History & Tradition

Gematria: Esoteric Numerology Based on the Hebrew Kabbalah

Having long been fascinated with the mysterious power of numbers, enough to write two books on the topic, we often sidestepped the subject of numerology because of its lack of a true scientific basis.  Yet ancient and esoteric traditions looked at numerology as not only a tool for divination, but a method of acquiring knowledge beyond that of the five senses, even as a path to know the divine itself.

W.E.B. DuBois once stated, “When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading books. You will be reading meanings...Read more

The Traditional Offering Ceremony of the Andes: How to Maintain Balance Between the Material and Spiritual Worlds

In traditional Andean cosmovision, the natural world and the divine are united, and offering ceremonies are seen as a part of the reciprocity system between the material and spiritual worlds. Haywarikuy (offering gifts in a sacred manner), ayni (reciprocity), ofrenda (offering), and despacho (message) all are words used for the sacred offering ceremonies of the Quechua, Quichua, Aymara and other indigenous peoples in the Andes region. Although several types of these ceremonies take place all over Latin America (and by other names around the...Read more

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 Violent Life and Times of Roger Bigod – A Medieval Player of the Game of Thrones?

For almost 250 years, from the time of the Norman Conquest of England in AD 1066, one of the most important families in the Eastern Counties were the Bigods. In later years they would become the Earls of Norfolk and so powerful they could defy the Kings of England, running their territory like the bosses of old-style Mafia crime family.

Despite the fact these were members of a family who lived and died nearly a thousand years ago, in many respects they were a thoroughly modern bunch of ruthless back-stabbers, liars, and rogues who always had an eye on the main prize and didn’t care...Read more

Dogs of War: Ancient History of Animals in Warfare

Man and beast have partnered for various reasons over tens of thousands of years—almost always for food or protection. The dirty history of animals in warfare is sometimes inspiring, sometimes disturbing, but without the aid of creatures in war, humanity would be in a different place than we are today.

The image of a mounted warrior succinctly captures the history of animals in war, but many animals, such as dogs, camels, elephants, pigs, oxen, dolphins, pigeons and more, have all served in various capacities and have played roles (for good or ill) in war and combat related...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

Questions of Identity: Who are the Europeans?

Many of us with European heritage are confused about identity. Regardless of where we now live – Europe, North America, Australia or elsewhere - questions arise such as “where is the homeland, what are our origins and who dispossessed whom”?  Are we really even ‘European’?

Europe might have been the part of the world where our grandparents and more distant ancestors once lived, but that does not necessarily mean that those people were indigenous to Europe. In particular, there is a lot of confusion about the identity of Celts. By focusing on the origins of Celts and others, more...Read more

Castrati: The Superstars of the Church and Opera in 16th Century Europe

“Long live the knife, the blessed knife!” screamed ecstatic female fans at opera houses as the craze for Italian castrati reached its peak in the 18th century. When Farinelli, the most famous castrato of his time, sang in London, one woman squealed "One God, one Farinelli!" Farinelli was later summoned by the Queen of Spain to sing her husband, Philip V, out of his depression, and went on to become the most potent politician in Spain as well as owner of his own opera house.

A castrato was a male singer with a vocal classification of a female or a child’s voice—a soprano, mezzo-...Read more