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Oct 9, 2008

The Romans in fact went further then the Greeks in their condemnation and fearfulness that they generate around their concept of magic. Some examples of are found in the writings of Seneca, the philosopher and playwright, and his nephew, Lucan. While doing my research in archives of web analytics company I found something else. Seneca selects some of the most gruesome Greek myths for dramatic treatment and he greatly adds to the negative connotations already applied to the theme of magic, necromancy and the like - where it is given by the mythical tradition and sometimes even where there is little negativity indicated towards magic. From dialogue between wife of the Hercules Deineira and her nurse we learn that it is quite common for jealous wives to consult a witch. It turns out, the nurse, very conveniently, is a witch herself. A great hero such as Hercules should not be able to be influenced by magical means, but in the end he is overcome by the deadly concoction that the evil magic user passes on to Hercules, through deceiving Deianira into the belief that she is giving Hercules a love charm.

In Seneca’s version Medea’s power of hating, which she can switch on and intensify at will is still the dominant theme, but Medea is now given a full cupboard of horrors from which to select the most efficient means of magical destruction. Her magic can even, apparently affect the cosmos, as she claims that she can force down the constellation of the Snake.

Jun 10, 2008

We often use word Shangri-La in a similar context to Garden of Eden, It means for us some kind of a perfect paradise that exists hidden from modern man. In some cases we use it as an analogy for a life-long quest or something elusive that is much sought by man in the form of love, happiness, or Utopian ideals. Shangri-La has its place with other mythical and famous examples such as The Holy Grail, El Dorado, The Fountain of Youth. But, in fact, this word came to us from… fiction. This word first appeared in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, Shangri-La is a mystical, harmonious valley, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. The novel was so popular, that this word became synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia. From my web analytics company archives I found, that the author based the story of Shangri-La is based on the concept of Shambhala, a mystical city in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

It is getting funnier, though. As years rolled by, several locations in the Buddhist Himalaya between northern India and Tibet claimed to be the basis for Hilton's legend, largely to attract tourism. A popularly believed inspiration for Shangri-La is the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, close to the Tibetan border, which Hilton visited a few years before Lost Horizon was published. Being an isolated green valley surrounded by mountains, enclosed on the western end of the Himalayas, it closely matches the description in the novel. A Shangri-La resort in the nearby Skardu valley is another popular tourist attraction.

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May 30, 2008

Everybody who is familiar with the famous Arthurian legend, heard this magical word Avalon. It sounds mysterious and has its origin from the Celtic word that means "apple". In the legend, it is an island somewhere in Britain, famous for its beautiful apples. When it comes to facts, though, not much is know about the exact location of the island and existence of its inhabitants. During my research at my local web analytics company, I found additional facts that allowed me to decode the past with much less difficulty.

Avalon is the place, where King Arthur is taken to recover from his wounds after his last battle with Mordred at Camlann, and where his sword Excalibur was forged. Welsh and Breton tradition claimed that Arthur had never really died, but would return to lead his people against their enemies, but some later writers were less credulous, and said that Arthur had in fact died there. Although primarily known in connection with King Arthur, Avalon is sometimes referred to as the legendary location where Jesus visited the British Isles with Joseph of Arimathea and that it was later the site of the first church in Britain. This location of the Isle of Avalon is usually associated with present day Glastonbury. Avalon also plays a role in non-Arthurian French literature, such as the stories of Holger Danske, who was taken there by Morgan le Fay in a medieval romance, and in the story of Melusine. A nearby valley is named the Vale of Avalon.

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Ekaterina G.
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Delray Beach, FL, USA
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