Reblog: Ancient Feasting Rituals—Crucial Steps Forward in Human Civilization…

Belarus Ivan Kupala Day

Kupelo festival (Pinterest).

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” is one of the earliest texts known in the world. It’s the story of a god-king, Gilgamesh, who ruled the city of Uruk in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium B.C. Within its lines, the epic hints at how the ancients viewed the origins of their civilization.

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Art inspired by the Epic of Gilgamesh (realm of history.com).

Gilgamesh’s antagonist, Enkidu, is described as a wild man, living with the beasts and eating grasses with the gazelles. But he’s seduced by a beautiful temple priestess who then offers him clothing and food, saying “Enkidu, eat bread, it is the staff of life; drink the wine, it is the custom of the land.” And so Enkidu is transformed from a naked wild beast into a “civilized” man living with other people.

Both bread and wine are products of settled society. They represent the power to control nature and create civilization, converting the wild into the tamed, the raw into the cooked – and their transformation cannot be easily done alone. The very act of transforming the wild into the civilized is a social one, requiring many people to work together.

Over the past few decades, archaeological theory has shifted toward the idea that civilization arose in different regions around the world thanks to the evolution of cooperation. Archaeologists have discovered that the consumption of food and drink in ritually prescribed times and places — known technically as feasting — is one of the cornerstones of heightened sociality and cooperation throughout human history. My own research in Peru bears this out. The data from my colleagues’ and my work provides yet another detailed case study for theorists to model the evolution of complexity in one of the rare places where a civilization independently developed.

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“Kerfol”—A Cool Vintage Ghost Story by Edith Wharton

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Image: EdithWharton.org

Kerfol

Edith Wharton, 1916


I

“You ought to buy it,” said my host; “it’s just the place for a solitary-minded devil like you. And it would be rather worth while to own the most romantic house in Brittany. The present people are dead broke, and it’s going for a song—you ought to buy it.”

It was not with the least idea of living up to the character my friend Lanrivain ascribed to me (as a matter of fact, under my unsociable exterior I have always had secret yearnings for domesticity) that I took his hint one autumn afternoon and went to Kerfol. My friend was motoring over to Quimper on business: he dropped me on the way, at a cross-road on a heath, and said: “First turn to the right and second to the left. Then straight ahead till you see an avenue. If you meet any peasants, don’t ask your way. They don’t understand French, and they would pretend they did and mix you up. I’ll be back for you here by sunset—and don’t forget the tombs in the chapel.”

I followed Lanrivain’s directions with the hesitation occasioned by the usual difficulty of remembering whether he had said the first turn to the right and second to the left, or the contrary. If I had met a peasant I should certainly have asked, and probably been sent astray; but I had the desert landscape to myself, and so stumbled on the right turn and walked across the heath till I came to an avenue. It was so unlike any other avenue I have ever seen that I instantly knew it must be the avenue. The grey-trunked trees sprang up straight to a great height and then interwove their pale-grey branches in a long tunnel through which the autumn light fell faintly. I know most trees by name, but I haven’t to this day been able to decide what those trees were. They had the tall curve of elms, the tenuity of poplars, the ashen colour of olives under a rainy sky; and they stretched ahead of me for half a mile or more without a break in their arch. If ever I saw an avenue that unmistakably led to something, it was the avenue at Kerfol. My heart beat a little as I began to walk down it.

Presently the trees ended and I came to a fortified gate in a long wall. Between me and the wall was an open space of grass, with other grey avenues radiating from it. Behind the wall were tall slate roofs mossed with silver, a chapel belfry, the top of a keep. A moat filled with wild shrubs and brambles surrounded the place; the drawbridge had been replaced by a stone arch, and the portcullis by an iron gate. I stood for a long time on the hither side of the moat, gazing about me, and letting the influence of the place sink in. I said to myself: “If I wait long enough, the guardian will turn up and show me the tombs—” and I rather hoped he wouldn’t turn up too soon.

I sat down on a stone and lit a cigarette. As soon as I had done it, it struck me as a puerile and portentous thing to do, with that great blind house looking down at me, and all the empty avenues converging on me. It may have been the depth of the silence that made me so conscious of my gesture. The squeak of my match sounded as loud as the scraping of a brake, and I almost fancied I heard it fall when I tossed it onto the grass. But there was more than that: a sense of irrelevance, of littleness, of futile bravado, in sitting there puffing my cigarette-smoke into the face of such a past.

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The Accursed Treasure (“Le Trésor Maudit”) of Rennes-le-Château trans. from the French by Sanguine Woods—Part 1…

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View from the hilltop village of Rennes-le-Chateau I’m the Aude region of southern France Photographer unknown (Wikipedia).

The Accursed Treasure of Rennes-le-Château

Translated by Sanguine Woods from the 1967 French study by Gérard de Sède

The following text is a translation from the 1967 French study of the Rennes-le-Château mystery by Gérard de Sède. I have translated as close to the French as possible, adding or retracting, minimally, only where clarity was the desired outcome, and/or the avoidance of a misinterpretation or misunderstanding the goal. (Italicized parentheticals are mine.)

***

Rennes-le-Château—a historic hilltop village in the Aude region of France (named after the Aude River)—would it turn out to be the location, at the end of the nineteenth century, of one of the most fabulous discoveries ever dreamed of? What was the secret of the Abbe Bérenger Saunière? And why, between 1891 and 1917, did he spend more than a billion-and-a-half in old francs? How does one explain that all who come close to the truth today (as was the case in bygone days) do so at the risk of their lives?

In the following study, author Gérard de Sède strives to provide answers to these questions, and more, with precision and objectivity. A study of the enigma of Rennes-le-Château—and the violent deaths surrounding it—is not without risk; but this is a courageous, important book, one that seeks to clarify and document history for posterity, and one that offers an exciting look at an ancient and “accursed treasure” long hidden beneath a veil of secrecy.

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My Current Read: A 1978 Bestselling Haunted House Novel by Anne Rivers Siddons—A Favorite Book of Stephen Kings’!

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

It doesn’t matter what other people think. Not any more.

Our friends are going to think we have taken leave of our senses, and we are going to lose many of them.

This is the sort of thing that engenders mild teasing or pleasurable gasps of not-quite-believing fear when it is kept within the bounds of the group. It is something else entirely now that we have spread it out for all the world to see. That isn’t done in our set. It lacks taste, and though we don’t use the word, class.

Worst of all, we have believed the unbelievable and spoken the unspeakable. Yes, we will lose our friends. We cannot worry about that either.

For the Harralson house is haunted, and in quite a terrible way.

(from The House Next Door)

Praise for The House Next Door:

“Spellbinding…. You will not be able to put down this book.” —Dallas Times Herald

“Haunting.” —The New York Post


The House Next Door is a horror novel written by Anne Rivers Siddons. It was first published by Simon & Schuster and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. The novel is told from the point of view of Colquitt “Col” Kennedy, a well-to-do middle-aged woman who lives with her husband Walter in a quiet, affluent Atlanta neighborhood. They learn from a neighbor that a contemporary home is going up on the lot next to theirs. Colquitt and Walter are dismayed at their loss of privacy and quiet, but resigned to the inevitable. They meet the architect and owners shortly after learning about the home, see the plans, and decide it’s a beautiful house.

The Prologue

Click images below to enlarge…

Soon, Colquitt suspects a terrible force resides in the house next door.In just under two years, three owners—the Harralsons, Sheehans, and Greenes—have their lives destroyed by scandal, madness, and murder while living in the home. Even those who only visit the house—including Colquitt and Walter—find themselves the victims of shocking tragedy. The pair decide to go public with their story—and risk their own reputations and careers—to warn others about the house’s dangerous power. However, the house is now powerful enough to protect itself. By telling the world, the Kennedys have summoned its dangerous wrath.

A Stephen King Favorite?

38B0B7AD-8C48-4965-8E73-16B6DB0F3783Yep. The House Next Door is one of five horror novels selected and Introduced by horror master Stephen King for The Stephen King Horror Library (see photo inset).

In his non-fiction book on horror in our culture, Danse Macabre, King writes at length about Siddons’ novel, calling it a contemporary ghost story with Southern Gothic roots; and one of the best genre novels of the 20th century. King’s extensive synopsis is supplemented by a detailed statement written by Siddons herself that reveals some of the novel’s themes.


SPOILER ALERT!

A Blog Review & Link to Buy the Book

Source: http://markwestwriter.blogspot.com/2014/03/the-house-next-door-by-anne-rivers.html

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, A Review by Mark West

In a new edition of the occasional series, I want to tell you about a book that I’ve read and loved, which I think adds to the horror genre and that I think you’ll enjoy if you’re a fan. Of course, this book is now 36 years old so it might be that I’m the last one left who hasn’t read it…

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Sculpture de L’opéra Garnier à Paris

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Photographer unknown (classicarte).

Alto Giove, è tua grazia, è tuo vanto
il gran dono di vita immortale
che il tuo cenno sovrano mi fa.
Ma il rendermi poi quella già sospirata tanto
diva amorosa e bella
è un dono senza uguale, come la tua beltà.

– Polifemo: Alto Giove – Nicola Porpora

“Let me, let me freeze again…”

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Statue congelée de Lord Alfred Tennyson (classicarte/Tumblr).

Let me, let me,
Let me freeze again
Let me, let me
Freeze again to death. 

– Shakespeare, King Arthur: Act III, Scene 2: Cold Song (Cold Genius) – Henry Purcell