For this Halloween, I wanted to do something special. I’ve already talked a bit about the history of Halloween, but now I’m going to delve into the history of witchcraft. To be clear, this is not about Wicca or any kind of Neopaganism. Rather, this is about the beginnings of how Medieval Christianity perceived witchcraft, and the connection to mythology.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Another Halloween where Nikki suckered me into going out. We arrived at a masquerade ball, I in a tux and she in a white ball gown that was decidedly reserved for her, keeping the neck and thigh line fairly modest. We danced a simple waltz along with all the other guests. After that, we didn’t even use formal steps, she clung to me like it was a high school dance, her cool voice in my ear.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Freemium WordPress, I’ve so named it because of the pay features, is nearly as good as it gets. We’re talking about slightly limited cosmic power at this point. The only way you get more power is by coding the page by yourself. WordPress simply makes it easier to get widgets and content by having material that’s been previously coded.
Monday, October 24, 2016
Blade is one of the older successful superhero films, appearing at a time when people had renewed interest in vampires. But there has always been one thing that bothered me about the portrayal of vampires in Blade: They were weak.
Much of the fear regarding vampires relies on the idea that they are nearly unstoppable forces requiring groups of people to dispatch even one, but the opening action scene of blade shows a club full of hundreds of vampires easily dispatched by Blade using an arsenal of weapons. Yes, the weapons are specially designed with vampires in mind including stakes, silver bullets and blades, ultraviolet lights, and garlic-infused “mace.” Read more on Criminalelement.com
Friday, October 21, 2016
I’ve been in the Planes, as they call them, for many months, now, enjoying my time in the City of Doors, and working with the Sensates. I’ve been endeavoring to find a group of fellow adventurers that I might go out and experience more, but it has been difficult finding compatible companions.
But I have been going on errands on behalf of the Society, and on once such trip, I went to fabled Bitopia, which I had seen through the Sensorium’s eyes, but not my own. To look up into the sky and see another landscape staring back at me was one of the true great joys of my life.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016
The show Lucifer begins with a major, yet subtle, assumption regarding angels that has far-reaching effects. Angels in the Bible are often depicted as servants of God, carrying out specific tasks such as guarding the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve’s return, stepping in to avert a sacrifice (Isaac’s), destroying wicked cities (Sodom and Gomorrah), heralding births (Samson, John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and others), among other tasks. But are they simply automatons carrying out God’s will? Read more on Criminalelement.com
Friday, October 14, 2016
“Can’t believe that worked,” I said.
“Ayup,” Jack agreed, staring at the pancakes on the end of his fork.
I took a bite of my own, but I was slowing down. I might only have one or two more stacks in me.
“At least it’s over,” Kate said, sipping her coffee. Her plate looked like a maple syrup war zone.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Monday, October 10, 2016
The show Lucifer is pretty popular with its swaggering, English-accented devil, which drives renewed interest in angels and the Bible. So, how accurate is its portrayal of Lucifer? Let’s take it in pieces. First on the list is what I found to be one of the most striking visuals of the series’ first season: Lucifer’s wings. Without a doubt, the production on the prop wings is top-notch. They are gorgeous.
The thing is, nowhere in the Bible does it state that angels have wings. There aren’t very many appearances of angels in the Bible, and what we do have is sparse in their descriptions. Cherubim are set to guard the Garden of Eden from Adam and Eve sneaking back in, but no description of them is given. There is a flaming sword, but it’s not clear if the cherubs are holding and spinning the sword. An angel visits Abraham regarding the sacrifice of Isaac, but, again, there’s no description.
The best description of an angel actually comes from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Two angels go in undercover to assess the wickedness of Sodom. Lot, Abraham’s cousin, approaches, asking the two if they have a place to stay. Since they don’t, he invites them in. Throughout the entire encounter, the men in the city and Lot only refer to the angels as men: “Where are the men who came to you tonight?” (Gen 19:5), “do nothing to these men” (Gen 19:8), and “the men seized [Lot] . . . and left him outside the city” (Gen 9:17).
While there is no actual description of what an angel looks like, they can pass for human with no difficulty. There is no mention of wings, no mention of flying. In fact, if we look closely, Lot, his wife, and his daughters were taken “by the hand” and “brought them outside” (Gen 9:16-17), suggesting an escape on foot is more likely than one by flight. Sorry, fans of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, but flying with someone outstretched and held by one hand just isn’t practical.
If the undercover routine isn’t enough proof, we can page back to Genesis 6, before the flood, “when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them” (Gen 6:4). Since there’s a differentiation between humans and the sons of God, we have to infer that these would be angels. Not only do they look human, they have to have compatibility with humans in order to sire children.
So, yes, Lucifer gets points for Lucifer and Amenadiel appearing and passing for human. But the wings are not in the Bible. The closest we come is that angels have a habit of appearing suddenly, such as they did to Abraham or in their appearances to Mary and heralding the birth of Christ. But these are simply sudden appearances. Nowhere does it mention the power of flight.
So where did this whole thing come from? Angels really came into their own during the Middle Ages as the Catholic church sought to explain things in more detail. There sudden appearances had to be explained as flying, how else could they move so quickly? Moreover, angels come from heaven, which is above the earth. They would have to fly in order to go between heaven and earth, right? And how do things fly other than to have wings. Combine this with passages such as the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and it paints a very vivid picture.
The wing thing gets expanded on as great thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas start differentiating different categories and an entire hierarchy of angels. One of the distinguishing features of higher and lower ranked angels? the number of wings. The higher the rank of the angel, the more wings it has, with Seraphim having the most with six wings (three pairs).
Lucifer, as the highest of angels, would have been a member of this order. So, if angels did have wings—still not supported by the Bible—Lucifer would need more than two wings to denote his (once) high station in angelic hierarchy.
But Hollywood didn’t go with this; that’s fine. Popular belief is that angels have wings, and that the number of the wings shall be two. But it is interesting to see what other corners may have been cut, and while they might have missed this mark, they nailed some of the others, such as the fact that Lucifer can—and frequently does—have physical relationships with human women, just as the passage in Genesis 6:4 stated angels could do. At least, at that point in the Bible. There’s evidence to suggest that the view on angels (and demons, for that matter) evolved throughout the Bible over time, but that has nothing to do with wings.
Friday, October 7, 2016
“You don’t need me for this,” I said, adamant.
“Matt, don’t pout,” Kate said.
“I’m not pouting, I’m stating a fact. You don’t need me. If anything, I’d be a liability.”
She did that thing, scrunching up one side of her mouth and looking at me like I was stupid.
I’m prepared to agree to that if it means I get out of this.
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
I know multimedia is coming to books. I’ve heard tell of augmented ebooks with videos and sound clips added to them. These are especially useful to textbooks, but not novels. Maps and diagrams would be useful, especially in a convenient pop-up so readers don’t have to flip back to the beginning of the book, but I think there can be one better.
Monday, October 3, 2016
When I presented on fairy tales at Desert Dreams in April, and when I went to Comicon in June, I was surprised by the number of questions asked about the copyright status of myths and fairy tales. So let’s get into it.
First, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t even play one on TV. So nothing I say here can be taken as absolute gospel. If you want that, hire a lawyer. Better still, go the free option and talk to a local librarian. They love to talk about this stuff, have been fully trained in it, and will not charge you for saying hello to them.
Aside from that, this is what I can say. Myths and fairy tales are old enough to be considered in the public domain. The stories we’re talking about date back hundreds if not thousands of years, and copyright didn’t exist. (The concept of authorship really didn’t exist, either, but that’s something else.)
Here are the caveats. Translations are copyrighted to the translators. The translators work with the original text, which is not copyrighted, but their translations constitute their own original work, and is protected by law. The only way you get out of this one is if the translation is older than copyright law (a number of sources out there qualify since they were translated in the 1800s).
Caveat number two is to look out for companies that have changed the stories and created copyrighted entities. The seven dwarves are part of the original Snow White story. They’re up for grabs. However, Disney named them, and copyrighted those names, so do not touch. The best way to avoid this one is to dig up the original, public domain source. If it appears in that version, you can use it. If it’s not there, someone probably made it up and copyrighted it.
Again, if you have doubts, go to your local librarians. They’ll be able to help you make sense of the often confusing copyright situation, and help you find good mythology books at the same time.
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