AO Magazine - October 2019
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Today, the subject of ghosts is treated with fun and laughter – ghoulish costumes, stories told around campfires, and teenagers scaring themselves over a Ouija board. But thousands of years ago, the supernatural realm was looked upon with both reverence and fear, and it played a central role in the cultural and religious practices of civilizations around the world.
In keeping with our name, Ancient Origins, we delve into the very beginning of Halloween traditions – have you ever wondered why on October 31, people carve out pumpkins, wear costumes, or go door-to-door begging for sweets? The roots of these practices go back thousands of years to the Emerald Isle of Ireland and the ancient pagan festival of Samhain.
In this issue, we dig deep, unearthing ancient beliefs about malevolent phantoms, corpse brides, and ancestor spirits. We dare to enter Loftus Hall, whose historic walls have seen invasion, capture, plague, famine, and personal tragedies, and which today has earned itself the title of ‘Ireland’s Most Haunted House’.
We learn from Medieval England that there is more than one way to keep a dead body from coming back to life! It was a time when the very real belief in zombies led people to decapitate, burn, or otherwise mutilate corpses to prevent them from rising from their graves.
And what’s Halloween without werewolves? Normally the domain of folklore and fairy tales, in this issue we hear what happened during a real modern-day werewolf hunt; the search for the Beast of Barmston Drain.
But October is about more than just Halloween. In America, there is the national holiday of Columbus Day… but who really was Christopher Columbus? Guest expert and author Manuel Rosa sets the stage for a paradigm shift in how the world sees the real man behind the name.
For many, October is a time for Diwali, the Festival of Lights, a celebration of the spiritual victory of light over dark, and knowledge over ignorance.
Speaking of light, we turn to a mysterious ancient Jewish sect that flourished in Palestine two thousand years ago. They are known as the Essenes, but they called themselves the Sons of Light. Guest author Jonathon Perrin exposes a strange connection to another ancient cult of light— that of the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten.
But light cannot exist without darkness, and so into the dark we venture with author Dr. Heather Lynn who takes us back 5,000 years to the Mesopotamians who left detailed records about demons that caused havoc and sickness, and high priests who worked to cure citizens of terrifying possessions.