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Flirty Fishing: Evangelical Prostitution April 19, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Flirty Fishing: Evangelical Prostitution

The Children of God were a rather silly American Christian group, born in 1968, that went, however, almost immediately off the rails, rode down the sidings and ended up chugging along in the blackest, grimiest ditches known to human experience. They specialized, for one, in unusual sexual practices. Some of these are too sordid to […]

How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade March 27, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
How to Make a Mummy: According to Bob Brier and Robert Wade

Checklist. You don’t believe in the resurrection of the dead? You are not squeamish about your body being messed around with after you have passed? You have no dangerous blood-bourne diseases? And you would like a form of immortality? Then why not volunteer to become an Egyptian mummy? This anyway is what happened 24 May […]

The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica March 15, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica

Literature has some pretty bizarre dust balls under the bed – roadkill cookbooks, Marxist-Leninist poetry… – but there are few things that compete with the so-called ‘stalags’, Israeli erotica based around Nazi murder camps. In the late 1960s Israel was experiencing holocaust delerium: sweating out the killing of six million Jewish Europeans just two decades […]

Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal March 6, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal

One of the great things about fairies in traditional communities is that they make for the perfect alibi. If someone pushes down the landlord’s fence then, of course, it was the fairies that did it. If a man is a beaten out walking along a midnight lane then the fairies did it. If a boy […]

McConnel’s Passing: An At Death Encounter? March 2, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
McConnel's Passing: An At Death Encounter?

11 December 1918 was a sad day in the McConnel family. Eighteen-year-old David McConnel (aka M’Connel in some publications) had perished four days before in a plane crash: just three months after the end of the worst war in history, at a time when his family might reasonably have hoped that he would be safe. Flying from […]

Review: Return of the Ancestral Gods February 12, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
Review: Return of the Ancestral Gods

When this blogger thinks ‘neo-paganism’: he conjures up images of well-meaning Wiccans dancing nude in the New Forest or Californian ‘fairies’ sitting earnestly in a circle around a lonely pine and talking gnomes. But neo-paganism is not a uniform phenomenon as Mariya Lesiv’s wonderful new book, The Return of the [Ukrainian] Ancestral Gods, shows all […]

In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia? January 28, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
In Search of the Lamia in Ethiopia?

This passage appears in an 1863 book about a Briton’s residence in Abyssinia. The author seems to be in two minds about the monster he is describing. Is it real or is it a figment of the locals’ imagination? In the text he seems to account for it as legend, but note that he had […]

A Pregnant Christ?! January 23, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Pregnant Christ?!

This beautiful mosaic is an eleventh-century work in the church of San Miniato in Florence, one of the most extraordinary religious buildings in the world. The mosaic is unusual as, though put together in central Italy, it shows, as does an accompanying mosaic outside the church, clear eastern influences. Are we to think of itinerant […]

Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed? January 14, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed?

One of these cute medieval stories that may even have a factual basis. There was a knight in Catalonia in our times, of very high birth, dashing in warfare, and gracious in manners, whose name was Guiraut de Cabrera. This man had a horse of outstanding quality, unrivalled in speed and – unprecedented marvel – […]

The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted January 8, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted

The Sphinx needs no introduction. The vast majority of educated people would be able to close their eyes and visualise his face almost perfectly, not least because of his use as an icon for antiquity and for Egypt and even for mysticism. But when we imagine the Sphinx in  our mind’s eye we, of course, […]

The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies December 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies

The most dysfunctional family in history? The Tudors in England showed peturbing signs of genius. The line of Augustus in ancient Rome degnenerated into madness and murder. The Neo-Flavians were pretty confused too. The Borgias bless them… But, let there be no ambiguity, no one comes close to the Ptolemies,  the last dynasty of Greek […]

Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg December 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg

A wonderful story that could probably only come out of Italy. First, some necessary background. Indro Montanelli was perhaps the finest Italian journalist of the twentieth century: he was able to interview and work with Andreotti, Berlusconi, Hitler, John-Paul II, Mussolini and many other notables whose deeds changed the peninsula and Europe (mostly, being notable, […]

Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil? December 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil?

For the hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens brought up for mummification in ancient Egypt life was brutal and short. Most lived six months to a year and then were either hammered on the head, or more typically had their necks wrung before being tightly bound and sold to the religious perhaps particularly pilgrims, […]

Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster December 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster

This unusual story dates to the reign of Charles II, the son of the unhappiest monarch in the pantheon, Charles I. Beach has decided to include it for two reasons. First, because it reminds him of some of those shamanistic individuals who he has sometimes celebrated as fairy witches; and second because there is almost […]

Fitzgerald’s Dagger and a Child Thief December 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fitzgerald's Dagger and a Child Thief

Lord Edward Fitzgerald was the great hero of the hopeless Irish revolt of 1798. When he was arrested on 4 May of that year he determined to sell his life dearly and set about his assailants with a knife causing many injuries. He died a month later of his wounds: wounds from the same fight. […]

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