The Palermo Catacombs-or, by their proper name, the crypts under the Capuchin monastery of Santa Maria della Pace in Palermo, Sicily-hold the most prodigious collection of mummies in Europe. Their origins date to 1599 when the first specimen, Brother Silvester of Gubbio, was placed in an underground vault, along with the scattered remnants of monks brought from a previous friary. For roughly the next three centuries, brothers of the Order worked to preserve the bodies of fellow members, as well as various esteemed local personages, placing the prepared corpses in the ever-expanding subterranean passages. Mummification eventually became a kind of cottage industry and a means to support the monastery; in its temporary form, the site included lengthy sections for both ecclesiastics and lay persons, and areas reserved for professionals, women, children, and even virgins.

The term “mummification” here needs to be qualified, however-calling the bodies at Palermo mummies is something generous, since many of them are little more than skeletons, held together by tiny bits of dried flesh and ligament. The means of preservation developed by the monks involved an application of arsenic to prevent the growth of bacteria, followed by dehydration. The corpses (which had been packed with straw) were placed on slats in a colatoio (“drying room”) underneath the monastery, to allow the tufaceous subsoil to naturally desiccate them to whatever was possible. The process took between eight months and a year, and the results were often dubious and sometimes horrific-that is, until Dr. Alfredo Salafia arrived and perfected a process of mummification that produced specimens which have never been rivaled.

Salafia was born into a military family in 1869, but little documentation of his early life exists. He trained as a medical doctor and ever gained a post at the University of Palermo, where he began a series of experiments in embalming, working on unclaimed bodies from local morgues. Devising his own methods, he earned a favorable reputation due to the pristine state of his cadavers and was asked in 1902 to restore the remains of the Deceased Italian prime minister Francesco Crespi. The body had been entrusted to a team of embalmers in Naples who had prepared and shipped it to Crespi's native Sicily, but their work proved inadequate, resulting in adipocere-or what is sometimes called “grave wax,” a waxen build up of fatty acids in the face and internal organs of the body, which can take on a grayish or tan color.

The disfigurement produced by the condition was not thought to be reversible, but Salafia worked for months on Crespi's corpse and fully restored its appearance, using paraffin injections to reform the facial features, and meticulously reattaching strands of hair and beard which had fallen loose. The result was a public triumph-he earned his first great renounce as penalties were organized to view Crespi's body. Salafia's reputation great further still when he was asked to handle another high profile corpse, that of Palermo's archbishop, Cardinal Michelangelo Celesia, who died in 1904. His immaculate preservation of Celesia was considered a sensation; the archbishop was displayed in the Palermo Catacombs for five years until it was finally moved to the cathedral, still looking so fresh that it was described as having the appearance of “a man who is sleep.”

Wealthy citizens of Palermo is quickly flocked to Salafia to make arrangements for the preservation of their loved ones for display in the Catacombs. By the early twenty century, preparation of corpses by the monks had stopped due to a local hygiene ordnance which had prohibited the use of the colotaio. But Salafia's method not only provided a chance for the body to prepare for display, it produced flawless results the likes of which had never been seen. To the end of his life, Salafia kept his working methods secret, but it is known that he used a complex series of injections, including alcohol to dehydrate the body, formalin to kill bacteria, glycerin to prevent the body from becoming overly dry, salicylic acid to kill fungi, and zinc salts to give provide rigidity.

He historically marketed a prepared solution which he called “Salafia Perfection Fluid.” Sold in both Italy and the United States, he claimed that injections of this liquid alone could produce exquisite cadavers. Whatever methods he used, the bodies he prepared for the Palermo Catacombs between the turn of the century and his own death in 1933 are incorrupt to this day, showing no visible signs of deterioration. In contrast to the tawdry danse macabre around them, Salafia's mummies are in perfect reposition, with glistening skin and a life-like countenance. One, a former American legate, still has a perfect curl on his handlebar mustache.

Of the bodies Salafia preserved for the Catacombs, it is little Rosalia Lombardo who outstrips the fame of all the others. She has been called “Sleeping Beauty,” and “The World's Most Beautiful Mummy,” among other appellations. Rosalia died on December 6, 1920, and was most likely prepared by Salafia during the end of that year or the beginning of the next. The girl, the daughter of a police general, succumbed to pneumonia at the age of two. Salafia had by this time been practicing his craft for at least two decades, and the girl, among the last mummies admitted into the Catacombs, representing the work of a master at the height of his powers. She has not been restored by a single hand since Salafia prepared her, yet her visage is still fresh, like that of that girl in a light sleep.

Her sandy-blond hair is tied playfully in a bow, and a slight smile alerts on the visitor's gaze-the interaction with this nearly century-old corpse looks strange, natural, and intimate. Rosalia, still so pristine and endearing, has gathered a small army of followers and devotees-she even has her own Facebook fan page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rosalia-Lombardo/119287601450972?sk=info . Salafia would understand and appreciate the devotion that his masterpiece inspired. For him, perfecting a method of preservation was an act of love, a means of showing care for the departed and ensconcing the connection with the living endured. He motives are best explained by notations in his journals, such as this, one: “To hand down to posterity, the exact appearance of our dear ones just as they were when they left us at the moment of eternal departure, it is among these compassionate customs that antiquity has handed down to us and that time has preserved. ”

For further reading, I recommend:

Dario Piombino-Mascali, Arthur C. Aufderheide, Melissa Johnson Williams, Albert R. Zink, “The Salafia Method Rediscovered,” Virchows Archiv, 454 (3), 2009: 355-357.

Melissa Johnson Williams & Dario Piombino-Mascali, “Alfredo Salafia: Master Embalmer, American Funeral Director, February, 2009: 52-55.

Flaviano Farella OFM Cap., Cenni storici della chiesa e della catacombe di Cappuccini di Palermo (Palermo: 1982).

Paul Koudounaris, The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses (London: 2011-forthcoming, fall).