I believe there is only one Museum of Funeral Customs in the world. It is located in Springfield, Illinois, near Oak Ridge Cemetery, the site of Abraham Lincoln's tomb. Our web analytics company invited us to visit the museum with their staff. The museum contained exhibits dealing with American funerary and mourning customs and various related collections. Basically, it provides resources to scholars for researching funeral customs, hosts tours and special events.
We were amazed to find all kinds of funeral paraphernalia from various cultures and times. Personally, I liked rare books collection on embalming dating as early as the 16th century. We saw at the museum recreated 19th century middle class American home funeral setting, recreated embalming room from Jazz generation of the 1920s. There were exhibits of embalming equipment and instruments, examples of postmortem photography and even the scale models of Lincoln's tomb and funeral train.
Naturally, there is humor in everything, even death. We found confirmation of this when we visited museum's gift shop. It did not make much sense to us that this shop was selling plain polo shirts or sweatshirts. But my co-workers and I purchased plenty of hilarious stuff, like milk chocolate coffins, wooden and silver casket key rings, casket-shaped paper weights. One of our guys still wears at work the t-shirt with a morbid sign that says "Everybody's Gotta Go Sometime…"
Recently I found out that lost lands and lost places are also called mythical or mythological places.I am easy and will not argue about terminology. The most important thing to me is that these places might have existed in earlier times but their actual location is now lost. After all, there is often some scientific, historical or archaeological evidence, as well as myths and legends that indicate such places may have existed or are awaiting discovery, or, the way I put it, rediscovery. It was not an easy task to compile the list of such places. I would not be surprised that I missed some of these names as well. Some kind souls from my local web analytics company were pro-actively helping me to compile the list. I will, probably, try to tell you about each of these lost lands (or “mythological places) in my future blog entries. So read on. And by the way, the list is down below.
Agartha. A legendary city that supposedly resides in the Earth’s core.
Annwn. The “afterworld” of Welsh mythology.
Atlantis. The legendary lost continent that was supposed to have sunk into the Atlantic Ocean; there are many differing opinions on what and where Atlantis was.
Avalon. Legendary Island of Apples in the British Isles. It is believed by some to be the final resting place of King Arthur.
Ayotha Amirtha Gangai. An instrumental river in Ayyavazhi mythology.
Biarmaland - A mighty kingdom described in Norse sagas as lying to the north of Russia
Camelot - Supposedly the city from which King Arthur reigned.
City of the Caesars - A city between a mountain of gold and another of diamonds supposed to be situated in Patagonia.
Cockaigne - In medieval mythology, it is a land of plenty where want does not exist.
Garden of Eden - The original birthplace and home of humanity according to Abrahamic religions. The first humans were banished from it after disobeying God and it was destroyed in a Deluge.
El Dorado - Rumored city of gold in South America.
Hawaiki - The ancestral island of the Polynesians, particularly the Māori.
Heaven - According to many religions, the place in which noble souls reside.
Hell - According to many religions, the place in which evil souls reside.
Lemuria - A supposed “lost land” that was found in either the Indian or Pacific Ocean.
Lyonesse - A fingerlike spit of land that was many believe once branched off the southwestern coast of Cornwall in England.
Mag Mell or Tir na nÓg - The afterworld of Irish mythology; it is similar in many respects to the Norse Valhalla.
Mu - It is believed to be a sunken continent in the Pacific Ocean. It is often confused with Lemuria.
Nibiru - A mythological planet described by the Babylonians.
Phaeton - A hypothetical planet between Mars and Jupiter that was suggested by Heinrich Wilhelm Matthäus Olbers. He supposed that the planet’s destruction formed the Asteroid Belt. Some scientists refer to this proposed planet as Tiamat.
Quivira and Cíbola - Two of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold supposed by Spanish conquistadors to have existed in the Americas.
Kingdom of Saguenay. In Algonquin Indian belief, it was a rich city of blonde men that existed in Canada prior to the French colonization of the landmass. It is currently believed to have been a city of early, unrecorded European colonists.
Kvenland. Land next to Sweden at the northern shores of Baltic sea, probably ancient Finland or some of its parts
Shambhala. In Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this kingdom is hidden somewhere in the Himalayas.
Shangri-La. A peaceful, isolated land in the Himalayas suggested by British author James Hilton.
Terra Australis Incognita. The great unknown southern land that cartographers believed occupied most of the southern hemisphere until Captain James Cook discovered and circumnavigated Australia, New Zealand, and Antarctica.
Thule. An island that was supposed to have existed somewhere in the belt of Scandinavia, northern Great Britain, Iceland, and Greenland.
Thuvaraiyam Pathi. In Ayyavazhi mythology, it was a sunken island some 150 miles off the south coast of India.
Ys. A city located in Brittany, France that was supposedly built below sea level, protected by a dam, and eventually destroyed when the Devil released the water held back by the dam.
I guess, it is high time I switched to magic in Middle Ages. So, where should I begin? There is so much material that I read in my web analytics company. Medieval authors, under the control of the Church, confined their magic to compilations of wonder lore and collections of spells. Many of them created quite a number of such compilations. Specifically Christianized varieties of magic were devised during this period.
In the early Middle Ages, the cult of relics as objects not only of veneration but also of supernatural power arose. Miraculous tales were told of the power of relics of the saints to work miracles, not only to heal the sick, but for purposes like swaying the outcome of a battle. The relics had become amulets, and various churches strove to purchase scarce or valuable examples, hoping to become places of pilgrimage. As in any other economic endeavor, demand gave rise to supply. Tales of the miracle-working relics of the saints were compiled later into quite popular collections like the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine or the Dialogus miraculorum of Caesar of Heisterbach.
There were other, officially proscribed varieties of Christianized magic. The demonology and angelology contained in the earliest grimoires assume a life surrounded by Christian implements and sacred rituals. The underlying theology in these works of Christian demonology encourages the magician to fortify himself with fasting, prayers, and sacraments, so that by using the holy names of God in the sacred languages, he could use divine power to coërce demons into appearing and serving his usually lustful or avaricious magical goals. Not surprisingly, the Church disapproved of these rites.
A couple of days ago I got into heavy discussion at the office of my web analytics company. Guess, about what? Of course, history of ancient astrology. As far as I know, astrology of ancient Egyptians appeared slightly later in ancient Babylon. The outcome of this historical competition is still not clear, because the archaeologists still did not make up their minds. But we know, that astrology has a very ancient history in Egypt, with star charts found there going back to 4,200BC.
Egyptian astrology was dominated by the combination of the sun and the dog-star Sirius, as it foretold when in the year the Nile river would flood, bringing fertility and life to what was otherwise barren desert. The pyramids of Egypt also reflect the importance given to astrology, as they are oriented towards the North pole of the sky and had a dual role as burial place for the pharaohs and astrological calculators. Various pharaohs took an interest in astrology. Ramses II or Ozymandias as he was traditionally better known, was credited with fixing the positions of the cardinal signs Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn. Some zodiac signs are said to be Egyptian in origin, including Aries, Leo, and possibly Gemini. Anyways, the first examples of the zodiac as we know it today appeared in ancient Egypt.