Archive for the 'Psychology & The Mind' Category

The Alchemist’s Creepshow

From the ever-eclectic Atlas Obscura, comes a preview of a museum much like our own: A museum of mysteries. This attraction in Prague is suited for those of us (you too right?) particularly fascinated by the occult history of old Prague…

 

The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague

The history of occult science is turned into a creepshow at this sensational Prague attraction

 

Contributor: EricGrundhauser, Atlas Obscura)

 

“Prague is a city steeped in history both known and otherwise, and the darker side of the Czech capitol’s past is brought to light in evocative displays at The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague, which looks at some of the famous dabblers in the dark arts that have called the city home.

 

As king of much of eastern Europe and eventually Holy Roman Emperor during the 16th century, Rudolf II was not known as an especially effective ruler, but he is widely remembered for his interest and patronage of the occult arts. It was during his reign that he turned Prague into the unofficial capitol of the dark arts. Funding a number of alchemists and other so-called sorcerers, most notably the likes of Edward Kelley and John Dee, Rudolf created possibly the most active period of occult practice in history.

 

Whether or not his patrons were simply charlatans wrapped in mystery (which they probably were), or bold proto-scientists, the legacy of these magicians and madmen is remembered with a carnival flair at The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague…”

 

For the rest of the story, and beautiful interior photos of the museum, click here.

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The Origin of Witches

The long, elaborate history of our besties, the witches…

 

Where do witches come from?

 

by Alastair Sooke (BBC Culture)

 

 

“Images of alluring young witches and hideous hags have been around for centuries – but what do they mean?

 

Ask any Western child to draw a witch, and the chances are that he or she will come up with something familiar: most likely a hook-nosed hag wearing a pointy hat, riding a broomstick or stirring a cauldron. But where did this image come from? The answer is more arresting and complex than you might think, as I discovered last week when I visited Witches and Wicked Bodies, a new exhibition at the British Museum in London that explores the iconography of witchcraft.

 

Witches have a long and elaborate history. Their forerunners appear in the Bible, in the story of King Saul consulting the so-called Witch of Endor. They also crop up in the classical era in the form of winged harpies and screech-owl-like “strixes” – frightening flying creatures that fed on the flesh of babies.

 

Circe, the enchantress from Greek mythology, was a sort of witch, able to transform her enemies into swine. So was her niece Medea. The ancient world, then, was responsible for establishing a number of tropes that later centuries would come to associate with witches…”

 

For the rest, click here.

 

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The bearded lady: The most famous human curiosity of the 19th century.

How we treat our fellow humans reveals much about our own humanity…

 

Julia Pastrana: A “Monster to the Whole World”

(The Public Domain Review)

 

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“Julia Pastrana, a woman from Mexico born with hypertrichosis, became one of the most famous human curiosities of the 19th century, exhibited the world over as a “bearded lady” while both alive and dead. Bess Lovejoy explores her story and how it was only in 2013, 153 years after her passing, that she was finally laid to rest.

 

When Julia Pastrana was born, in the mountains of Western Mexico in 1834, her mother worried that her looks were the result of supernatural interference. The local native tribes often blamed the naualli, a breed of shape-shifting werewolves, for stillbirths and deformities, and after seeing her daughter for the first time, Julia’s mother is said to have whispered their name. She fled her tribe — or was cast out — not long after.

 

Two years later, Mexican herders searching for a missing cow found Julia and her mother hiding in a mountain cave. They took them to the nearest city, where Julia was placed in an orphanage. Sweet, intelligent, and almost totally covered in black hair, she became a local celebrity. After hearing of her unusual looks and charming disposition, the state governor adopted Julia to serve as a live-in amusement and maid. She stayed with the governor until she was twenty, when she decided to return to her own tribe. But she never completed the trip home: an American showman known as M. Rates met her somewhere on her journey back to the mountains, and persuaded her to take up a life onstage.

 

Julia would go on to become one of the most famous human curiosities of the nineteenth century, variously known as “the Ape Woman,” “the Bear Woman,” or “the Baboon Lady.” She made her debut in December 1854, at the Gothic Hall on Broadway in New York City. She wore a red dress, sang Spanish folk tunes, and danced the Highland Fling. Huge, appreciative crowds flocked to see her, although it wasn’t really the singing and dancing they were after…”

 

See the rest here.

 

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