Path of the Sacred Pipe

As most of you know, I’m a generalist. A jack of all trades and a master of none. Generally the books I read reflect this. I have a grand collection of “Complete Idiot’s Guides” and many “Encyclopedias of” or “Guides to”. However when given the chance to read “Path of the Sacred Pipe: Journey of Love, Power, and Healing” by Jay Cleve, PhD I took it despite its narrow focus. It wasn’t long before I realized there was a whole world around which the pipe is centered.

I was amazed to learn how the whole earth is represented in the Native American’s sacred pipe. By learning about the parts of the pipe, Cleve shares the history, mythology, and modern day beliefs of primarily the Lakota, but also other Native American tribes as well. Not only do you learn about the spiritual, but you learn about the actual nuts and bolts of owning and using a pipe. As you might guess, one doesn’t just stuff any old stuff in there, light it up and go. Cleve discusses what gets used, care and maintenance, and the role the pipe plays in different rituals.

I had never imagined that a book about the Native American sacred pipe would give me a look at the Sun Dance ritual, or an overview of the Medicine Wheel, or stories of White Buffalo Calf Maiden. Cleve truly shows how the sacred pipe is fully woven into the fabric of the Native American culture, and because it is, “Path of the Sacred Pipe” ends up being a surprisingly thoughtful and entertaining read.

A Lapidary of Sacred Stones

Now you kids know I’m a gal that loves me some Christopher Penczak. I’m a lady that adores me some Deborah Blake. Yet there is but one writer that elicits a fan girl squeal the way Ol’ Blue Eyes would from the ladies back in the day, and that’s Claude Lecouteux. Yes folks, he’s back, and this time he brought jewelry. Lecouteux…..with jewelry people! Claude Lecouteux’s latest is “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones: Their Magical and Medicinal Powers Based on the Earliest Sources.”

At this point in most of our lives we’ve all thumbed through, or own, at least one book about the properties and/or powers of certain minerals and gemstones. Many of you probably already have a favorite. However with each book it’s about what they choose to include and how they choose to organize the information. Those who know and love Lecouteux know that this book is going to be special, and Lecouteux does not disappoint.

From right in the “Introduction”, “How the Dictionary is Organized”:

I have left the names of stones in classical or Medieval Latin as entries, when they exist, because they do not always correspond to the names of modern mineralogy and many stones remain unidentified, and I am going by the medieval nomenclatures. For stones without specific names, I have created entries of the type “stone + virtue” or “stone + location.”

So to find my birth stone, Emerald, I look under “Emerald” and I’m told to “See Smaragdus”. Once there I find 5 pages of diverse information. For instance the stone was one of the 12 stones found on the high priest Aaron’s breastplate in Exodus 28:15-30. Or, the emerald is used in hydromancy or divination. He mentions the emerald’s appearance in “The Romance of Alexander” and the “Letter of Alexander to Aristotle”.

Hopefully this has given you a little idea as to what to expect inside Claude Lecouteux’s “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”. A lapidary is an old book on the lore of gems, someone who cuts, polishes or engraves precious stones, or a collector or dealer of gems. Lecouteux has certainly wrote this generation’s lapidary with “A Lapidary of Sacred Stones”. Whether you’re looking for Carniz, Magnet of Fish, or Sun Stone, this book is a keeper!

Next we’ll be examining “Crystals, Jewels, Stones: Magic & Science” by Isidore Kozminsky, that just happens to have “Crystals and the New Age” by Stuart Weinberg along for the ride.

Ghosts & Spirits Tarot

Since I just got done reviewing “The Secret History of Poltergeists and Haunted Houses: From Pagan Folklore to Modern Manifestations” by Claude Lecouteux I thought now would be the perfect time to take a look at “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” by Lisa Hunt. I know I seem to be near pants wetting excited over every tarot deck I review, but seriously you guys, “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” is incredibly impressive. How impressive? Incredibly.

I have to say, I think the masterful Mr. Claude Lecouteux himself would be impressed with the amount of work Lisa Hunt put into “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” because what you have here is a tarot deck where each card depicts a different spirit, ghost, or liaison between the earthly and spiritual realms from folklore and legend. So yes Lecouteux fans, all the subjects of his books that have been reviewed here on The Buffet are represented in this deck: The Wild Hunt (The Chariot), Vampire (The Hanged Man), Revenants (Six of Cups), and yes party people, even the Poltergeists from the last review (Ace of Swords).

Ace of Swords - Poltergeist

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I tell you that I would gasp with surprise and glee with each page turn of the booklet as a treasure trove of creatures and characters were revealed. La Llorona! The Flying Dutchman! Headless Horseman! White Ladies! Each entry has a brief description and bit of context along with a divinatory meaning.

The artwork is perfectly suited to the subject matter and despite the obvious darkness implied, Hunt brings beauty to most of the cards despite the specter of death the hangs around ghosts and spirits. I’m a fan of the Day of the Dead and I became quite smitten with Hunt’s rendering of it for the Ten of Cups.

Ten of Cups - Day of the Dead

And I was swept up by The High Priestess, who in the “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” is an Enchantress/Sibyl. Hunt’s text brings perfect understanding to what we see in the card.

The most famous oracle of Greek/Roman legend, the Sibyl of Cumae (Italy) guided Aeneus through the land of the dead and enabled him to return to the living. The Sibyl interweaves the energies of past lives and future events. She illuminates the scene where dream-like specters mingle with relics of the past. A pathway provides a passage to clarity and higher understanding. The sparkles indicate a divine presence.

The High Priestess - Enchantress/Sibyl

What else can I say to convince you that “Ghosts & Spirits Tarot” by Lisa Hunt is 100% amazing? How about even though I received a free copy to review I went ahead and bought a second copy so I could get it signed by the artist? Did I mention I found this deck incredibly impressive?

10 Questions with Avi Glijansky

1. For my readers who may not be familiar with it, can you tell them about “The Further Adventures of Cupid & Eros”?
THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CUPID AND EROS is a fantasy romantic comedy about two love gods (the titular Cupid and Eros) trying to set the world and their own love lives right.

While it’s commonly believed that Cupid and Eros are two names for the same god, in our world they are in fact colleagues, each the god of love in their respective pantheon. They still match up mortals and do their best to stem the tide of infidelity and divorce, but besides their common mission they are as different as night and Day. Cupid is the original “nice guy”; sweet, charming, but constantly in the “friend zone”. Eros on the other hand is sexy as hell, and irresistible to anything with a pulse—Mortal, God, or anything in between. He’s the ultimate romantic, she’s the ultimate personification of passion and unbridled sensuality.

When we first meet Cupid he’s still depressed from being dumped by his girlfriend Psyche. Eros has just about had it with his moping and her plans to help him recapture his confidence are what kicks the story off in our first season.

2. Where did the idea of Cupid and Eros doing their job in our modern times come from?
I’m a big nerd. Well OK, that’s not the entire answer, but it’s a big part of it. Ever since I was little, myths (not just Greek, but myths and legends from all cultures) were some of my favorite stories… right next to episodes of The Twilight Zone and just about any comic book I could get my hands on. I guess all that stuff kind of swirled around in my head and I found myself constantly intrigued by the idea of what these mythic figures would be like if they were walking around today.

The thing that set me off towards what would eventually become C&E was actually a panel from a SANDMAN comic by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman presented this banquet with representatives from different pantheons and folklores. I loved that idea of these different mythologies interacting directly… and I thought ‘OK, so Gaiman puts them in a palace, at a banquet… I’m going to put them in a gymnasium at what amounts to an awkward high-school reunion’ That idea, which would eventually become the Inter-Pantheon Mixer we see in episodes 5 and 6, was the beginning of Cupid & Eros.

As for why I chose focus on Cupid… At first it was simply because I thought it’d be funny to show a Cupid who can’t get a date himself… from there… well, lets just say I can relate (perhaps a bit too well) to his plight.

3. In future episodes can we look forward to them coming across competition from other love based deities like Aphrodite, Ishtar, Venus, or Qetesh?
I wouldn’t call it competition exactly, but I do want to feature a lot of those gods you mentioned. Aphrodite and Venus figure prominently in our heroes’ stories… If you go back and read some of those myths (not the least of which is Cupid & Psyche) you realize Cupid’s relationship with his mother was about as neurotic as they come.

And because in our world the different pantheons co-exist, I see different gods of the same thing as being like cops from another precinct… there’s some competition but there’s also the need for cooperation. I have a story I want to tell where Cupid ends up having to work with Kama (or Kamadeva, the hindu god of love). Kama is also an archer so there’s no way the two wouldn’t have a bit of a professional rivalry.

4. In the first episode it’s revealed that Psyche left Cupid for a dermatologist. How did you decide that out of all the occupations that would be the one of Psyche’s love interest?
Well, Psyche’s beauty is so central to her myth, but I figure if your boyfriend’s mom is Venus… after a while wouldn’t you start to worry that you might not live up? And wouldn’t you constantly look for ways to preserve that beauty both in the godly realms and on the mortal plane?

Also I lived in in NYC up until 2006 and there’s a dermatologist whose subway ads are legendary… in my mind that’s who Psyche is currently shacking up with 🙂

5. I’m a big fan of the deity Quan Yin (Kwan Yin). I think she’d be an excellent “straight man” in a comedy setting, any chance I could see her in a future episode?
Believe it or not, a version of her is actually present at the Inter-Pantheon Mixer! If you look very closely at the name tag on the young goddess who Cupid mistakenly believes is smiling at him, you’ll see it actually reads “Guan Yin,” one of the alternate spellings for Quan Yin. I liked the idea that a goddess of mercy would unintentionally shoot down our hero… and I figured she’d be the kind of goddess Cupid would be drawn to. Plus there’s a real treasure trove of legends about her and ways in which she’s been presented. I think you’re right she would be a great addition to the cast.

In fact, almost every single extra at the mixer is actually tied to a real deity that we wanted to potentially bring in to the show in the future… but we did take care to be a bit vague about it so that we would have some flexibility down the road.

6. Are there any particular deities you’re fond of that might make an appearance in future episodes?
Oh man, there are so many. As mentioned, Venus, Aphrodite and Kama all figure into stories I want to tell. And Neikea, our villain at the end of season 1, has a whole family (not least of which is her mother, the goddess of discord Eris) who aren’t too fond of love gods.

I love the Egyptian and African pantheons and would love to bring them in. As much as I love putting modern spins on the Greek/Roman pantheons part of the fun of the show is calling attention deities that most westerners really don’t think about.

7. You’re the creator, writer, and director of “Cupid & Eros”. Can you describe the process of taking your ideas and ending up with an episode?
Things changed a bit episode to episode, but the basic plan of attack remained the same.

I started by writing our scripts. In all but one case I knew who my actors would be so I could write with them in mind. It’s one of the perks of having so many insanely talented friends. What’s more, my key crew – Director of Photography Jefferson Loftfield, Production Designer Vicky Chan, Gaffer Edwin Kim and Costume Designer Tera Struck – had all come on board as I was writing our first few episodes. Because they were with me from the beginning, I knew that we were all on the same page even before we shot our first frame of footage.

I wrote all of season one in 3 episode story arcs, so after I had a draft of each arc I would send it to my co-producer Andy Wells. Andy would then look at the draft, and in addition to making any story suggestions, he would identify areas that might have been problematic for our budget. One of Andy’s strengths, and one of the reasons why I was so fortunate to have him at my side, is his ability to figure out ways to stretch every dollar to the max. He was the definition of the creative producer.

Once our scripts were locked Andy would handle most of the details organizing the shoot so I could concentrate on working with my cast and crew on the creative side of things. One of the great things about working on something episodic like a web series is that we all grew with the show as the shoot progressed.

Yes I always had final say, but I knew that my colleagues understood the show, its world and its characters just as I did. A director is only ever as good as his crew and I truly believe I worked with some of the best.

Once production wrapped I moved to the editing room. I’m fortunate to have a phenomenal editor, Matthew Smith (who also edits The Guild, a web series created by Felica Day that is largely considered the mark by which other web series are measured). I would do a first cut of each episode and then Matt would come in and take my ideas and polish them, often suggesting even better ways to structure a scene or pace an episode.

While we did our best to stay ahead of the curve, we often found ourselves working right up until the night before an episode was due to go live. All in all we were actively in production and post production from roughly February of 2010 to February of 2011.

8. Where can our readers go to see episodes of “Further Adventures of Cupid & Eros”?
Our home base is at www.cupidanderos.com There you can watch all of our first season, learn more about the show and the people behind it, and get updates on screenings, new content, etc. This month you’ll also be able to go there to buy our Season 1 DVD which is going to be filled with not just our 9 episode first season, but all our additional content, photos, and audio commentaries.

And if people prefer, you can also watch us via Hulu, YouTube, Blip, and other online networks. There’s a complete list of all the places you can go to see C&E here: http://cupidanderos.tumblr.com/watch

9. Do you have other projects our readers can look forward to? Can readers look forward to more episodes of “Cupid & Eros”?
I hope we get to do more “Cupid & Eros” but at present we’re on a bit of a break. Our first season was completely self-funded and the stark reality at the moment is that I don’t have the resources to do that again… not without either dropping the quality of the show or asking my cast and crew to work for free, both of which I’m simply not willing to do.

We’re using what we have to build our audience (which is why I’m so thankful for chances like this) and hopefully we’ll soon get to a point where we can move forward with season 2. I’ve got a lot of stories left to tell and the next two seasons are already plotted out, so it’s just a question of finances (as it often is with independent filmmaking).

To that end, if people dig what we’re doing they can help by spreading the word far and wide. Following us on twitter/liking us on Facebook. Subscribing to our channel on YouTube or Blip.tv. If people wish, they can also donate directly to the show via our website. But the most important thing people can do to help is just watch and encouraging others to do the same.

In the meantime, I do have other work out there. My other web series The Silver Lake Badminton and Adventurers Club ( – co-created and directed by my C&E Editor Matthew Smith) has it’s first episode out and can be seen at www.slbaac.com. Some of my short films are available online and can be seen at my website www.highway9pictures.com or on my Youtube page, youtube.com/user/aglijansky

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question!
You already mentioned your affinity for Quan Yin, what other gods or goddesses would you like to see re-envisioned for 2012? I promise to give you credit if we steal… I mean, borrow your idea 🙂

Oh geez, don’t ask Mom to pick a favorite! Of course here on the website I’ve gotten to discuss a lot of my favorites already, that’s the joy of having your own site! We already mentioned Kuan Yin. I haven’t gotten to her on the site yet, but I have an affection for Kali. I tend to have a soft for figures who have been misunderstood or who have gotten a bad rap, so I list Set, Pandora, and Haephaetus amongst my favorites. I love Pele because in my opinion, what woman doesn’t? And I could go on, and on. But a real favorite of mine was technically an actual woman, but in my mind she is as legendary of a figure as an mythological character of her era, and that is Phryne, the courtesan of ancient Greece who lived a life larger than perhaps the Gods themselves.

About Avi Glijansky:
Avi Glijansky is an independent filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. He is the Writer and Director of several short films including OCEAN CITY (Haig Manoogian Post Production Award, NYU; Opening Night Film, Cape May NJ State Film Festival; Nominee Best Student Short, Ashland Independent Film Festival, First Glance Philadelphia Film Festival, Rehobooth Beach Film Festival; Nominee Best Dramatic Short, Ohio Independent Film Festival). In 2005, a draft of his feature film screenplay, 30TH STREET, took 2nd place in the “25 and Under” category of the annual Set in Philadelphia Screenplay Competition organized by the Philadelphia Film Office. In 2006, Avi and his producing partner, Adam Spielberg (Ramin Bahrani’s PLASTIC BAG), were among the final 15 filmmakers considered by Jonathan Lethem when he held a contest to give away the option to his novel YOU DON’T LOVE ME YET. Avi also adapted the novel MESSIAH, by Gore Vidal, for producers Mark Petracca (WILDWOOD DAYS) and Michael Butler (HAIR). From January 2007 through January 2009, Avi was a Production and Development Executive at Los Angeles-based Upload Films. During his time at Upload, Avi was intimately involved in all of the company’s projects including SHOTGUN STORIES, THE BABYSITTERS, PRINT, and DROOL. Avi is the Writer/Director/Co-Producer of THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CUPID AND EROS, an original web series about the love god Cupid and his terrible love life. Season 1, which features guest appearances by Bradford Anderson (GENERAL HOSPITAL) Jeff Cannata (THE TOTALLY RAD SHOW) and Taryn O’Neill (COMPULSIONS), had its finale on Feb 28th 2011. The show was one of six winners of NYU’s Inaugural Web Series Showcase and has received great reviews from Tubefilter, Eguiders, ThoseVideoGuys, Indie Intertube PopCultureMonster and tVadio. Most recently, Avi, co-created, co-wrote and produced THE SILVERLAKE BADMINTON AND ADVENTURERS CLUB which won the judges prize at the Celebrate the Web 4: Raising the Bar Web Pilot Festival.

You can follow him on twitter @ag457 and find his work online at www.highway9pictures.com

Hey Folks! Rebecca here. I told Avi that I was going to embed the first episode, “I’m Fine”, of “The Further Adventures of Cupid and Eros” here at the end of the interview. I told him that after my readers saw the first 5 minute episode they wouldn’t be able to resist watching the rest of the series. So go ahead, give it a try. We’ll talk in the comments after you watched the rest of the series. 🙂

The Feast of the Ladies of the Night

Most readers know that I’m a pretty big fan of author Claude Lecouteux, and that his latest book, “Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead” may very well be my favorite. In fact, it was one of my favorite things of 2011! However, in a book full of interesting history, legends, and folktales, there was one particular section that really stuck with me since I read it; “The Good Women Who Roam the Night”.

Lecouteux’s writing is dense, rich with the fruits of exhaustive research. I couldn’t hope to do a summary that would even come close to doing justice to the man’s work. Instead, let me ditch the scholarship and attempt to explain why after reading “Phantom Armies of the Night” I decided this holiday season to leave food and drink out for The Feast of the Ladies of the Night.

I’m guessing it’s an idea not exclusive to the Middle Ages, nor to the German speaking countries of the era, but there had been a belief that there were a troop of women who would roam the night. Specifically they would travel during the holy nights between the birth of Jesus and the night of Epiphany. Led by Dame Abundia and Satia, or Fraw Percht or Perchtum, these ladies would visit homes. If the households had chosen to leave out food and drink for the ladies to feast on (being sure to have all containers open), the homes would be blessed with prosperity and abundance for the next year. Needless to say, the Church wasn’t a fan of such customs. At best they considered the practice a misguided superstition, at their most assertive the Church worked to recast these Good Women as minions of Satan, eaters of babies and corrupters of households.

I’m no stranger to mythologies, religions, or folktales, but for some reason the plight of these Good Women touched my heart. Not only had they been forgotten by so many, but to potentially be remembered as something so perverted from your true nature? It seemed like not such a big deal to set out a little something and take a moment to remember them as they were intended.

My Feast for the Good Women

10 Questions with Claude Lecouteux

A little note here from me (Rebecca). Claude Lecouteux, in my opinion, is a certified bad ass. His book “The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind” became an all-time favorite of mine as soon as I read it. In the two years since of doing book reviews “The Return of the Dead” is still one of my favorites to recommend. Lecouteux’s latest book, “Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and Ghostly Processions of the Undead” is simply amazing. I’d say go buy it now but I want you to stick around because it was my extremely giddy honor to get to interview Claude Lecouteux and I want everyone to read that. Seriously, like every single person ever, because I got to interview Claude Lecouteux!

Crap, what did I actually set out here to say? Oh yeah. Claude Lecouteux is French and as such English is not his native language so some of the phrasing and use of language may seem “off”. Since the only French I know comes from the song “Lady Marmalade”, I was impressed at how good his answers came across.

1. With previous books such as “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies” and “The Return of the Dead” it seems like much of your work has now culminated in your new book “The Wild Hunt and Ghostly Processions of the Undead”. Is that the case?

It is not the case. The field of my research is so large that I was constrained to go step by step. “The Return of the Dead” showed me the different facets of the believes connected with the death and the dead. This book was a first approach, the basis of my other investigations: I could not say and explain all the ramifications of the subject just in one book.

In “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies” I found the answer to a question that bored me: what returns? A shape? A corpse? A soul in human form? The answer was the alter ego, the root of the believe in an external soul.

The “Phantom Armies of the Night” explores the return of troops of dead and tries to show that we are confronted with a blend of different legends which roots are the believe in a life after the life, the dangers for the livings to meet such troops, what often involves an obligation, and a warning: don’t have an unsocial behaviour, don’t transgress the moral codex of the community.

2. For readers unfamiliar with the term, could you describe what The Wild Hunt is?

The Wild Hunt is a band of the dead whose passage over the earth at certain times of the year is accompanied by diverse phenomena. The leader of that Hunt is a giant or a devil or a warning rider. Unfortunately the Wild Hunt was confused with the legend of the Wild Hunter.

3. How does The Wild Hunt differ from other troops of the dead or phantom armies that show up in folklore and mythology?

The Wild Hunt differs from the other troops through its highly Christian character and through its message: be careful in all you act! A bad life involves the damnation, the members of the Hunt are sinners.

4. With so many versions of The Wild Hunt and associated processions of the undead how did you go about sorting through all of it to find the definitive stories?

I search first the common points, then the sources of the differences, I compare all the testimonies I have found and analyze the part the Medieval church plays in the variations. A myth is the result of all its variations.

5. One of things I find fascinating in your books is how you show the role Christianity has played in shaping and/or distorting Pagan folklore. While researching your books do you find this an interesting puzzle to work out or just a frustrating obstacle in getting to the heart of a particular legend?

I found it an interesting enigma. I am like a detective investigating for traces. One of the aims of my studies is to raise the veil of the Christian distortions.

6. You kick off “Phantom Armies of the Night” discussing “The Good Women Who Roam the Night”. Although later in the book they are sometimes associated with leading unbaptized children who have died (obviously an unpleasant thought), and of course there is the mandatory demonization by Christianity, at the heart they seem like perhaps the only group discussed that doesn’t do harm or act as a harbinger of bad things to come. Is that correct, because I may opt to see if they’ll eat at my house this year.

You are right! The good woman leading a troop of dead children is not a harbinger of bad things to come. And if the good women, three in number, visit your home and if you have done what they expected, you’ll be happy and lucky.

7. My readers may not be aware, but you are French and live in Paris. Your latest book, “Phantom Armies”, was actually published in French in 1999 under the title “Chasses fantastiques et cohorts de la nuit au moyen age”. Do you get nervous about having your work translated into other languages?

I am not nervous if I can read the translation before publication. But it’s not always the case. My books were translated in 12 languages – Chinese, Czech, etc. – so that I have no control. I just understand the west and north European languages.

8. Since your work is published in France and then America, what are some upcoming projects that my readers can look forward to in either country, or both?

Jon Graham will translate two other books of mine: my analysis of the poltergeists and my Dictionary of the magical and medicinal stones and gems.

In France the next book is entitled “The poisonous maiden”, an anthology of legends and fairy tales of the Middle Ages; this is a part of my corpus of research, like my other anthologies on Werewolves, Dwarfs, Vampires and other selections I published.

The translation of Franz Obert’s “Tales of Transylvania” (collected 1856) I made with my wife will appear soon.

My last project I began 1995 is a Dictionary of the magical words and formulas; to day 1000 entries!

9. You conclude “Phantom Armies of the Night” by saying, “As you will have guessed, an investigation such as ours here is an attempt at discovery. We cannot reach a conclusion, and to reach one would be presumptuous, as long as so many texts remain to be exhumed, so many testimonies remain to be pulled from unpublished archives that are piled on library shelves.” With the book already being 12 years-old, does this mean perhaps we can look forward to an updated edition in the future?

It depends not from me but from the editors!

Karin Ueltschi, a friend of mine, wrote her PhD on the subject; I was in the jury and I can say her book (published in 2008) can be considered as the updated edition of my study.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

Hi! It’s Rebecca again. I think the kind of joke of asking me a question got lost in translation, so I’ll use this space to share a few final thoughts.

1. Buy “Phantom Armies of the Night”.
2. Please Inner Traditions, hurry and publish an English version of “The Poisonous Maiden”!
3. When you do publish it (soon), for goodness sake keep the title “The Poisonous Maiden”! What a great title!
4. I get a review copy of that, right?

About Claude Lecouteux:
Claude Lecouteux is a former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne. He is the author of numerous books on medieval and pagan afterlife beliefs, including “The Return of the Dead”, “The Secret History of Vampires”, and “Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies”. He lives in Paris.

The Vengeful Djinn Introduction

Not too long ago I received a review copy of “The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agendas of Genies” by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip J. Imbrogno. I really enjoyed the book and set about trying to verbalize what the book was about and why it was a worthy read. The problem was, my mind kept wandering back to the introduction written by Philip J. Imbrogno. It was just so good at explaining the book, and it did so in such a way that I couldn’t wait to get into reading the book itself. On a whim I contacted Llewellyn, the publisher of “The Vengeful Djinn” about being able to publish Imbrogno’s introduction on The Magical Buffet for my readers, and much to my delight they said yes.

So without further ado, Philip J. Imbrogno’s introduction from “The Vengeful Djinn”!

INTRODUCTION

There has been a growing interest in the paranormal in the past several decades. Ghosts, poltergeists, spook lights, demons, angels, fairies, shadow people, strange creatures, and UFOs have become staples of movies and prime-time television shows. Our attraction to the supernatural is more than a passing fascination—claims of encounters with paranormal entities such as those mentioned above are not restricted to believers or wide-eyed dreamers. Accounts of sometimes frightening experiences are made by people from all walks of life—credible people—who report seemingly incredible things.

I have been investigating paranormal phenomena with an emphasis on UFOs for more than thirty years. I have found myself amazed and sometimes even confused by the variety of reports I’ve received. I’d often ask myself, “Where do these phenomena come from and where do they go when they aren’t seen?” The answer to this question can now be answered by new ideas in theoretical physics. One of these new ideas states that our universe is composed of not one, but multiple dimensions, some very close to our own and many far away in space and time. Periodically, several of these closer dimensions may interact with our world, resulting in the merging of several realities.

My investigations over the years have led me to believe that what we call “the paranormal” takes on a variety of guises, making us humans think we are witnessing multi-faceted phenomena. Actually, this may not be the case at all. In one of these other realities or dimensions close to our own is an intelligent, ancient race that has existed before humans walked the earth—beings with great power who throughout recorded history have been identified by every culture. The Native American shamans call them the “great tricksters,” and to the Hindu of India they are known as “deceivers.” In the West, they are called “devils” and “demons.” New Age spiritualists know them as “the con men of the universe.” This ancient race may be responsible for the majority of paranormal events witnessed over the centuries. We have known very little about them, for only one part of the world has historically documented them and their effect on the human race. Ancient Middle Eastern lore tell tales of a race of mysterious and highly intelligent creatures called the djinn. In the Qur’an, a surah entitled Al-djinn frequently mentions the djinn and refers to them as “God’s other people.” The word djinn is thought to be derived from the Arabic root janna, which means “hidden” and should not be confused with the Arabic word jannah, which means “paradise.”

In the West, the djinn are known as the genies of fairy tales, wish-giving entities trapped in bottles, lamps, and rings. The word genie usually conjures up exotic but harmless images, such as the 1960s television series I Dream of Jeannie, in which Barbara Eden played an obliging, well-meaning, and often ditzy genie freed from a bottle by an astronaut, played by Larry Hagman. “Genie” also has comical associations, such as in the Disney movie Aladdin, based on the tale from Arabian lore. In these depictions, genies may have a bit of prankster in them, but they seem benign, even helpful, and we in the West laugh at them. We have little knowledge and lack fear of the real race, the djinn.

Middle Eastern cultures have a considerably different view of the djinn, however. In many Islamic households, just speaking the name of the djinn will cause the bravest to flee in terror. They consider the djinn to be quite real and a great threat to humanity, causing misfortune, illness, possession, and even death. The djinn hide in the shadows, biding their time and watching us, looking for opportunities to strike, interacting with humans only when it suits their purpose. They are powerful shapeshifters and can live for thousands of years. To cross the djinn is to invite destruction.

My introduction to the world of the djinn began in the mid-1990s while I was traveling through the Middle East researching the Knights Templar and their connection to the Holy Grail. After two weeks of what seemed to be nothing more than a wild goose chase, I began to hear stories about the djinn. At first I had no idea what they were. An old friend, who later became my guide through some very perilous country there, explained the djinn as the origin of the Western “genie.” Like many westerners, I laughed, thinking of those jolly wish-granting spirits. Well, my host took the existence of the djinn very seriously—to him, they were very real. The djinn’s true nature and reality became evident to me as I collected a great deal of information on them and visited some of the places where they are reputed to enter our world. I realized they represent an aspect of the paranormal that had been largely untouched by western researchers. I also realized the djinn could be the hidden source of the diversity of paranormal events everywhere.

I briefly introduced the djinn in two of my previous books, Interdimensional Universe: The New Science of UFOs, Paranormal Phenomena, and Otherdimensional Beings and Files from the Edge: A Paranormal Investigator’s Explorations into High Strangeness. Although I didn’t go into much detail, I found the djinn attracted a lot of curiosity and attention among readers.

Several years ago, noted paranormal investigator Rosemary Ellen Guiley and I began investigating paranormal hot spots in New York that generate a great number of reports relating to UFOs and other types of phenomena. We have been exploring the possibility that in many of these high strangeness locations, portals that connect our world to an unseen world exist. When I mentioned my research on the djinn to Rosemary, she told me she was very interested in them due to her research into angels, demons, fairies, and shadow people. After many long discussions, things began falling into place; we could see the connections among parallel dimensions, the emergence of paranormal phenomena, and the race of ancient beings that exist in a reality very close to our own. During our research, we gathered evidence of the djinn in the Western Hemisphere and applied it to paranormal and UFO phenomena. The result is an interesting and compelling picture that raises many questions about what people are really experiencing. Are the djinn behind our paranormal encounters and experiences? Are they behind some of the terrifying experiences people report? If so, what is their purpose? According to ancient lore, the djinn once occupied this world, and they seek to reclaim it. Are they using paranormal avenues to invade our reality? Is their reality merging with ours? We should consider all of these possibilities. There may be a dark agenda below the surface of our experiences, and we fail to see it because we’re preoccupied with the superficial characteristics of the experiences themselves. No one has the complete solution to this cosmic puzzle yet, but I believe we are offering a number of important pieces to solve the mystery.

This book will take you on an adventure into a world of the unseen, hidden from us in the shadows for countless centuries. We present to you the truth about the race of beings you thought only existed in your imagination—or your nightmares. If you choose to fear anything in your life, fear the djinn. Enter their world…if you dare!

–Philip J. Imbrogno

Excerpt reproduced from The Vengeful Djinn by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Philip J. Imbrogno © 2011 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. 2143 Wooddale Drive, Woodbury MN 55125-2989. Used with the permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Hooters and Goddess Worship?

Here’s the deal folks, I like Hooters. The restaurant, not the anatomy. However I think we can all agree that Salma Hayek’s are quite magnificent. Much the way people say they read Playboy for the articles (and let’s all admit that occasionally they do have great articles), people say they go to Hooters for the food. And you know what folks? Holy crap is their chicken delicious! I never had an aversion to Hooters, but I had just never found the reason to go there to eat. Then one weekday afternoon while out and about with my boyfriend (who became my husband) it was suggested that we go to Hooters for lunch. We had a pretty waitress, who honestly was lacking a little in the hooter department, that I kept thinking must be freezing in her outfit. It was also a touch odd to realize I was the only woman that was a customer. I had their Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and proclaimed that it was in fact the finest Buffalo Chicken Sandwich I’d ever had. It was good enough that I’m actually bummed that there is no longer a Hooters restaurant in the area. Sigh….

Anyway, my affection for Hooters is why I was so intrigued when I found an article called “Hooters and Goddess Worship?” on the Surohorus website. (Update: The site is now found here.) Despite admitting to never going to a Hooters (a bit of honesty I appreciate), Suroh makes some interesting points with regards to some of the symbolism associated with the restaurant chain. And although I doubt that by frequenting the establishment you run the risk of “eating something inedible and dying”, I am amused to now associate Hooters with Athena. When you consider the level of influence some of those waitresses have on their customers, perhaps them embodying a bit of the divine isn’t as far off as previously thought.

Hooters and Goddess Worship?

By Suroh
(Article was originally published on 11/28/10 at http://thesurohorus.tk/ and is used with the author’s permission.)

Introduction

Hooters restaurant is a standard sports bar aside from one thing, the wait staff is primarily made up of extremely attractive women usually scantily clothed. I myself have never been to a Hooters before but I am more than sure most males growing up in North America have heard about the chain on TV or in the movies. The attractive women are more than capable to keep everyone minds occupied for the time within the doors of a Hooters restaurant as the “Customers” are kept in a daze fantasizing about the waitresses. Little do the men know they are taking part in an ancient rite of goddess worship.

Sexual Innuendo

The name Hooters is a term originally used to refer to an Owl. In the modern age it has been known to take a quite a different meaning…or is it just understood too simply?

Hooter
•One that hoots, especially an owl.
•hooters Vulgar Slang. A woman’s breasts.

Sex sells right? It is common practice for advertising and marketers to veil sexual innuendo to keep the prospective customers attention. Proof is this is the complete disconnect of commercials themselves and the actual product they are actually selling. It’s the old magicians trick. Occupy the mark (person) with something trivial that will draw them in order to manipulate them better towards your real goal. It happens every day. For example buy one get one free, 20% Off*On Selected Merchandise only. Almost always it comes with a catch where the deal is no where near as good as what was claimed. In my experience utilities (Phone and Internet) companies are the worse known for this. But that’s a whole article in itself.

The Symbol of the Goddess

The logo for the Hooters chain is an Owl. Owls have been identified with many ancient gods, for example Athena in Greek mythology the goddess of war, civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, crafts, justice and skill. Hera, another ancient Greek goddess, is also associated with the Owl.

Hera (HEE-ruh or HER-uh), Roman name Juno.
Hera was the goddess of marriage, the wife of Zeus and the Queen of the Olympians. Enemy of Heracles, she sent snakes to attack him when he was still an infant and later stirred up the Amazons against him when he was on one of his quests. On the other hand, Hera aided the hero Jason.

In Greek mythology, Hera was the reigning female goddess of Olympus because she was Zeus’s wife. But her worship is actually far older than that of her husband. It goes back to a time when the creative force we call “God” was conceived of as a woman. The Goddess took many forms, among them that of a bird.

Then when we take a look at the symbol from a global perspective of all beliefs/symbolism about the Owl, a much different pattern is discovered. In many cultures including the Aztecs, Africa, and Arabia the owl is considered a unbalanced symbol or a “negative” omen as it is a creature of the night and thus darkness. In essence the Owl represents unbalanced Male force. This again supports the exact environment existing when inside a Hooters restaurant.

Conclusion

Almost every public place we go has currents of metaphysical energy brought about and utilized to create and encourage certain types or styles of behavior. In most cases this is not negative or positive, it just is, but most importantly in order for it to remain neutral it is good to be aware of the influences being pressed upon you just as you monitor the types of things you eat in order to not eat something inedible and die.

To see more articles like this, visit http://suroh.tk/.

Touched by His Noodly Appendage

As you know, I have been publishing my old “Letters from the Publisher” from back when The Magical Buffet was a monthly e-zine because the letters didn’t migrate over to the new blog format. Most of my letters aren’t worth republishing. However there are a few that share some of my more personal thoughts that I wanted new readers to have access to. With that said, here is my “Letter from the Publisher” from May 2008.

What defines a religion? What is the nature of faith? Does religion require genuine faith or can it get by on a set of rituals and a community that acts in sync? Guess what? I can’t answer those questions! I think everyone has their own opinion to those sorts of questions, so I can’t, and won’t, pretend that my thoughts on such topics are answers. But what’s great is when something happens that makes people ask themselves these kinds of questions. Which brings me to the subject of this month’s Magical Buffet Mythology, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It’s true that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created out of an act of annoyance by founder Bobby Henderson. Specifically a letter of protest that he wrote to the Kansas State Board of Education, that he then also posted on the website www.venganza.org. Essentially it was a sarcastic piece explaining that he fully endorsed the idea of intelligent design being taught as a science, but if they were going to do that, he needed to stress the importance of the inclusion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster creation theory, which is certainly as valid as intelligent design. (Do yourself a favor and read it on the website, my sum up doesn’t do it justice at all.)

This has led many to say that Henderson is mocking faith, and to sum up most of the hate mail on the website, that he’s a jerk. Obviously, I don’t agree. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and its adherents, Pastafarians, serve a vital purpose. They force people to examine their beliefs and the double standards that exist in a country that is supposed to believe in a separation of Church and State. In March 2008, Pastafarians in Crossville, Tennessee successfully won city approval to place a Flying Spaghetti Monster statue next to the Courthouse, and proceeded to do so. If it’s good enough for the Ten Commandments, then it’s good enough for the adorable Flying Spaghetti Monster. They make schools ask themselves, what is science, and what is spiritual? And, they do it all with a wonderful sense of humor and a pirate’s accent!

Is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster a “real” religion? Well, they have a definite belief system, a rich mythology, and academic endorsements. People say they are Pastafarians, and are subject to harassment and threats, like many other religious groups. They do not have a not-for-profit status like most religions, but since many religions profit greatly from their followers anyway, I can’t hold that against the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The American Academy of Religion hosts discussions of the Pastafarians at their annual meetings.

I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I for one have been touched by His Noodly Appendage!

~Rebecca

I wrote this letter for the month I decided to feature the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the deity for the Magical Buffet Mythology. I wanted to explain its inclusion, and use it as a touchstone to discuss the nature of faith. In reading this letter now, and the profile I wrote up for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I realize I really didn’t do the FSM, or it’s church, justice. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do any better now. The thing with the Flying Spaghetti Monster is, either you get it or you don’t.

I love how the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has taken on a life of it’s own. Pastafarians challenge the idea of what makes a religion a religion, work tirelessly to uphold America’s separation of church and state, and endeavor to maintain the integrity of science. All of that awesomeness comes wrapped in an adorable little ball of spaghetti with a bunch of followers who talk like pirates.

What’s not love about this?

I still remain touched by His Noodly Appendage!

By the way, that awesome illustration of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was done by Will Hobbs back when I first published the Flying Spaghetti Monster article. It’s so adorable I couldn’t resist featuring it again here.

Magical Buffet Mythology: Phryne

Illustration by Will Hobbs

I frequently say that I love people who hustle. It’s a hard thing to define since I don’t necessarily mean “to earn one’s living by illicit or unethical means,” as Random House Dictionary says. When I say I love the hustle, or people who have got their “hustle on”, I’m generally talking about “to proceed or work rapidly or energetically, to push or force one’s way; jostle or shove, to be aggressive, esp. in business or other financial dealings,” as the rest of the 2010 Random House Dictionary entry states. Kathy Griffin? Hustle. Perez Hilton? Hustle. David Pitkin? Hustle. However there is one lady who I put above all others when thinking about the hustle. Is it Oprah? Nope, it’s a woman whose hustle was so potent that she, despite being an actual person, has become entwined with the Gods themselves.

Phryne arrived in ancient Athens, Greece at the age of thirteen during the time of the hetaerae, sophisticated female escorts. The hetaerae of the era wore see through gowns, blond wigs, extensive makeup and extravagant jewelry. All things that Phryne, coming from work in the caper fields, could not compete with. Instead of competing with these women head on, she changed the game entirely. That’s right, she got her hustle on.

Phryne created an air of mystery. She dressed in opaque robes and wore no makeup or wigs, often time fully covering herself in veils. Phryne insisted on making love in the dark and charged huge fees for her companionship that she adjusted as she liked. At the annual Festival of Poseidon she would perform a striptease at the holy temple and then walk naked through the crowds to the sea shore where she would reenact the birth of Aphrodite from the sea.

These things turned Phryne into a superstar, commanding unheard of prices for an evening. Poets and painters honored her as the goddess made flesh. The sculptor Praxiteles used her as the model for his Cnidian Aphrodite.

Perhaps that was the tipping point. As any celebrity that has shot to superstardom can tell you, there is always a backlash. In Phryne’s case, the city fathers charged her with blasphemy (Some say that Phryne asked too large a payment from one of the city’s officials who took revenge by indicting her on a charge of impiety). However, when the case seemed lost, her lawyer took a new approach. One only made possible by Phryne’s beauty and her skillful hustle. Her lawyer ripped open her gown and exposed her breasts for the court. In ancient Greece physical beauty was deemed to have been given to someone from the gods themselves. Phryne’s bosom was so beautiful that the court voted to release her as a prophetess and priestess of Aphrodite.

Now granted with divine immunity, Phryne was able to continue her life as the most exclusive of courtesans, living to a ripe old age and amassing a fortune. So vast was her wealth that she offered to rebuild the wall of Thebes after Alexander the Great destroyed it, on the condition that the Thebans agreed to inscribe on the new wall “destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the courtesan”. They declined her offer.

And that my friends is what I call a hustle of mythological proportions.