In many cultures around the world, individuals engage in bizarre rituals that can be painful, costly, and even dangerous. Why do they do it? In the above video, Dr. Dimitris Xygalatas, director of Masaryk University's LEVYNA Laboratory for the Experimental Research of Religion, explains some of the research they've conducted, and some of the surprising results that they've uncovered - such as the fact that those involved in such rituals (both participants and observers) were found to donate more money to charity. And the more intense, painful or dangerous the ritual involved, the more generous they were.
Warning: Some graphic images.
A summary of all the stories and news briefs posted on The Daily Grail over the past week - check 'em out if you missed any:
- News Briefs 03-02-2014 (Monday)
- Heaven is for Real: Will This New NDE-Related Movie Put Forward a Christian Interpretation?
- Brian Dunning on the Joe Rogan Experience: A Masterclass in Bad Skepticism
- News Briefs 04-02-2014 (Tuesday)
- Mysterious Pyramids that Predate the Great Pyramid Were Not Constructed For Burials
- Today's Dose of Wonder: The Transfixing Beauty of an Auroral Substorm
- News Briefs 05-02-2014 (Wednesday)
- Is the Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Written in an Extinct Mexican Language?
- News Briefs 06-02-2014 (Thursday)
- Sponsor Shout-Out: New Dawn
- News Briefs 07-02-2014 (Friday)
- Pilot Episode for X-Files Creator Chris Carter's 'The After': Free to Watch at Amazon!
Have a good weekend!
Fans of The X-Files may be excited to learn that creator Chris Carter - who has not really been involved in much else since the end of the series - has written and directed a new show, simply titled The After. Up until now, the blurb for the series has simply said that the story "follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation". You can now find out more yourself right now, however, by watching the pilot episode of the series, which is available to stream, for free, from Amazon.
Minor spoilers below
After having just watched it, my opinion is divided. After a short prelude, the story proper begins with eight characters emerging from a building to find that the world has descended into chaos - the power has been out (strangely, apparently for a whole day already...), there are no communications, people are rioting on the streets, and strange booming sounds are being heard in the distance (though powerful enough to crack glass). The choice of the eight characters feels a bit heavy-handed in trying to insert as much diversity/conflict as possible: we have a policewoman, a convicted murderer (claiming innocence) on the lam, a lawyer, a prostitute, a clown (no, really), a spectacularly rich old lady, a French actress, and an offensive, brawling Irishman.
(Come to think of it, on writing that list out, perhaps I've been a bit hasty: is there some sort of symbolism intended in terms of representations of justice, comedy, avarice, sensuality, violence etc? Especially in terms of what emerges as the main theme of the show, mentioned below.)
Really this 'group emerging and fighting their way through a post-apocalyptic scenario' has become a bit of an overdone trope these days (and I'm the world's biggest fan of post-apocalyptic stories, so that's saying something!), with scenarios from zombie plagues to a worldwide loss of power. For that reason, I think, many may struggle to find excitement in the first three quarters of the pilot episode. Even the trailer from Amazon makes a feature of this aspect:
I have the feeling that both Amazon and Chris Carter wanted this scenario to be a bit of a 'blind' to the sting in the tail of the pilot though, because the storyline turns absolutely full-on X-Files in the final section - so much so that I felt like I was sitting through one of those classic episodes from the early 90s. Sadly, I think plenty of people might not sit through the pilot for long enough to experience the change in vibe - indeed, many hastily posted reviews that I've seen already suggest to me that the reviewer quickly viewed some of it, then turned it off and wrote their review without finishing the episode.
In short, and without giving too much away, what seemed to have been some sort of technological or terrorism-related apocalyptic scenario now seems it might be a whole lot more 'authentic apocalypse' - as in the Biblical kind - with a creepy, supernatural element exploding on to the screen. The ending certainly suggests that future episodes will be a whole lot more X-Files in vibe, and those who watch the entire pilot, I think, would be keen to see what happens in the next episode after that ending.
Chris Carter's back, baby! It's just a shame they kept him in the cage for most of the pilot episode, before releasing him in full attack mode at the end.
(Oh, and did anyone else thing that police officer Marly bears more than a passing resemblance to Dana Scully?)
If you watch the pilot episode of The After, and like it, make sure you take part in the short survey at Amazon (button on the right side of the screen), and tell them you want to see more.
Watch: The After
“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
- Glimpsing immortality?
- 20 years of vintage space travel pics.
- Mars’ new crater.
- Musing on the multiverse, or lack thereof.
- Kepler -- Back on the clock!
- Gaia sends back initial images.
- Here there be giants. ('Here' being Peru)
- Winning scientific images.
- We can rebuild him, better, stronger, faster…
- Tears of stone?
- Where have all the flowers gone?
- The LHC is too small…We need something bigger.
- Carving the next Silk Road?
- Nevada’s Nuclear Test Site .
- Planarian flatworm, heal thyself.
- This week’s evidence of the pending robot revolution… Emotional 'bots .
Quote of the Day:
“Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides.”
The Daily Grail would not be able to continue without support from advertisers on the site, and the oh-so-cool readers who send voluntary subscriptions or purchase some of the books from Daily Grail Publishing. So here's a quick shout-out to New Dawn Magazine, who have been a supporter of this site for some time and provide some cool reading material to boot, the latest being New Dawn Special Issue Vol. 8, No. 1, titled "In Search of Lost Cities and Places of Power". Check out the full listing of articles from the latest issue below.
If you're in Australia or New Zealand you can grab a copy of New Dawn Special Issue Vol. 8 No. 1 from your local newsagency from mid-February, or you can grab the digital edition regardless of your location for only US$4.95 direct from the New Dawn website:
New Dawn Special Issue Vol 8 No 1
In Search of Lost Cities & Places of Power
Lost civilisations and the mystery of Atlantis. Sunken lands and strange monuments to a forgotten past. Remnants of advanced cultures and arcane sciences. Signs of an earthly paradise dating back to before the dawn of recorded history. All this has fascinated humanity for hundreds of years and fired the minds of many of the great explorers and adventurers.
In New Dawn Special Issue Vol. 8 No. 1 you'll discover a range of in-depth articles by respected authors like Hugh Newman, Brien Foerster, Dr. Robert Schoch, Thomas Brophy and Erich Von Daniken. There's also enlightening interviews with Sean Savoy (son of noted adventurer Gene Savoy) as well as Larry Flaxman & Marie Jones (who recently released a fascinating book on Viral Mythology). 72 pages of original, informative reading, challenging the conventional view of humanity's ancient past.
- "Sundaland Rising - Gunung Padang: Indonesia’s Mysterious Lost Civilisation?", by Robert M. Schoch, Ph.D.
- "Megalithic Origins - Clues Carved in Stone by an Ancient Global Elite", by Hugh Newman
- "The Enduring Enigma of Tiwanaku & Puma Punku" - by Brien Foerster
- "Lost City of the Ancients Located in Ecuadorian Jungle?" - by Bruce Fenton
- "Gene Savoy & His Search for the Secrets of Vanished Civilisations", an interview with Sean Savoy"
- "In Search of the Lost City of ‘Z’ - The Amazing Real Life Story of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett", by Larry Orcutt
- "Decoding the Secrets of the Nebra Sky Disc - Man’s Oldest Portrayal of the Cosmos?", by Howard Crowhurst
- "Imhotep the African - Architect of the Cosmos", by Thomas Brophy
- "The Real Atlantis", by Peter Daughtrey
- "Viral Mythology - How Information was Encoded & Passed Down Through Legend, Art & Architecture",an interview with Marie Jones & Larry Flaxman
- "Remnants of the Gods - Impossible Buildings", by Erich von Däniken
- "The Concept of Civilisation", by Xavier Bartlett
RON & HERMIONE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER & I'LL HEAR NONE OF IT!!
- Oh oh: Yellowstone's supervolcano is beginning to rumble!
- One of the aftermaths of BP: Dolphins with missing teeth & lung disease.
- Move over, Pi! Salvadoran fisherman José Alvarenga survived 13 months on the Pacific by eating fish & drinking turtle blood.
- The 'waterboarding' case of NDE researcher Melvin Morse continues.
- Zombienomics: How much revenue does the Zombie Apocalypse generate?
- Will Adobe kill independent e-readers?
- Why is the North Star getting brighter? You think it could… Nah, couldn't be!
begpetition U.S. Congress to return to the Moon.
- 2 black disks photographed over Rhode Island.
- Retired NASA exobiologist will present evidence of alien life at the Intl. UFO Conference.
- Time-traveler photographer annoys historic celebrities with her smartphone.
- The Grimerica Show interviews Scotty Roberts & Dr. John Ward: Moses the pornstar & Pharaonic strap-on sex! Need I say more?
- Back to the Future… The Musical? --You had me at 1.21 gigawatts!
- OklahOhMy! Satanists want to erect a statue of Baphomet in the state's capitol.
- Is Twitter making you dumber? --Stupid is as stupid RT's, ma'am…
- Red Pill of the Day: Crouching Rabbit, Hidden Stewart.
Thanks to Kat, Susan & Meilen.
Quote of the Day:
"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells."
Debate has long raged over the provenance of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, a document filled with strange illustrations and text written in a language that has never been decoded. Though the codex has been dated to around the time of the Renaissance, it first came to modern attention in 1912 when it was purchased by antique book dealer Wilfrid Voynich, whose name has been attached to it ever since.
Theories about the Voynich Manuscript have ranged from it being a prank by a Renaissance artist, through to an artefact given to Roger Bacon by future time-travelers, and decoded by an alien held at Area 51 (sounds legit!). The latest in the long list of Voynich theories is the claim, by a botanist and retired information technology researcher, that the Voynich Manuscript contains illustrations of plants native to Mexico, and that the text is likely written in an extinct form of the Nahuatl language:
Previously, many researchers assumed that the manuscript must have originated in Europe, where it was found. But botanist Arthur Tucker of Delaware State University in Dover noticed similarities between certain plants in the manuscript and illustrations of plants in 16th century records from Mexico.
Tucker began collecting copies of Mexican botanical books out of curiosity about the history of herbs there. "Quite by accident, I ran across the Voynich and it was a Homer Simpson moment of D'oh! Of course – this matches my other codices and the artwork of 16th century Mexico."
The most striking example was an illustration of a soap plant (xiuhamolli) in a Mexican book dated 1552. Tucker and Rexford Talbert, a retired information technology researcher at the US Department of Defense and NASA, connected a total of 37 of the 303 plants, six animals and one mineral illustrated in the Voynich manuscript to 16th century species in the region that lies between Texas, California and Nicaragua. They think many of the plants could have come from what is now central Mexico.
On the basis of these similarities, the pair suggests that the manuscript came from the New World, and that it might be written in an extinct form of the Mexican language Nahuatl. Deciphering the names of these plants could therefore help crack the Voynich code.
It's worth noting, however, that the pair are not the first to suggest that the language might be related to Nahuatl - in a 2001 book, James Comegys claimed that the manuscript was "a medical text in Nahuatl attributable to Francisco Hernandez and his Aztec Ticiti collaborators".
And it's definitely worth keeping a healthy dose of skepticism at hand, as there are a number of valid objections to their Voynich theory. But it's all good fun = you never know, the final answer to the mystery might surprise us...
You might also like:
And you can dream, so dream out loud.
- Vale Robert Van de Castle, a gentleman & a dream scholar.
- Dreams as a Multidimensional Expression of Psi.
- Harriet Tubman's dreams freed hundreds of escaped slaves (Amazon).
- Fireflies & forests: beautiful photos by Tsuneaki Hiramatsu.
- Do children have a greater sense of the lives they lived before?
- A teenage skydiver survived a 3000ft fall in the USA.
- Do... or do not. There is no try. Feeling powerless makes objects heavier.
- Rabbits unearth an archaeological treasure trove in England.
- Excavations planned for a 2000-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Sri Lanka.
- Is the myth of Jason & the Golden Fleece based on historical reality?
- Mysterious stone pillars were not made by
- Bronze horns were thrown into bogs in Late Bronze Age Ireland.
- Photos from a spectacular Imbolc fire festival in Yorkshire, UK.
- Of snowdrops & churchyards: February's fair maids are out for Imbolc.
- Keeping the hearth fire burning: traditions hidden in plain sight.
- Tempting the Serpent: why Appalachian church-goers drink snake poison.
- The irrefutable link between Dungeons & Dragons and human sacrifice.
- Town buried by tumbleweeds, cable TV horror movie coming soon.
- A small village in Kazakhstan has been hit by a sleep epidemic.
- Study finds short people more prone to paranoia, tall people more Fortean.
- Creator of The X-Files, Chris Carter, returns to TV with The After.
Quote of the Day:
"Sleeping is the height of genius."
~ Soren Kierkegaard
Fullscreen the hell out of this transfixing real-time video of an auroral substorm causing rivers of light to flow across the sky above Yellowknife in Canada. Definitely on my bucket list - absolutely beautiful.
As mentioned in Tuesday's news briefs, there's an interesting story doing the rounds today about (the ruins of) a newly discovered step pyramid that predates the construction of the Great Pyramid. What I found particularly interesting is that the pyramid was one of seven pyramids scattered around Egypt, all of which did not have a funerary purpose:
Scattered throughout central and southern Egypt, the provincial pyramids are located near major settlements, have no internal chambers and were not intended for burial. Six of the seven pyramids have almost identical dimensions, including the newly uncovered one at Edfu, which is about 60 x 61 feet (18.4 x 18.6 m).
The purpose of these seven pyramids is a mystery. They may have been used as symbolic monuments dedicated to the royal cult that affirmed the power of the king in the southern provinces.
"The similarities from one pyramid to the other are really amazing, and there is definitely a common plan," said Gregory Marouard, a research associate at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute who led the work at the Edfu pyramid. On the east side of the newly uncovered pyramid, his team found the remains of an installation where food offerings appear to have been made — a discovery that is important for understanding this kind of pyramid since it provides clues as to what they were used for.