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Archive - General > Mysteries based in Mythology, Religion, & the Occult

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message 1: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 05:29PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Hi everyone! (waves!) I've been so intrigued in the last decade or so by all those really fascinating 'Mysteries of the Ancients'... especially when you add in Pagan/Catholic/Kabbalistic Religious History, Mythological Legends & Fantasy, Esoterica, and Arcane overtones. Something about the blending of mythology and history and spirituality is fascinating to me and so many others (just look at wildly crazy 'DaVinci Code' phenomenon). So here's a place to discuss all manner of 'Ancient (and not quite so ancient) Mysteries' and tidbits of historical relevance that intrigue you. I'm crossing my fingers that not only will we be able to learn from each other, and discover entirely new and intriguing fields of interest... but also give and get some well-written, fascinating recommendations in the Mystery/Thriller/Fantasy/Horror categories of our favorite books & entertainment that explore these ideas. Anyone else out there game?

I'll come back in a bit with a list of jumping off points... just historical tidbits and traditions that fall into those categories above to give you an idea of topics I'm particularly interested in, and I hope that all of you will add your own!

Here's hoping for some lively discourse and some seriously excellent reads!
OddModicum Rachel

** Shelf of Great Reading Recommendations in this thread can be found here...**

message 2: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 03, 2014 04:26PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Here's a smattering of titles and topics that we've been chatting about lately as jumping off points...

*Dan Brown's "Robert Langdon" series, including Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, etc.

*Michael Baigent's Holy Blood, Holy Grail, often maligned and discounted non-fiction source of many of Dan Brown's fictitious leanings. Certainly intriguing subject material.

*The fabulous new historical show 'Sleepy Hollow', and likely source material for the 'Headless Horseman' tale leading back to Celtic and Scottish mythology

*Historical Witchcraft, 'Witch-Finding', Salem witch trials, and persecution of wise women, midwives and pagans over a number of centuries. I'm particularly fond of Robert McCammon's Speaks the Nightbird, first book in the "Matthew Corbett" series which deals with this topic, as well as an old favorite Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, 1st book in "Lives of the Mayfair Witches" series which is a gothic example of a multi-generational clan of witches stretching back to the days of European 'witch hunts'... lovely historical back story for each of the witches in their own time. Intriguing mythology and Faux-Fantasy historical mythology in this book and the others in the series.

*Umberto Eco's lyrical 14th century historical murder mystery The Name of the Rose, and film of the same name starring Sean Connery and Christian Slater. Vivid peek into a Franciscan monastery suspected of heresy, and incorporating philosophical ideas and methods of detection dating back to the classical thinkers.

*Archaeology, Forensic Anthropology and ancient/historical/mythological relics. Some prime examples of this in film are the 'Indiana Jones' movies, the fun Noah Wylie 'The Librarian' movies, even 'Lara Croft' films. Kathy Reichs's Cross Bones #8 in the "Temperance Brennan" series of mysteries was one I found intriguing. M.J. Rose's Historical series The Reincarnationist deals with many of these ideas, and the first book of the same name is a favorite of mine.

*Depictions of historical and modern possession, exorcism, and hauntings and Catholic historical/mythological/religious text depictions of Angels/Demons and the real-life struggle between good and evil in our world. Source material abounds on this one, but some notable mentions are the films "The Conjuring", "The Exorcism of Emily Rose", "The Exorcist" and original book The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty.

message 3: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 10:18AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments I'm not an expert, at all, but have long been fascinated by the topic and done a bit of research. You might really love the new tv series "Salem", as its rather entertaining look at subject material.

*SALEM WITCH TRIALS & PURITANICAL PERSECUTION - What you're mentioning... the concept of puritans frying innocent women because they were a little too lively and lovely for the day... Yes. That happened absolutely, as far as I understand it. I believe they were hanged, actually, in Salem (the live burnings and tortures were more in the European witch hunt days, which I go into below), and that hmm... about 15 to 20 people total were killed? Not quite sure on number of 'witches' put to death in Salem. There's shed-loads of theory as to exactly what happened in Salem, and some really interesting historical 'witch trial' transcripts. I've basically heard it a few ways...

1) The whole town went loony because of ergot poisoning (rye bread parasite, I think?), which incited paranoia, hysteria, visual and auditory hallucinations, and ended with a bunch of dead women.

2) The theory that were absolutely practicing pagans/witches (though not necessarily in the 'magical' sense; could have been strictly Wiccan religion) in Salem. They may or may not have been among the people killed as witches. I find this likely because women were so subjugated in the day... I find it hard to believe there weren't a few who were intrigued by the matriarchal leanings of Wiccan Tradition and Paganism as a whole, which is much more open and female-centric. And of course any 'wise woman' or healer using herbal remedy would have been suspect. There are loads of women (lots of mediums, tarot readers etc) claiming to be descendent from the 'Salem Witches' to this day. If you're not faint of heart, the fabulously good (but rather creepy, gothic, scary) show American Horror Story did a season called "American Horror Story: Coven" which has a deliciously imaginative historical take on witches.... Truly an astonishing cast... a great one to watch, for sure. Of course there's the titles mentioned above... absolutely must read The Witching Hour if historical witches are intriguing to you. ;) And Whitley Strieber wrote a book in the late 80's called Catmagic which has long been a favorite of many in the way that it handles witches/ancient history of wise women/wicca in general. Fun, pulpy and a bit scary. Do not let the 80s cover art cheese or the really undetailed blurb on GR turn you off.. read the reviews. ;) I'm also a huge fan of the Magical Realist Alice Hoffman, and her lovely book Practical Magic, though quite different from the also lovely movie of the same name, is a rather beautifully lyrical depiction of modern day (with a lot of historical back story... delicious) "Hedge-Witchery". A Hedgewitch, or kitchen witch, is typically one you see depicted using plant magic over a cauldron... There's a great fantasy depiction of a male hedge witch in the newish film The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. I'm also fond of Nancy A. Collins Golgotham series (Paranormal Mystery/Urban)... 1st book Right Hand Magic. Gorgeously fun magical world, but the Hedge Witch Hexe is a nice fantasy example of 'healing' witchcraft in the modern world.

3) The rather banal but utterly believable theory (to me, at least) that the male dominated society in Salem were simply trying to terrify and terrorize and control young women, and force them to fit into very strict puritanical societal mores. Religious fervor is a funny thing, and tends to be contagious. While 'a person' may be reasonable, 'people' often cannot be. Very possible the whole thing started as one person accusing another of something nefarious to get away with their own 'sin', and it snowballed. lol The Crucible by Arthur Miller (you may have read it in high school) is a great example of this idea. There's been some rather lovely films made of the book as well.

*EUROPEAN WITCH HUNTS & THE TRADITION OF THE "WITCH-FINDER" / INQUISITION - Now I do know for sure that the European witch hunts (loosely dated between the mid 1200 through the 1700s) and 'witch-finding' days which I believe sorta overlapped with and were brought about as a part of the Inquisition absolutely murdered an estimated 10,000+ accused witches/'wise women' women over a few centuries. {Oh, I lied, sorry! Its much much worse than I'd remembered. I just double checked some of my sourcing, and its now estimated that 40,000 - 100,000 women were executed... some men, too.} Bloody horrifying. Really an appalling and little known aspect of religious history, and one I'd love to explore more deeply myself. I've read quite a bit of theory (no specific books, sorry, just essays and such online) that this was primarily a function of the patriarchal society of the time, and sort of a combined effort by the Vatican and men in power to both subjugate pagans (not a new idea, certainly... been happening for centuries), and take medicine and midwifery out of the historical 'hands' of women, where it had been for so long because of their oral/passed down thru the ages traditions of herbalism and natural healing, and move it straight into the hands of 'Learned Men', and the Catholic Church. This is not meant in any way to bash the modern day Catholic church, btw, but it cannot be denied that historically, the Catholic Church was markedly bloodthirsty and power mad... just look at the Crusades. Now this theory strikes me as believable, certainly. From a feminist perspective, its rather fascinating to note that shortly after the traditions of 'wise women' and natural healers in Europe were all but wiped out... suddenly medical schools and institutions where only men were allowed to study began to appear. I believe Scotland was rather known for its early medical/anatomy institutions of higher learning, but there were a number of them. And we all know medicine is indeed a big business, and quite profitable. ;)

Suspected witches were sorta darned if they are/darned if they aren't.... there really was no way for an accused woman to 'win'. There's a bunch written about 'tests' used by Inquisitors and Clergymen to evaluate if a woman was guilty of witchcraft. In one such test of witchery, a woman suspected was bound and thrown into a body of water, often with stones attached. If she was a witch... she floated! lol Then the theoretical idea with this test is they would haul her out of the lake and fry her (either literally burn her on a pyre or figuratively prosecute her mercilessly, in this case), or perhaps haul her away to be tortured by an Inquisitor until she confessed her pact with the Devil, repented of her sin of witchery, and then was (mercifully!) finally put to death. If she was innocent (as many human women with hands and feet tied and bound to heavy stones were bound to appear)... oh, too bad... she promptly sank, drowned and died. But she died innocent, so her soul has been safeguarded for God that she might be welcomed into Heaven, and so the job of the Inquisition and Witch-Finder had been done well, and to the satisfaction of all involved. Or, all but the witch, I imagine. rofl Too horrible. I do not mean to make light of a truly wretched chapter in religious history.... the torture of women is in no way funny. I'm literally just sort of flabbergasted that these traditions endured for so long. But then, most things at the time were under dominion of the Church.. and one who objected would likely find themselves accused of witchery or heresy. Truly tragic. So much has been written, and so many mourn the tragedy of the Holocaust in WWII... but the vast majority of people I've spoken to don't even know that there was a horrifying Holocaust of women, as well. More than FORTY THOUSAND + tragic deaths because of accusations of 'witchcraft' and 'heresy' ... and that may very well be a ridiculously low estimation. I've seen a number of figures as high as 100 thousand...There's just no way to know.

A recent popular example in Historical fiction is Diana Gabaldon's 1st book in her Outlander series. There's a rather good depiction of an accused witch being put to death in Scotland; based on my understanding, pretty historically accurate. Outlander has been made into a tv series that's premiering on Aug 9th... it looks fantastic. The Witching Hour goes into history of this era, as well.

My buddy Mark will likely have a lot more info on that, as an Alternative-Historical Thriller about the Grand Inquisition called 'The Guardians' is a book he's working on now. His author page has a blog entry about his religious fantasy/thriller concept for his series which is so incredibly intriguing to me... as its an amazing fantasy world that blends so many of my points of interest. He's very well read/researched on the subjects; much much better than I am, certainly, so I'm really excited about these books! I'm hoping he'll pop in with ideas, book and film suggestions, and historical tidbits from his research from time to time. Mark Douglas Holborn

Here's a rather fascinating timeline of the history of the persecution of witches (along with some amazing historical info re: specific historical religious pamphlets, books, and publications denouncing witchcraft), and you can see how the whole wretched mess developed, cutting a rather bloody swath across Europe and then arriving in the new world... Salem.

Hope that gives you a bit of historical back story, and some prime imagination fodder! If theres something specific you're looking for about witches/witch trials, yell out! Hoping others have some great historical mystery titles and novels about this topic, too, and am certainly interested in any insight or research anyone has to offer. Oh, and if I've gotten anything historically wrong (likely!) please let us know... I'm by no means well versed in the subject matter.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Re: Indiana Jones... Your mention got me thinking that it was time for me to rewatch both the older films and the fabulous newer one... and then I realized I don't know if there are any Indiana Jones books! There's Star Wars books, Star Trek books... even films that aren't based on books, when they become beloved faves like Dr. Jones, tend to get made into series of books. Does Indiana Jones have books, I wonder? And if he does not (which would be sad. lol) can anyone recommend any series that are sort of Indie reminiscent?

message 5: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 11:18AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments A few other ideas I'm interested in and have been chatting about with friends lately... not sure if any of you are interested, or if you know of any fic/non-fic books that are great on the subject.... And just to be clear, I'm not saying I believe or give historical credence to all of this schtuff... but it is INTERESTING, and I'm intrigued to read about these ideas in fiction, and explore if there is, indeed, any actual basis in historical fact. ;)

*HISTORIC KNIGHTHOODS & CRUSADES - Historical such as the Templars, their purpose & downfall, and historical/fictitious secret societies protecting some manner of 'ancient secrets' or hidden knowledge.

*GNOSTIC GOSPELS & GNOSTICISM - (means hidden or origin, I believe?) Gospels in Catholocism, and the idea that Jesus was a Gnostic mystic. Particularly the idea of 'lost (or suppressed) deeper understandings' of the teachings of Christ and disciples. Patricia Arquette film 'Stigmata' is an example of what I have in mind, here.

*AKASHIC FIELD/AETHER - tied into above idea.... the concept of Akashic Field and/or aether, or somehow piercing veil of human understanding to achieve greater enlightenment

*JEWISH KABBALAH & MYSTICISM - Ancient traditions in Judaism, including Kabbalistic magic and mysticism. Also the mythos of 'Golem' and in fiction, depictions of same... esp in WWII. Also Jewish traditions of exorcism and 'haunted/cursed objects' like the Dybbuk Box. Dybbuk Box, if you're not familiar with it, is a well publicized and somewhat well documented story of modern day 'cursed' object. Evil trapped in mythical box.. modern guy releases it inadvertently, and his life proceeds to fall apart. VERY interesting. A rather creepy movie was made about 'fictional' dybbuk box and possession, with very interesting content re: Jewish Rabbinical mystics in modern age.... 2012 film The Possession.

*NAZIS SEEKING RELICS & PARANORMAL ARCANA - WWII Nazi explorations of paranormal phenomenon and ancient religious relics of power. A notable fun exploration of this in film is series of graphic novels and a seriously entertaining film, Hellboy. A much creepier film offering is the 2009 Blood Creek (aka Town Creek).... definitely entertaining for any fan of vampire fare, WWII or modern Nazis, or creepy paranormal mysteries of the ancients. Another film I found seriously entertaining (action-er with great martial arts) re: modern day Nazis and ancient mystical relic is Bulletproof Monk, w Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott, 2003. I'd love some fiction and non-fic book suggestions in this vein. I know the Nazis historically were engaged in studies of ancient supernatural forces/phenomenon, but not quite where to jump off in study of subject matter.

*BIBLICAL PLACES/THINGS AS FACT: ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES - Ancient religious sites and enclaves that are straight out of Biblical teachings and current archaeological discoveries that lend credence to historical fact

*REINCARNATION & PAST-LIFE REGRESSIONS - both from an eastern religious and a spiritual perspective, also near-death experiences and Astral Projection/Remote Viewing

*VOODOO/HOODOO & REAL LIFE 'ZOMBIES' - French Caribbean Islander and American south (think New Orleans/Charleston; 'gothic' south) traditions of Hoodoo/Voodoo (Voudou) and being 'ridden' by spirits or 'gods' aka Loa. Tied in with the real/fictitious world of 'real' zombies... Haiti springs to mind, primarily because of Wade Davis's 1980's non-fic anthro book and Wes Craven film The Serpent and the Rainbow. I'm fascinated by the idea of bokor who literally sever and trap spirit from living or dead people, and enslave them as 'zombies'. There's ridiculous amounts of actual historical basis here, specifically re: puffer fish toxin used to induce 'deathlike' state, but it seems woefully under-explored.

message 6: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:27AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments I'm not solid at all on the details, but I'm about 80% certain they did. Some of the... um.. call it mythology or what have you... behind the origin of 'actual' witches arriving in Salem is that they... like the Puritans... were fleeing religious persecution, and then kinda blended in amongst the puritans 'hiding in plain sight' as Christians and practicing Witchcraft/Paganism in secret. I'm guessing that link above for the time line would have details, though.

* GHOSTS, HAUNTINGS & PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION, 'SPIRITUALISM' SEANCE TREND IN LATE 18TH & EARLY 19TH CENTURY - I have a huge fascination with Spiritualism (mediums/seances/spirit & protoplasm photography, EDWARD CAYCE etc), is another huge interest of mine. The rather believable (I fell for it, at least!) historical fiction (based solidly in fact!) period book The Bell Witch: An American Haunting by Brent Monahan is aaaammmazing. Or I thought so, at least. It's a huge chunk of fact, absolutely historically proven, about the most famous 'haunting' in American history. Takes place shortly after Revolutionary war, if memory serves. This 'ghostie' was witnessed by senators/doctors/serious bigwigs and is astoundingly well documented. Really interesting. But... here's the caveat... it is indeed fiction in that the author makes some rather libelous conjecture about nature of the haunting's origin, and the Bell family in particular. Anyone who's seen the fab movie An American Haunting will likely know what I mean. I actually got into a bit of a kerfuffle over at IMDB over this, because I had no idea it wasn't sold as 'non-fiction' when i bought and fell in love with book. We got into lively discourse about the history of the haunting and all was dandy until a modern day Bell descendent showed up and was not. pleased. lol But she did understand, and told us about some actual history-history written by an ancestor of hers re: the same haunting. It was all rather fascinating. Anyway, that's a fab read/watch combo if you've not explored it. Any great 'ghosty' stuff you can recommend?

message 7: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:29AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments As to the topic of VOODOO/HOODOO & REAL LIFE 'ZOMBIES' - ... I'm of much the same mind, except that I definitely believe that there's some legitimacy to the idea that if you believe something fervently, and focus on it enough, you can literally make it come about. Kind of obscure, but there's some proof to this in science involving 'observed' reactions differing from that which happens when not observed. Boy, that was confusing, but I'm sooo not a scientist. lol I've seen it myself with my own health issues, and basically the concept of 'the secret' and positive self talk. So... I'm pretty confident that if a nasty voodoo practitioner and an unfortunate cursed person both believe it enough... badness could ensue. rofl There's a rather entertainingly 'Gothic South' movie with fun voodoo in it... Kate Hudson in 2005 The Skeleton Key. I dug it, anyway. Also a creep-tacular film from 1987 w Martin Sheen called The Believers. That one approaches it more from Carribean Islander tradition, and seriously gives me the boo-wigglies just thinking about it. ;) I've recently found this entertaining paranormal/urban/mystery series by M.L.N. Hanover aka Daniel Abraham called Black Sun's Daughter. The 1st - 3nd books were great, I thought, and have lots to do re: being 'spirit ridden' by loa and voodoo and other stuff going bump in the night, but from a completely believable real world take on multi-cultural mythology. I reviewed two of em...
#1 Unclean Spirits
#3 Vicious Grace

message 8: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 03, 2014 09:13PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments So bizarre you would mention that, because I was just harassing my guy Jay about how annoyed I was since I can't remember the name of the film (and I think it might have been a book as well?) about the very true oddball history of US army doing experiments involving staring at goats hard enough that they die. SO random. I think it might have been called something along the lines of 'Staring at Goats', but am not sure. Rip roaringly funny. Um... I think maybe George Clooney was in it? Aha!! Yes he was, indeed... The Men Who Stare at Goats (thanks, IMDB!)

I"m hoping someone stumbles in here with some manner of scientific learnin', cause I'm sooo not doing this justice, but the experiments I'm referring to had to do with observable cellular changes, I believe. And yes.. absolutely brings to mind Kant, for sure. I can't think of any other philosophical influences that play into that idea, so if you come up with more, I'd love to hear about em. BTW, since you've some manner of interest in Philosophy... Have you ever read the truly divine Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder? I really enjoyed that one wholeheartedly. Sort of an Alice meets Plato, if you will.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments ... and about potentially developing telekinetic powers... that is such an intriguing idea, certainly. We only use something like 10% of our brains, I believe, and its often been bandied about that people who have abilities you mentioned simply have managed to unlock other parts of theirs. Love this idea. I'm a fan of Dean Koontz, and his book Strangers approaches this idea is a really intriguing way. Certainly interesting to think about. I'm not at all studied in the matter, but I've always thought the idea of Tibetan monks high up in their mountain top temples developing powers of levitation and all manner of other cool stuff was sooo amazing. Its been documented, certainly, but I don't know to what degree.

message 10: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:44AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Koontz stuff kinda falls into 2 categories, I'd say. You've got your 'straight horror' monster stuff, and then what I love, which is more in his 'poignant hope/amazing occurrences/childlike wonder/freaky otherworldly stuff with deeper significance' category, like Strangers. A few others along those lines (just in case you find him as addictive as I did) are the Odd Thomas series, and older title Watchers, Fear Nothing and the other 'Moonlight Bay' books, The Darkest Evening of the Year,and one of my alltime faves, The Taking. Kind of a weird trend I've noticed is that in the books filled with that amazing sense of hope in the face of horrors... tons of them have really remarkable dogs in them. lol You'll see what I mean if you encounter it. But wow... fabulous dogs.

message 11: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 06:55AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh no, by all means... yours is a MUCH much better job than I could pull off, and I actually thought for a few minutes about how best to phrase it. lol Sometimes the right phrasing just won't come to me, regardless of how much I slog away at the dang thing. ;)

I almost wish there were a way for people to 'edit' other people's messages, esp if I ever manage to drag any peoples in here... might be cool to be able to add to and correct other content.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh 100% I agree... it would be a disaster of huge proportions if all messages were editable. lol We'd have mad crazed anarchy in the GR streets. ;) But in this particular case, it might be fun if there were an optional (chosen by orig poster) 'editable' button that would allow wiki-like updating and contributions by readers. Just a 'wouldn't it be kinda cool' observation, btw... I know its not possible in real life.

message 13: by Joseph (last edited Aug 04, 2014 07:27AM) (new)

Joseph  (bluemanticore) | 27 comments Just wanted to share some of my favorites in the categories Rachel created.

Dan Brown style:
The Eight and The Fire by Katherine Neville

Corrag by Susan Fletcher
The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge
The Witch of Blackbird Pond a YA by Elizabeth George Speare.
Witch Child and Sorceress YA by Celia Rees
The White Witch a YA by Janet Graber
Beyond the Burning Times a YA by Kathryn Laskey
The Gallows Hill a YA by Lois Duncan
Deborah Harkness's All Souls trilogy, it starts with A Discovery of Witches
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

message 14: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 07:48AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh, excellent, Joseph! Thanks so much! Never heard of most of those 'witchy' offerings (wow... last one in particular looks soooper snazzy!), and The Golem and the Jinni was on my (insanely long) to be read list, but might well have never gotten round to it. lol Love your list! And very cool the way you used the headlines... wasn't sure how to make topics 'obvious' if someone was just hunting for one specific thing, so tried the all caps thing. But didn't want people to think I was yelling at em. lol

... and just noticed there's a Baba Yaga book in the 'readers also enjoyed' section of Golem and the Djinni.... that's such an interesting legend! I'd never heard of it until I saw an episode of The Lost Girl tv show (sort of modern Fae tribes in the real world... I enjoy it) about it. Reading the blurb, not sure how much 'historic mythology' of the Baba Yaga legend is in the book Babayaga by Toby Barlow, but it looks like a killer witchy read, all the same!

message 15: by Yelena (new)

Yelena Thank you Rachel, this is a really interesting discussion. I've saved it, so I can read all the discussion points more carefully, but as a first thought, you might add " The Golem and the Jinni" to your list.
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
by Helene Wecker. A beautifully written work of fiction about a female golem, a mytholigical creature made of clay by Kabbalistic magic and her relationship with a Jinni from Arabian mythology.

message 16: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 07:46AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Wow... ok, two recommendations, back to back, of the exact same book? That's some bizarre synchronicity (serendipity?) in action there, Yelena and Joseph! lol Next 'read' I can choose of my own (ie: not an ARC review, editing assignment, or a book club requirement), and it'll definitely be The Golem and the Djinni!

... and thank yo so much for your kind words, Yelena! Hoping it gets hopping in here as more people trickle in, and then won't be me talking to myself. ;)

message 17: by Joseph (new)

Joseph  (bluemanticore) | 27 comments OddModicum Rachel wrote: "and just noticed there's a Baba Yaga book in the 'readers also enjoyed' section of Golem and the Djinni.... that's such an interesting legend! I'd never heard of it until I saw an episode of the Lost Girl tv show (sort of modern Fae tribes in the real world... I enjoy it) about it. Reading the blurb, not sure how much 'historic mythology' of the Baba Yaga legend is in the book Babayaga by Toby Barlow, but it looks like a killer witchy read, all the same! ..."

Rachel, you might also like taking a look at Baba Yaga's Daughter & Other Tales of the Old Races by C.E. Murphy.

message 18: by Yelena (new)

Yelena OddModicum Rachel wrote: "Wow... ok, two recommendations, back to back, of the exact same book? That's some bizarre synchronicity (serendipity?) in action there, Yelena and Joseph! lol Next 'read' I can choose of my own (ie..."

So do I, it's a really interesting discussion, and I've already copied Joseph's book list.

I'll throw one more title into the mix, "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell" by Susanna Clarke.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

It's a fiction account of the history of magic in England, complete with footnotes and a totally engaging story of the battle between two magicians. It's long, over a thousand pages from memory. I spent an entire summer reading this book and it was a delight.

message 19: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 08:48AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments another interesting topic, and one that's been very popular lately....

* COUNTESS BATHORY - BLOODY LEGEND AND HISTORICAL FACT - Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (name taken from wiki, though you'll often see her first name with Hungarian spelling), Hungarian noblewoman and fodder for gory history and paranormal legends, has been accused of everything from the bloodthirsty murder of hundreds of young girls (during late 1500s thru early 1600s) to Vampirism and bathing in blood of her victims. Common myth says this was an attempt to keep herself youthful and beautiful.

I've done a bit of poking around, and historically, she absolutely existed, and was accused/tried/convicted of a bunch of bloody murders. I believe there were some charges of witchcraft or satanic communion involved in her charges, but I might be wrong about that. Actually, convicted is the wrong word. I believe they let her off of 'official' charges so as to save her wealthy family embarrassment, but she was 'sentenced' to be... get this... bricked up into a tiny room of her castle, with only a small hole for food/drink to be passed to her. Creeepy. And very true. It seems that she may have possibly been all but innocent, set up as a murderess and sacrificed because of 'Dower Rights' {ie: Women could and often did inherit money and land from their husbands or fathers, but couldn't really control money at that time in much of Europe... so a false accusation of witchcraft or heresy was a way for potential male heirs to get the 'witch' out of the way, and legally get their paws on the inheritance}. It also seems that Bathory was owed a HUGE debt by the Hungarian nobility/crown who borrowed money and troops from her to fight a war... and when she was convicted, the debt went away. Pretty good motivation to set her up. But there's so much interesting about her 'crimes' and all of the mythology surrounding her drinking/bathing in blood to stay young... its very cool history; whatever the reality.

I'd love to hear some great recommendations for books (fic and non-fic), movies, and documentaries about the 'Blood Countess' if anyone has any to offer! I find her one of the coolest historical figures, myself.

message 20: by Joseph (last edited Aug 04, 2014 08:24AM) (new)

Joseph  (bluemanticore) | 27 comments A couple more just came to mind regarding the Inquisition:
The Witch of Cologne by Tobsha Learner
Blood Secret by Kathryn Lasky

Also, Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl by David Barnett is a fantastic Indiana Jones-like, alternate history, sci-fi/fantasy adventure that features Countess Bathory.
If my memory is correct, I believe she also played a role in Anno Dracula by Kim Newman which is a rich and panoramic tale, combining horror, politics, mystery and romance to create a unique and compelling alternate history where it is 1888 and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes, the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula. Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction, the novel follows vampire Geneviève Dieudonné and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders.

message 21: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) The very well-respected book Hawksmoor. Mixture of crime/supernatural; also based on real history/religion/architecture.

message 22: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 08:35AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments ***NOTE*** I created a "Mythology, Fairy Tales, Historical Occult" shelf in my GR reads, and am going to try really really hard to add all of the recs from everyone to that shelf... so if ever someone wants a wild arcane book, they can pop in and see if something appeals to em. I'll try to update it later today. Not sure if there's any way to 'pin' shelf to the discussion or not... thoughts?


Susan... your Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell rec by Susanna Clarke looks perfect to me! (and never let it be said that I'm scared of a giant book...)

Joseph... your Baba Yaga's Daughter & Other Tales rec looks fabulous! Thanks so much!

message 23: by Feliks (last edited Aug 04, 2014 08:42AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) p.s. I still don't know how Dan Brown got so famous. Rumor has it he used the leverage of his father-in-law, supposedly a bigwig in publishing. I'd believe it!

I mean, because there were surely Vatican-based thrillers before Dan Brown. 'The Shoes of the Fisherman; for example (Morris L. West had a string of religious novels). As did, Andrew Greeley and Alberto Giovannetti.

message 24: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:05AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Joseph, that Anno Dracula looks, in a word, amazing! Awesome rec! Not sure if you've got any background or learnin' about Vlad Tepes of history/Dracula of legend, but if so, I'd love a bit on your take on topic if you're ever up to it. If not.. no worries... I'll set up a 'generic' one, myself, but I don't have much background on him other than the obv wallachian prince/castle stuff and his bloody war with turks. I know there's some interesting stuff with family or brothers? I've never really looked into him, historically.

Feliks... I'm with you, for sure re: Dan Browns insane popularity. Gotta love nepotism. ;) I found the books interesting and compelling, but I never quite grokked the crazy fervor made of them. Vatican-based thrillers is a great way to refer to the genre! The Shoes of the Fisherman looks fab! Hawksmoor, too.

leads to another topic...

* HISTORY AND MYSTERIES OF THE VATICAN; REAL AND IMAGINED - "Secret" libraries, catacombs, historical mysteries, and fascinating history of Popes and Cardinal college... all good stuff that I know almost nothing about. If anyone has a particular interest or info to share would be great. I love thinking about the 'one of a kind in existence' stuff that they've likely got tucked away in depths of the Vatican, myself. Any suggested material on this stuff would be fab!

message 25: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) When you're standing in line outside the Vatican museum its always fun to buy some 'pope on a rope' from the local street vendors

message 26: by Alan (new)

Alan (al_chaput) | 22 comments Re Voodoo:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Lot's of voodoo intrigue is this book.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Feliks wrote: "When you're standing in line outside the Vatican museum its always fun to buy some 'pope on a rope' from the local street vendors"

rofl.. what in the blue blazes?? Tell me that's not actually soap in shape of Pope head?! If so, I must scour the world to obtain one. I've got a rather freaky collection of decorative 'soaps' made out of molds from broken antique vintage doll heads. They are twisted and bizarre, and so very 'me'.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Feliks wrote: "p.s. I still don't know how Dan Brown got so famous. Rumor has it he used the leverage of his father-in-law, supposedly a bigwig in publishing. I'd believe it!

I mean, because there were surely Va..."

* HISTORY AND MYSTERIES OF THE VATICAN; REAL AND IMAGINED & Religious thrillers (ie: Dan Brown type)...
Feliks recommended some Authors to explore with great relig thrillers... links
Morris L. West
Andrew Greeley
Alberto Giovannetti

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Jamie Lynn wrote: "I need to save this thread to favorites and go through these book suggestions."

(crossing fingers) is there a way to save it to faves other than just 'commenting' and hoping you catch updates in feed? oh please! lol I'd love that!

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Alan wrote: "Re Voodoo:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Lot's of voodoo intrigue is this book."

Alan, you rock! I'd forgotten that one, entirely, and it is amazing. Talk about 'gothic' south. ;) Killer Kevin Spacey/John Cusack film of same name.

message 31: by Feliks (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:48AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) You're certainly gung-ho for the occult, eh young lady? I admire anyone who knows their tastes this precisely. You must be easy to buy gifts for at Xmas-time.

Re: witches, I can give you some accurate scholarship/references on that topic. Stand by for that.

As for the origins of 'Dracula', yes everyone always mentions Vlad the Impaler but 'Dracula' also sprang out of the craze for 'invasion fiction' at the time.
It was huge.

You may also be interested in the tradition of the Grand Guignol:

message 32: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 09:54AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh, i'd love it! I was all excited when i saw the list of very specific pamphlets/religious tracts/treatise listed in the timeline link I gave for witch persecution, but I've no idea if any of them are even findable or quite frankly, rational. lol But I'd love any sort of accurate sourcing you can offer. My friend Mark (author I mentioned re: grand inquisition alt his fiction) and I were discussing how nuts it is to try to research (especially casually.. i'm certainly no academic) something that varies so much from source to source. One place says 10K witches killed in europe.. another says 10 MILLION... its insane. lol So thank you, seriously!

message 33: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 10:34AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Feliks...

I've literally never heard of Grand Guignol or any particular predilection for 'invasion fiction' so I'm quite looking forward to those sources you gave! Thanks, huge!

BTW, trying to add your Greely and Giovannetti books to aforementioned shelf of strange I'm trying to put together... neither has much going on with GR books/profiles. I stuck Greely's The Catholic Imagination (looks astonishingly good... a friend of mine looking for good overview of Catholic dogma will be so appreciative to you!) and the rather sweet, irreverent looking The Last Catholic in America on shelf... but if you recommend any others particularly, would you sing out, please?

Don't know what do stick in re: Giovannetti... looks like his GR work is woefully incomplete, maybe? Suggest anything in particular, offhand?

If not, no worries... we've certainly got great recs here already... I just didn't want to overlook something you'd call 'not to be missed'.

message 34: by Dharmakirti (last edited Aug 04, 2014 11:01AM) (new)

Dharmakirti | 63 comments Along with Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, I would also suggest checking out his novel Foucault's Pendulum. In it, 3 guys who work for a vanity publisher decide to have a little fun by creating a computer program that takes as input various texts about secret societies and then outputs a new conspiracy theroy, but perhaps they have stumbled onto something...

message 35: by Feliks (last edited Aug 04, 2014 11:06AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Giovanetti writes about the mafia and the Vatican; his most renowned title is 'Requiem for a Spy' I guess.

Greeley wrote a slew of diverse modern/popular religious books: some mysteries; some potboilers; some thrillers...I wasn't much a fan so I can't give many recs; but what I was simply saying is that there were other authors besides Dan Brown who poked around with religious thrillers.

And that book from Morris West was a big 1960s movie starring Tony Quinn, after all.

But I guess if you have a 'relative in the biz' and you time it right, anyone can concoct popes-jumping-out-of-helicopters and laugh all the way to the bank.

message 36: by Feliks (last edited Aug 04, 2014 11:14AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) p.s. Voodoo: I did a term paper on Caribbean religion once; (stuff like The Comedians). But a more lightweight commercial slant might be something like this: The Serpent and the Rainbow. You can learn all about graveyard dust and bone dust and what to ask for when you visit your local occult shoppe!

For a general romp through South American religion some people might enjoy the very psychedelic The Guyana Quartet or even A Handful of Dust which has one of the most unnerving endings ever.

For Indiana Jones fans, there's always the mesmerizing true life accounts of these lost expeditions: Brazilian Adventure.

message 37: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) has anyone yet mentioned
The Golden Bough?

The grand-daddy repository of world mythological lore, cult and tribal practice? It's not hardcore academia but then neither is the much weaker stuff by Joseph Campbell. But its a hella fun book to browse through.

message 38: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:34PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments lol... gotta love the spirit dust. I'm fond of a good occult shop... been to em in the past, but there's none that I'm aware of by me, and at this point, my interest is pretty much academic and entertainment value. Would be excellent to pick the brain-pan of adept practitioners, though, certainly. I went through a stint in my early 20s when I tried to practice Wicca (I've explored most major religions at some point or another), so I've read all of the Llewelyn's Practical Magic non-fic stuff (extremely 'light' non-threatening fare for anyone exploring; I'd call it the YA of non-fic Wicca instruction) Scott Cunningham's, primarily. Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic was my fave at the time, though it looks like there's some interesting ones published recently . I've often wondered why other sorta esoteric religious fields of study don't have something along the same lines. ;) I never was very adept at the whole witchy practice, but I do find paganism rather beautiful, and its one of the reasons I know a bit of history and am intrigued by historical witches.

And you are officially my hero... The Comedians and The Golden Bough sound sooo darned up my alley. ;) Looking forward to your voodoo offerings, definitely!

;) I used to work for a horror producer who was good buddies with Wes Craven, so I'm rather fond of Serpent, specifically. Read original script, but never the book (sheepish!) which i intend to correct tout de suite.

ohhh... that brings to mind another topic, re paganism...


message 39: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:15PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments I've heard the name Joseph Campbell so he was probably referred to me at some point or another, but I never explored it. The 4 books in his Masks of God series look outrageously good... seems like a lovely overview for someone just beginning to explore spirituality/religion/mythology, and I'll definitely peek at those. By Joseph Campbell
Primitive Mythology
Oriental Mythology
Occidental Mythology
Creative Mythology

Of course, I'll hit The Golden Bough first, as you're so much more fond of it. ;)

message 40: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:22PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Leigh wrote: "Fascinating! I love the sound of The Comedians."

I'm excited about it, too, though a little freakified since the Tontons Macoute skeeze me out more than just about any other political sort of 'black bag' secret police I've ever read about. Scary.

message 41: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:27PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh geez... hoping someone else knows, because my poor brain is addled with fibro fogginess and I can't recall....

What's the very well known voodoo movie from the late 80s, maybe? Kind of neo-Noir, and I believe its set in New Orleans, with a detective who goes down to find a guy for a very scary devilish client? I want to say it was a period piece... maybe the 1930s-1960s in timeframe? I know the cast was amazing, but cannot think of any of their names or faces, or name of the film! lol I remember it was very popular, though.

message 42: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) ^^can't assist. I'm strictly a classics movie buff.

Yeah that Grahame Greene novel is spooky. Lots of stuff in the Caribbean/South America is, actually.

message 43: by Feliks (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:31PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Rachel wrote: "I went through a stint in my early 20s when I tried to practice Wicca (I've explored most major religions at some point or another)..."

My goodness. Did you read stuff like from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and all that?

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments I'd love to read more set in that area, esp re spirituality, for sure. The 'Black Sun's Daughter' series I've read recently has loads of 'spirit ridden' baddies... I forgot how much I enjoyed the concept of that.

message 45: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 12:55PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Feliks wrote: "Rachel wrote: "I went through a stint in my early 20s when I tried to practice Wicca (I've explored most major religions at some point or another)..."

My goodness. Did you read stuff like from the..."

Oh no... nothing like Crowley or Satanic creepiness at all. lol The actual religion of Wicca, and most practicing witches are horrified by stuff like that. More traditional Wicca with celebrations of Mother Goddess, matriarchal traditions of feminine archetypes, and foundation of respect for natural world and humanity at large. '... above all, do no harm' sort of stuff.

I'm kinda interested in Crowley and his creepiness now, though, purely for entertainment and edification. Edgar Cayce is another guy I'm intrigued by. I don't know much about Crowley other than the obvious creepy connotations. Those historical hedonistic type secret societies are interesting, though personally I find them rather reprehensible from a moral standpoint. Brings to mind the Johnny Depp movie 'The Ninth Gate' which I absolutely adored.

That title you mentioned... do you have a link maybe? When hunting, about 15 things pop up, none of which are exactly right.

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Well, heck.. apparently Crowley wasn't so creepy after all! lol Looked up your Golden Dawn, and seems more classical paganism sort of thing than anything I've ever explored, but certainly not the 'wicked' type connotations I've always associated with him. Learn something new every day. ;)

message 47: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Where'd you look, Wiki? I think you should look a little further..

message 48: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 04, 2014 02:01PM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments .... lol so he was creepy after all?! I'll get into it soon. I want to say I saw a rather good documentary (though I cannot for the life of me remember what the main subject was.. it wasn't Crowley). Um... I think maybe it was one of those "Dark Matters: Twisted but True" docu-dramas narrated by John Noble. Somehow it was about the main subject of the documentary (maybe some guy who was an innovator in rocket science? Can't quite recall) belonging to Crowley's secret society of whatever they were's. It all struck me as so hedonistic and self indulgent, somehow. Sort of a 'Look at us! We're wealthy and powerful and clever, and really love dressing up in togas and playing at being gods and goddesses... but really its all about indulging in orgiastic excess, breaking all the rules because we can get away with it, and plotting ways to get more power and money'. I don't know if that's accurate, or bunk, but that definitely 'colors' my impressions with the Crowley thing. Will have to do some more hunting. ;)

message 49: by Dharmakirti (new)

Dharmakirti | 63 comments OddModicum Rachel wrote: "Oh geez... hoping someone else knows, because my poor brain is addled with fibro fogginess and I can't recall....

What's the very well known voodoo movie from the late 80s, maybe? Kind of neo-Noir..."

My first guess is Angel Heart.

message 50: by OddModicum Rachel (last edited Aug 05, 2014 05:29AM) (new)

OddModicum Rachel (oddmodicumrachel) | 117 comments Oh, you are SO good. That's it, exactly. Thanks so much! I heart IMDB, but when you can't recall the title or any of the actors, you're stuck! lol

Angel Heart is the rather fantastic voodoo-y neo Noir movie I was trying to think of. ;)That's a great one to watch for anyone whose intrigued by subject.

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