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Leviathan’s in the Mediterranean

            Whales have been following the currents of the ocean for thousands of years like clockwork knowing and teaching the paths to generations to come. In some cultures, like the northern arctic Inuit in Canada, Russia, and Iceland, whales became a staple source of food and even shelter. However, for the people of the Mediterranean whales were mythical beasts of the ocean rumored to have great power and great mystery. Some larger than the biggest ships and capable of sending entire crews to their deaths, whales played a very different role in Mediterranean culture.

            In the early history of the city of Athens the word ketos is used to describe large sea creatures and ‘monsters’, whales fell into this category of terminology. Eventually ketos became cetacean, which is the contemporary scientific term for both whale and dolphin. For many Mediterranean’s whales were seen as leviathans, which is a biblical creature in the old testament that is associated with evil, and the wrath and omnipotence of God. The leviathan was so feared because of its existence in the earthly realm compared to heavenly or hellish creatures. The ocean is its domain and it attacks at random. One whale caused so much havoc off of the shore of Troy that it was given a name, Porphiyos. Porphiyos for nearly fifty years would destroy ships, and scare away herds of fish. Eventually Porphiyos ran aground and the locals saw their chance to exact their revenge. The people of the town dragged Porphiyos to shore and bludgeoned him to death and cut him to pieces. Contemporary scholars believe that the whale was a Sperm whale roughly 45ft long and 15ft wide.

Whales were rare in the Mediterranean, but not so rare that they were unknown to many people. Archaeologists have found several different artifacts that prove whalebones were used for things such as cutting boards, leatherworking and scrimshaw. Most exposure that the people had to whales was accidental. Most commonly people would find them beached or washed up onto shore, but sometimes fisherman would unknowingly spear a smaller whale, though whales were never actively hunted. Whales were often represented in art as huge beasts destroying ships, or represented as the mythical creature Andromeda that terrorized a town demanding virgin sacrifices.

In the arctic regions of Russia, Alaska, Iceland, and Canada, whales were extremely common and served a multitude of purposes. Whales were a source of food, heating, building materials, and other tools. When a wale was killed its entire body was used for the village. Its meat was of course served as food, its blubber used as oil for lamps, and even its bones were used as rafters for partially subterranean homes. Very different from the people of the Mediterranean, the Inuit had a healthy respect for the strength and abilities of these animals, but they were anything but leviathans of the sea.

Mythology often times shows similarities between cultures that are separated by mountains and seas, but this is a great instance of how things are very different. Creatures like Whales can hold such drastically different meanings to so many cultures. This is just an example of how one culture can find something to be an evil creature that is the incarnation of God’s wrath and omnipotence to one culture, and to another a swimming warehouse of valuable goods that can support a village. Myths not only influence our history, but also our fears, hopes, and understanding.

            

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else…” – Joseph Campbell

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where you would not have thought there would be doors and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else…” – Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was an early 20th century American scholar of world mythology. He dissected and analyzed ancient stories from every inhabited part of the globe. These stories varied greatly from culture to culture yet there was a similarity in all of them. It was these similarities that intrigued Campbell as they seemed to have a message concerning humanity as a whole as well as every individual. From the stories he studied, Campbell developed a “monomyth” that he called “The Hero’s Journey”.

The documentary Finding Joe, written and directed by Patrick Solomon, explores what The Hero’s Journey is and how it relates to every individual. When viewing this documentary one should be warned that she or he may just decide to quit her or his job and become a “starving artist”. The documentary encourages people to look at the cultivation of the soul as not just a luxury for those with extra time and money, but a necessity for anyone wishing to live the most fulfilling and meaningful life possible.

The title Finding Joe is a bit deceiving as this is not a documentary on Joseph Campbell as much as it is an invitation to discover one’s own self and one’s own passion. When Campbell says “Follow your bliss” he means to acquiesce to the true longing of one’s own soul, to take heed to the muse within. When a person answers the call from the soul, that person radiates and finds success and prosperity.  The reason that most people do not follow their bliss is that it appears to be a path of folly. Campbell’s idea that following bliss, cultivating one’s own unique art, will lead to prosperity and success is not self-evident.  In the myths around the world, the hero must always take a risk. It is courage that defines the hero.  According to Campbell, everyone has the potential to be a hero. The hero lays dormant deep within the soul. All it takes is a little inspiration, a little courage, and a rather large leap of faith for the hero to manifest. I have a “Follow your bliss” bumper sticker on my vehicle. I have adopted Joseph Campbell’s words as my career counseling motto as well as a motto for life.

 -Article written by guest blogger, professor and educational counselor Julie Rudolph from Ferris State University.

The ancient Mayan city of Tulum was home to approximately 1,600 people and was built on top of the cliffs of the Yucatan in the Caribbean. Built around the sixth century AD Tulum remained occupied all the way until the age of conquests. The city greatly impressed Europeans sailing by with its grand size and vertically cut obsidian, which gives off a golden glow in the sunlight. Tulum means ‘fence’ or ‘wall’, but some scholars believe that the before European intervention the city may have held the name ‘Zama’, meaning ‘dawn’, because the city faces eastwardly.
Tulum in its day was a very important site for trading as well as religion. Many of the buildings located within its protective wall were dedicated to gods of wind, water, earth, and sun (such as the one in above picture). Tulum was especially known for its temple of the descending god believed to be apart of the cult of the planet Venus. There is a descending god statue carved into the temple and similar statues can only be found in one other city known as Coba.
The central area of the city is level ground where trading would take place between townsfolk, and travelers. Archaeologists have found remnants of pottery, jewelry, and other goods buried within the topsoil to indicate a history of commerce in this open area of the city. Some believe that there may have been a wall in between the commerce and religious areas that only allowed a few individuals into the religious areas. However, during the solstices there was an area that allowed for the public viewing of rituals where the sun would shine directly through holes in the walls indicating the changing of the seasons.

 
Zoom Info
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi
ISO
200
Aperture
f/9
Exposure
1/250th
Focal Length
43mm

The ancient Mayan city of Tulum was home to approximately 1,600 people and was built on top of the cliffs of the Yucatan in the Caribbean. Built around the sixth century AD Tulum remained occupied all the way until the age of conquests. The city greatly impressed Europeans sailing by with its grand size and vertically cut obsidian, which gives off a golden glow in the sunlight. Tulum means ‘fence’ or ‘wall’, but some scholars believe that the before European intervention the city may have held the name ‘Zama’, meaning ‘dawn’, because the city faces eastwardly.

Tulum in its day was a very important site for trading as well as religion. Many of the buildings located within its protective wall were dedicated to gods of wind, water, earth, and sun (such as the one in above picture). Tulum was especially known for its temple of the descending god believed to be apart of the cult of the planet Venus. There is a descending god statue carved into the temple and similar statues can only be found in one other city known as Coba.

The central area of the city is level ground where trading would take place between townsfolk, and travelers. Archaeologists have found remnants of pottery, jewelry, and other goods buried within the topsoil to indicate a history of commerce in this open area of the city. Some believe that there may have been a wall in between the commerce and religious areas that only allowed a few individuals into the religious areas. However, during the solstices there was an area that allowed for the public viewing of rituals where the sun would shine directly through holes in the walls indicating the changing of the seasons.

 

Kamadhenu

            The Bovine Goddess Kamadhenu has been described as the mother of all cows, or the “cow of plenty” that provides her owner with whatever they desire. There are no temples that are directly dedicated to her specifically, because all cows are venerated in Hinduism as an early form of Kamadhenu herself. This is why followers of Hinduism do not slaughter or harm cows in any way.

            Kamadhenu is also thought to be the mother of the Rudras, who are eleven of the thirty-three gods found in the Hindu pantheon. Rudras are the forms or followers of Rudra-Shiva. Whenever Kamadhenu is depicted in art she is seen as either a white cow with breasts and the face of a woman, or as a white cow containing various deities within her body.

            There are several accounts of the origins and dwelling place of Kamadhenu. Some believe that she was born out of the churning cosmic ocean, and others believe that she is born of the creator god Daksha and wife of the sage Kashyapa. She is thought to dwell with the sage’s Jamadagni and Vashista in their hermitage. She is said to provide them with protection and all of the materials they need. She is also thought to dwell in the realm of the cows and patala, or otherwise known as the underworld.

Above is a picture of an almost entirely complete Book of the Dead found in the Museum of Egyptian history in Turin Italy. This holy text was written for the deceased to bring with them on their journey into the underworld to give them magical spells and instruction to enter the realm of the gods. The process of mummification was taken very seriously by the priests and people of Egypt at the time. In the early years the spells and instructions would be written on the tombs and sarcophagus’ of the dead. It was not until much later that priests began writing books and burying them with the deceased to carry with them. Each book takes a considerable amount of time to write and individuals would commission their creation in the later years of their life, or if they fell ill. In the later years priests began charging large amounts of money for the books to be written, this alienated the lower classes from being able to attain a book. 
Zoom Info
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi
ISO
800
Aperture
f/5.6
Exposure
1/13th
Focal Length
40mm

Above is a picture of an almost entirely complete Book of the Dead found in the Museum of Egyptian history in Turin Italy. This holy text was written for the deceased to bring with them on their journey into the underworld to give them magical spells and instruction to enter the realm of the gods. The process of mummification was taken very seriously by the priests and people of Egypt at the time. In the early years the spells and instructions would be written on the tombs and sarcophagus’ of the dead. It was not until much later that priests began writing books and burying them with the deceased to carry with them. Each book takes a considerable amount of time to write and individuals would commission their creation in the later years of their life, or if they fell ill. In the later years priests began charging large amounts of money for the books to be written, this alienated the lower classes from being able to attain a book. 

It Ain't Easy Being A 21st-Century Superhero

Super Hero’s of old times have been re-imagined to fit into our younger generations. As many superheros like Batman and Superman have grown old they get a shot of new life from graphic novel retellings. One example is asking the question, “What if Superman was raised in the Soviet Union?” Throwing our mythical heros into new geopolitical scenarios has fueled the new appeal of recent superhero movies being released. What do you think makes the appeal of superheros last so long and lend themselves to such great flexibility?

Above is a photo of the living space designated for the priestesses of the Goddess Vesta of hearth fire, known as the Vestal Virgins. These priestesses were chosen at the young age of 6-10 yrs old to be initiated, and if selected were to give their services to the upkeep of the temple and the eternal flame for minimum of 30 years. 
To be selected for service one must be the daughter of a freeborn parent that has no history of the family being in servitude. They must also have a history of honorable work, and have no physical or mental deficiencies. It was the head priest, known as the Pontifex Maximus, that made he ceremonies of induction and would condemn them to death if vows of chastity were ever broken. The breaking of the vows of chastity were severely punished with death by being buried alive.
The Vestals also played a role in high-profile marriage ceremonies and government sponsored rituals. While outside of the temple and Vestal living areas the priestesses had the ability to pardon any criminal being sent to be executed. It was a great honor, with great responsibility and grave circumstances if any rules were ever broken. However, for many it was seen as a great honor to have ones daughter be selected to be a Vestal Virgin.
Zoom Info
Camera
Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi
ISO
200
Aperture
f/5.6
Exposure
1/20th
Focal Length
17mm

Above is a photo of the living space designated for the priestesses of the Goddess Vesta of hearth fire, known as the Vestal Virgins. These priestesses were chosen at the young age of 6-10 yrs old to be initiated, and if selected were to give their services to the upkeep of the temple and the eternal flame for minimum of 30 years. 

To be selected for service one must be the daughter of a freeborn parent that has no history of the family being in servitude. They must also have a history of honorable work, and have no physical or mental deficiencies. It was the head priest, known as the Pontifex Maximus, that made he ceremonies of induction and would condemn them to death if vows of chastity were ever broken. The breaking of the vows of chastity were severely punished with death by being buried alive.

The Vestals also played a role in high-profile marriage ceremonies and government sponsored rituals. While outside of the temple and Vestal living areas the priestesses had the ability to pardon any criminal being sent to be executed. It was a great honor, with great responsibility and grave circumstances if any rules were ever broken. However, for many it was seen as a great honor to have ones daughter be selected to be a Vestal Virgin.

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