Roman Aqueduct of Segovia, Spain

The huge Roman aqueduct built in Segovia, Spain, by the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD 98-117).

One of the best preserved Roman engineering works, the structure was constructed from approximately 24,000 dark colored Guadarrama granite blocks without the use of mortar. The above ground part is 2,388 feet long. And it consists of approximately 165 arches that are more than 30 feet in height.

The Inga Stone

THE INGÁ STONE

Located in Brazil. It is over 6,000 years old and has hundreds of strange symbols.

The archaeological site of the Ingá Stone, also known in the Tupi-Guarani language as the Itacoatiara do Ingá and Pedra do Ingá in Portuguese, is near the town of Ingá in northeast Brazil. The meaning of the carvings remain uncertain, but may allude to astronomy, animals and fruits.

The site was one of the first monuments of protected rock art in Brazil, exceptionally recognised for its artistic and historical importance. The Ingá Stone site consists of multiple basalt stones covered with glyphs. The main outcrop, featuring the three main rock art panels, forms a wall 24 metres long and 3.5 metres high at its highest point.

The engravings are generally non-figurative, and created using a technique of pecking at the stone and then polishing the grooves. Some of the figures also retain traces of pigment, suggesting they may have been coloured.

The first reports of rock art in the state of Paraíba were made by European settlers in the 16th century. The rock art at Ingá are the most representative group of a particular type of engraving tradition in Brazil.

Austrian-born Ludwig Schwennhagen, studied Brazilian history in the early twentieth century and found strong connections in appearance from the Inga symbols to not only the Phoenicians but also the demotic writings (linked more closely to business or literary document-style writings) of the ancient Egyptians. Further groups found a remarkable similarity of the carvings of Inga to the aboriginal artwork found on Easter Island.

Santeria vs. Voodoo

Santeria merges as a diversity of different faiths. It means ‘way of saints’ or ‘honor of saints. It is an amalgamation between the orthodox Yoruba religion in West Africa and Catholicism.

The religion is also known as La Regla de Lucumi or Lucumi or ‘Lukumi’s Rule’. It emerged in Cuba between the 16th and 19th century. The roots go back to Africa, where the Yoruba tribes practiced the Lucumi religion. Between 1940 and 1960, the immigrants from Cuba spread Santeria in the United States. The religion also features Spanish Catholicism, and to this extent, it is also characterized by Spanish culture. It is well developed in Spanish-speaking people and colonies.

Voodoo is a word originating from Western Africa, and it means ‘moral fiber.’ It blends elements of French Catholicism and traditional religions of West Africa. It developed in Haiti between the 16th and 19th centuries during the Atlantic slave trade. Voodoo can be traced to the Fon and Ewe in West Africa, currently known as Benin. Voodoo can also be spelled as Vodou or Vodun.

In Voodoo, Iwa is a veneration of deities frequently identified as Yoruba gods and Roman Catholic saints. Iwa is an intermediary of the distant and magnificent figure that does not involve itself with humans, Bondye (God).

Voodoo’s paranormal ancestral connection is passed from generation to generation by rituals and spiritual practices. The rituals involve performers drumming that make most of the music, singing, dancing, praying, and even animal sacrifice. These actions inspire Iwa to possess one of their members with a spirit. Once the spirit comes into the member, it can speak to the god (Bondye), dead people, heal, protect, and even do magic.

Similarities between Santeria and Voodoo
  1. Both Santeria and Voodoo are religious practices upheld by people who believe in a common God that is served by several spirits.
  2. Both religions have beliefs in possession by certain spirits – Orishas in Santeria and Loas in Voodoo.
  3. Both spirits – Orishas and Loas – are sometimes identified with Catholic saints.
  4. Santeria and Voodoo were both presented in the Western Hemisphere by slaves from North Africa, most likely Nigeria. The slaves permeated these beliefs into Christianity to avoid being persecuted, since their traditional religious expression was forbidden.
  5. These religions’ ultimate goal is to preserve rituals and cultures to future generations.
  6. Animal sacrifice is integral in both Santeria and Voodoo since they use blood for initiations and cleansing.
  7. During their ceremonies, both use dancing, singing, and drumming to connect with and worship their deities.
Differences Between Santeria and Voodoo
  1. The Santeria deities are known as Oricha or Orisha, while the Voodoo deities are known as Iwa. However, they are both known as the Yoruba gods and Roman Catholic saints.
  2. Santeria means “the way of saints,” whereas the term voodoo meaning “moral fiber” has its origin in African-Haitian religious, traditional practices.
  3. Santeria is based on Yoruba beliefs, while Voodoo is based on Fon and Ewe beliefs.
  4. There is a Spanish influence in Santeria, whereas in Voodoo religion the French influence is more prominent.
  5. Santeria developed among Afro-Cuban communities while Voodoo developed among Afro-Haitian communities.
  6. Santeria’s house of worship is known as the Casa Templo, while Voodoo’s temple is cited as the Ounfo. In Casa Templo, there is an inner room called igbodu, where rituals take place. The ceremonial site found within the Ounfu is known as peristyle.
  7. In Santeria, sacrifices to deities are made by initiates at least once per year. Ebbo is the name of the offering, which can contain a butchered animal, fruits, flowers, or candles. On the other hand, Voodoo demands sacrifices too, but different Iwa are believed to like different food types in this religion. Oungan organizes the annual feasts where animal sacrifices are made to diverse Iwa.
  8. Possession of spirits. In the possession ceremonies in Santeria, the possessed member is referred to as the “horse,” and they say that at the point where the Oricha has already “mounted” them. After the possession, the individual claims not to have any memories of the event. In Voodoo, the possessed individual is known as chual, whereas the act of possession is known as “mounting a horse.”Crise de iwa is the trance of possession.
  9. Santeria practitioners believe that herbalism is a foremost essential in their healing practices and plays significant roles in their members’ health. In Voodoo, Oungan is consulted but he may often send his clients to medical professionals.
  10. In Santeria, the ritual performing ceremonies are known as Toque De Santo. They are also known as Tambor. In these ceremonies, the Oricha is summoned, and the practitioners believe that he is capable of healing the sick and blessing those who deserve it. The Voodoo’s ceremony is often known as the dans. The word comes from dancing, which has a prominent role in religious gatherings. In most cases, the gatherings are held at night with songs and dances, and the Iwa is summoned to join the rite. Food offerings and animal sacrifices are made to Iwa during these ceremonies.
  11. Initiation in Santeria is known as kariocha. The initiation requires a payment, but the amount is decided according to the status of the practitioner and the client’s wealth. Santero oversees the initiation ceremony where the initiate is called Iyabo. It is usually a seven-day ceremony. Sacrifices are made to the Oricha, and a four-legged animal is slaughtered accompanied by twenty-five birds. After the ceremony, the initiate sare supposed to go through a year-long period called the journey of iyawo. During this period, they are expected to perceive numerous restrictions. They are to learn about different deities and how to make sacrifices to them. This is always marked as a life-changing event. Initiation in Voodoo tends to be expensive and needs a lot of preparation. The initiate, who is also known as Kanzo, goes through four levels of initiation. Once the initiate completes the fourth stage, the individual becomes a manbo.
  12. In Santeria, there are rites sketched to make peace with the soul of the departed called itulu. Santeras or santeros are believed to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Practitioners believe that spirits offer advice and give warnings. Voodoo followers also believe in the afterlife. But there’s a different approach. For one year and one day, they believe the deceased’s spirit to be trapped in water and mountains or anywhere one can call and hear an echo. After one year and one day, a ritual is performed to release the deceased’s spirit into the world to live again. Now the spirit can live anywhere, in the trees or even the wind.

Source: occultist.net

Lagertha: Viking Shieldmaiden

Lagertha (also spelt Lathgertha or Ladgerda) is a legendary Viking shieldmaiden known from Saxo Grammaticus’ early 13th-century CE Gesta Danorum. In this work, written in Latin and concerning Danish history, she is the first wife of Ragnar Lothbrok, a legendary Viking king said to have lived during the 9th century CE. Contrasting with the prominent role Lagertha plays in the ongoing Vikings TV series, where she is portrayed by Katheryn Winnick, the Gesta Danorum is the only historical source that even mentions her and ties her in with the more broadly-known Ragnar mythos, making her more of a footnote within his legend rather than a core element. She makes for a bold footnote, though, and an interesting character in her own right; brave and skilled, she is twice responsible for ensuring victory for Ragnar in battle. Although classical concepts of Amazons underlie Saxo’s warrior women, his stories are rooted in the Old Norse traditions known from medieval Icelandic literature. Specifically, Lagertha herself may have been inspired by the Norse goddess Thorgerd, local to Hálogaland, Norway.

Saxo Grammaticus sets the stage for Ragnar and Lagertha’s meeting by describing how the Swedish King Frø has slain Siward, King of the Norwegians, who was Ragnar’s grandfather, and has publically humiliated Siward’s female family members by putting them in a brothel. Ragnar, having just succeeded his father Siward Ring (Sigurd Hring or Ring in other Ragnar stories) to the throne of Jutland in Denmark, hears of this and is obviously not pleased. Coming to Norway with vengeance on his mind, Ragnar is met at his camp by some of the women who had been scorned, dressed up in male attire and ready to join him to hunt down the Swedish king. In the ensuing successful battle, it is one maiden in particular who stands out to Ragnar; he even goes so far as to attribute the victory to her might alone.

Lagertha’s origins aside, it is clear that in Saxo’s work she fulfils a role not immediately expected of historical women of that time but instead of a more legendary proportion: that of the warrior woman. Despite present-day popular imagination running wild with the image of the ‘strong Viking woman’, when critically evaluated the archaeological and historical material is not at all sufficient to support their existence. The Old Norse sagas, however, are a different beast altogether and show strong women taking action, stoking up revenge, standing up to their husbands or even engaging in fights. The popular TV series Vikings, although creatively expanding Lagertha’s role massively from that which it is in the Gesta, does take her reputation as shieldmaiden on board and shows her as a strong fighter who can hold her own, even participating in the raid on Paris (in the show, inspired by the historical siege of Paris of 845 CE).

Within the other legends revolving around Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha does not stand alone as a shieldmaiden. Aslaug (Kráka) is another wife of Ragnar, and she eventually leads her sons into battle against the Swedes.

Source: worldhistory.org

Famous Trolls of Mythology

Legend has it that a Christian can kill a troll if they say its name aloud, so as you can imagine troll names are some of the best-kept secrets in the world. Despite that, the names of some trolls from literature and Norse Mythology are known:

Grendel – the troll from Beowulf and one of the three main antagonists of the epic poem

Dunker – a troll mentioned in an old folktale from Fosen

Ymer – a jötunn and the largest creature from Norse Mythology

Dovregubben – the troll king in Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt

Hrungnir – a jötunn and the largest of its kind in Old Norse texts

Trym – king of the jötnar, reigned in Jötunheimr

Geirröd – another jötunn from Norse mythology, father to Gjálp and Greip

Gu: Vodun of Iron and War

They say Gu was born with a human body and a blade as a head. This perfectly portrays his role as the god of iron and war. The two things are related; iron ore is used to make weapons for war, among other things.

A title like the Vodun of War denotes a spirit who is angry or out for destruction or chaos, but that’s false. A god of war is not necessarily there to sow conflict and division. Still, they are there to bestow victory, wisdom, and protection in battle when facing your enemies. Immediately we run into trouble. Why does he favor one side over another? These reasons are privy to him but always in the interest of ultimate fairness.

The Fon worshiped Gu to bring them success in war and protect them in conflicts, protect their wealth and community. At the end of the day, that is what a god of war is supposed to do—a more accurate title would-be protector of communities and nations.

There is also a building role. Iron is a symbol for minerals that can be mined and used to service those pursuits that strengthen and protect a nation. It stands for resources that can be used as weapons and defense. You can substitute nations with family, community, town, tradition, culture, city, or whatever you think is worthy of protection or strengthening. The Vodun of War resides over these matters. It dispenses favor, resources, wisdom, and advantage according to its divine wisdom and foresight.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

Agbe (or Agwe): Vodun of the Sea

Agbe is the third-born son of Mawu and Lisa. He is the one who is given dominion over the seas and sea life. There aren’t many stories based on Agbe, but as we look back to Mawu’s creation of the world, Agbe’s role within the world becomes obvious. When Mawu built the world, she was afraid that the earth would drown from the added weight, so her snake came in to save it. However, the waters can still be unpredictable, rough, and sometimes cause a whole host of problems.

The land is resting on an outline of great waters, waters that can engulf the land when disturbed. So Agbe functions to keep the waters at bay, provide safety, and protect from powerful storms. Agbe also has some effects on the land that the people experience. For instance, when earthquakes happen, they can be explained by his activity–he has made the water do something that makes the land shake. The serpent is primarily there to keep the world from sinking. The Fon being a fishing people, might have also worshipped Agbe for his luck.

So we see Agbe as the protector, provider, and calmer of seas. He’s not the only one who performs these roles, but he is one of the most powerful to do so. Again, we see how together each god’s roles feed on each other or strengthen each other. While Sakpata pushes for progress, Agbe is the one holding forces that threaten peace and the very land we live on intact.

You can pray to him for protection, maintenance, and calm in your life. These are, in a nutshell, where the spirit excels. But when displeased, it may be a source of chaos, destruction, especially the kind that upends people’s lives. So he is a potent spirit.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

Sakpata: Vodun of Earth

When Mawu was dividing the world between her children, Sakpata was given dominion over the earth, at the displeasure of his sister Sogbo. Sakpata came down from heaven with plants, crops, tools, and skills that humans could use for development. Because he had taken so much with him, he did not have space for other necessary elements like water and fire, which were stolen later.

Humans were excited when Sakpata descended from the heavens with these tools of wealth. There was a lot of promise in them, and they hoped they would see their lives improve. Legba, Sakpata’s youngest sibling, told Sogbo, who was given control of the skies, to withhold rain in the sky. Knowing that their mother noticed, Legba went to Mawu and told her water would not be enough for everyone on earth, including the plants. Alarmed, Mawu ordered Legba to tell Sogbo to withhold the rains, which he had already done.

Sakpata soon realized that his crops needed rain, but none came. A drought ensued that caused everything to become dry and brittle. Humans began getting angry with Sakpata. They harassed him and cursed him for lying to them about the prosperity and convenience he had promised. Legba came down and found his brother in a messy state. That was when he told Sakpata he would talk to Mawu on his behalf. He told Sakpata to watch for a messenger, wututu bird, who would say to him what to do when the time came. When the bird returned, it told Sakpata to instruct the others to light a great fire, so the smoke could rise to heaven, signaling their distress.

Because it was so dry, everything caught fire very quickly, and the fire leaped into the sky. When Legba saw, he went to Mawu and told her that the earth was burning and the fire was so high and powerful it might spread to the heavens. Alarmed, Mawu told Legaba to order Sogbo to release the rain. The rain put out the flames and returned fertility to the land. It was decided that although Sogbo controlled the sky, people can call for rain when needed.

What does this story reveal? In this context, it describes the role and power of the spirit of the earth, Sakpata. Sakpata is not the Vodun of Agriculture or fertility, but he is the god of progress and elevating society. When the spirit comes to rule over men, he brings them the tools of trade, crops they can domesticate, and abilities such as woodworking and carpentry skills. These are ways in which this spirit facilitates that mission of progress and growth by equipping humans with the capabilities to prosper, the right tools, and the right environment to do so.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

Xevioso: Vodun of Thunder

Xevioso is the god or lord of thunder. A god of thunder is one of the most common in cultures around the world. In Yoruba’s version, he is considered the strongest. He represents wrath, aggression, and punishment. In other words, Xevioso is understood as primarily a spirit of explosive, uncontrollable emotion like anger, violence, and tremendous power. This is a double-edged sword as he can protect those who honor him, but if they offend him in any way, he will likely turn on them.

This is the spirit you turn to when you are looking for justice. Still, anger is usually a sign that something isn’t as it should be, or there has been a violation of some agreement or law.

In most cases, spirits host and govern over the earth, and there is a set of agreements we have towards one another: a type of an unspoken agreement. We go into the world having agreed on a particular set of rules like not stealing from or hurting each other, and so forth. And when someone steals from us, we feel violated, and we have a right to be angry about it, even more so if we know they are getting away with it. Your anger is a sign that someone is not playing by the rules, an injustice has been done. Given this, it is not illogical to suggest that exercising your anger would restore justice and, therefore, balance the world. In other words, Xevioso is the protector and dispenser of justice. Through his acts, he enforces and keeps relations between the gods in check and us. It is not senseless, aimless, unexplainable anger, or fury. Although we may not understand it sometimes, it adds up on a cosmic scale.

Source: Vodun. Monique Joiner Siedlak

James Edward Oglethorpe and the Founding of Georgia

James Edward Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696 in London England. He was one of ten children born to Eleanor and Theophilus Oglethorpe. James had a comfortable childhood, since his father owned land in different parts of England. The political nature of James Oglethorpe’s family had great influence on him. In 1698, Theophilus, James’ father, was elected to the House of Commons. While not much is know about Oglethorpe’s childhood, it is known that beginning in 1714 he was admitted to Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. Oglethorpe soon dropped out of school and joined the English military. He had a very successful campaign against the Turks. He returned to school after, but never graduated. Even though in 1731 Corpus Christi College awarded him an M.A. In 1722, Oglethorpe followed his father’s footsteps and was elected House of Commons where he focused on the domestic and international policies of England. At that time, in England, people could be jailed for their debt. This was the case with Robert Castell, one of Oglethorpe’s close friends. Due to the death of his friend in prison, as a result of bad prison conditions, Oglethorpe launched a campaign to improve prison conditions which earned him national notoriety.

It was during this time that Oglethorpe formed a plan to deal with all the poverty in England. His idea was to take all the “worthy poor” and move them to a new colony in the Americas where they could become farmers and merchants. Oglethorpe was also set on the idea that the structure of the social classes in England, which caused so much poverty, should be avoided in the new colony. This meant no one person would be allowed to hold much land and slavery would be prohibited. After he revealed his idea to King George II, he was given clearance to begin the colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe was also named one of the twenty-one trustees who would govern the colony. Unfortunately, when the new colonists were being selected, the original idea of picking people with debts was lost and the selection focused more on skills and usefulness.

In November 1732, 114 people left for Georgia to make their home there. Oglethorpe was on this first boat load of settlers. As a trustee, Oglethorpe worked hard, and at times, even broke the law, in order to allow Jews and other persecuted religious groups to settle in Georgia. He was strongly opposed to slavery. He did his best to make fair treaties with Native Americans and protect them from white traders. Though he was not officially a “governor”, because as a trustee he was not allowed to hold office, many considered him Georgia’s first governor for his clear leadership over the colony.

Georgia was agreed upon partially because it was a place the English could protect their colonies in America against the Spanish. It was because of this situation that Oglethorpe convinced the king to make him a Colonel. Oglethorpe launched a preemptive attack on the Spanish, which failed. The Spanish counter-attacked but Oglethorpe’s regiment managed to push back the Spanish in the Battle of Gully Hole Creek. In the Battle of the Bloody Marsh, Oglethorpe managed to beat the Spanish badly enough that they decided the heavy losses sustained were not worth the fight. Oglethorpe had successfully defended Georgia.

In 1744, Oglethorpe returned to England and married Elizabeth Wright. He settled in the small Essex town of Cranham. Oglethorpe remained a Trustee, but the other trustees in Georgia relaxed their restrictions on alcohol, slavery and land ownership. Oglethorpe lived to see the colony that he had made become part of the United States of America. After a brief sickness, Oglethorpe died on June 30, 1785.