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rituals

9000 year-old mask that was recovered.

Stone Mask from the Dawning of Ancient Societies Found in Israel

The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced the recovery from looters of a very rare Neolithic mask made from stone. The item was originally discovered this year in Hebron, on the West Bank. This...
Ancient Khmer carving of childbirth.

Ancient Childbirth Beliefs and Rituals Thought to Protect Mother and Child

For much of human history, pregnancy and childbirth was an extremely dangerous period in a woman’s life. It was often believed that the expectant mother and her baby were vulnerable to malevolent...
Statue representative of courtship rituals.

Romantic Love: The Evolution of Courtship Rituals

Courtship rituals have existed as long as the concept of romantic love. Such rituals exist to allow couples to get to know each other, and to allow an intimate relationship to develop. In modern,...
Market in Ouidah, in Benin, selling ingredients for African magic.

From South to North, Africa is the Continent of Ancient Magic

The word ‘magic’ makes us think of sleight of hand, tricks and illusion, but historically African magic was a way to achieve goals by harnessing the creative powers of nature, which were regarded and...
Life-size Dorset masks. (500-1000 AD) The masks were carved from driftwood and painted. They also once had fur moustaches and eyebrows attached with pegs. Scholars believe that the masks were probably used by shamans in rituals to cure illness, control the weather, or to aid in hunts.

Preserved in Legends and Ice: What Led to the Extinction of the Dorset Culture?

Before the Inuit’s ancestors conquered the Arctic region of what we now call Canada and Greenland, there is evidence of another remarkable Paleo-Eskimo culture– the Dorset. Soon after the arrival of...
Ancient human remains.

Nine Weird and Wonderful Facts about Death and Funeral Practices

It might not be something you want to think about very often, but it turns out that the way we treat our dead in the modern age is heavily influenced by the way our ancestors treated theirs. When you...
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...
A funerary garden discovered by CSIC's research team.

A First-Ever Find in Egypt: 4,000-Year-Old Funerary Garden at Tomb Entrance

The Djehuty Project, led by research professor, José Manuel Galán, from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), has discovered a 4,000-year-old funerary garden- the first such garden ever to be...
All images courtesy of Ashley Cowie

Sex Symbols of the Ancient World: Top Ten Sexually Explicit Caves, Mountains, Temples and Artifacts

If you are sensitive about matters pertaining to sex and sexuality it's probably best that you press the back button now. For those with a more exploratory attitude, what I hope you take away from...
The birthday party of Lazaro Salsita, born 15 years ago, in the body of Lazaro Medina Hernandez, 35, Sculptor. Havana (La Habana), Cuba.

A Unique Mixture of Afro-Cuban Religious Rituals or Witchcraft? The True Story Behind Santeria

Some religious practices can be very surprising because they link aspects from different beliefs which may appear incompatible at first glance. In the case of Santeria, the connection between native...
Rediscovering the Story of Egeria, a Remarkable 4th Century Female Pilgrim

Rediscovering the Story of Egeria, a Remarkable 4th Century Female Pilgrim

Egeria was a young woman who decided to make the trip of a lifetime and go to the Holy Land. But what inspired her to make that journey and walk half of the world all alone? She was born in beautiful...
How the Ancient World Invoked the Dead to Help the Living

How the Ancient World Invoked the Dead to Help the Living

Though it may seem as if Halloween is a modern con trick designed to get us spending our hard-earned cash on an American celebration, this is not the case. In fact, dressing up, knocking on neighbors...
Deriv; Inside Temple Edfu and stars

Sky Religion in Ancient Egypt: Temples and Magick - Part I

“In the beginning Egypt was not” The Sky Religion in Egypt: Its Antiquity and Effects by G A Wainwright; published in 1938, is one of the classic enabling texts of Egyptology, and I am going to use...
Ancient horse burial in Gonur Depe.

Ancient Horse Burials of the Bronze Age: Folklore and Superstition

Horses have long been an important aspect in both western and eastern cultures. They are considered common in Indo-European traditions, with Chinese and Turkish traditions providing the most well-...
Two images of Aghori.

Not for the Faint of Heart: The Aghori and Their Unorthodox Path to Enlightenment

The Aghori are followers of a Hindu sect believed to be 1000 years old. These ascetics are often regarded as sadhus (Sanskrit for ‘good/holy man’), and have devoted their entire lives to the...
The print depicts a samurai fighting snakes, which are conjured by a ghost as the ghosts of Heian court ladies watch. Japan, 1850.

Malevolent Phantoms, Corpse Brides, and Ancestor Spirits: The Ancient Belief in Ghosts – PART II

Many ancient civilizations had beliefs surrounding the hauntings of ghosts and malevolent spirits, and so they relied on careful rituals and exorcisms to keep the supernatural at bay. Read Part I...

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