Easy Easter Tidbits – WIF Holidays

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 Easter  is

More Interesting

Than Just

Chocolate

As holidays go, Easter is a strange one. We’re here today to look at Easter’s origins, and how it’s celebrated around the world. Just make sure to keep some chocolate on standby in case of cravings.

10. The Name

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We know that Christmas is a combination of “Christ” and “Mass,” and we also know that Halloween comes from “All hallow-even.” But where does Easter come from?

By far the most prolific explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility known as Eostre. The goddess had 10 variants of her name, including Ostara, Eostur and Austron — which made adding her as a contact on your phone a nightmare — but it’s agreed that the root of her name comes from “eastre,” meaning “spring.” This was adopted and used as a Christian celebration. Despite the fact that this is one of the top explanations, there’s a lot of debate over whether Eostre was even an actual goddess worshipped by people. You know, just to confuse you further.

9. The Rabbit

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Out of all the animals to be designated as the one who delivers chocolate eggs, why a rabbit? The tradition definitely has a back story, but which story you get depends on who you ask. There have been several claims for the origin of the iconic rabbit, and they span different religions and traditions.

One theory states that the Easter Bunny originated from our friend Eostre. The story goes that, once upon a time, Eostre stumbled upon a bird dying from the cold in the snow. She turned the bird into a hare, so that its fluffy coat kept it warm and safe. Because it was once a bird, it still laid eggs, so the rabbit decorated them and left them as gifts to Eostre for saving its life. This is also an explanation for the Easter egg hunt — looking for the eggs that the bird-rabbit hid. Although stealing gifts from a goddess is probably not the best idea.

Another story states that the Easter Bunny came about because, once upon a time, people believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites, making them able to give birth without losing their virginity. This has strong ties to the virgin birth of Jesus from Mary, so people began to relate rabbits to them. Some churches even sport a three hare motif, consisting of three hares connected by their ears running in a circle, a potential symbol of the Holy Trinity. However, these have been found all over the world, and their true meaning is unknown.

A third story points a finger to the first record of the Easter Rabbit in De ovis paschalibus, a German book that translates to About the Easter Egg. It states that the tradition had existed in the Christian-dominated Alsace, carried over to America with German immigrants in the 1700s, and sparked the annual chocolate gluttony ever since. There’s been no historic record yet that says people waited a day later to get eggs much cheaper, though.

8. Semana Santa

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Now that we’ve tackled the myths and legends behind Easter, we can look at the events that take place around the world leading up to, and on, the holy day. One is Semana Santa, held within cities across Spain.

Semana Santa means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. In it, all shops and stores except restaurants close, and the entire city is transformed.55 different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. While a sombre celebration, it’s one that draws tourists from all over the world to see its magnificence.

7. The Epitáphios Threnos

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The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that’s held on Good Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. The Epitáphios Threnos takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater before hymns are spoken. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition — some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

6. Easter Ham

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A prolific theory behind the Easter ham resides in Christianity. The story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Presumably out of spite, and maybe with a love for bacon mixed in, Ishtar designated a Sunday on which people consumed pig.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Killing and eating symbols of good luck seems to be a bad idea, but at least it got ham on the table.

Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime. When did the curing finish?Around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season. It’s a less exciting origin, but it makes good sense.

5. Maundy Money

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In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command “that ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples, who probably felt they could get used to that sort of treatment. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor the chance to buy food and clothing. Thus was born the Maundy Money.

Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. These people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed, so if you see some senior citizens suddenly taking a great interest in the church and goodwill approaching Easter, now you know why.

4. Pysanka Eggs

Mixed Eggs

Painting eggs on Easter is always fun. But it doesn’t have to be child’s play — the Ukrainian Easter tradition of Pysanka eggs are a craft all by themselves. These highly-decorated eggs have been made during Holy Week for generations. Even when Easter is nowhere near, people can’t resist making them. While people once made eggs to ensure fertility and avoid fires and nasty spirits, today they take to the art form for the aesthetic allure.

How do Pysanka eggs differ from regular ones? The preparation, mostly. After designing a pattern on an uncooked or empty egg, it’s then dipped in a colored dye. Between the dyeing stages, the craftsman draws patterns on the egg with wax, so as to seal the color currently on the egg and create the intricate patterns you see on the final product. In short, if the rabbits you paint on Easter eggs end up looking like the one out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps consider purchasing Pysanka eggs instead.

3. Haux Omelets

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After a busy Easter, it’s easy to imagine that people are sick to death of anything based around eggs. It would be a good idea for them to stay away from Haux in France, whose Easter traditions are just dying to have egg-based puns written about them. Every year on Easter Monday, the residents create a large omelet. This isn’t the kind of large omelet you get when you drop a box of eggs on the floor — it’s not unheard of for the final result to come in at three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet saw 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic, which sure beats what you get at Denny’s. You could even call it eggstreme, if you wanted us to come over there and smack you.

2. Passion Plays

Vilagers take part in an Easter Passion Play re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday at Gantang Village near Magelang, in the province of Central Java

One of the longest running traditions of Easter is the Passion Play. Because a lot of people in medieval times couldn’t read, plays were a great way to educate the masses about the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are passion plays held all over the world, but one of the most famous is the Oberammergau Passion Play. Its roots began during the black plague, when the residents of Oberammergau were on high alert to keep the disease out. A farmer coming home from a nearby village brought the plague back with him, which killed one-fifth of the town. With the disease ravaging the town, the elders declared that the church would hold a passion play every 10 years in exchange for God’s blessing and protection (you’d think they’d try every 10 days considering the circumstances, but whatever). The play has been performed every 10 years since 1633, with only a ban in 1770, World War I, and World War II stopping three shows. Thankfully, no outbreaks of plague happened on those years.

1. The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers

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If you’re discussing what you do on Easter with a friend, and they reveal that what they love most about it is the part where people with blackened faces perform a folk dance down the streets, you may have just met someone from Bacup, England. Every Easter, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters, perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. Either way, the custom has come under fire for its potential racist nature, with the Nutters swearing that the blackened faces have no racial aspect whatsoever. Like every dispute around Easter, we hope this one can be solved with chocolate.


Easy Easter Tidbits

WIF Holidays

Pope City / Vatican Secrets – WIF Confidential

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Dark Secrets

About the Vatican

Walled off in the city of Rome, Vatican City is an independent city-state that is just one-eighth the size of Central Park in New York City, and is the home of the Pope. However, the Vatican can also refer to the Holy See, which is the governing body of the Catholic church. These are the five darkest facts about the Vatican.

6. Pop(e) Secret

I apologize for this hint of irreverence (my Readers, Religious leaders or Theater feeders). I actually like popcorn and love God.

5. Exorcisms

With advances in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and biology, it’s hard to believe that exorcisms are still performed by the Catholic Church. However, according to former exorcist Gabriele Amorth, who apparently performed 70,000 exorcisms in his office in the Vatican, there are around 300 exorcists worldwide and four working in Rome.

Besides priests performing exorcisms, at least two modern-day Popes have performed exorcisms in the Vatican.

The first one was performed by Pope John Paul II in March 1982, on a young woman named Francesca Fabrizi from the Umbria region of Italy. During the exorcism, she writhed on the ground and cried out. The Pope said he would say mass for her the next day, which apparently cured her. She went on to live a normal life, getting married and having kids.

Pope John Paul’s second exorcism was in September 2000, when a woman with a history of possession was sitting in the front row of the Pope’s weekly audience. She flew into a rage and needed to be restrained, but was too strong and fought off the security. When she was finally restrained, Pope John Paul talked with her, hugged her, and then performed an exorcism. However, it didn’t work and Father Amorth had to do a follow up exorcism session that lasted two hours the next day.

Then in May 2009, Benedict XVI performed an exorcism on two men who were howling during the weekly audience. Apparently, when Pope Benedict blessed the men, they flew back nine feet and were cured.

4. Retiring Popes

For most Popes, it’s a job they have until they die. It’s part of Catholic Dogma; it would be like a parent giving up his or her kids. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t allowed to. It’s just very rare that they resign or retire. In fact, over the past 1,000 years there have been 123 Popes and out of all of them, only five have abdicated.

The first one to resign was Benedict IX, who was one of the youngest Popes, and was probably about 20 when he first sported that amazing hat. He was also the only person to have served multiple terms as Pope. He was forced out of the Papacy in 1036, but returned just months later and became Pope again. However, he had a problem – he wanted to get married. So he ended up selling the Papacy to the man who became his successor, Pope Gregory VI, in May 1045. However, Benedict soon regretted doing that because it turned out the woman he wanted to marry wasn’t interested in marrying him. Oops. He was able to reclaim the title of Pope in November 1047, but he only lasted a year before he was excommunicated.

The second Pope to resign was the man who bought the Papacy, Pope Gregory VI, who stepped down at the urging of the Bishops. He denied he did anything wrong, but resigned nevertheless in 1046.

The next Pope to resign was Pope Celestine V in 1294. He decreed that if the Pope wanted to resign, then he should be allowed to do so. He did that very thing a week later, after five months of being Pope. After retiring, he lived like a hermit for two years. Unfortunately, his predecessor was worried that Celestine might try to reclaim the Papacy or oppose him, so he had him imprisoned, and he died after 10 months.

The next one was Pope Gregory XII in 1415. At the time, due to a schism in the Catholic Church, which started in 1378, there were two Popes: one in Rome, and one in Avignon. Gregory chose to step down so that the Pope in Avignon could be excommunicated and the Catholic Church could get a fresh start.

The final Pope to resign was Pope Benedict XVI in 2013; he did it citing health reasons. However, there is a conspiracy theory that he was forced out, or undermined so much that he was forced to resign. Proponents of this theory point out that he retired after the “Vatileaks” scandal, which was the leaking of documents that showed Pope Benedict’s struggle to be more transparent with the public about things like priests and sexual abuse, but interior politics thwarted his plans. The Vatileaks scandal showed that Benedict was an ineffectual manager and he chose to retire.

3. The Banco Ambrosiano Scandal

The Vatican bank is officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, and from 1971 to 1989, the President of the bank was Archbishop Paul Marcinkus from Cicero, Illinois. Before that, the 6-foot-4 former rugby player worked as a bodyguard for Pope Paul VI. However, he’d be remembered for a scandal that broke in 1982.

The scandal started with the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which was one of the biggest private banks in Italy, with $1.4 billion in debt. Shortly afterwards, Roberto Calvi (pictured above), who was the general manager of the bank and friend of Marcinkus, was found dead, hanging from a bridge in London, England. Originally it was considered a suicide, but it was later ruled a homicide. Five people were tried in connection to his murder, but they were all acquitted.

That brings us to Marcinkus and the Vatican bank. It turns out that the main shareholder in the bank was the Vatican, and they had funneled a billion dollars from the bank into 10 shell companies. Other rumors that surrounded the scandal was that other shareholders with the bank were involved in organized crime and some were even members of a secret Masonic lodge.

When Italian investigators tried to interview Marcinkus about the scandal, he was very uncooperative. He refused to leave the Vatican, and even refused to answer questions, citing diplomatic immunity. Marcinkus ended up being indicted, but he never went to trial because the charges against him were dismissed. He continued to head the Vatican bank for seven more years.

The scandal has even led to some conspiracy theories. The most famous one was used in the plot of Godfather Part III, and it’s that Pope John Paul I was assassinated by the Mafia in August 1978. John Paul I was pope for only 33 days in 1978 before he was found dead sitting up in bed. The official cause of death was a heart attack, but no autopsy was performed. According to the conspiracy theory, he was assassinated because he wanted to put end the relationship between the church and private bank.

2. The Apostolic Penitentiary

Catholic priests have some pretty awesome powers when it comes to granting absolution for committing crimes. This includes forgiving people for things like murder, or mass murders and even genocide. That’s right: if you’re Catholic and you chop up the family next door and eat them, you could go to a priest, and ask for forgiveness and he could forgive you. Not only that, but the priest could never tell the police.

Yet, there are five sins that are so grave that priests can’t absolve them. Instead, inside the Vatican, they have a secret tribunal called The Apostolic Penitentiary, which looks at cases involving these sins.

The tribunal was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and the type of cases that they examine has been a secret for much of its history. However, in 2009, the Catholic Church made a huge step towards transparency and revealed the nature of these sins.

Two of them can be committed by anyone. The first is desecrating the Eucharist, because Catholics believe that it is the actual body and blood of Christ. The second is attempting to kill the Pope.

The other three sins can only be committed by a priest, or men trying to become priests. One is if a priest reveals a sin (and the person who committed the sin) that they hear in confession. Second, they can’t have sex with someone and then offer confession to their sexual partner. Third, a man who wants to be a priest or a deacon can’t directly be involved with an abortion, such as paying for the procedure.

1. The Vatican Bank and Nazi Gold

According to a 1946 document from the Treasury Department, the Vatican may have both held and smuggled Nazi gold during World War II, despite being a neutral entity.

The document, which was brought to the attention of the public in 1997, said the Vatican bank held 200 million francs, which is about $254 million in 2016, for the Nazis. According to a rumor cited in the document, that money was later funneled through something called the “Vatican pipeline” to Argentina and Spain, where it was given to Nazis who fled prosecution for war crimes.

The Vatican bank also apparently funneled money that was stolen from Serbs and Jews by the Utashe, who were a Nazi puppet regime in Croatia. At the end of the war, the Utashe started plundering from the victims of their ethnic cleansing campaigns and then smuggled 350 million Swiss francs, which is worth about $440 million, out of Yugoslavia through the Vatican. The money was then used to support the murderous Ustashe organization while they were in exile.

In 2000, a lawsuit was brought against the Vatican over this issue, but the suit ultimately failed.


Pope City / Vatican Secrets

WIF Confidential

Not Your Boston Celts – WIF Geography

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Fascinating Facts

About the

Celtic People

Celtic history is steeped in mystery. You’ve no doubt heard of the Celts, but because they left behind no written records, what we know about them can often be chalked up to myth and legend. Contemporaries and frequent enemies of the Roman Empire, these warriors were quick to fight, and vicious in attack.

 But like we said at the beginning, despite what we think we might know about the Celts, much of it has been skewed and twisted throughout history, many of the tales having been told by people, such as Herodotus, who were on the outside looking in. Still, Celtic culture was, and remains, fascinating to delve into. Here are 10 things you should probably know about the Celts.

10. They Probably Didn’t Originate in Ireland

Your mind has just been blown, right? Over the years we’ve come to associate the term “Celtic” with Ireland (thanks in large part, in recent history, to the NBA team the Boston Celtics, whose logo is a leprechaun covered in shamrocks). But historians have concluded that the Celts almost certainly didn’t originate in Ireland – or Scotland, or Wales, or even England, for that matter.

Instead, their roots have been traced back to central Europe, with Austria being the likeliest point of origin. Emerging from the late Bronze Age along the Danube River, Celtic tribes are believed to have initially lived throughout continental Europe. Eventually, these tribes expanded north and did settle in the United Kingdom. But when you think of ancient tribal warriors from Ireland, the odds are pretty strong you’re not thinking of the Celts; you’re thinking of the Gaels. Of course, even  that is a little more complicated than it sounds, so we’ll come back to that later.

9. The Romans Had Nothing On Their Roads

While Romans often get credited for being the road-builders of Europe, there’s substantial evidence to suggest that the Celts beat them to the punch. Not that the history books would ever tell you that, because as we all know, history is written by the winners. And for the bulk of early recorded history, the winners resided in the Roman Empire. When you’re the biggest, baddest dude on the block, you can take what you want, including credit for things others have done.

And according to some, that includes the building of roads. Archaeological evidence now suggests that it was the Celts, and not the Romans, who were the first to build roads. Remnants of these roads would seem to indicate that they were constructed before the Roman conquest reached the British Isles. These roads were constructed largely out of wood, which was carbon dated to the Iron Age – an indication that they predated the Roman Empire expanding that far north. And speaking of the Iron Age…

8. They Were Among the First to Utilize Iron Weaponry

One aspect of Celtic culture you’re no doubt aware of is their reputation as fierce warriors. They were also technologically ahead of their time, which gave them a pretty giant leg up on their enemies. After all, this is the group that invented the exact chainmail that was later adopted by the famous Roman Legions. That obviously flies in the face of old rumors that the Celts fought naked, since we can’t imagine chainmail would feel particularly great clanging against your junk.

But it wasn’t just superior armor that gave the Celts an advantage in battle; it was superior arms, as well. The Celts are believed to be among the very first to forge iron into swords, replacing the flimsier bronze swords most had been using up until sometime around 800 BC. They also began to utilize smaller, lighter swords and daggers, also made of iron, around 600 BC. These were far less cumbersome than broadswords, enabling the Celts to be more agile and quicker to strike on the battlefield.

7. The Celts Were Hugely Wealthy

While history often paints the Celts in broad strokes as being somewhat barbaric, savage warriors, that’s not exactly the case. Sure, they did participate in some acts of barbarism, and many practiced ritual human sacrifice. And yes, we’re going to get to that in just a bit. But that aside, they were also massively wealthy, thanks in large part to being highly active in trade of the time. Being among the first to utilize iron certainly helped fill their coffers as well.

Gold was so abundant among the Celtic regions that they used it in their armor, weaponry, and art. Silver and bronze were also widely used, and they became renowned for their finely crafted and ornate jewelry. Their artistry was among the best in the world at the time, and their scientific and technological prowess was a big part of that. Through their art, their wine, their vast quantities of gold, and their advancements in technology, the Celts were able to line their pockets very nicely indeed.

6. They Had Slavery… Kind Of

Now, to be sure, the Celts did indeed practice a form of slavery. But – and not that this is justification or makes it even remotely better, in principle – it was much closer to the serfdom of Medieval times than the actual slavery we’re most familiar with from history books. And as usual when you’re talking about tribes prone to war, many of these slaves were prisoners of war who were held within the tribe’s region and forbidden traditional rights and privileges of anyone actually from that tribe.

 When a prisoner was taken, or a criminal offered to the victim’s family as restitution for his crime, he was bound to that person or family for life. He had no right of inheritance, was forbidden from taking up arms, and was more or less simply the lowest rung of the sociological ladder. Most of what we know of slavery in Celtic society comes from remnants of law texts from places like Ireland and Wales, so obviously there are pretty massive gaps in the information we’ve got. That said, while you were afforded virtually no rights as a slave held by one of the Celts, the consensus seems to be that treatment was still more humane than slaves of many other cultures throughout history.

5. They Had Progressive Views on Gender and Sexuality

While we can’t exactly call the Celts progressive in terms of their views on slavery, we absolutely can when it comes to women and sexuality. Now, don’t get us wrong: even in a somewhat progressive tribal society, it was still patriarchal. But that doesn’t mean women didn’t have a say, or couldn’t rise to power, or even become warriors or dignitaries. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Particularly before the Roman conquest, Celtic women could lead tribes, as was the case with Boudica.

Obviously, Boudica represents far from the norm, but was one of a few Celtic women to rise to power and lead her people before her death circa 60 AD. She was the queen of her tribe, and led her warriors into battle against the Roman Empire.

And speaking of gender and sexuality, one element of Celtic culture that’s become widely believed is that not only could women hold positions of power, but that Celtic men often preferred the, ahem, “company” of other men. It was commonplace for men to seek out sexual companionship with their fellow male warriors, and likewise, women practiced free love in Celtic culture, according to historical records from their contemporaries.

4. They Weren’t Savages But They Did Hunt Heads

As we’ve mentioned a few times at this point, the Celts were far from the barbarians history has often painted them to be. They were an advanced society, took great care and pride in their appearance, and were wise enough to know it was an affront to wine connoisseurs everywhere to water the stuff down like those simpletons in the Greek and Roman Empires. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t participate in at least a few practices that might qualify as barbaric and savage.

Chief among those practices – other than ritualistic human sacrifice, which we’ll get back to shortly – was headhunting. As with ritualistic sacrifices, Celtic headhunting was driven by religion, for the most part. You see, the Celts believed that the head contained a warrior’s soul, so by taking his head you are, in fact, capturing that soul. At least, that’s one popular theory as to why they hunted heads, though the exact reason is not known, and likely varied from tribe to tribe, and warrior to warrior, particularly since the practice continued even after most Celtic tribes had converted to Christianity.

3. The Number Three Had a Huge Significance

We’ll be delving into the religion of the Celts in just a moment, but a substantial part of their belief system was the concept of “triplicity.” While that may sound like a knockoff travel website, in reality it has to do with the number three. Specifically, things coming in the form of ‘triplets’, so to speak. That means three realms (Sky, Land, and Sea), and three types of gods (personal, tribal, and spirits).

Now, the Celts didn’t just have three gods, mind you. They had many. When we talk about the Celts worshipping three types of gods, we’re talking about the kinds that guide you when you’re alone, the kinds that are with you when you’re in groups, and those that protect your home. To put it simply, triplicity refers to three things that come together to form a whole. It’s an important part of cosmology and astrology, which were integral parts Druid paganism. Which leads us to…

2. For Most of Their Existence They Were Polytheistic

Eventually, some Celtic tribes adopted Christianity as their preferred spiritual path. But for the bulk of Celtic existence, they practiced polytheism; the worship of many gods. It’s not unusual that they’d have worshipped numerous gods, considering the same was true of their contemporaries, like the Greeks and Romans. And the chief purveyors of Celtic polytheism, or Celtic paganism, were the Druids.

Believe it or not, much of what we know of the Druids and Druidism comes from, of all people, Julius Caesar. Obviously, that’s part of what renders our knowledge of the Druids information that should probably be taken with at least a small grain of salt, considering Caesar and his Empire were frequently at war with the Celts. Still, Caesar relayed that the Druids were teachers and priests, and also rendered judgement and penalties resulting from crimes and squabbles within their tribes.

As alluded to in the previous entry, the stars played a significant role in the Celtic religion and Druidism. They also practiced ritual sacrifice to appease their gods (with the burning of Wicker Men – sacrificial victim or victims inside – which will send a shiver down Nic Cage’s spine should he read this), and believed in reincarnation.

1. The Celts Weren’t Really, Well, “Celts”

Confused? Don’t be. It’s a lot simpler than the header probably makes it sound. You see, the group you think of as the “Celts” isn’t really the Celts, at least not in the sense that the Romans were the Romans, or the Greeks were the Greeks. That’s because the Celts weren’t just one group; they consisted of many, including the aforementioned Gaels, the Britons, the Gauls, and the Galatians, among others. See, “Celtic” really referred to language, and the somewhat similar dialects these various tribes used.

That said, grouping all of those tribes together under one umbrella – which, again, was done by contemporaries like the Greeks and Romans, since the Celts themselves didn’t keep written records – is probably misleading. Some historians suggest that the languages were different enough, and the groups so spread out (as far east as Turkey, all the way west to the Atlantic Ocean) that it’s highly unlikely most of the tribes were remotely united. In fact, it’s believed part of the reason they were ultimately defeated by the Romans was because of their lack of unification. In essence, calling a Gaul “Celtic” would be akin to calling a German “European.” Technically correct, but highly generalized.


 Not Your Boston Celts

– WIF Geography

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 51

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 51

“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,”…

life-changing

Yes, Francine was lying to the Senator when she told him of her doing real work. The evening cast is 4 hours away and as for the script, she would read whatever they put on the prompter, unless it makes her look stupid or cheesy. No, Francine was headed for the comfort of her personal, fully equipped dressing room.

She flashes her thumb against the print-recognition coder, to gain access to a world no one is allowed to know about… that and her age. In a world of investigative reporters and scheming assignment editors, only her cleaning lady has access to it, lest the governor declare it a disaster area. Queen Francine does not rank #1 in market neatness.

It is a sanctuary fit for the General Manager, or Senior Vice-president for that matter, who coincidently Francine has been engaged to, ever since she was up for lead anchor on the 6 & 10; not  coincidently. The poor sucker guy may be witness to the next Ice Age before she sets a date.

Once inside, she succumbs to her narcissistic ways, her image filling the large lighted mirror. She does a pirouette to verify whether that diet she started was working or not. All it takes is one chauvinistic comment about her butt to trigger that. She nods her approval, complains about why nobody has invented a better pair of pantyhose, and goes about putting herself back together.

Once seated, she leans forward for a closer inspection of her midday makeup, that when it was applied this morning, only served to polish the already perfect face of Aphrodite or Venus de Milo. Even her many enemies cannot dispute how truly pretty she is.

Her nose was a bit on the shiny side, God forbid, reflecting light like the hood of her 2029 Corvette; Nothing that a swirling mass of tinted powder won’t cure.

Satisfied once again, that perfection is achievable, Francine decides to make her routine appearance among the peons in the newsroom. She has lucked out this day, arriving just in time to schmooze a throng of Junior High speech students; Autographs gladly, pictures surely, questions, “Talk to the news director over there.” More pictures?

She was about to see if anything new had crossed her desk, when a telephone call comes through to her cell phone. The 1970s ABBA oldie anthem “The Winner Takes It All”, beckons her to answer. Nobody is allowed to call her at work, “It might be my agent,” she thinks aloud.

“Is this Francine Bouchette?” The voice on the other end of the line has a thick, unfamiliar accent.

She has half a mind to hang up, but anyone who has her number has good connections. “This is she and who may I ask is this? I am very busy, so make it brief.”

“Assalmu alaikum. Who I am, is of little importance, what I have to tell you may change your life,” the caller must be Arab or Muslim.

“I am listening, but you’ll need to get to the point.”

“We have chosen you to tell a story, on a day that will live in infamy, as will your name.”

“Please don’t play games here, whoever you are. If this story requires national attention, you have the right girl.” Francine is playing right into the man’s hand — a full house.cell-hell

“If you meet our needs woman, you will need to listen closely and ask not what your source is.”

“Okay, yes,” and what is with that “woman” reference? It isn’t hard to disrespect this particular female and this old-school moron is lucky she hasn’t dispatched him to cellular hell.


 THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 51


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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 30

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 30

…“One thousand perfect virgins in Heaven!” The taxi-man looks Afridi up and down…

ok-now-what

A scientist is accustomed to having the answers to most everything; killers at trivial pursuits, that leave mere mortals with that dirty, uneducated feeling. Yet few of his fringe information will be helping him out here and now. This bustling Arab city will confound the most worldly of traveler, especially virgin travelers, who lack logistical confidence.

But he does have a rudimentary travel visa, Abdullah Ashtaar’s 2×3 Biz Card passport, none more useful in a cosmopolitan area that includes the merging of four to five ancient metropolises. He reflects on the actions he will take from here on in and those vexatious global ramifications.

Topping any agenda is to locate his family in this muslin clothed morass. His newly acquired impulsive streak has placed both him and them in danger. He is driven by his good conscience, hoping for good results.

His destination is the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, somewhere in this undiplomatic state, but where? He had had a plan when he concocted it about 36 hours ago, but now for the life of him, he cannot recall that reasoning.

Possible rejoinders and other anonymities lay before his very eyes. Where else in the world can you lose Related imageyourself, like a carelessly pitched-penny disappearing thru a crack in the cobblestones? Oriental or Jew, black, white, red or brown, you name it and who is there that cares? Only a Martian or the Man in the Moon would stand out in this city.

Certainly Aldona Afridi can locate his family in order to secure the future for them…..along with nine and ninety billion others and their descendants.

Never let it be said that Istanbul does not care for her guests. Afridi was lost, obvious to even the most casual observer. One such well-meaning native drives a souped-up rickshaw-taxi and nearly runs over two other pedestrians to get to a good fare. That stray bandy-rooster in his way is not so lucky, a left behind meal for the people of the street.

abdullah-ashtaar-001“Hey man, where can I take you?” asked without asking, driving on without direction.

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque,” Afridi flashes the conductor’s gift keycard to Constantinople.

“One thousand perfect virgins in Heaven!” The taxi-man looks Afridi up and down, trying to guess the nature of his business, why he is possession of a key to the Turkish underground. “We must cross the Golden Horn to reach Galata.”


 THE RETURN TRIP

Sultan Ahmet Mosque - Istanbul by shhhhh-art deviantart.com

Sultan Ahmet Mosque – Istanbul by shhhhh-art deviantart.com

Episode 30


page 29

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #223

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #223

… a small shrine to Mary Mother of God and her son Jesus. Votive candles are apparently lit around the clock, two of which burn devotedly now…

Virgin Mary and baby Jesus

Camille Diaz does not push for more, preferring to keep A.O. talking. “You don’t sound like a Northeasterner Alpha, so where are you from?”

“Florida…Tallahassee to be exact, I’m on staff at Florida A & M Hospital.” He senses a trend, so he guesses the next question, “I was comin’ back from a meetin’ in Boston, but I’m here in Atlantic City to see my brother. He told me to find him on Melrose Avenue – you see what I found instead.”

open-and-closed-signs    “And I found you.” She is warming to this diminutive, quiet, somewhat dashing man; and being so far from home, that warmth feels good to him.

As is the diner pot roast warm, the company is satisfying. An hour passes, then another when the waitress brings them back to reality, “We close at nine, you two. Here’s your bill.”

Nine o’clock? Daylight had long since faded, leaving A.O. wondering privately if he could still get a room. Camille has already decided to offer, “I would be offended if you didn’t stay at my apartment. It’s not big, but it’s cozy… good heat.”

  “I,” he hesitates, thinking of his young wife, who has been absent from any of their discussion; not wearing a wedding ring for purposes of sterility, “… suspose that would be the prudent thing to do, seein’ the lateness of the hour.”

Red light-001  Red light-001So, around a couple more corners and down another block, they arrive at a brick building with twenty mail boxes. She checks the one labeled 3D, extracts a Sears catalogue and a letter and they are off to the third floor. She keys the lock and they enter the three roomed apartment; a kitchen/living room combination and a bedroom and a bathroom, the bedroom having floor length red fringe for a door. It is very well kept, populated by largely antique furniture and a small shrine to Mary Mother of God and her son Jesus. Votive candles are apparently lit around the clock, two of which burn devotedly now. It is a well meaning gesture, if not a bona fide fire hazard.

You have a very nice place, Camille. It’s very comfortin’ to be in the company of another believer.”

     The woman is busily preparing for an overnight guest, amassing a set of bedding to convert her sofa, after applying her stove’s flame to a teapot and turning on her radio, which emits a wealth of Latin melodies. She disappears into her bedroom, reentering in loungewear, with a robe draped over her arm, handing it to her wayfaring boarder.

“You need to get out of that suit, Alpha. I started a bath for you – how do you like your tea?”

  “Hot, maybe if you have some lemon.” He is getting the royal treatment. And to think he had planned on staying with his brother, rubbing elbows with hookers and probably roaches.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Luis German Cajiga

Episode #223


page 208

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #222

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #222

…Instead, the woman of Puerto Rican descent pushes the hooker to the ground, while rushing the doctor down the street and away from the red-light district…

Red Light District Memories by Michael Litvack

Thinking he is being led to his brother Hosea, he takes the woman’s arm.

“What floor does Hosey live on?”

 “All of them, he owns the joint. But he ain’t here now, went up to Philly on business, you know, to recruit some girls, should be back tomorrow.”

It dawns on the doctor just what business his brother is in. He hastens to free himself from the prostitute.

“Come on, honey, you don’t want to leave. I’m very lonely and I bet you could use a place to stay. Hosey left me in charge.”

“No! I can come back tomorrow.”

“What’s the matter nigger, ain’t you ever had a pretty white girl? Afraid you might rub off on me? ‘Cause you won’t you know, Hosey ain’t, see?” She shows him her belly.

She has him cornered, saying uncomfortable things to the intimidated Christian man, determined to entice him inside.

The mild disturbance attracts the attention of passers by, one of whom is a Latino woman somewhere likely in her twenties, on her way home from her shift at a Boardwalk restaurant. “Why don’t you find someone who wants you, you jezebel. God will strike you dead!” yells the devoutly Catholic woman, with zero tolerance for such depravity.

“This ain’t none of your beeswax, lady.” Jezebel figures that should do the trick.

Instead, the woman of Puerto Rican descent pushes the hooker to the ground, while rushing the doctor down the street and away from the red-light district. Around a few corners and down two blocks, she slows from a trot to a slower gait. “Are you hungry? I am.”         disoriented

He just nods, not knowing if he was afoot or horseback.

“They have good food.” She sees his need for a guide, extending her hand, “Camille Diaz.”

“Doctor A.O. Campbell.” He is settling down. “I would like to thank you for what you did back there. I must be a real country bumpkin.”

“Two specials,” she tells the waitress, who interrupts. “Do you like pot roast? Theirs is the best.”

“Sure, sounds good.” He could eat horse right about now.

disoriented2      “Coffee?” ask the waitress, with a spare pencil on her ear and food stains all over her apron, residue from a long day feeding other people.

Camille Diaz looks at a nodding A.O. “Yes.” She resumes the conversation. “Do not be ashamed for being pure of heart.”

“I still feel addle-headed, can’t change that.”

“Well, if you insist” she relents, speaking with a trademark, but Americanized Puerto Rican accent. Feeling like she must carry their talk, she asks, “What does A.O. stand for?”

“Alpha Omega,” simply stated.

“Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 11, I so love that book. It tells us what we have to look forward to.” It is the second time she has invoked knowledge of God. This, above all, puts the doctor at ease.

“I had a mentor who actually gave me that name. I use it now, mostly ashamed of my real name,” he admits.


Alpha Omega M.D.

by Jammil Deviant Art

by Jammil Deviant Art

Episode #222


page 207

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #194

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #194

…Agnes Ferrell is still somewhat of a prize, but should the classically endowed “Gibson Girls” go out of favor, 25 pounds will need to be shed…

“The Gibson Girl” by Kasai on Deviantart

“We will discuss your father’s crazy idea after dinner, when the guests leave.”

“I get the hint, Mother. Feel free to torture me.”

“Oh, by the way, we invited Frankie, from…”

“The Dry Goods Manager, from store #3? You really must think I am desperate!”

“Your Father invited him to Thanksgiving, at the last minute. Seems he never had a father and his mother died two weeks ago.”

“Yes, I remember, very sad, but I do not view him as a possible suitor.” She is still somewhat of a prize, but should the classically endowed “Gibson Girls” go out of favor, 25 pounds will need to be shed.

“Don’t get the wrong impression, Agnes. He is a nice man, not altogether without merit, but he does not represent our desires for you. Be yourself around him; make him feel at home, that’s all we ask of you.”

 “You always manage to keep me grounded,” Agnes admits.

“Now Cyril Odz, he is a different story. We continue to hear nothing but good things about him from your brother.”

James has been on the lookout for possible mates for years and he has informed Martha that the Gadsden County Sheriff fits all the criteria.

“Look who is here, dear.” John ushers Ziggy into the kitchen, along with the bag of beets and rutabaga stalks he insisted on contributing. They will need special attention to fit in with meal, but no one will be the wiser.

While Doc Ziggy is in his eighties, his mind is still sharp as a tack, as adept are his arthritic hands. So don’t you dare — walk with bare — feet that is. “Martha, you must improve your posture,” he places a hand on the smallest of her back and one on her left breast, while lifting. If he were anyone else, a slap across the brow would be in order. “Laura, Alpha and Maggie Lou vill be by shortly and do not throw out za greens from za beets, boil zem is salt vater.” Advanced age does have its privilege.

Cross

  That afternoon, after all have assembled at Hillside Estate, there is so much to be thankful for. John Ferrell speaks for them all, with an inspirational grace for the ages, lifted to the heavens and direct from his heart. Unbeknownst to him, his prayer strikes a deep cord with Frankie, leading him to accept Jesus as his Savior. Agnes had wondered why he had been invited, this is her answer. The plans of man are mere pieces of the great plan of God.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #194


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #154

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #154

…The experience is surreal, almost like John is watching himself from above and does not stop until he is kneeling right in front..

Surrealistische-olieverf-schilderijen-van-Vladimir-Kush-6

Salvador Dali

“We all are sinners, every one of us, headed for eternal damnation in the furnaces of hell. We are lost souls, with little hope of changing ourselves,” is Ezra Elijah’s recurring theme.

“Hallelujah, Brother!”

“Praise God Almighty!”

These are words from those who already know.

redeemed      “But there is good news, brothers and sisters!” He throws his head back, long gray hair flying, looking up and pointing to the cloudless sky. “Jesus Christ has already died for our sins and he is reigning in heaven, waiting to take his followers up with him. All YOU and YOU and YOU have to do,” he points, “is believe on him and his blessed resurrection and you too can look forward to eternal life.”

John Ferrell is one of the people he looks in the eye. Does he know my sins? He was speaking right at me.

“You can be a thief, a murderer. Perhaps you have violated your sacred vows of marriage or fathered a child with another woman. There is no use hiding from God. He already knows.”

It is 90 degrees, but John’s sweat is of the cold variety.

“If you do not have a personal relationship with God, I invite you to come forward and receive glory!”

Up until this point, Ferrell had been standing inconspicuously in the back, with no intent on being seen. Seemingly without his will, he makes his way forward. The experience is surreal, almost like he is watching himself from above. He does not stop until he is kneeling right in front, at the feet of a man that would have scared him to death prior to this life-changing day.

He is recognized by many of the gathering, but no matter, John Ferrell has taken that giant step to salvation.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Ezra Elijah-001

Episode #154


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 238

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 238

…Willard Libby, the “who” in this big fuss…

Willard Libby, the “who” in this big fuss, has slogged his way past doubting peers, physical abduction and injury, continuous peril and spiritual conviction to come to this place. Because of him, children will be taught and the world will know, that this incredible planet we call Earth and the living things that inhabit it, are not some evolutionary accident, millions upon millions of years in the making.

Six days and a rest…? Not literally but closer to the truth than the perpetuated dishonesty of the Great Deception.

fly on the wallHe has virtually been a man without a voice during this entire account. We had a window into his subconscious mind while he was shuttered away in the mental hospital. He then goes into months of hiding. A fly on the wall at that University safe house may well be bored into hibernation. I am sure we missed some engrossing conversations between he and Martin Kamen, particularly on the subject of organic radiocarbon half-life. Neither one of them could come up with any evidence to refute Libby’s assertion that life on Earth has no more than 20,000 years of biological age to it. And we would be on the edge of our seats when they examined and re-examined a partial fossilized jawbone of an Ethiopian hominid.

As a result of worldwide exposure, the University of Chicago has received unprecedented credibility in most scientific circles. As the formulae and raw numbers of revised carbon dating sift down through knowledgeable strata, conclusions become obvious and irrefutable. The U of C community rallies to the fore, realizing that a Nobel Prize may be the real result.

In certain other bastions of academia, nothing will move them off of their long held and indeed cherished evolutionary membership. Even without conspiratorial help from the most fallen of angels, they will carry their stubbornness ahead into time immemorial.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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