Sin Eaters performed a ceremony wherein they took on the sins that the deceased performed — sins that went unforgiven or without confession prior to death. People typically hired a Sin Eater in situations where the deceased died unexpectedly.
By consuming bread and a drink (usually wine or beer) placed on, or ritually waved over, the dead body, onlookers believed the dead person’s sins were digested by the eater after he or she consumed this beggar’s feast. The act appears to be confined to 18th and 19th Century Europe, with no accounts of necro-cannibalism noted.
In time, the practice expanded in popularity, so that Sin Eaters also attended to people who had just died of natural causes — because people believed the ritual could help prevent the dead from wandering the countryside after death. -Keith Veronese -Keith Veronese
Cause-and-effect thinking is critical to human survival, Legare said. So it’s natural for people to find logic in supernatural rituals that emphasize repetition and procedural steps. If doing something once has some effect, then repeating it must have a greater effect. For example, if a mechanic says he inspected something five times, the frequency of his actions leads the customer to overestimate the effectiveness of his work. -Science Daily
“If I could tell you this in a single sitting, then you might believe all of it, even the strangest part.” -Graham Joyce, The Limits of Enchantment
reliquary: A container to hold or display religious relics.
“Do you know any ghost stories, Mr. Fort?” asked Tony. He liked to tell us the ones his grandmother told from the old country, all about gypsies and potions and vengeful friars.
Mr. Fort turned and looked at him. “Ghost stories, my boy? They’re just the gossip of the dead. What kind of damned fool wastes his heightened awareness of all time and space to come back and tell you that he loves you? Or where the family treasure is buried? Or who killed him? They all say the same things, those ghosts, none of it interesting. None of it sublime.” He snorted. “The whole world is a ghost, echoing and fading from the perfect original. We are the ghosts.” -Will Ludwigsen, We Were Wonder Scouts, Asimov’s Aug 2011
During the night of May 18/19 of 1910, when the Earth passed through the tail of comet Halley, some people took precautions by sealing the chimneys, windows, and doors of their houses. Others confessed to crimes they had committed because they did not expect to survive the night, and a few panic-stricken people actually committed suicide. Enterprising merchants sold comet pills and oxygen bottles, church services were held for overflow crowds, and people in the countryside took to their storm shelters. A strangely frivolous mood caused thousands of people to gather in restaurants, coffee houses, parks, and on the rooftops of apartment buildings to await their doom in the company of fellow humans. -Gunter Faure and Teresa Mensing, Introduction to Planetary Science: The Geological Perspective
We do not believe in the reality of Olympus, so the ancient Greek gods live on in us as symptoms. We no longer have thunderbolts of Zeus, we have headaches. We no longer have the arrows of Eros we have angina pains. We no longer have the ecstasy of Dionysus, we have addictive behavior. Even though we no longer recognize the gods we experience their powerful forces.-Carl Jung
I can only conjure up one god cult that believed the universe would cease to exist if its singing ever stopped. All of its members perished in an avalanche thousands of years back, of course. The universe, to my knowledge, has not. -Maggie Clark, Saying the Names (free to read online)
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Photo by ktylerconk on Flickr.
Lucas was born into the Lunar Temple, a group of Americans, most from the Southwest, who believed that the Moon was a part of the Earth that was broken off in an ancient cataclysm, and that humans were devolved from more pure creatures who now lived in vast, spiral cities below the satellite’s surface. These beings were building monstrous engines two hundred miles across on the dark side of the Moon that, on the Day of Joining, they would use to bring the Moon hurtling back to Earth. -Brian Francis Slattery, Spaceman Blues: A Love Song
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