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Apr 17, 2007
Zodiac Tattoo


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Posted: Apr 17, 2007 7:25am
Apr 5, 2007

Yes, there was a real Dracula, and he was a true prince of darkness. He was Prince Vlad III Dracula, also known as Vlad Tepes, meaning "Vlad the Impaler." The Turks called him Kaziglu Bey, or "the Impaler Prince." He was the prince of Walachia, but, as legend suggests, he was born in Transylvania, which at that time was ruled by Hungary. According to legend, Walachia was founded in 1290 by a Transylvanian named Radu Negru, or Rudolph the Black. Dracula's grandfather, Prince Mircea the Old, reigned from 1386 to 1418. He fought to keep Walachia independent from the Turks but was forced to pay tribute to them. He and his descendants continued to rule Walachia, but under the suzerainty of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The throne of Walachia was not necessarily passed from father to son. The prince was elected by the country's boyars, or land-owning nobles. This caused fighting among family members, assassinations, and other unpleasantness. Eventually the royal House of Basarab was split into two factions -- Mircea's descendants, and the descendants of another prince named Dan II. Dan's descendants were called the Danesti. Mircea had an illegitimate son, Vlad, born around 1390. He grew up in the court of King Sigismund of Hungary, first probably as a hostage and later as a page. Sigismund, who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410, founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon to uphold Catholicism and fight Turkey. Vlad was admitted to the Order, probably in 1431. The boyars of Walachia started to call him Dracul, meaning "dragon." Vlad's second son would be known as Dracula, or "son of the dragon." Dracul also meant "devil." So some of Dracula's enemies called him "son of the devil." Sigismund made Vlad the military governor of Transylvania, a post he held from 1431 to 1435. During that time he lived in the town of Sighisoara or Schassburg. You can still visit the citadel there and even the house where Vlad's son Dracula was born. Today there's a restaurant on the second floor. There's also a mural in the house that may depict Vlad Dracul. Young DraculaDracula was born in November or December of 1431. His given name was Vlad. He had an older brother, Mircea, and a younger brother, Radu the Handsome. Their mother may have been a Moldavian princess or a Tranyslvanian noble. It is said that she educated Dracula in his early years. Later he was trained for knighthood by an old boyar who had fought the Turks. Dracula's father was not content to remain a mere governor forever. During his years in Transyvlania, he gathered supporters for his plan to seize Walachia's throne from its current occupant, a Danesti prince named Alexandru I. In late 1436 or early 1437 Vlad Dracul killed Alexandru and became Prince Vlad II. Vlad was a vassal of Hungary and also had to pay tribute to Hungary's enemy, Turkey. In 1442 Turkey invaded Transylvania. Vlad tried to stay neutral, but Hungary's rulers blamed him and drove him and his family out of Walachia. A Hungarian general, Janos Hunyadi (who may have been the illegitimate son of Emperor Sigismund) made a Danesti named Basarab II the prince of Walachia. The following year Vlad regained the throne with the help of the sultan of Turkey. In 1444 he sent his two younger sons to Turkey to prove his loyalty. Dracula was about 13. He spent the next four years in Adrianople, Turkey as a hostage. In 1444 Hungary went to war with Turkey and demanded that Vlad join the crusade. As a member of the Order of the Dragon, Vlad was sworn to obey this summons. But he didn't want to anger the Turks, so he sent his eldest son, Mircea, in his place. The Christian army was demolished at the Battle of Varna, and Vlad and Mircea blamed Janos Hunyadi. In 1447 Vlad and Mircea were murdered. Mircea was killed by the boyars and merchants of the Walachian city Tirgoviste. There are different stories about how he died - he may have been tortured and burned, or buried alive. Apparently his father died at the same time. Some say that the assassinations were organized by Hunyadi. Since Vlad and Mircea were dead, and Dracula and Radu were still in Turkey, Hunyadi was able to put a member of the Danesti clan, Vladislav II, on the Walachian throne. The Turks didn't like having a Hungarian puppet in charge of Walachia, so in 1448 they freed Dracula and gave him an army. He was seventeen years old. It seems that Dracula's little brother Radu chose to remain in Turkey. He had grown up there, and apparently remained loyal to the sultan. Dracula's ReignWith the help of his Turkish army, Dracula seized the Walachian throne. However, he only ruled for two months before Hunyadi forced him into exile in Moldavia. Again Vladislav II became Walachia's prince. Three years later Prince Bogdan of Moldavia was assassinated and Dracula fled the country. By now Vladislav II had become a supporter of Turkey, and Hunyadi was sorry he had put him on the throne. Everyone switched sides - Dracula became Hunyadi's vassal, and Hunyadi now supported Dracula's attempt to regain his throne. In 1456 Hunyadi invaded Turkish Serbia while Dracula invaded Walachia. Hunyadi became sick and died, but Dracula killed Vladislav II and took back his throne. He established his capital at Tirgoviste - you can still see the ruins of his palace there. And nearby a statue of Vlad Tepes still stands. He is considered an important figure in Romanian history because he unified Walachia and resisted the influence of foreigners. But it's Dracula's cruelty that most non-Romanians remember. After becoming prince, Dracula supposedly invited many beggars and other old, sick and poor people to a banquet at his castle. When his guests had finished eating their meal and drinking a toast to him, Dracula asked them, "Would you like to be without cares, lacking nothing in this world?" Yes, they said enthusiastically. So Dracula had the castle boarded up and set it on fire. Nobody made it out alive - and that was the end of their problems, as he had promised. "I did this so that no one will be poor in my realm," he said. According to another story, he invited 500 boyars to a banquet and asked them how many princes had ruled in their lifetimes. They said they had lived through many reigns. Shouting that this was their fault because of their plotting, Dracula had them all arrested on the spot. The older ones were impaled; the others were marched 50 miles to Poenari where they were forced to build a mountaintop fortress. They worked a long time; when their clothes fell off, they worked naked. Most of them died, of course. And of course Dracula seized the boyars' property and passed it out to his supporters. In that way he created a new nobility, loyal to him. (The ruins of the Poenari fortress can still be seen. You have to climb nearly 1,500 steps and cross a little bridge to reach it. It's now called Castle Dracula, but several places are called that. Another "Castle Dracula" is Bran Castle, near the town of Brasov. Although Dracula may have stayed there occasionally, it certainly wasn't his home.) Dracula liked to set up a banquet table and dine while he watched people die. His favorite form of execution was impalement. It was slow; people could take days to die. He liked to impale many people at once, arranging the stakes in fancy designs. Nothing was too brutal for Dracula - he enjoyed having people skinned, boiled alive, etc. He prided himself on making the punishment (supposedly) fit the crime. By 1462, when he was deposed, he had killed between 40,000 and 100,000 people, possibly more. He always thought up some excuse for these executions. He killed merchants who cheated their customers. He killed women who had affairs. Supposedly he had one woman impaled because her husband's shirt was too short. He didn't mind impaling children, either. Afterwards he would display the corpses in public so everyone would learn a lesson. It's said that there were over 20,000 bodies hanging outside his capital city. Of course, the stories about Dracula's cruelty might have been exaggerated by his enemies. Despite all this, Dracula's subjects respected him for fighting the Turks and being a strong ruler. He's remembered today as a patriotic hero who stood up to Turkey and Hungary. He was the last Walachian prince to remain independent from the Ottoman Empire. He was so scornful of other nations that when two foreign ambassadors refused to doff their hats to him, he had the hats nailed to their heads. He was opposed to the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches because he thought foreigners, operating through the churches, had too much power in Walachia. He tried to prevent foreign merchants from taking business away from his citizens. If merchants disobeyed his trade laws, they were, of course, impaled. Dracula created a very severe moral code for the citizens of Walachia. You can guess what happened to anyone who broke the code. Thieves were impaled, even liars were impaled. Naturally there wasn't a lot of crime in Walachia during his reign. To prove how well his laws worked, Dracula had a gold cup placed in a public square. Anyone who wanted to could drink from the cup, but no one was allowed to take it out of the square. No one did. A visiting merchant once left his money outside all night, thinking that it would be safe because of Dracula's strict policies. To his surprise, some of his coins were stolen. He complained to Dracula, who promptly issued a proclamation that the money must be returned or the city would be destroyed. That night Dracula secretly had the missing money, plus one extra coin, returned to the merchant. The next morning the merchant counted the money and found it had been returned. He told Dracula about this, and mentioned the extra coin. Dracula replied that the thief had been caught and would be impaled. And if the merchant hadn't mentioned the extra coin, he would have been impaled, too.

Dracula OverthrownIn 1462 Dracula attacked the Turks to drive them out of the Danube River valley. Sultan Mehmed II retaliated by invading Walachia with an army three times larger than Dracula's. Dracula was forced to retreat to his capital, Tirgoviste. He burned his own villages and poisoned wells on the way so that the Turkish army wouldn't have any food or water. When the sultan reached Tirgoviste, he saw a terrifying scene, remembered in history as "the Forest of the Impaled." There, outside the city, were 20,000 Turkish prisoners, all impaled. The sultan's officers were too scared to go on - Dracula had won again. Although the sultan retreated, Dracula's little brother Radu did not. The Turks had provided him with an army in hopes that he could seize Dracula's throne. Many of Dracula's boyars abandoned him to join Radu. Radu's army pursued Dracula to his fortress at Poenari. Dracula's wife was so frightened that she threw herself from the upper battlements. The Turks seized the castle, but Dracula managed to escape through a secret tunnel. There were still some peasants around he hadn't impaled, and they helped him flee from Walachia. He went to the new king of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus, for help. Instead the king had him imprisoned in a tower. Dracula remained in Hungary while Radu ruled Walachia as a puppet for the Turks. After the first four years he was allowed to move into a house. He became a Catholic to please the Catholic Hungarians. He ingratiated himself with the Hungarian royal family, and even married one of its members (possibly the king's cousin). But he was still the same old Dracula. He impaled rats and birds for fun. Once a thief broke into his house and a Hungarian captain followed him to arrest him. Dracula didn't kill the thief - he killed the officer. Why? Because the officer was a gentleman, and should have known not to enter a house uninvited. The Death of DraculaIn 1473, Dracula's brother Radu lost the Walachian throne to a member of the Danesti clan, Basarab the Old. Radu died of syphilis in January of 1475, and in 1476 Dracula invaded Walachia with the help of Moldavia and Transylvania. They drove Basarab out of the country, and Dracula again became Walachia's prince. Most of Dracula's army then went home to Transylvania. The Turks attacked a few months later. Dracula was killed while fighting near Bucharest in December 1476. Some say he died at the hands of a Turkish assassin posing as a servant, or that he was accidentally killed on the battlefield by his own men because he had disguised himself as a Turk to confuse the enemy. The sultan displayed Dracula's head on a pike in Constantinople to prove that he was dead. His body was buried at the island monastery of Snagov, which he had patronized. But excavations in 1931 failed to turn up any sign of his coffin!

And that is the story of the real Prince Dracula.


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Posted: Apr 5, 2007 4:52am
Apr 5, 2007


What exactly is chaos? The name "chaos theory" comes from the fact that the systems that the theory describes are apparently disordered, but chaos theory is really about finding the underlying order in apparently random data.

When was chaos first discovered? The first true experimenter in chaos was a meteorologist, named Edward Lorenz. In 1960, he was working on the problem of weather prediction. He had a computer set up, with a set of twelve equations to model the weather. It didn't predict the weather itself. However this computer program did theoretically predict what the weather might be.

One day in 1961, he wanted to see a particular sequence again. To save time, he started in the middle of the sequence, instead of the beginning. He entered the number off his printout and left to let it run.

When he came back an hour later, the sequence had evolved differently. Instead of the same pattern as before, it diverged from the pattern, ending up wildly different from the original. (See figure 1.) Eventually he figured out what happened. The computer stored the numbers to six decimal places in its memory. To save paper, he only had it print out three decimal places. In the original sequence, the number was .506127, and he had only typed the first three digits, .506.

[Figure 1]
By all conventional ideas of the time, it should have worked. He should have gotten a sequence very close to the original sequence. A scientist considers himself lucky if he can get measurements with accuracy to three decimal places. Surely the fourth and fifth, impossible to measure using reasonable methods, can't have a huge effect on the outcome of the experiment. Lorenz proved this idea wrong.

This effect came to be known as the butterfly effect. The amount of difference in the starting points of the two curves is so small that it is comparable to a butterfly flapping its wings.

The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month's time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn't happen. Or maybe one that wasn't going to happen, does. (Ian Stewart, Does God Play Dice? The Mathematics of Chaos, pg. 141)

This phenomenon, common to chaos theory, is also known as sensitive dependence on initial conditions. Just a small change in the initial conditions can drastically change the long-term behavior of a system. Such a small amount of difference in a measurement might be considered experimental noise, background noise, or an inaccuracy of the equipment. Such things are impossible to avoid in even the most isolated lab. With a starting number of 2, the final result can be entirely different from the same system with a starting value of 2.000001. It is simply impossible to achieve this level of accuracy - just try and measure something to the nearest millionth of an inch!

From this idea, Lorenz stated that it is impossible to predict the weather accurately. However, this discovery led Lorenz on to other aspects of what eventually came to be known as chaos theory.

Lorenz started to look for a simpler system that had sensitive dependence on initial conditions. His first discovery had twelve equations, and he wanted a much more simple version that still had this attribute. He took the equations for convection, and stripped them down, making them unrealistically simple. The system no longer had anything to do with convection, but it did have sensitive dependence on its initial conditions, and there were only three equations this time. Later, it was discovered that his equations precisely described a water wheel.

At the top, water drips steadily into containers hanging on the wheel's rim. Each container drips steadily from a small hole. If the stream of water is slow, the top containers never fill fast enough to overcome friction, but if the stream is faster, the weight starts to turn the wheel. The rotation might become continuous. Or if the stream is so fast that the heavy containers swing all the way around the bottom and up the other side, the wheel might then slow, stop, and reverse its rotation, turning first one way and then the other. (James Gleick, Chaos - Making a New Science, pg. 29)
[Figure 2] The equations for this system also seemed to give rise to entirely random behavior. However, when he graphed it, a surprising thing happened. The output always stayed on a curve, a double spiral. There were only two kinds of order previously known: a steady state, in which the variables never change, and periodic behavior, in which the system goes into a loop, repeating itself indefinitely. Lorenz's equations were definitely ordered - they always followed a spiral. They never settled down to a single point, but since they never repeated the same thing, they weren't periodic either. He called the image he got when he graphed the equations the Lorenz attractor. (See figure 2)

In 1963, Lorenz published a paper describing what he had discovered. He included the unpredictability of the weather, and discussed the types of equations that caused this type of behavior. Unfortunately, the only journal he was able to publish in was a meteorological journal, because he was a meteorologist, not a mathematician or a physicist. As a result, Lorenz's discoveries weren't acknowledged until years later, when they were rediscovered by others. Lorenz had discovered something revolutionary; now he had to wait for someone to discover him.

Another system in which sensitive dependence on initial conditions is evident is the flip of a coin. There are two variables in a flipping coin: how soon it hits the ground, and how fast it is flipping. Theoretically, it should be possible to control these variables entirely and control how the coin will end up. In practice, it is impossible to control exactly how fast the coin flips and how high it flips. It is possible to put the variables into a certain range, but it is impossible to control it enough to know the final results of the coin toss.

A similar problem occurs in ecology, and the prediction of biological populations. The equation would be simple if population just rises indefinitely, but the effect of predators and a limited food supply make this equation incorrect. The simplest equation that takes this into account is the following:

next year's population = r * this year's population * (1 - this year's population)

In this equation, the population is a number between 0 and 1, where 1 represents the maximum possible population and 0 represents extinction. R is the growth rate. The question was, how does this parameter affect the equation? The obvious answer is that a high growth rate means that the population will settle down at a high population, while a low growth rate means that the population will settle down to a low number. This trend is true for some growth rates, but not for every one.

One biologist, Robert May, decided to see what would happen to the equation as the growth rate value changes. At low values of the growth rate, the population would settle down to a single number. For instance, if the growth rate value is 2.7, the population will settle down to .6292. As the growth rate increased, the final population would increase as well. Then, something weird happened. [Figure 3] As soon as the growth rate passed 3, the line broke in two. Instead of settling down to a single population, it would jump between two different populations. It would be one value for one year, go to another value the next year, then repeat the cycle forever. Raising the growth rate a little more caused it to jump between four different values. As the parameter rose further, the line bifurcated (doubled) again. The bifurcations came faster and faster until suddenly, chaos appeared. Past a certain growth rate, it becomes impossible to predict the behavior of the equation. However, upon closer inspection, it is possible to see white strips. Looking closer at these strips reveals little windows of order, where the equation goes through the bifurcations again before returning to chaos. This self-similarity, the fact that the graph has an exact copy of itself hidden deep inside, came to be an important aspect of chaos.

An employee of IBM, Benoit Mandelbrot was a mathematician studying this self-similarity. One of the areas he was studying was cotton price fluctuations. No matter how the data on cotton prices was analyzed, the results did not fit the normal distribution. Mandelbrot eventually obtained all of the available data on cotton prices, dating back to 1900. When he analyzed the data with IBM's computers, he noticed an astonishing fact:

The numbers that produced aberrations from the point of view of normal distribution produced symmetry from the point of view of scaling. Each particular price change was random and unpredictable. But the sequence of changes was independent on scale: curves for daily price changes and monthly price changes matched perfectly. Incredibly, analyzed Mandelbrot's way, the degree of variation had remained constant over a tumultuous sixty-year period that saw two World Wars and a depression. (James Gleick, Chaos - Making a New Science, pg. 86)

Mandelbrot analyzed not only cotton prices, but many other phenomena as well. At one point, he was wondering about the length of a coastline. A map of a coastline will show many bays. However, measuring the length of a coastline off a map will miss minor bays that were too small to show on the map. Likewise, walking along the coastline misses microscopic bays in between grains of sand. No matter how much a coastline is magnified, there will be more bays visible if it is magnified more.

One mathematician, Helge von Koch, captured this idea in a mathematical construction called the Koch curve. To create a Koch curve, imagine an equilateral triangle. To the middle third of each side, add another equilateral triangle. [Figure 4] Keep on adding new triangles to the middle part of each side, and the result is a Koch curve. (See figure 4) A magnification of the Koch curve looks exactly the same as the original. It is another self-similar figure.

The Koch curve brings up an interesting paradox. Each time new triangles are added to the figure, the length of the line gets longer. However, the inner area of the Koch curve remains less than the area of a circle drawn around the original triangle. Essentially, it is a line of infinite length surrounding a finite area.

To get around this difficulty, mathematicians invented fractal dimensions. Fractal comes from the word fractional. The fractal dimension of the Koch curve is somewhere around 1.26. A fractional dimension is impossible to conceive, but it does make sense. The Koch curve is rougher than a smooth curve or line, which has one dimension. Since it is rougher and more crinkly, it is better at taking up space. However, it's not as good at filling up space as a square with two dimensions is, since it doesn't really have any area. So it makes sense that the dimension of the Koch curve is somewhere in between the two.

Fractal has come to mean any image that displays the attribute of self-similarity. The bifurcation diagram of the population equation is fractal. The Lorenz Attractor is fractal. The Koch curve is fractal.

During this time, scientists found it very difficult to get work published about chaos. Since they had not yet shown the relevance to real-world situations, most scientists did not think the results of experiments in chaos were important. As a result, even though chaos is a mathematical phenomenon, most of the research into chaos was done by people in other areas, such as meteorology and ecology. The field of chaos sprouted up as a hobby for scientists working on problems that maybe had something to do with it.

Later, a scientist by the name of Feigenbaum was looking at the bifurcation diagram again. He was looking at how fast the bifurcations come. He discovered that they come at a constant rate. He calculated it as 4.669. In other words, he discovered the exact scale at which it was self-similar. Make the diagram 4.669 times smaller, and it looks like the next region of bifurcations. He decided to look at other equations to see if it was possible to determine a scaling factor for them as well. Much to his surprise, the scaling factor was exactly the same. Not only was this complicated equation displaying regularity, the regularity was exactly the same as a much simpler equation. He tried many other functions, and they all produced the same scaling factor, 4.669.

This was a revolutionary discovery. He had found that a whole class of mathematical functions behaved in the same, predictable way. This universality would help other scientists easily analyze chaotic equations. Universality gave scientists the first tools to analyze a chaotic system. Now they could use a simple equation to predict the outcome of a more complex equation.

Many scientists were exploring equations that created fractal equations. The most famous fractal image is also one of the most simple. It is known as the Mandelbrot set. The equation is simple: z=z2+c. To see if a point is part of the Mandelbrot set, just take a complex number z. Square it, then add the original number. Square the result, then add the original number. Repeat that ad infinitum, and if the number keeps on going up to infinity, it is not part of the Mandelbrot set. If it stays down below a certain level, it is part of the Mandelbrot set. The Mandelbrot set is the innermost section of the picture, and each different shade of gray represents how far out that particular point is. One interesting feature of the Mandelbrot set is that the circular humps match up to the bifurcation graph. The Mandelbrot fractal has the same self-similarity seen in the other equations. In fact, zooming in deep enough on a Mandelbrot fractal will eventually reveal an exact replica of the Mandelbrot set, perfect in every detail.

Fractal structures have been noticed in many real-world areas, as well as in mathematician's minds. Blood vessels branching out further and further, the branches of a tree, the internal structure of the lungs, graphs of stock market data, and many other real-world systems all have something in common: they are all self-similar.

Scientists at UC Santa Cruz found chaos in a dripping water faucet. By recording a dripping faucet and recording the periods of time, they discovered that at a certain flow velocity, the dripping no longer occurred at even times. When they graphed the data, they found that the dripping did indeed follow a pattern.

The human heart also has a chaotic pattern. The time between beats does not remain constant; it depends on how much activity a person is doing, among other things. Under certain conditions, the heartbeat can speed up. Under different conditions, the heart beats erratically. It might even be called a chaotic heartbeat. The analysis of a heartbeat can help medical researchers find ways to put an abnormal heartbeat back into a steady state, instead of uncontrolled chaos.

Researchers discovered a simple set of three equations that graphed a fern. This started a new idea - perhaps DNA encodes not exactly where the leaves grow, but a formula that controls their distribution. DNA, even though it holds an amazing amount of data, could not hold all of the data necessary to determine where every cell of the human body goes. However, by using fractal formulas to control how the blood vessels branch out and the nerve fibers get created, DNA has more than enough information. It has even been speculated that the brain itself might be organized somehow according to the laws of chaos.

Chaos even has applications outside of science. Computer art has become more realistic through the use of chaos and fractals. Now, with a simple formula, a computer can create a beautiful, and realistic tree. Instead of following a regular pattern, the bark of a tree can be created according to a formula that almost, but not quite, repeats itself.

Music can be created using fractals as well. Using the Lorenz attractor, Diana S. Dabby, a graduate student in electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has created variations of musical themes. ("Bach to Chaos: Chaotic Variations on a Classical Theme", Science News, Dec. 24, 1994) By associating the musical notes of a piece of music like Bach's Prelude in C with the x coordinates of the Lorenz attractor, and running a computer program, she has created variations of the theme of the song. Most musicians who hear the new sounds believe that the variations are very musical and creative.

Chaos has already had a lasting effect on science, yet there is much still left to be discovered. Many scientists believe that twentieth century science will be known for only three theories: relativity, quantum mechanics, and chaos. Aspects of chaos show up everywhere around the world, from the currents of the ocean and the flow of blood through fractal blood vessels to the branches of trees and the effects of turbulence. Chaos has inescapably become part of modern science. As chaos changed from a little-known theory to a full science of its own, it has received widespread publicity. Chaos theory has changed the direction of science: in the eyes of the general public, physics is no longer simply the study of subatomic particles in a billion-dollar particle accelerator, but the study of chaotic systems and how they work.

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Posted: Apr 5, 2007 4:48am
Apr 4, 2007

"Examination of a Witch" in Salem.

The Witchcraft Trials in Salem

From June through September of 1692, nineteen men and women, all having been convicted of witchcraft, were carted to Gallows Hill, a barren slope near Salem Village, for hanging. Another man of over eighty years was pressed to death under heavy stones for refusing to submit to a trial on witchcraft charges. Hundreds of others faced accusations of witchcraft. Dozens languished in jail for months without trials.  Then, almost as soon as it had begun, the hysteria that swept through Puritan Massachusetts ended.

    Why did this travesty of justice occur? Why did it occur in Salem? Nothing about this tragedy was inevitable. Only an unfortunate combination of an ongoing frontier war, economic conditions, congregational strife, teenage boredom, and personal jealousies can account for the spiraling accusations, trials, and executions that occurred in the spring and summer of 1692.

     In 1688, John Putnam, one of the most influential elders of Salem Village, invited Samuel Parris, formerly a marginally successful planter and merchant in Barbados, to preach in the Village church.  A year later, after negotiations over salary, inflation adjustments, and free firewood, Parris accepted the job as Village minister. He moved to Salem Village with his wife Elizabeth, his six-year-old daughter Betty, niece Abagail Williams, and his Indian slave Tituba, acquired by Parris in Barbados.

     The Salem that became the new home of Parris was in the midst of change: a mercantile elite was beginning to develop, prominent people were becoming less willing to assume positions as town leaders, two clans (the Putnams and the Porters) were competing for control of the village and its pulpit, and a debate was raging over how independent Salem Village, tied more to the interior agricultural regions, should be from Salem, a center of sea trade.

     Sometime during February of the exceptionally cold winter of 1692, young Betty Parris became strangely ill. She dashed about, dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. The cause of her symptoms may have been some combination of stress, asthma, guilt, boredom, child abuse, epilepsy, and delusional psychosis.  The symptoms also could have been caused, as Linda Caporael argued in a 1976 article in Science magazine, by a disease called "convulsive ergotism" brought on by injesting rye--eaten as a cereal and as a common ingredient of bread--infected with ergot.  (Ergot is caused by a fungus which invades developing kernels of rye grain, especially under warm and damp conditions such as existed at the time of the previous rye harvest in Salem. Convulsive ergotism causes violent fits, a crawling sensation on the skin, vomiting, choking, and--most interestingly--hallucinations.  The hallucinogenic drug LSD is a dervivative of ergot.)  Many of the symptoms or convulsive ergotism seem to match those attributed to Betty Parris, but there is no way of knowing with any certainty if she in fact suffered from the disease--and the theory would not explain the afflictions suffered by others in Salem later in the year.

     At the time, however, there was another theory to explain the girls' symptoms.  Cotton Mather had recently published a popular book, "Memorable Providences," describing the suspected witchcraft of an Irish washerwoman in Boston, and Betty's behavior in some ways mirrored that of the afflicted person described in Mather's widely read and discussed book. It was easy to believe in 1692 in Salem, with an Indian war raging less than seventy miles away (and many refugees from the war in the area) that the devil was close at hand.  Sudden and violent death occupied minds.

      Talk of witchcraft increased when other playmates of Betty, including eleven-year-old Ann Putnam, seventeen-year-old Mercy Lewis, and Mary Walcott, began to exhibit similar unusual behavior. When his own nostrums failed to effect a cure, William Griggs, a doctor called to examine the girls, suggested that the girls' problems might have a supernatural origin. The widespread belief that witches targeted children made the doctor's diagnosis seem increasing likely.

     A neighbor, Mary Sibley, proposed a form of counter magic. She told Tituba to bake a rye cake with the urine of the afflicted victim and feed the cake to a dog. ( Dogs were believed to be used by witches as agents to carry out their devilish commands.) By this time, suspicion had already begun to focus on Tituba, who had been known to tell the girls tales of omens, voodoo, and witchcraft from her native folklore.  Her participation in the urine cake episode made her an even more obvious scapegoat for the inexplicable.

     Meanwhile, the number of girls afflicted continued to grow, rising to seven with the addition of Ann Putnam, Elizabeth Hubbard, Susannah Sheldon, and Mary Warren. According to historian Peter Hoffer, the girls "turned themselves from a circle of friends into a gang of juvenile delinquents." ( Many people of the period complained that young people lacked the piety and sense of purpose of the founders' generation.) The girls contorted into grotesque poses, fell down into frozen postures, and complained of biting and pinching sensations. In a village where everyone believed that the devil was real, close at hand, and acted in the real world, the suspected affliction of the girls became an obsession.

     Sometime after February 25, when Tituba baked the witch cake, and February 29, when arrest warrants were issued against Tituba and two other women, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams named their afflictors and the witchhunt began. The consistency of the two girls' accusations suggests strongly that the girls worked out their stories together. Soon Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis were also reporting seeing "witches flying through the winter mist."  The prominent Putnam family supported the girls' accusations, putting considerable impetus behind the prosecutions.

     The first three to be accused of witchcraft were Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn. Tituba was an obvious choice (LINK TO TITUBA'S EXAMINATION). Good was a beggar and social misfit who lived wherever someone would house her (LINK TO GOOD'S EXAMINATION) (LINK TO GOOD'S TRIAL), and Osborn was old, quarrelsome, and had not attended church for over a year. The Putnams brought their complaint against the three women to county magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, who scheduled examinations for the suspected witches for March 1, 1692 in Ingersoll's tavern. When hundreds showed up, the examinations were moved to the meeting house. At the examinations, the girls described attacks by the specters of the three women, and fell into their by then perfected pattern of contortions when in the presence of one of the suspects. Other villagers came forward to offer stories of cheese and butter mysteriously gone bad or animals born with deformities after visits by one of the suspects.The magistrates, in the common practice of the time, asked the same questions of each suspect over and over: Were they witches? Had they seen Satan? How, if they are were not witches, did they explain the contortions seemingly caused by their presence? The style and form of the questions indicates that the magistrates thought the women guilty.

     The matter might have ended with admonishments were it not for Tituba. After first adamantly denying any guilt, afraid perhaps of being made a scapegoat, Tituba claimed that she was approached by a tall man from Boston--obviously Satan--who sometimes appeared as a dog or a hog and who asked her to sign in his book and to do his work. Yes, Tituba declared, she was a witch, and moreover she and four other witches, including Good and Osborn, had flown through the air on their poles.  She had tried to run to Reverend Parris for counsel, she said, but the devil had blocked her path. Tituba's confession succeeded in transforming her from a possible scapegoat to a central figure in the expanding prosecutions.   Her confession also served to silence most skeptics, and Parris and other local ministers began witch hunting with zeal.

     Soon, according to their own reports, the spectral forms of other women began attacking the afflicted girls. Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Cloyce, and Mary Easty (LINK TO EASTY'S EXAMINATION) (LINK TO EASTY'S PETITION FOR MERCY) were accused of witchcraft. During a March 20 church service, Ann Putnam suddenly shouted, "Look where Goodwife Cloyce sits on the beam suckling her yellow bird between her fingers!"  Soon Ann's mother, Ann Putnam, Sr., would join the accusers.  Dorcas Good, four-year-old daughter of Sarah Good, became the first child to be accused of witchcraft when three of the girls complained that they were bitten by the specter of Dorcas. (The four-year-old was arrested, kept in jail for eight months, watched her mother get carried off to the gallows, and would "cry her heart out, and go insane.")  The girls accusations and their ever more polished performances, including the new act of being struck dumb, played to large and believing audiences.

     Stuck in jail with the damning testimony of the afflicted girls widely accepted, suspects began to see confession as a way to avoid the gallows.  Deliverance Hobbs became the second witch to confess, admitting to pinching three of the girls at the Devil's command and flying on a pole to attend a witches' Sabbath in an open field.   Jails approached capacity and the colony "teetered on the brink of chaos" when Governor Phips returned from England.  Fast action, he decided, was required.

     Phips created a new court, the "court of oyer and terminer," to hear the witchcraft cases.  Five judges, including three close friends of Cotton Mather, were appointed to the court.  Chief Justice, and most influential member of the court, was a gung-ho witch hunter named William Stoughton. Mather urged Stoughton and the other judges to credit confessions and admit "spectral evidence" (testimony by afflicted persons that they had been visited by a suspect's specter). Ministers were looked to for guidance by the judges, who were generally without legal training, on matters pertaining to witchcraft. Mather's advice was heeded.  the judges also decided to allow the so-called "touching test" (defendants were asked to touch afflicted persons to see if their touch, as was generally assumed of the touch of witches, would stop their contortions) and examination of the bodies of accused for evidence of "witches' marks" (moles or the like upon which a witch's familiar might suck) (SCENE DEPICTING EXAMINATION FOR MARK. Evidence that would be excluded from modern courtrooms-- hearsay, gossip, stories, unsupported assertions, surmises-- was also generally admitted. Many protections that modern defendants take for granted were lacking in Salem: accused witches had no legal counsel, could not have witnesses testify under oath on their behalf, and had no formal avenues of appeal.  Defendants could, however, speak for themselves, produce evidence, and cross-examine their accusers.  The degree to which defendants in Salem were able to take advantage of their modest protections varied considerably, depending on their own acuteness and their influence in the community.

     The first accused witch to be brought to trial was Bridget Bishop.  Almost sixty years old, owner of  a tavern where patrons could drink cider ale and play shuffleboard (even on the Sabbath), critical of her neighbors, and reluctant to pay her her bills, Bishop was a likely candidate for an accusation of witchcraft  (LINK TO EXAMINATION OF BISHOP). The fact that Thomas Newton, special prosecutor, selected Bishop for his first prosecution suggests that he believed the stronger case could be made against her than any of the other suspect witches. At Bishop's trial on June 2, 1692, a field hand testified that he saw Bishop's image stealing eggs and then saw her transform herself into a cat.  Deliverance Hobbs, by then probably insane, and Mary Warren, both confessed witches, testified that Bishop was one of them.  A villager named Samuel Grey told the court that Bishop visited his bed at night and tormented him. A jury of matrons assigned to examine Bishop's body reported that they found an "excrescence of flesh."  Several of the afflicted girls testified that Bishop's specter afflicted them.  Numerous other villagers described why they thought Bishop was responsible for various bits of bad luck that had befallen them.  There was even testimony that while being transported under guard past the Salem meeting house, she looked at the building and caused a part of it to fall to the ground.  Bishop's jury returned a verdict of guilty . One of the judges, Nathaniel Saltonstall, aghast at the conduct of the trial, resigned from the court.  Chief Justice Stoughton signed Bishop's death warrant, and on June 10, 1692, Bishop was carted to Gallows Hill and hanged (LINK TO IMAGE OF BISHOP'S HANGING).

     As the summer of 1692 warmed, the pace of trials picked up.  Not all defendants were as disreputable as Bridget Bishop.  Rebecca Nurse was a pious, respected woman whose specter, according to Ann Putnam, Jr. and Abagail Williams, attacked them in mid March of 1692 (LINK TO EXAMINATION OF NURSE). Ann Putnam, Sr. added her complaint that Nurse demanded that she sign the Devil's book, then pinched her. Nurse was one of three Towne sisters , all identified as witches, who were members of a Topsfield family that had a long-standing quarrel with the Putnam family. Apart from the evidence of Putnam family members, the major piece of evidence against Nurse appeared to be testimony indicating that soon after Nurse lectured Benjamin Houlton for allowing his pig to root in her garden, Houlton died.  The Nurse jury returned a verdict of not guilty, much to the displeasure of Chief Justice Stoughton, who told the jury to go back and consider again a statement of Nurse's that might be considered an admission of guilt (but more likely an indication of confusion about the question, as Nurse was old and nearly deaf).  The jury reconvened, this time coming back with a verdict of guilty(LINK TO NURSE TRIAL). On July 19, 1692, Nurse rode with four other convicted witches to Gallows Hill.

      Persons who scoffed at accusations of witchcraft risked becoming targets of accusations themselves.  One man who was openly critical of the trials paid for his skepticism with his life.  John Proctor, a central figure in Arthur Miller's fictionalized account of the Salem witchhunt, The Crucible, was an opinionated tavern owner who openly denounced the witchhunt.  Testifying against Proctor were Ann Putnam, Abagail Williams, Indian John (a slave of Samuel Parris who worked in a competing tavern), and eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Booth, who testified that ghosts had come to her and accused Proctor of serial murder. Proctor fought back, accusing confessed witches of lying, complaining of torture, and demanding that his trial be moved to Boston.  The efforts proved futile. Proctor was hanged. His wife Elizabeth, who was also convicted of witchcraft, was spared execution because of her pregnancy (reprieved "for the belly").

     No execution caused more unease in Salem than that of the village's ex-minister, George Burroughs.  Burroughs, who was living in Maine in 1692, was identified by several of his accusers as the ringleader of the witches.  Ann Putnam claimed that Burroughs bewitched soldiers during a failed military campaign against Wabanakis in 1688-89, the first of a string of military disasters that could be blamed on an Indian-Devil alliance. In her interesting book, In the Devil's Snare, historian Mary Beth Norton argues that the large number of accusations against Burroughs, and his linkage to the frontier war, is the key to understanding the Salem trials.  Norton contends that the enthusiasm of the Salem court in prosecuting the witchcraft cases owed in no small measure to the judges' desire to shift the "blame for their own inadequate defense of the frontier."  Many of the judges, Norton points out, played lead roles in a war effort that had been markedly unsuccessful.

     Among the thirty accusers of Burroughs was nineteen-year-old Mercy Lewis, a refugee of the frontier wars.  Lewis, the most imaginative and forceful of the young accusers, offered unusually vivid testimony against Burroughs.  Lewis told the court that Burroughs flew her to the top of a mountain and, pointing toward the surrounding land, promised her all the kingdoms if only she would sign in his book (a story very similar to that found in Matthew 4:8).  Lewis said, "I would not writ if he had throwed me down on one hundred pitchforks."  At an execution, a defendant in the Puritan colonies was expected to confess, and thus to save his soul.  When Burroughs on Gallows Hill continued to insist on his innocence and then recited the Lord's Prayer perfectly (something witches were thought incapable of doing), the crowd reportedly was "greatly moved." The agitation of the crowd caused Cotton Mather to intervene and remind the crowd that Burroughs had had his day in court and lost.

     One victim of the Salem witchhunt was not hanged, but rather pressed under heavy stones until his death.  Such was the fate of octogenarian Giles Corey who, after spending five months in chains in a Salem jail with his also accused wife, had nothing but contempt for the proceedings.  Seeing the futility of a trial and hoping that by avoiding a conviction his farm, that would otherwise go the state, might go to his two sons-in-law, Corey refused to stand for trial.  The penalty for such a refusal was peine et fort, or pressing. Three days after Corey's death, on September 22, 1692, eight more convicted witches, including Giles' wife Martha, were hanged. They were the last victims of the witchhunt.

     By early autumn of 1692, Salem's lust for blood was ebbing. Doubts were developing as to how so many respectable people could be guilty. Reverend John Hale said, " It cannot be imagined that in a place of so much knowledge, so many in so small compass of land should abominably leap into the Devil's lap at once."  The educated elite of the colony began efforts to end the witch-hunting hysteria that had enveloped Salem. Increase Mather, the father of Cotton, published what has been called "America's first tract on evidence," a work entitled Cases of Conscience, which argued that it "were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned." Increase Mather urged the court to exclude spectral evidence. Samuel Willard, a highly regarded Boston minister, circulated Some Miscellany Observations, which suggested that the Devil might create the specter of an innocent person. Mather's and Willard's works were given to Governor Phips. The writings most likely influenced the decision of Phips to order the court to exclude spectral evidence and touching tests and to require proof of guilt by clear and convincing evidence.  With spectral evidence not admitted, twenty-eight of the last thirty-three witchcraft trials ended in acquittals. The three convicted witches were later pardoned. In May of 1693, Phips released from prison all remaining accused or convicted witches.

     By the time the witchhunt ended, nineteen convicted witches were executed (LINK TO LIST OF DEAD), at least four accused witches had died in prison, and one man, Giles Corey, had been pressed to death. About one to two hundred other persons were arrested and imprisoned on witchcraft charges. Two dogs were executed as suspected accomplices of witches. 

     Scholars have noted potentially telling differences between the accused and the accusers in Salem.  Most of the accused lived to the south of, and were generally better off financially, than most of the accusers.  In a number of cases, accusing families stood to gain property from the convictions of accused witches.  Also, the accused and the accusers generally took opposite sides in a congregational schism that had split the Salem community before the outbreak of hysteria.  While many of the accused witches supported former minister George Burroughs, the families that included the accusers had--for the most part--played leading roles in forcing Burroughs to leave Salem.  The conclusion that many scholars draw from these patterns is that property disputes and congregational feuds played a major role in determining who lived, and who died, in 1692.

     A period of atonement began in the colony following the release of the surviving accused witches. Samuel Sewall, one of the judges, issued a public confession of guilt and an apology. Several jurors came forward to say that they were "sadly deluded and mistaken" in their judgments. Reverend Samuel Parris conceded errors of judgment, but mostly shifted blame to others. Parris was replaced as minister of Salem village by Thomas Green, who devoted his career to putting his torn congregation back together. Governor Phips blamed the entire affair on William Stoughton. Stoughton, clearly more to blame than anyone for the tragic episode, refused to apologize or explain himself. He criticized Phips for interfering just when he was about to "clear the land" of witches. Stoughton became the next governor of Massachusetts.

     The witches disappeared, but witchhunting in America did not. Each generation must learn the lessons of history or risk repeating its mistakes.  Salem should warn us to think hard about how to best safeguard and improve our system of justice.

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Posted: Apr 4, 2007 5:08am
Apr 4, 2007


The City in the Sea
by Edgar Allan Poe

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters he.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

-The End-

The Doomed City
by Edgar Allen Poe

Lo ! Death hath rear'd himself a throne
In a strange city, all alone,
Far down within the dim west —
And the good, and the bad, and the worst, and the best,
Have gone to their eternal rest.

There shrines, and palaces, and towers
Are — not like any thing of ours —
O ! no — O! no — ours never loom
To heaven with that ungodly gloom!
Time-eaten towers that tremble not!
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

A heaven that God doth not contemn
With stars like a diadem —
We liken our ladies' eyes to them —
But there ! that everlasting pall!
It would be mockery to call
Such dreariness a heaven at all.

Yet tho' no holy rays come down
On the long night-time of that town,
Light from the lurid, deep sea
Streams up the turrets silently —
Up thrones — up long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptur'd ivy and stone flowers —
Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —
Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —
Up many a melancholy shrine
Whose entablatures intertwine
The mask the — the viol — and the vine.

There open temples — open graves
Are on a level with the waves —
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye.
Not the gaily-jewell'd dead
Tempt the waters from their bed:
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass —
No swellings hint that winds may be
Upon a far-off happier sea:
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from the high towers of the town
Death looks gigantically down.

But lo! a stir is in the air!
The wave! there is a ripple there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide —
As if the turret-tops had given
A vacuum in the filmy heaven:
The waves have now a redder glow —
The very hours are breathing low —
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell rising from a thousand thrones
Shall do it reverence,
And Death to some more happy clime
Shall give his undivided time.

-The End-

Edgar Allan Poe 

A Dream
In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed-
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream- that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro' storm and night,
So trembled from afar-
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth's day-star?

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Posted: Apr 4, 2007 4:54am
Mar 24, 2007

Lua Crescente: Ideal para magias de prosperidade e crescimento espiritual. Prória para iniciar projeto e abrir novos negócios.
Lua Cheia: Perfeita para qualquer atividade mágica, sobretudo para magias de amor, paixão e poder.
Lua Minguante: Ideal para meditação. Éoca prória para ritualizar os términos, expulsar energias negativas e encerrar etapas.
Lua Nova: Tempo de reflexão. Conhecida como Lilith, a Lua Negra. Nesta fase não deve ser feito nenhum tipo de Magia.

Fases da Lua
A Lua representa o sagrado feminino. Ela influencia agricultura da Terra, as colheitas e os nossos prórios sentimentos e emoções. Da mesma forma, manifestações femininas como a menstruação, a fertilidade e a gestação também estão relacionadas à Lua.

Conhecer as fases da Lua e se guiar por elas é papel de qualquer bruxa, pois desta forma saberemos qual é o melhor momento para agir e realizar um ritual no momento correto.

Lua Nova e Crescente
A Lua Nova e Crescente são tempos de início, semeadura e despertar. A Lua emerge, saindo da escuridão, e nasce novamente. A maré muda; tudo é transformado. Não por acaso o nome da Lua é Nova, e em seguida Crescente.
A Lua Nova é adequada para planejarmos novas ações, ter novas idéias e pensar em como podemos realizá-las. A Lua Crescente é o momento de plantar essas novas idéias; colocar seu plano em ação. Todo e qualquer tipo de início é adequado na Lua Crescente.
É a fase ideal para fazermos crescer certos aspectos de nossa vida, ou para começarmos algo que queiramos ser duradouro. Amor, sucesso, saúde, fama e fortuna estão relacionadas a esta fase da Lua. É hora de enfrentar os obstáculos e fazermos mudanças necessárias em nossas vidas.

Lua Cheia
A Lua Cheia está ligada à imagem maternal da Deusa, à mulher em toda a sua plenitude, ao potencial pleno da força vital. Ela corresponde ao crescimento e amadurecimento de todas as coisas, ao ponto culminante de todos os ciclos, à semente germinada e à plenitude do caldeirão.
A Lua Cheia está intimamente relacionada à face da Deusa como a Mãe. Nesse momento, a Lua atinge seu ponto máximo de poder; seu auge. Da mesma forma, sentimentos e emoções estão transbordando. É especialmente utilizada em função da realização profissional, amorosa, alegria, saúde, sucesso, prosperidade.
A face da Deusa relacionada à Lua Cheia é a Mãe, que foi o mais acessível para que a humanidade o reconhecesse, invocasse e se identificasse. Existem diversas tradições pagãs no mundo e todas elas possuem muitos aspectos de deusas como Mães, reverenciadas durante milênios por muitos povos que encontraram nelas amor, apoio, proteção, segurança.

Lua Minguante
A Lua Minguante representa o declínio, a morte que antecede nova vida. A Lua está ficando cada vez mais escura, até ficar totalmente e então renascer novamente. É tempo de silêncio e quietude; de avaliarmos tudo o que fizemos e pensar no que poderíamos ter feito diferente.
A Lua Minguante representa a Deusa como uma sábia Anciã. É um período propício para o recolhimento e a introspecção. Fase ideal para atuarmos banindo energias, finalizando tarefas, exterminar, enfraquecer, diminuir algo. É uma boa fase para trabalharmos rituais para neutralizar pessoas negativas ou que estejam nos prejudicando, afastar doenças, quebrar feitiços, finalizar relacionamentos, entre outros assuntos.

Lua Negra
A Lua Nova é justamente isso: o novo. No entanto, três dias antes do primeiro dia de Lua Nova vem o que chamamos de Lua Negra, o período em que simplesmente não há nenhuma Lua no céu; não dá para ver nada dela. É um momento que requer cautela, pois da mesma forma que a Lua está na sombra, nós também podemos ficar. Essa fase é especificamente boa para o trabalho com os nossos defeitos e a contemplação interior.

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Posted: Mar 24, 2007 6:23am
Mar 24, 2007

Nude Art

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Posted: Mar 24, 2007 5:41am
Mar 23, 2007

Quatro receitas de drinks que não podem faltar num bar

Eles têm lugar cativo na carta de bebidas dos melhores bares da cidade. Os drinks clássicos são envolvidos por uma atmosfera de glamour, requinte e... esquecimento também. Já que muitos consumidores e donos de bares optam por bebidas mais populares como a caipirinha. 

Qquatro receitas de bebidas clássicas: o Dry Martini, Manhattan, Cosmopolitan e Side Car. Confira:

Dry Martini
2 ml de vermute seco
80 ml de gin

Dê dois espiros com um spray de vermute seco na coqueteleira e acrescente o gin. Depois, coloque gelo até o topo e mexa com uma colher de bar.
Sirva em taça e decore com uma azeitona.

50 ml de vodca
15 ml de Contreau (licor de laranja)
5 ml de suco de limão
25 ml de licor de cramberry

Coloque todos os ingredientes na coqueteleira com gelo até a boca e bata. Decore a taça de martini com uma casca de laranja ou limão.

50 ml de Bourbon uísque
20 ml de vermute seco
20 ml de martini rosso
20 ml de martini seco
5 ml de angostura bitter

Coloque todos os ingredientes numa coqueteleira, encha-a de gelo até a boca e mexa. Sirva numa taça de martini com uma cereja no fundo.

Side Car
50 ml de conhaque
25 ml Grand Marnier
10 ml de suco de limão siciliano

Bata todos os ingredientes numa coqueteleira. Decore a taça de martini com uma casca de limão siciliano.

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Posted: Mar 23, 2007 6:30pm
Mar 23, 2007

History and Background of WiccaWicca is a common and much older name for witchcraft.  The term witchcraft has been defined in different ways.  In the past it has most often referred to the human harnessing of supernatural powers for the malevolent purpose of practicing black magic.  For this reason, witchcraft, sorcery, and magic are nearly synonymous.  Witchcraft is not, however, synonymous with Satanism.  Not all witches worship Satan, and in fact most do not believe in Satan at all.  Nor do they believe in hell, evil, or original sin.  These groups believe that Satan is an imaginary creation of the Christian Church.  If they believe in Satan at all they will tell you that the devil is just another Christian diety.  They also do not believe in demons, and their deities are considered to be "imminent", or within each of us, meaning that everyone is actually deity.   A few groups do, however, worship Satan.  During the Middle Ages, witchcraft experienced a great revival.  The supernatural became very popular and superstition abounded.  If someone wanted to become a witch, there was an initiation process.  Some of the techniques were simple and some were complicated, but there were usually two requirements.  The first was that the would-be witch must join of his or her own free will.  The second requirement was that the prospective witch must be willing to worship the devil.  Modern day witches, however, are not typically Satan worshipers. Much like the New Age Movement, most Wiccans do not accept the belief that there is good or evil.  They argue that there are only forces that must be balanced.  Evil is just a necessary part of good and the negative can be transmuted into the positive (a basic belief of medieval alchemy).  While political views are not universal among witches, most support neo-tolerance.  There is no absolute truth.  What's true for you may not be true for me, so everything is true, just pick one.  They also are strong supporters of women's rights and matriarchy, sexual "freedom" (including homosexuality, polyamory, non-monogamy, sexual activity by teens), abortion, and the abolition of Christianity from public life, especially in schools and governmental functions.  In recent years there have been lawsuits filed by Pagans against such things as "In God We Trust", student-led prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments, and Christian symbols, such as the Cross, in city and county seals.  However, many are also active in getting the schools to teach the Wiccan holidays (Halloween, Winter Solstice, etc.), pagan elements of "Earth Day", and Pagan symbolism.  An ally in the fight to introduce pagan earth worship into the schools is found in the United Nations as they are working to promote the Earth Charter in education, a document that contains much pagan tradition and doctrine. Modern day Wiccans tend to distance themselves from Christianity because of what they claim is the proliferation of a patriarchal male-dominated religion that has historically ignored the role of women in the church and society.  Traditionally, however, there have been as many, if not more, male witches/sorcerers than female in some pagan circles  (e.g., the Druids).  While not a religion for women only, today witchcraft is very much a female dominated religion.   The definitive start of the modern witchcraft era began with Gerald Gardner (1884-1964).  As an archaeologist, Gardner had accumulated an extensive occult background.  While in Southeast Asia, he learned the secrets of the Malaysian magical knife and became a Mason and a nudist.  In 1939 when he returned to England an avid occultist, he became a member of the Corona Fellowship of Rosicrucians where he met Dorothy Clutterbuck.  Clutterbuck initiated Gardner into witchcraft.  Gordon wrote two books, one of which he claimed was to record accurately the history and practice of witchcraft, as he felt it was dying out.   J. Gordon Melton stated in his review of Gardner's book Witchcraft Today, "Research suggests that Gardner did not discover a pre-existing Witchcraft group".  A paper by Gardner published by Ripley's Believe it or Not disclosed that Gardner took the magical resources he acquired in Asia and a selection of Western magical texts and created a new religion centered upon the worship of the Mother-Goddess." This was an important beginning in witchcraft, for it is the worship of the Mother-Goddess that has become the focus of modern witchcraft.  From Gardner's writings, greatly influenced by Aleister Crowley, Theosophy, Freemasonry, ritual/sex magic, and numerous other occult sources, emerged modern day Wicca.

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Ricky Bar
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New York, New York, Brazil
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