death

Defeating Death: The Ancient Quest for Eternal Life through Artifacts, Divine Foods and Elixirs

The very earliest written histories reveal that humanity has had the universal desire to live forever, and has sought countless ways in which to defeat the utterly relentless inevitabilities of time and mortality.

Whether bestowed by deities, attained through acts of extreme good, conjured through magical objects or potions, received as a form of punishment, or acquired through a mishap of science, tales of eternal human life exist in numerous legends, myths, religions, ancient historical texts, and they even present themselves in the modern era through life-extension and cryogenic...Read more

The Strange Origin of the Kappa: Japanese Water Imp

Many supernatural creatures are depicted in Japanese art and literature.  Some seem realistic and might actually exist, since there have been witness sightings, while others are clearly composite creatures.  Still others might have been created by storytellers to explain seemingly inexplicable phenomena.  Such creatures include yuki-onna (snow women), who lure young men out of their beds at night and into the mountains where they freeze to death, and kitsune (foxes) which are thought to be shape shifters, often assuming the form of beautiful young women.  Even today in northern Japan, some...Read more

Suttee: Deadly Ancient Lessons on How to be a ‘Good Wife’ and a ‘Redeemed Widow’

A poor, 60-year-old barber in rural India, who had been ill for some time, died in his simple mud hut in 2002. The next morning, his widow announced her intention to commit suttee (or sati) —the ancient practice in which a widow burns herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre.

The villagers gathered to watch as the widow calmly walked to her husband's funeral pyre and sat down on it. The crowd lit incense sticks and made offerings of coconuts and betel leaves as she cradled her husband's head in her lap. She sat on the pyre for two hours before her eldest son set light to it....Read more