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  • Church Porch Devilry October 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Church Porch Devilry

    Midsummer’s eve doubtless had significance to our distant pagan ancestors, yoked to the land and to the seasons like oxen. What is striking is how often these traditions survived Christianity, the Reformation and even industrialisation. Take one of Beach’s favourite: looking for the dead-to-come on Midsummer’s Eve. Tradition claimed – traditions that still survive in […]

    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

    By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

    Holy Gunpowder October 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Holy Gunpowder

    ***Thanks to Chris*** Beach was recently sent a link to Io9 and a remarkable couple of late renaissance images of devils and angels using gunpowder. As the Io9 writer notes – a writer who deserves most of the credit for what follows – the devil ‘packing heat’ is particularly delicious. We include below the wood cut and […]

    Jesus Christ and Naked Men September 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Jesus Christ and Naked Men

    All the fuss about Jesus’ wife the other day, put Beach in mind of an earlier controversial Biblical find, one that is, in many ways, more exciting. In 1958 a (then) young Biblical scholar Morton Smith (obit 1991) was working in the library of the Monastery of Mar Saba on the West Bank when he […]

    Christ’s Wife September 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Christ's Wife

    ***Thanks to Larry, Amanda, Southern Man and PJ*** The news came in yesterday afternoon courtesy of three or four emails sent in by readers. The email line: ‘Breaking News Alert: Ancient papyrus suggests Jesus was married’. Wth! Beach spilt his Bacardi and Rum all over his keyboard and walked around the room in a stupor. […]

    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns September 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Last of the Ancient Centaurs and Fauns

    The following appears in the Life of St Paul by Jerome, chapters 7 and 8. These passages are interesting because we have a very unusual attitude to in-between creatures, particularly given what an intolerable stick in the mud, Jerome was about everything that didn’t come out of the gospels and Paul’s letters… The blessed Paul […]

    Stay Alive to 1975! September 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Stay Alive to 1975!

    Messianic religions have long faced a simple problem with final calamity. If you predict the end of the world you are going to get lots of new members: that’s humanity. But, God help you when the world’s end does not come. Not, of course, that this has stopped the faithful from trying. Despite said problem […]

    Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts August 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts

    ***Those idiots at the internet company are playing their games again: the signal ebbs and flows, apologies that this is late then and expect further disturbances*** A week ago now Beach mentioned the Devon folklorist Miss Theo Brown, a great talent who published in the 1960s. He was particularly interested to read yesterday an article […]

    Never Forget the Church Sprite! August 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Never Forget the Church Sprite!

    When Beach gives fairy posts (and God knows sometimes he does too many) he tries to come up with unusual accounts, peculiar perspectives. He does not do ‘normal’ folklore. But this is a little story from Sweden that filled him with the melancholy of a dying or at least a changing world. Read it, reflect […]

    Crowds #4: Religion July 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #4: Religion

    Beach has so far offered up three crowd photo collections: August 1914, Speaking to Crowds and Crowds as Art. Today he thought he’d move in a little deeper with religious crowds from a small file he’s been building up over the last couple of years. The picture that head’s this post is one of his […]

    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant? July 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant?

    ***Dedicated to Paula de Fougerolles whose new book on Columba is the best historical novel on the Dark Ages since T. H. White laid down his pen*** St Columba of Iona (obit 597) is perhaps the most interesting of all the medieval Gaelic saints: and given the  strange holy fauna running around the Irish jungle […]

    The Virgin and the Fairies June 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Virgin and the Fairies

    The last fairy post for a week, we promise… Beach has noted previously here the danger of confusing fairy sightings with UFO sightings. But, as a lot of his work this summer has concerned medieval records, he realises that confusion is nothing new where fairies are concerned. There is, 500 AD – 1700 AD, the […]

    Islam Creates Europe June 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Islam Creates Europe

    Modern Europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the rise of Islam: Islam and Christianity have, after all, been butting heads for the last fifteen hundred years. What is not normally appreciated though is the fundamental role Islam had in creating Europe. Islam, it will be remembered, was born in the Middle East in the […]

    The Wandering Jew in Burnley May 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Wandering Jew in Burnley

    Today it is the turn of the Wandering Jew. For those who have never met him WJ refused to help Christ (as he was carrying his cross) or made fun of Jesus as he hung between the thieves. This proved a bad idea. WJ now meanders cursed around the globe and will do so until […]

    The Popess: A Female Pope? April 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Popess: A Female Pope?

    There are popes who had children, there are popes who took part in orgies, there are popes (at least one) who did not believe in God. However, Beachcombing has so far avoided the most remarkable pope of all: Pope Joan. The story is quickly told. Pope John VIII went out to bless the people of […]

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