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Friday, 31 October 2014
Halloween Origins
Topic: Halloween

Here are some essays on the Celtic and Roman roots of Halloween:

SAMHAIN (Celtic)

ON November first was Samhain ("summer's end").

"Take my tidings:
Stags contend;
Snows descend--
Summer's end!

"A chill wind raging,
The sun low keeping,
Swift to set
O'er seas high sweeping.

"Dull red the fern;
Shapes are shadows;
Wild geese mourn
O'er misty meadows.

"Keen cold limes each weaker wing,
Icy times--
Such I sing!
Take my tidings."

--GRAVES: First Winter Song.

Then the flocks were driven in, and men first had leisure after harvest toil. Fires were built as a thanksgiving to Baal for harvest. The old fire on the altar was quenched before the night of October 31st, and the new one made, as were all sacred fires, by friction. It was called "forced-fire." A wheel and a spindle were used: the wheel, the sun symbol, was turned from east to west, sunwise. The sparks were caught in tow, blazed upon the altar, and were passed on to light the hilltop fires. The new fire was given next morning, New Year's Day, by the priests to the people to light their hearths, where all fires had been extinguished. The blessed fire was thought to protect the year through the home it warmed. In Ireland the altar was Tlactga, on the hill of Ward in Meath, where sacrifices, especially black sheep, were burnt in the new fire. From the death struggles and look of the creatures omens for the future year were taken.

The year was over, and the sun's life of a year was done. The Celts thought that at this time the sun fell a victim for six months to the powers of winter darkness. In Egyptian mythology one of the sun-gods, Osiris, was lsain at a banquet by his brother Sitou, the god of darkness. On the anniversary of the murder, the first day of winter, no Egyptian would begin any new business for fear of bad luck, since the spirit of evil was then in power.

From the idea that the sun suffered from his enemies on this day grew the association of Samhain with death.

"The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,
Of wailing winds, and naked woods, and meadows brown and sere.
Heaped in the hollows of the grove, the wither'd leaves lie dead;
They rustle to the eddying gust, and to the rabbit's tread.
The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrub the jay
And from the wood-top calls the crow, through all the gloomy day.

"The wind-flower and the violet, they perished long ago,
And the wild rose and the orchis died amid the summer glow:
But on the hill the golden-rod, and the aster in the wood,
And the yellow sun-flower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,
Till fell the frost from the cold clear heaven, as falls the plague on men,
And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland, glade, and glen."

--BRYANT: Death of the Flowers.

In the same state as those who are dead, are those who have never lived, dwelling right in the world, but invisible to most mortals at most times. Seers could see them at any time, and if very many were abroad at once others might get a chance to watch them too.

"There is a world in which we dwell,
And yet a world invisible.
And do not think that naught can be
Save only what with eyes ye see:
I tell ye that, this very hour,
Had but your sight a spirit's power,
Ye would be looking, eye to eye,
At a terrific company."

--COXE: Hallowe'en.

These supernatural spirits ruled the dead. There were two classes: the Tuatha De Danann, "the people of the goddess Danu," gods of light and life; and spirits of darkness and evil. The Tuatha had their chief seat on the Isle of Man, in the middle of the Irish Sea, and brought under their power the islands about them. On a Midsummer Day they vanquished the Fir Bolgs and gained most of Ireland, by the battle of Moytura.

A long time afterwards--perhaps 1000 B.C.--the Fomor, sea-demons, after destroying nearly all their enemies by plagues, exacted from those remaining, as tribute, "a third part of their corn, a third part of their milk, and a third part of their children." This tax was paid on Samhain. It was on the week before Samhain that the Fomor landed upon Ireland. On the eve of Samhain the gods met them in the second battle of Moytura, and they were driven back into the ocean.

As Tigernmas, a mythical king of Ireland, was sacrificing "the firstlings of every issue, and the scions of every clan" to Crom Croich, the king idol, and lay prostrate before the image, he and three-fourths of his men mysteriously disappeared.

"Then came
Tigernmas, the prince of Tara yonder
On Hallowe'en with many hosts.
A cause of grief to them was the deed.
Dead were the men
Of Bamba's host, without happy strength
Around Tigernmas, the destructive man of the north,
From the worship of Crom Cruaich. 'Twas no luck for them.
For I have learnt,
Except one-fourth of the keen Gaels,
Not a man alive--lasting the snare!
Escaped without death in his mouth."

--Dinnsenchus of Mag Slecht (Meyer trans.).

This was direct invocation, but the fire rites which were continued so long afterwards were really only worshipping the sun by proxy, in his nearest likeness, fire.

Samhain was then a day sacred to the death of the sun, on which had been paid a sacrifice of death to evil powers. Though overcome at Moytura evil was ascendant at Samhain. Methods of finding out the will of spirits and the future naturally worked better then, charms and invocations had more power, for the spirits were near to help, if care was taken not to anger them, and due honors paid.

POMONA (Roman)

OPS was the Latin goddess of plenty. Single parts of her province were taken over by various other divinities, among whom was Pomona (pomorum patrona, "she who cares for fruits"). She is represented as a maiden with fruit in her arms and a pruning-knife in her hand.

"I am the ancient apple-queen.
As once I was so am I now--
For evermore a hope unseen
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.

"Ah, where's the river's hidden gold!
And where's the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of summer's joy."
--MORRIS: Pomona.

Many Roman poets told stories about her, the best known being by Ovid, who says that she was wooed by many orchard-gods, but preferred to remain unmarried. Among her suitors was Vertumnus ("the changer"), the god of the turning year, who had charge of the exchange of trade, the turning of river channel, and chiefly of the change in nature from flower to ripe fruit. True to his character he took many forms to gain Pomona's love. Now he was a ploughman (spring), now a fisherman (summer), now a reaper (autumn).

At last he took the likeness of an old woman (winter), and went to gossip with Pomona. After sounding her mind and finding her averse to marriage, the woman pleaded for Vertumnus's success.

"Is not he the first to have the fruits which
are thy delight? And does he not hold thy
gifts in his joyous right hand?"
--OVID: Vertumnus and Pomona.

Then the crone told her the story of Anaxarete who was so cold to her lover Iphis that he hanged himself, and she at the window watching his funeral train pass by was changed to a marble statue. Advising Pomona to avoid such a fate, Vertumnus donned his proper form, that of a handsome young man, and Pomona, moved by the story and his beauty, yielded and became his wife.

Vertumnus had a statue in the Tuscan Way in Rome, and a temple. His festival, the Vortumnalia, was held on the 23d of August, when the summer began to wane. Garlands and garden produce were offered to him.

Pomona had been assigned one of the fifteen flamina, priests whose duty it was to kindle the fire for special sacrifices. She had a grove near Ostia where a harvest festival was held about November first. Not much is known of the ceremonies, but from the similar August holiday much may be deduced. Then the deities of fire and water were propitiated that their disfavor might not ruin the crops. On Pomona's day doubtless thanks was rendered them for their aid to the harvest. An offering of first-fruits was made in August; in November the winter store of nuts and apples was opened. The horses released from toil contended in races.

From Pomona's festival nuts and apples, from the Druidic Samhain the supernatural element, combined to give later generations the charms and omens from nuts and apples which are made trial of at Hallowe'en.

Posted by anthrojudd at 3:16 AM EDT
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Friday, 24 October 2014
Flesh and Blood
Topic: Vampires
'Tis the season to talk about all things "monster."  Last night, Derek Gilbert of View From the Bunker Radio interviewed me on the topic of vampires, zombies, and undead.  Derek is an excellent broadcaster and we always have a great exchange.  Much of what we cover begins with the historical and folkloric and then moves to examination under the Bilical paradigm and implications for poular culture.  This show will not disappoint.  The program will be posted this weekend for your listening pleasure.

Posted by anthrojudd at 5:42 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 17 April 2013
When Structures Fail You
Topic: Education

Many of us these days are worried about the state of education in this country.  As a teacher, I certainly am.  I'm probably going to anger a good number of people with this post, which is fine.  It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.  Let me begin by qualifying this post:  I love teaching.  It is very gratifying to me, and it is a chance to inspire a new generation of students and scholars.  Therefore, I also treasure my students.

But there is something very wrong in America, my friends.  A dark, malevolent unhinging of our educational system has been taking place for the last several decades.  Oh, it seems innocuous, I mean after all, kids are still graduating from high school, right?  They're getting diplomas, right?  They're getting an education, right?

I've been doing this for thirteen years, so I don't make these statements lightly, nor do I make them from the armchair.  I have taught in the high school classroom and the college lecture hall, and I hae ha ample opportunity to see what is happening to our public education system, but the real problem stems from K-12 public education.  You read that correctly: K-12.  Now, I have taught with some fine educators in the public school system--competent, dedicated individuals.  So let me say this:  teachers--for the most part--are not to blame.  The blame rests squarely on a system that has become so bureacratized and corrupted by such horrendous ideologies as class warfare, eugenics, and social engineering to name a few.  Likewise, the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of politicians, policy makers, and administrators who have perpetuated this system.  So I bear little ill will toward teachers, but have little patience for the system anymore.

It saddens me because I run into people all the time who have never read a book in its entirety.  They have never read Twain, Hawthorne, Melville, Cervantes, or Shakespeare.  They cannot reference world geography, basic American history, perform the most basic math, or recite a poem.  Now there are those who can--of course--who have read on there own.  But this level of rigor and value, has long vacated the curriculm found in our public schools.  By and large, this is not the fault of students.  It is the fault of a corrupted system.

I believe in public education, but we have taken the methods that work, that keep a high level of rigor, and replaced them with standardized testing and a bland, often inaccurate, ineffectual curriculum.  You have to have seen this, whether you have children or not.  This kind of widespread decline in education is not accidental.  What did we throw out?  We threw out what worked.  We threw out education that was either partial or entirely based on classical education, reading, engaging the material, and creativity.  We are steadily throwing out grades, in many schools failing grades are not even given.  Classical education....hmmmm....."isn't that a little antiquated?  I mean, what can Cicero and Herodotus really do for us?  Isn't that just for fancy prep schools?"  No!  We have the means to implement it across the board!  It works!

"Yeah, but this is the twentifirst century, and students now will be working in fields that we can't even fathom," say the educational theorists.  Well, I've heard that before.  My response?  Every generation can say that out about the one learning under them.  When ebooks became widely available on the internet, entire works of classical literature, I noted to an educational administrator once that "if someone were of so a mind, they could garner without cost from the internet, all the great works of the classical curricula and give themselves a classical education."  Her responce distills how the persons working under the current educational paradigm think:  "To what end?  The purpose of an education is to get a job." 

"Whoa!!! Hold on on.  What?!?!?!"  Education is an end in itself.  To one degree or another it should instill autodidaction in students, so that they can use those skills to acquire a job.  JOBS are EPIPHENOMENA of education.  Education for education's sake is, sadly, a virtue that is lost on the current system of public education.

What do we do to change it then?  Can we?  First we must consider that the current paradigm--the rules as it were--no longer serve true education--period. 

Consider the words of Commisioner Jim Gordon in the recent Batman movie THE DARK KNIGHT RISES commenting on a currupted and ineffecient justice system no longer serving true justice:

"There's a point, far out there when the structures fail you, and the rules aren't weapons anymore, they're... shackles letting the bad guy get ahead. One day... you may face such a moment of crisis. And in that moment, I hope you have a friend like I did, to plunge their hands into the filth so that you can keep yours clean! "

Are we in such an educational crisis?   I think many of us know the answer to that....and feel the weight of shackles.

More later.......



Posted by anthrojudd at 1:06 AM EDT
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Saturday, 13 April 2013
A dark knight returns....

Dear friends,

I trust you are well.  It has been some time since I have actively maintained my websites.  Let me assure you now, that I am back.  I have returned from what I can only describe as a season of intense trial in my life.  Perhaps one day, I will be in a place to tell that story.  For the present, let me just say that the Lord of Hosts can sustain a man through great adversity. 

In the end, I was reminded what my calling in this life is.  And part of that means shedding the light of truth on a nest of vipers in this present age.  You all have so dutifully and faithfully kept up with my work, and I invite you to continue to do so.  I hear from many of you about how my research has been of value to you.  That is tremendously gratifying and I am happy to use the skills God has given me to continue providing pertinent research on a number of "fringe" and orthodox topics.

I believe like many of you that we have entered into an age of increasing turmoil and evil.  Also, like many of you I believe that a good number of these troubles were foretold in the Bible.  As such, we may take heart because "our redemption is near," however near or far that may be according to God's perspective.  Vigilance is the key--vigilance against the growing acceptance of wickedness.  Let me encourage you to be vigilante.  Put on the full armor of God.  The lives of believers in this age must be a balance of the pragmatic and the prophetic.

Those of you who are Batman fans may be familiar with the character.  I'm a long time fan myself, which is why I took a line from the mythos for the title of this entry.  That's the kind of intensity we need--doing what's right no matter the cost.  And there often is a cost.

Stem the tide my friends, stem the tide, because it is coming.

At any rate, I will be returning to blogging regularly soon, and sending out issues of Beyond.  Godspeed to you all and thank you for your support.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Ph.D.

Dr. Judd H. Burton

Posted by anthrojudd at 8:39 PM EDT
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Thursday, 14 April 2011
FBI Memo on Roswell Crash
Topic: UFO

By now, many of you will have seen the FBI memo relaying admission of the details of the famous 1947 Roswell UFO crash.  Though the memo itself has been known to researchers for some time, it has not been known to the general public until now.  Check it out for yourself--no swamp gas or light reflected from Venus here.

Posted by anthrojudd at 12:07 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Lead Codices date to first century AD
Topic: Christianity

By now, most of you have probably heard of the amazing dscovery of 70 lead codices found in Jordan dating from the first century AD.  The provenience of the codices appears to be a cave in eastern Jordan.  These texts may tell us much about the earliest Christian communities, as they appear to be related to the Jewish Christians who fled the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  Time will tell whether they are hoax are not, which is--unfortunately--a very real problem in antiquities.  Read the story here:

As a church historian myself, I'm reserving judgment until I've seen more analysis.  I'm hopeful, but cautious.

Posted by anthrojudd at 8:35 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 6 April 2011 8:36 PM EDT
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Sunday, 27 March 2011
New BEYOND Series, News, Etc.
Topic: Giants

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you one and all for being faithful readers of Beyond.  The new special series on giants seems to be to everyone's liking, that is to say, I'm enjoying all the feedback.  Thanks again.

One thing to check out is a new documentary on Goliath, called Footsteps of Goliath.  Compelling--click below:

**For more info on Goliath and other giants, check out Interview With the Giant, now only $13.40 for a limited time.  Click below to purchase:

All the best in your own searches.  Godspeed.


Posted by anthrojudd at 1:09 AM EDT
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Thursday, 15 July 2010
Topic: Giants

Monsters, in the language of mythology, were beings of unnatural proportions or parts, usually regarded with terror, as possessing immense strength and ferocity, which they employed for the injury and annoyance of men. Some of them were supposed to combine the members of different animals; such were the Sphinx and Chimaera; and to these all the terrible qualities of wild beasts were attributed, together with human sagacity and faculties. Others, as the giants, differed from men chiefly in their size; and in this particular we must recognize a wide distinction among them. The human giants, if so they may be called, such as the Cyclopes, Antaeus, Orion, and others, must be supposed not to be altogether disproportioned to human beings, for they mingled in love and strife with them. But the superhuman giants, who warred with the gods, were of vastly larger dimensions. Tityus, we are told, when stretched on the plain, covered nine acres, and Enceladus required the whole of Mount Aetna to be laid upon him to keep him down.

While this war between the gods and the Titans lasted the giants proved a formidable enemy. Some of them, like Briareus, had a hundred arms; others, like Typhon, breathed out fire. At one time they put the gods to such fear that they fled into Egypt and hid themselves under various forms. Jupiter took the form of a ram, whence he was afterwards worshipped in Egypt as the god Ammon, with curved horns. Apollo became a crow, Bacchus a goat, Diana a cat, Juno a cow, Venus a fish, Mercury a bird. At another time the giants attempted to climb up into heaven, and for that purpose took up the mountain Ossa and piled it on Pelion. They were at last subdued by thunderbolts, which Minerva invented, and taught Vulcan and his Cyclopes to make for Jupiter.

Posted by anthrojudd at 2:11 PM EDT
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It's back!  After a several month hiatus while working on my dissertation, the blog is back.  Look for a series on giants soon.  Godspeed!

Posted by anthrojudd at 1:41 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Topic: Christmas

Here's a little history and anthropology concerning the month of December. 

December, it is generally believed, was consecrated to Saturn; others, however, think it was sacred to Vesta. In ancient times the Saxons called it Midwinter-monat and Yule-monat. This last-mentioned name points to the far-back period and high festivals held this month by the Northern nations in honour of the sun. The evergreens with which houses are decked, and Christmas trees with their gifts, are relics of the symbols by which our heathen ancestors exhibited their belief in the power of the sun to deck the earth anew with green, and to laden the trees with rich fruit. The misletoe, exhibited at Christmas and the New Year in almost every house, is looked upon as a semi-sacred thing, that possesses charms and confers privileges on people possessed of it, or who may come under the support from which it is suspended. In olden times the ancient Britons believed their gods were in the oaks. When the misletoe berries were ripe, the Druids invited the people to a great feast, and the oldest Druid, dressed in white, climbed up the trees where the misletoe grew, and with a golden sickle cut it down, while the other Druids sang and prayed. We have various accounts of the misletoe, and of the strange superstitious proceedings in gathering it. The misletoe is supposed to be the golden bough which Æneas made use of, to introduce himself to the Elysian regions. It is often worn about the neck of children, to prevent convulsions and pain when getting their teeth.

New Year's gifts and Christmas boxes were given by friends to friends in ancient times. Both the Greeks and Romans gave presents and entertainments during their annual superstitious meetings. Masses and prayers were offered for the safety of persons and ships, but more particularly for vessels that went on long voyages. A box, devoted to each ship, was kept by the priest, into which money might be dropped, in order to give efficacy to the supplications of the Church; and these boxes being opened at Christmas in each year, acquired the name of Christmas boxes. In course of time all presents given at this season of the year were familiarly called boxes. Poor people begged box money to enable them to supply the priest's box, that they might have the benefit of his prayers.

The old salutation of "a merry Christmas," like that of wishing "a happy New Year," adverted to the hospitality of the rich, whose spacious halls, crowded with tenants and neighbours, were scenes of boundless hospitality. Boar's-head is sometimes served on Christmas Day, to give expression of the abhorrence of Judaism. Plum-puddings are emblematical of the offerings of the wise men; and mince-pies, with their pieces of paste over them in the form of a hay rack, commemorate the manger in which the Saviour was first laid. Dancing and gambols have been among the Christmas amusements for a long series of years.

The wassail bowl was the vessel out of which our Saxon ancestors took such copious draughts, that legislative measures were adopted with the view of enforcing temperance. Wassail not only refers to a certain liquid preparation, but it is a term applied to drinking songs, which in the cider-producing counties were sung on the eve of the Epiphany, when libations were poured out to the apple-trees for a fruitful season—a custom evidently followed in example of the heathen sacrifices to Pomona, the goddess of fruit-trees and orchards.

Dunstan, to check the vicious habit of excessive indulgence in intoxicating liquors, introduced the custom of marking or pegging drinking-cups at certain places, to restrain the draught to a limited quantity. But the contrivance, instead of being attended with good effects, led to greater excess; for those who formerly strove to avoid intoxication, were now, they thought, obliged to drink to the "pegs," it being understood that it was imperative to drain the vessel to the pin.

From the use of peg or pin-cups or tankards, may be traced phrases yet repeated. When a person is in a cheerful mood, he is said to be in a merry pin. Speaking of bringing a man "down a peg," refers to a regulation which deprived a troublesome fellow of his turn of drinking. When a person is dull, he is described as being "a peg too low." "Getting on peg by peg," means that a man is gradually emptying his cup.

Anciently, confectionery was presented to the Fathers of Rome, made up in the forms of crosses, infants, etc., to which has been ascribed the origin of bakers presenting their customers with cakes, or, as they are sometimes called, "Yule dough." It is supposed that the New Year's ode composed by the Poet Laureate was originally regarded as a Yule song or Wassail song. For such verses Christmas carols were substituted, as being more appropriate for the season of the year, observed with joy in honour of Christ's birth in Bethlehem.

Posted by anthrojudd at 12:20 AM EST
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