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Ancient Traditions

The statue of a seated Zeus at Olympia.

Unleashing The Power of the Gods: Hexes and Black Magic in the Ancient Greek Olympics

When the ancient Olympics began, the greatest athletes in Greece gathered before a statue of Zeus Horkios, the god of oaths. Laid before its feet would be the freshly cut meat of a boar sacrificed by...
Chullpas, Sillustani, Peru

Were the Ancient Funerary Towers of Sillustani Peru Originally Part of an Energy System?

Sillustani is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo, about an hour’s drive from Puno in Peru, which is a large city on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The tombs, which are built above...
Yamamoto Kansuke, named as author in the Sword Scroll text

Samurai Secrets Revealed: English Translation of the 500-year-old ‘Sword Scroll’ Provides Fighting Tactics Including ‘Egg Them’

A medieval samurai text recently translated into English gives many practical tips on fighting an enemy and advises all warriors to be ‘pure of heart and in balance in their spirit’. Although...
Detail of two ancient Egyptian 'gate spells'. On the top register, Ani and his wife face the ‘gates of the House of Osiris'. Below, they encounter the 'mysterious portals of the House of Osiris in the Field of Reeds'. All are guarded by unpleasant underworld protectors.

Through the Twelve Chambers of Hell: The Afterlife in Ancient Egypt

Death, the ancient Egyptians believed, was not the end of our struggles. They believed in an afterlife and that the worthy would go on to paradise, but their dead didn’t simply pass over to the other...
“The Painted Ones” hand-colored version of Theodor de Bry’s engraving of a Pict woman who is either painted or tattooed.

Power, Perils and Rites of Passage – The History of the Female Tattoo

Emily Poelina-Hunter / The Conversation Almost a quarter of Australian women now have tattoos - a trend some attribute to the influence of feminism. What I find interesting is that the mainstreaming...
Youtube video screenshot from the new movie ‘The Mummy.’

Desecration and Romanticization – The Real Curse of Mummies

Craig Barker / The Conversation This June Hollywood’s tomb of old ideas will creak open yet again and present the tale of an ancient Egyptian tomb disturbed by a bumbling archaeologist and/or action-...
Stones arranged into a Native American medicine wheel pattern.

A Glimpse into the Intuitive Medicine of the Native American Tradition

Many centuries ago, in a land that is quite familiar to the modern American (in some forgotten, ethereal way).... A native boy scurries through a thicket of bramble bushes. His mouth stained with...
The Spirit of the Dead Keeps Watch’ (1892) by Paul Gauguin.

Ghost Beliefs in Polynesia: When Spirits Return and Possess

A belief in ghosts is held by many cultures (both modern and ancient) around the world. Some of these ghost beliefs are well-known, whilst others, such as those held by the Polynesians, are less so...
A modern Pagan Wiccan altar set up.

Secrets of Magic in Modern Paganism Revealed

Magic is one of the aspects that can be found in many of the groups that are part of the movement known collectively as Modern Paganism. According to practitioners of magic within the movements of...
Gerard van Honthorst's 1623 painting ‘The Concert.’

Band Posters of the Renaissance: How Medieval Music Fans Showed off Their Taste

Tim Shephard / The Conversation Did you once put a poster of your favorite music artist on your bedroom wall? Are there a few faded gig T-shirts in your bottom drawer? Have you ever bought an LP or...
Theseus (center) invented wrestling

The Real Reason That Men in Classical Portrayals Were Given Small Manhoods

Today, bigger is widely regarded as better. But was this always the case? This article sheds some light on how the Western culture changed in its phallic preferences. Over the past few decades,...
Egyptian Fellah woman with her child, Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann, 1872

Did Eternity Obsessed Ancient Egyptians Know How to Prevent Pregnancy?

It is hard to believe that the Ancient Egyptians, a culture completely infatuated with the preservation of life after death, would be concerned with the prevention of pregnancy. But they were one of...
Ancient Book

Say the Magic Word: The Origins of Abracadabra and Other Magical Mutterings

Magic words are often used by magicians whilst performing magic tricks on stage. One of the most common of these incantations is ‘Abracadabra’. Although this word is known to many, it is likely that...
‘The gyri of the thinker's brain as a maze of choices in biomedical ethics.’ (Deriv.) An ancient Greek memory technique suggests imagining a pathway through a location to remember important information.

Enhance Your Memory with this Ancient Greek Memorization Technique

In Greek mythology, Mnemosyne was the personification of memory. In ancient Greece, prior to being written down, stories were recounted orally. Due to that, memory played an important part in the...
Orant, Catacomb of Priscilla. It has been argued that these catacombs provide evidence for women having a stronger role in early Christianity, perhaps even in the priesthood.

No Girls Allowed? Debate for Women in the Christian Priesthood Rages On

In many countries, laws prohibit employers from discriminating based on sex. However, exemptions to this law are often made for religious orders. The Roman Catholic Church is adamant that women...
Two youths engaged in sex, one of them holding a hoop. Detail from an amphora

The Truth About Sex in Ancient Greece

An exhibition at the British Museum promises to lift the lid on what beauty meant for the ancient Greeks. But while we gaze at the serene marble statues on display – straining male torsos and soft...

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