marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

tidbits cross time

China forbade the keeping of private or sectarian calendar as lese majeste -- only the Emperor could control time like that. Hence complicating life for Jews, since they could not count from Creation.

The Beng killed children who were born with a tooth, or who learned to walk before they had teeth, as harbingers of bad luck.

The Roman emperor Claudius decreed the law that abandoned slaves were thereby free.

Russian cosmonauts carried good hefty guns because they would land in Siberia, among the bears.

On an Indonesian island, it was believed that a person could gain the possessing spirit that would enable witchcraft merely by running naked outside.

At the trial of Marie Manning, it was argued that the jurors had to include people of French or Swiss descent to be fair to the defendant. (She wore black satin to her execution, creating an urban legend that it consequently went out of fashion for a time from the association, but looking at fashion magazines of the time rebuts that.)

Japanese poetry uses copper pheasants as a metaphor because the cock and hen do not roost together.

Egyptian priests in antiquity would wear only freshly washed linen for their services, considering other fabrics impure.

Comanche fathers could name their children, but they preferred to ask a medicine man to do it.

Hallowtide -- the time around All Saints' Day -- was urged as a good time for wedding. As you could not marry during the fasting time of Advent.

During the Angolan civil war, after the end of Portuguese colonization, both sides boosted their claim to be the legitimate government by hunting witches.

One reason why mythic and legendary smiths are often lame may be arsenic poisoning. It can be used to make bronze, though the side effects did favor tin.

Ashkenazic women would make wicks into candles "for the dead" and "for the living" between Rosh Hashanah and Yon Kipper and then burn them on Yon Kipper-- sometimes at home, sometimes at the synagogue. If the one for the living went out, it was a sign that someone in the household would die.

In Iceland, knitting on the doorstep during late winter was forbidden as it would cause spring to be late.

Hungarian witch lore from the time of the witch trials was unusually heavy with accounts of fights between magicians of all kinds.

Ginkgo trees survived the atom bomb in Hiroshima, one of them little more than half a mile away from the center.

A medieval Jew, having a grievance against another Jew and having exhausted all other recourse, could disrupt a service or a Torah reading.

A Qin law prescribes thirty days hard labor for stealing mulberry leaves, with the explicit note that this was even if the value of the leaves did not amount to a single coin.

In a region of Transvaal, any woman seen out of door naked was taken for a witch.

At the feast of Matralia, Roman women -- if single or in their first marriage -- would pray for the well-being of their nieces and nephews. They would then beat a slave woman and drive her out of the temple.

One English custom for Hallowtide was to light a fire in a field, and gather around it to pray for the dead until the fire went out.

The conquest of Egypt by the Roman empire led to bad times in the temples. As a consequence, many temple lectors offered more of the magical services that they had long performed, expanding them past the traditional protection to just about any magical task, and more complex ones, leading to the Greek magical papyri. These were amalgams of religious influence, particularly those of common in Egypt: Egyptian itself, Greek, and Jewish. (Identifying Apollo with Helios and Raphael.) The Jewish magic texts used these for a long time, particularly the voces magicia, nonsense words presumed to have meaning to the summoned spirit -- but they did omit all the threats to make the god do what the practitioner wished, and the syncretism.

Among the Navajo, legend instructs that baby girls' arms should be rubbed with a spider web from before a hole in order that she will not grow weary of weaving.

Seneca derided silk clothing as not clothing since it provided neither protection nor modesty. (That prostitutes had been the first adopters probably did not help.)

The Scottish Highlands had very few witch hunts. Part of it may be that cursing someone who had wronged you was seen as a legitimate means of getting back at the person, subject to issues about disproportionate effects and all -- but no more so than more mundane means.
Tags: historical tidbits

  • Sidelights on New London and Newer York and Other Essays

    Sidelights on New London and Newer York and Other Essays by G.K. Chesterton Chesterton mostly on the Jazz Age. The first two parts are heavily…

  • Avowals and Denials

    Avowals and Denials - A Book of Essays by G.K. Chesterton A selection of essays written by Chesterton in 1934. More or less topical. It helps, for…

  • Image and Imagination

    Image and Imagination: Essays and Reviews by C.S. Lewis A collection of his work, often occasional. It gives some interesting glances. A review of…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded