August 2004 Archives

August 28, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Chakra cleansing kit

Is the central axis of your being feeling lousy? Vital energies lacking? Why splash out on a relaxing holiday when, for a mere $49.99 (US), you can have a Complete Chakra Cleansing Kit instead?

This kit is designed for those of you working to balance all seven major chakras. All items in this kit have been appropriately empowered/blessed,and come with easy instructions.
The kit comes packaged in a box with a cloth pouch to carry the gem stones (patterns and colors of the pouch may vary)
Chakra Kit #1 includes:
7 drams of unique essential oils blends - one for each major chakra.
7 colored inscribed candles including: 1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow, 1 green or pink, 1 blue, 1 Violet and 1 white or light violet
7 gemstones including: 1-garnet or blood stone, 1-carnelian or moonstone, 1-citrine or amber, 1-rose quartz or emerald, 1-aquamarine or turquoise, 1- sodalite or lapis and 1- amethyst or crystal
Plus easy to use instructions.

Bribing the Lost Sheep

United Kingdom: The Reverend Nigel is worried about dwindling numbers of regular churchgoers and plans to bribe recalcitrant attendees with chocolate to get more bums on pews.

A Church of England bishop has adopted a non-traditional approach to tempt his disappearing flock to return to the fold: chocolate.
Some consider it a sin to indulge but the Church of England is holding up chocolate as a potential saviour for its diocese in Manchester, which has been threatened by falling attendances.

August 27, 2004

'Psychic' arrested on fraud charges

United States: A woman described as a Gypsy has been arrested by California police. She is alleged to have scammed an Illinois woman out of $80,000. She has previous convictions for theft, and was on the run from prison.

Demetro is accused of befriending a mother and daughter in McHenry, Ill., who used her services because they were down on their luck and overweight, Gaylor said.

Police say she convinced the older woman that her luck would change if she cleansed her life savings of $80,000. The woman withdrew the money, all in $100 bills, and gave it to Demetro, police said.

During a seance involving vegetables and live lizards, the cash was wrapped into a white handkerchief, Gaylor said. The women were asked to stare at a candle, police said.

They were given back the handkerchief and told to place it under a bed for several days, police said. When they open up the (handkerchief), they find cut-up newspaper, Gaylor said.

Police also wish to talk to her in connection with another incident:

Demetro also is wanted in another Illinois case. She is accused of telling a client that his wife had been unfaithful and he was not the father of their unborn child, police said.

The man paid her with his wedding ring and ended up killing his wife, stabbing her 80 times, police said.

Gypsy arrested on Illinois theft warrant - The San Diego Union-Tribune, 27th August 2004.

Excusez-moi, je suis un idiot

France: Fans of the novel The Da Vinci Code have been troubling tour guides at the Louvre with questions surrounding the book. The money-making potential was quickly spotted, and now a special tour, Cracking The Da Vinci Code at the Louvre, is available.

Like other academics, McBreen challenges some of the notions put forward by Brown -- but don't expect a sanctimonious lecture. The genial 34-year-old slips in humorous asides and encourages participants to voice their opinions, expert or not.
We're extremely sensitive to preserving the pleasure of the book, she said, contemplating a wall of Leonardo masterpieces.
Although our goal is to help people separate fact from fiction, we realise that simply correcting Brown's ideas by trotting out the traditional scholarship would be dull and horribly pretentious, McBreen added.

The priest at Saint Sulpice has also found himself pestered and has resorted to putting up a sign: Contrary to fanciful allegations in a recent best-selling novel, this is not a vestige of a pagan temple.

It also specifies that the initials P and S that feature on circular windows refer to Saint Peter and Saint Sulpice, and not to an imaginary Priory of Sion, the secret society which in the novel is charged with protecting the Holy Grail.
Roumanet considers The Da Vinci Code a clever crime thriller, but is worried that readers are not critical enough.

He notes that the hordes of tourists have not produced an increase in donations to his church, parts of which are in urgent need of restoration.

Paris tourists search for key to Da Vinci Code - Reuters, 27th August 2004.

August 26, 2004

One we missed

Sweden: Atlantis did not sink beneath the waves according to geographer Ulf Erlingsson - it's still with us, and known as Ireland.

Erlingsson believes the idea that Atlantis sank came from the fate of Dogger Bank, an isolated shoal in the North Sea, about 60 miles (100 km) off the northeastern coast of England, which sank after being hit by a huge floodwave around 6,100 BC.
I suspect that myth came from Ireland and it derives from Dogger Bank. I think the memory of Dogger Bank was probably preserved in Ireland for around 3,000 years and became mixed up with the story of Atlantis, he said.
Erlingsson links the boundaries of the Atlantic Empire, as outlined by Plato, with the geographic distribution of megalithic monuments in Europe and Northern Africa, matching Atlantis' temples with well-known burial sites at Newgrange and Knowth, north of Dublin, which pre-date the pyramids.

Ireland is 'lost' island of Atlantis - Reuters, 6th August 2004 (via Pericat).

Letter to the President

Kenya: The wife of Archbishop Gilbert Deya has been arrested, and he is clearly feeling somewhat stressed. He has written a bizarre letter to Kenya's President Kibaki claiming that Satan has confused Kenya, and that God would now curse the country. The letter includes a potentially serious allegation of attempted rape by police officers but, unfortunately, the tone of the letter makes it too easy to dismiss this as the rantings of a deranged nutter:

The letter full of invective and cant accused the government of throwing away the glory that God had planned for the country. Your wicked, demonic police, who might have been trained by the devil from hell are attempting to rape the holy Woman of God. Your unfaithful government have taken their evil hand, laid it upon my family and disgraced me and my children, Oh Kenya! You are doomed, you are cursed, warned Deya.

He also claims that the authorities are failing to spoil the children in their care:

My children are in unhealthy childcare. I am suspecting the type of food they are eating now, the type of water they are drinking and whether their lives are the style I have raised them. Be aware that my children are living a life higher than the care they have been taken to. They eat special food. They are used to their driver, Mr Ototo. They are used to their nannies, their toys and all this they are missing which might affect their future growth, he added.

'Miracle babies': Deya's bizarre letter to KibakiEast African Standard, 24th August 2004; See also 'Miracle babies' not related to mothersPagan Prattle, 17th August 2004 and Fast-track pregnancyPagan Prattle, 13th August 2004.

Bible discussion leads to assault

United States: An Oklahoma woman has stabbed her boyfriend, leaving a 11 cm hole in his stomach and damaging his liver, after they had an argument over the Bible. He is now out of hospital and says he still loves her.

Woman stabs boyfriend in fight over religion - News 9 (via Religion News Blog), 26th August 2004.

Psychic fails to predict own sacking

United States: The St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association has sacked a consultant after he started to mix his psychic beliefs with his work. David Levin had been paid $1.4 million over the last seven years to advise the Chamber on leadership and growth issues.

Chamber of Commerce fires its psychic - KTVO TV3, 26th August 2004.

God vents anger on Passion town

Italy: God is clearly still annoyed over The Passion of the Christ, and continues to use His traditional weapons against it. Not satisfied with the lead actor being struck by lightening twice, He has apparently sent a plague of locusts to Matera, where much of the film was made. The locals were hoping for a boost in tourism, but the locusts mean they have stayed away:

Reports indicate that the pests have wrecked the local economy to such an extent that some businessmen have even started calling for emergency.
The locals though are helpless to carry on the fight against the pests.
We have been assailed by locusts. My wife was on the table screaming, my daughter was awake all night and, although I was armed to the teeth, I was helpless, the paper quoted a local Nicolo Catucci near Bari as saying.

Christ's 'Passion' lures the locusts to attack Matera! -, 26th August 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Christian Torch

Someone has sullied the classic lines of a Maglite, and you can now bid on this CHRISTIAN MAGLITE - MINIATURE FLASHLIGHT:

Here's a super neat gift for the Christian believer. We had these made up for a special promotion...and decided to offer the few remaining ones here on eBay.

It's a genuine MAG-LITE penlight with Jesus is the Light of the World on the barrel. It comes in a compact, latching carrying case with Energizer battery and a key-type lanyard that fastens onto the end of the barrel. This the the MAG-LITE SOLITARE, made in the USA, This is a brand new item. MAG-LITE has been an icon for flashlight quality since their inception. As a gift, this is REAL QUALITY.

Surely if Jesus really was the Light of the World, a torch would be utterly unnecessary?

August 19, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Heaven Insurance

While clearing out my spam filters, my attention was caught by the words HEAVEN INSURANCE - NOW AVAILABLE - FOR THE FIRST TIME! . The web-bug-laden HTML message was fortunately unreadable on my machine, but appears to be identical to the web site:

I don't know about you, but I definitely want to go to Heaven. I live my life according to God's will and like many of us, I'm not perfect. I'm not sure if going to church is enough and figured that my family and friends could use a little extra help. Heaven Insurance* will provide that help. That's why we created this certificate and it is already helping people all over the world!

For only $19.95 you can buy an insurance policy that will INSURE* your loved one's entrance into

God's Kingdom.

Your Heaven Insurance* certificate will remind and encourage your loved ones to keep their spirit true.

It will consistently remind them to work toward and remain on the path to better living and to take comfort in the ways and security that faith in The Lord provides.

The Certificate Says: To guarantee that the aforementioned individual shall go to Heaven at the end of their life on earth. It also contains a beautiful and important quote from Psalms 145:18 which states The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him sincerely.

See all those asterisks? You didn't think that spamming bastards would actually offer a legitimate product, did you? No, this attempt to sell expensive pieces of paper to the insecure is a gift/novelty item and is not an actual insurance policy. It is intended strictly as an artistic novelty designed to remind and encourage those with a true spirit to work toward and remain on the path to better living and to take comfort in the ways and security that faith in the lord [sic.] provides. And not a money-making scam. A similar attempt to fleece the gullible is this Ticket To Heaven we featured back in 2002.

Spooks, but not the KGB

Russia: Pravda carries a feature about Russian traditions surrounding ghosts. Many of them seem to be associated with tragedy:

Little remained from ancient Moscow, except for the Kremlin. Ghosts love the Kremlin. From time to time, a red spot appears on the walls of Konstantino-Eleninskaya tower where a torture chamber was located in XVII century. A pale uncombed lady holding a gun in her hands, lives in Komendantskaya tower. This is famous Fanny Kaplan who attempted to kill Lenin and who was executed by shooting by Kremlin's superintendent Malkov.

St. Petersburg has a rather interesting spectral resident:

The ghost of the first director of the Academy of Arts, architect Kokorin is wondering around the Academy's corridors. When the weather is bad, at nights somebody knocks at the Academy's gates and shouts, It's me, sculptor Kozlovsky from Smolenskoe cemetery, I got wet and frozen in my the door!

And there's no way I could resist this tale from Yaroslavl:

A goblin lives in the local bath-house. People often hear somebody walking in the bath house, opening taps and moving wash-basins. The former bath house attendant fell ill after meeting the man, and retired from the job. The local bell-ringer started hearing voices after attending the bath house.

And don't forget - the world ends later today!

Where ghosts live in Russia - Pravda, 18th August 2004.

August 18, 2004

Fundie Loon Jailed For Exorcism Murder

United States: In a follow up to the story of a fundie loon who killed an eight-year-old autistic boy during an attempted exorcism, the man in question has been sentenced to 2½ years in jail.

Prosecutors say Ray Hemphill lay on Terrance Cottrell Jr.'s chest for at least an hour while trying to release demons from him, before the boy died August 22, 2003.

It was your unreasonable and reckless conduct that caused this child to die, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jean DiMotto told Hemphill.

August 17, 2004

'Miracle babies' not related to mothers

Kenya: There has been couple of interesting devolpments in the miracle babies story. Firstly, in two cases where British women applied for passports for 'their' new babies, DNA tests carried out by the British High Commission failed to match, and documents presented to support the applications turned out to be forgeries. The matter has been handed to Kenyan authorites for investigation.

The multi-millionaire evangelist at the centre of the case faces charges of human trafficking in London. Archbishop Gilbert Deya blames a complex conspiracy for his woes, and also accuses those who expressed concern of doing the Devil's work:

Deya attacked the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, (RCOG) Church of England (CoE) and Children Charities in UK who have called for an investigation into his claims, terming them as evil and tools of satan -- These organisations are evil, they are the Pharisees, they claim they know God but they don't. God can't use them to show his work because they are evil, he said
The church of England, The Royal College of obstetrics and Gynaecology are the enemy of God, believe people like Dominic Walker. The Archbishop of Monmouth is a devil worshipper if he can not believe in miracles and think that the power of God can be misused noted Deya[.] RCOG and CoE and several Children Charities in UK have called for an investigation into the claims, saying Deya's actions are a front for baby-trafficking. Bishop Walker had criticised Deya's practice and had called for urgent police investigation.

Meanwhile, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) is to launch a new web site to help find adoptive parents for specific children considered 'hard to adopt' by adoption services. New parents for black and ethnic minority children are particularly needed.

DNA test fails to confirm baby miracle claimEast African Standard, 17th August 2004; Adoption charity's new research project to find families on the, 16th August 2004; Fast-track pregnancyThe Pagan Prattle Online, 13th August 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Cross teabag tag

If your herbal tea is not sufficiently pure and holy, enhance it with this Tea Bag Tag with Cross dangle- semiprecious stones:

Tea bag tags add grace and charm to the traditionally awkward task of manipulating a tagless tea bag. This is a one-of-a-kind item, there is no other one exactly like it.
The clip measures approximately 1.1 inches in length, and is attached to the pendant by means of a split ring (a micro-version of a key ring). The pendant part is about 1.8 inches long, and includes six nickel-plated metal beads (3 mm diameter), two 8-mm limestone beads, and one oblong mother-of-pearl bead, which is approximately 10 mm long and 4 mm wide.
The pendant is formed on a wire to provide some stiffness (so you can hold it like a little toothpick). The howlite cross is a separate piece that dangles below.
I like this item because I'm one of those people who drinks tea made with tagless tea bags, and I get weary of trying to fish the teabag out of the cup using a spoon or a straw...the teabag tag works much better.
If you know someone else who has this dilemma, then this will be perfect gift item.

Mother Nature more effective than fundies

Cornwall: The Museum of Witchcraft has been badly damaged by the flash floods in Boscastle.

On the 16th August this year, severe weather and flash floods hit Boscastle with devastating results. The Museum of Witchcraft has been severely damaged, leaving much of the building destroyed. During this awful event Graham King, the owner of the Museum, bravely assisted in the rescue operations using his coast guarding skills to help others. The Museum will take time to recover but rest assured it will be back, restored to its previous splendour.
For further information, enquiries, offers of help or donations please contact:
Helpline: 01749 674712
All donations and offers of help will be greatly received.

More detail comes via LiveJournal:

The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscatle has suffered extensive damage in the floods and all the downstairs exhibits have been ruined. The front window has been blown out. The upstairs, including the library seems to have escaped the worst of the damage.
No-one is allowed entry to Boscastle until all buildings have been declared safe to enter. This could take some days and the whole village is cut off as part of the road has been washed away.

In a fortean touch, the flooding occurred on the anniversary of the Lynton and Lynmouth floods.

Notice on the Museum of Witchcraft home page, 17th August 2004; The Museum of Witchcraft in Boscatle has suffered extensive damage in the floods... - DMWCarol's LiveJournal, 17th August 2004; MORE THAN 1,000 TRAPPED AS FLOODS DEVASTATE VILLAGE - Western Morning News, 17th August 2004.

We've been exposed!

They're on to you, Red Wolf. An entry in the referrer log reveals someone looking for "Red Wolf" conspiracy.

'Christian' animal sacrifice

United States: A parrot belonging to a Wiccan woman who launched a legal challenge to her town's unconstitutional prayers has been slaughtered in a highly ritualistic manner. Darla Wynne, of Great Falls, South Carolina, came home one night last week to find her parrot, Little One, beheaded with his heart cut out. A note warned her she would be next. It is just the latest in a long series of incidents.

Many of the town's 2,200 residents regard Wynne as a witch and disapprove of her pagan faith, she said. The vandalism has ranged from destruction of her cars to several of her animals being poisoned, Wynne said.
No one will say anything, Wynne said. They think they're protecting their own....
...Wynne said she has endured numerous verbal and written threats. She received by mail a booklet, Thou Shalt not Suffer a Witch to Live, and said a man yelled at her, Witch, you're going down.
Twice last week before her bird was killed, Wynne said she received threats in the mail.

Parrot's death latest threat to woman in prayer case - The Herald (Rock Hill), 17th August 2004.

World to end day after tomorrow

A giant comet will explode in Greece on August 19th, according to Pravda, causing massive disruption of the Olympic Games. The newspaper's source is the ever-reliable Nostradamus, and a spamming net.kook:

Leading newspapers, governmental institutions, public and scientific organizations started receiving anonymous emails this week with To all people of the Earth in the subject line. The emails warn of a catastrophe which is supposedly to take place on August 13th or 14th 2004 at the Olympic Games opening. The anonymous writer refers to Nostradamus's 10th Century, Quatrain 74. The prophet predicted: The year of the great seventh number accomplished, It will appear at the time of the games of slaughter: Not far from the great millennial age, When the buried will go out from their tombs.

The spammer's date was clearly wrong, but another author has examined the prophecy in more depth and come up with the August 19th date. Just to add to the confusion, someone referring to themselves as World War Three 2003 insisted over a year ago that Nostradamus predicted:

The 2004 Athens Olympics will be canceled due to a major event to take place in late 2003 or early 2004, sometime between Nov 2003 and Feb 2004...........

Nostradamus: Giant comet to collide with planet Earth on August 19th - Pravda, 16th August 2004; Cen.8, Qua.16 Olympic Fiesole 2002-2006 - alt.prophecies.nostradamus, 6th May 2003.

August 13, 2004

Christian music sucks - official

United Kingdom: The worst Number One hit ever is Cliff Richard's Millennium Prayer according to VH1 viewers.

Millennium Prayer, which put the Lord's Prayer to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, reached number one despite many radio stations refusing to playlist it. At the time, George Michael said the publicity surrounding it was exploiting people's faith, and called the track vile and a heinous piece of music.
Perhaps as some indication of Sir Cliff's achievement at pipping Mr Blobby to the worst-ever number one title, here are some lyrics from the Blobby song:
Blobby, oh Mr Blobby, if humanity's a question of degree
Blobby, Mr Blobby, stay loyal to your Blobby pedigree
Blobby, blobby, blobby!.
Lennon and MacCartney it 'ain't.

Surprisingly, Joe Dolce's Shaddup You Face only managed 13th place.

Cliff hit voted worst ever number one - The Guardian, 13th August 2004.

I have authoritah!

United States: The War on Terror has a new target - role-playing games. A New York gamer had an interesting encounter with a Cartman employed by a ferry company to check bags for weapons:

This morning, they're doing bag searches again to get on the ferry. And the guy doing the searches pulls me aside and says, Sir, I feel that I need to confiscate this book.
I pause and say, in that tone of voice that most people would recognize as meaning, have you lost your grip completely, chuckles?: You need to confiscate... a book.
Yes. I feel it's inappropriate for the other people on the ferry to be exposed to it.
Now, I had the book IN MY BAG. It was not open. And while the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile is displayed as improbably proportioned, well, this is not, as far as I know, illegal to have. I mean, there was a guy carrying a copy of Maxim, and some of the women in THAT are improbably proportion. (All right, I admit: they're not wielding a huge sword and dressed in a bustier studded with human finger bones. But really.)
My response: Well, let me call the ACLU and have them come down here, and see what they think about your attempt to confiscate a book that was not in the plain sight of others due to your feeling it's not appropriate. And I pull out my cell and start scrolling down the list - ACLU-NJ is at the top, actually, before 'Amanda' and 'ardaniel' since it sorts alphabetically.
He gets all pissy at me and says, Don't you understand this is for your safety?
Confiscating someone's gun or bomb is for my safety. PErhaps confiscating someone's pocketknife or nailfile may be for my safety. What's so damn dangerous about my book?
That's NOT YOUR DECISION! I could be carrying a copy of Hustler in here, and it's STILL not your decision! You're looking for bombs and knifes and guns and things that hurt people, and a book that is IN MY BAG is not going to leap out of its own damn accord and HIT SOMEONE!
The rest of the people waiting for the ferry are watching our exchange. He realizes that they're all looking at him, and that I'm winning this one in their eyes.
He lets me go on the boat.

GRRR! - Sea and Sky and Land, 11th August 2004 (via Avedon).

Fast-track pregnancy

Kenya: The police have been asked to investigate an evangelical cult which claims to provide miracle babies for infertile or post-menopausal women. A BBC documentary found that the divine miracle was more likely to be a dodgy human trafficking operation.

The programme investigated Archbishop Gilbert Deya, who heads a rapidly expanding evangelical movement said to number about 36,000 UK members in Britain.

He said he helps women who are unable to conceive naturally by proclaiming them pregnant - after an exorcism.

He then sends them to the backstreet clinics of Nairobi's slums where they apparently give birth.

Although pregnancy tests and ultra sound scans have shown no presence of a baby, women who have used his services claim they have displayed all the visible signs of being pregnant.

These 'pregnancies' last considerably less than the usual nine months, and the babies appear to have none of their mothers' DNA.

Inquiry call on 'miracle babies'BBC News, 13th August 2004; also a piece on You and Yours, BBC Radio 4, 12th August 2004.

Original research

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute has a very interesting inbox, and needed to share:

Now and again, independent thinkers will send their own research papers -- the distilled essence of years of effort in the attic or den -- which purportedly show in a handful of pages, and with third-grade mathematics, that Einstein was wrong, and that SETI is therefore, somehow, barking up the wrong tree. I store these with tender care, and always offer to send back originals. But then again, I'm probably too soft.

Emails Illustrate Fine Line Between the Brilliant and the Bizarre -, 12th August 2004.

August 12, 2004

A device which is exploding

Siberia: Researchers in Siberia claim to have found the cause of the Tunguska explosion back in 1908 - an alien spacecraft!

The press service of the Evenkiya republic administration reported the expedition worked in the western part of the region in the summer of the current year. The mission's itinerary was based on the results of the space footage analysis. Explorers believe they have discovered blocks of an extraterrestrial technical device, which crashed down on Earth on June 30th, 1908. In addition, expedition members found the so-called deer - the stone, which Tunguska eyewitnesses repeatedly mentioned in their stories. Explorers delivered a 50-kilogram piece of the stone to the city of Krasnoyarsk to be studied and analyzed.

Needless to say, the press has paid considerably less attention to this large lump of rock.

Explorers find UFO fragments in Tunguska meteorite area - Pravda, 10th August 2004.

August 10, 2004

More Musings About the Sanity of Fundies from LiveJournal

Next time you're in need of medical assistance, it might be a wise move to avoid to insane religious loons loose in the Alabama medical system.

littledevi: There was this story on All Things Considered about nurses in Alabama who refuse to dispense the morning after pill. One of them went into great detail about how when a teenager asked her for the pill, she felt Christ put his arms around her and tell her, No, no, no. It got me wondering — what percentage of nurses are certifiably crazy? Must be more than a few. You should possess a modicum of sanity in order to care for people, I think.
msmongi: I just told my mother that story (she's been an RN for over 30 years) and she just shouted back Take the cunt's license from her! Considering my mother NEVER cusses, I am vastly amused.

Captive Audience

Turkmenistan: Book not selling well lately? Well, Turkmenistan's president for life has found a way to get his tome into the hands of the people. Aside from mandating that it's crammed down the throats of students, now future licence applicants will need to be well versed in it as well.

Knowing the highway code is no longer enough to get a driving license in Turkmenistan, whose autocratic President Saparmurat Niyazov has told future drivers to cram his sacred writings to qualify.

August 8, 2004

Vatican Targets Sports

Vatican City: The boys in the frocks have taken on a new tack in their eternal quest to convert the heathens, they're going to start pestering people over sport.

The Vatican, long in the business of souls, is now getting into the business of sports. Or more precisely, it is getting into the business of putting the soul back into sports.
The Vatican has set up a department whose stated aim is to help re-inject fundamental values of fairness, ethics, transparency and legality into sports.
Neatly coinciding with next week's opening of the Olympic Games in Athens, the department, called Church and Sport, has been opened as part of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Laity.

New Vatican Office to Put Soul Back Into Sports - Reuters, 4th August 2004.

Rain Of Stones Follows Woman

South Africa: A woman in the South African province of Limpop was booted out of her village because a hail of stones seems to follow her wherever she goes. Apparently, the problem is caused by an evil spell cast on her by a trader when she didn't pay him back for some clothes she purchased on credit.

We were there for nearly the whole night and saw stones falling from the sky like rain, said Vhembe police spokesperson Ailwei Mushavhanamadi. We went around the area to make sure someone wasn't throwing stones on the roof on purpose, but we didn't find anyone.
Police then advised the family to consult with spirit mediums about the phenomenon.

August 7, 2004

Amusement via LiveJournal

Serawench offers a succinct explanation for why people who harangue you about religion are likely to live a much shorter life than others:

My mother isn't an alcoholic or an addict of any drug, but I find she uses her religion the same way others use those types of things. Everything in her life revolves around her religion — and while in reality her life isn't in danger from stupid actions while high or drunk, it is in danger from me clocking her the next time she tells me I'm going to hell if I don't convert.

serawench in this comment to champion, 5th August 2004 (via Overheard On LiveJournal).

Loonies Dig Up "Dragon" Bones

United States: When confronted with the proof of dirty great bones being dug out of the ground creationists still won't admit they could possibly be wrong about that whole bible as truth thing. It seems those big old dinosaur bones are actually from dragons. Who knew?

August 5, 2004

The effect of religion on human evolution

Nigeria: The remains of 50 people have been found by police in 20 locations in the forests around Okija in the eastern state of Anambra. Press reports abound with tales of a secretive cult and traditional ritual killings, but the reality seems to be much more darwinian than that, with the 'victims' all willing participants in a strange form of conflict resolution:

The group is believed to practice a ritual in which parties involved in a personal dispute - often over business deals - are made to drink a potion they are told will kill only the guilty one...
[Police representative Kolapo] Shofoluwe said the basic ritual of swallowing poisons to test guilt is believed to have been practiced for more than a century.
Mr. A goes to the shrine to report to the chief priests that Mr. B has done wrong to him by way of cheating him in a joint business, said Shofoluwe, adding the priests then typically call both parties together to resolve the dispute.

Nigeria Discovers 50 Possible Cult Victims - The Guardian, 5th August 2004.

Christian 'witch' killers' sentence upheld

Zambia: Two Liberian men have lost their appeal against a 20-year sentence imposed on them for killing a woman accused of witchcraft. The pair had pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which was accepted by the court. The killing happened during a prayer meeting after it became apparent that God was not rushing to act - the judge, Chief Justice Ernest Sakala , told them they should have waited for God to answer their prayers rather than killing the woman.

Facts before the court were that on December 18, 2000 at Makaka hill along Kabwe road, Emmanuel and Kolle were part of a group of the Power of Christ church when Phiri was brought to them by people who suspected her of being a witch.
The court heard that the group prayed for her so that the Devil could come out of her and asked her to confess to being a witch but she refused.
Emmanuel and Kolle later took up sticks and started beating her so that the Devil could come out of her, she later died from internal injuries.
In mitigation, the duo pleaded for the court's leniency.
They said the circumstances of the matter did not amount to a 20-year sentence because they wanted to remove the devil from the woman.

Justice Sakala told the court that thinking someone was a witch was no reason to take their life and that the court had the duty to minimise or eliminate the belief in witchcraft.

Supreme Court upholds refugees' 20-yr sentence - The Times of Zambia, 5th August 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Jesus credit card

Christians can now be reminded of their faith every time they break their religion with a credit card bearing the three Calvary crosses.

Family Christian Stores nationwide are offering the new Mastercard with an image some Christians say their master wouldn't approve being on a charge card. Stone says she's heard a few comments both positive and negative from her customers.
There are some people who say that they don't think it's right for us to issue credit cards to go into debt. And our stand on it is we're not encouraging people to go into debt because we sell a lot of books that encourage them that if they use a credit card, to pay it off monthly.

And a customer reminded us that the United States money is unconsitutional:

Store Customer Rusty Parenteau believes all of our money came from God to begin with. I think it's a great idea, it's a great witnessing tool. In God We Trust is already printed on all American currency, and many people have Christian symbols on their checks.

Whatever happened to them being the number of the beast?

Jesus Credit Card Raises a Few Eyebrows - KCRG-TV9 News (via Religion News Blog), 4th August 2004.

August 4, 2004

My God is bigger than yours

United States: Doug Daniels of The Raw Story went to the Democratic National Convention and spotted some evangelical protestors:

Most noticeable were the Christian radicals and anti- abortion activists who would bark biblical verse through their megaphones at the delegates, demanding that they repent for their sins, and denounce John Kerry as the son of the devil. At one point, hostilities began to escalate between two such protesters, one commanding the crowd to love God, the other warning us to fear him. After a few minutes of this heated, evangelical squabble, the police intervened and told the two lunatics to steer clear of each other.

August 3, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Jesus photomosaic

[Jesus photomosaic]Who knew that a simple computer could produce something as inspired as this Amazing Lithograph Mosaic of Jesus Christ!! Made up of over 1500 inspirational photos!!!!? Obviously, the vendor credits the Lord, rather than Steve Jobs, for the automatically-generated masterpiece known as The Believe Print, and claims it has special magickal powers too.

An absolutely amazing print that has been featured on National Televison and Radio Programs and brings strength to all who own it.
One of the most beautiful pieces of art of our Lord Jesus Christ ever produced, The Believe Print is a Limited Edition 18 X 24 lithograph print of the face of Jesus. Professionally printed on a gorgeous lithograph type stock, this print from a distance appears to be an INCREDIBLY sharp fine art black and white print of Jesus. BUT, when you get up close to it, you will notice that the print is ACTUALLY MADE UP OF OVER 1500 SMALLER EASILY VISABLE CRYSTAL CLEAR *FULL COLOR* Religious, inspirational and nature images. Thats right. FULL COLOR smaller images make up this incredible BLACK AND WHITE print! Over 7000 prints have been sold to date and there is a limited printing of 10,000 worldwide. It has to be seen to be believed! This item makes a fantastic gift for those special people in your life who are going through a tough time right now, or just appreciate the power of The Lord.
*Scans in no way represent the quality of this item. These are LOW resolution scans just to give you an idea of how amazing this item is. The smaller images are CRYSTAL CLEAR IN VIVID COLOR* Good Luck on this AMAZING nationally known print.

Strangely, the power of The Lord is not credited in the seller's other auctions for similar prints featuring the likes of Britney Spears.

Herpes linked to circumcision ritual

Israel: A dodgy-sounding variation on the circumcision ritual increases the risk of genital herpes according to a new study. Eight cases have been recorded, including one where a baby suffered brain damage and seizures as a result. The research was conducted by a team at Ben Gurion University led by the appropriately-named Benjamin Gesundheit, MD.

According to Jewish custom and traditions, newborn Jewish boys are ritually circumcised at eight days of age, and complications are generally very rare.
However, a small number of Orthodox rabbis advocate an ancient practice in which the circumciser sucks the blood from the infant's circumcision wound until the bleeding stops, a ritual known as metzitzah.
Researchers say the vast majority of ritual circumcisions are currently performed with a sterile suctioning device and not oral suction by the mohel.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has since announced that using a mechanical suction device is perfectly acceptable.

Rare Circumcision Ritual Carries Herpes Risk - WebMD Medical News, 2nd August 2004.

Feng it like Beckham

England: Footballer David Beckham is having feng shui symbols sewn into his boots according to The Sun. After his shabby performance in the Euro 2004 competition, he needs all the help he can get.

The design of the boot was strongly influenced by Becks' interest in Eastern culture, especially yin and yang -- the belief that opposite influences balance life and give it harmony.
Becks begged his boot supplier, Adidas, to use the ancient Chinese beliefs to assist them in the design of his flashy new PredatorPulse footwear.
He said: I'm very proud to wear these boots because they represent the idea of yin and yang.

Of course, in the modern game, there has to be a commercial side to all this

Only 723 pairs of the boots have been made -- his squad numbers from Man Utd and Real put together.
He has been ordered to keep and wear pairs number one, seven, 23 and 723 -- with the rest being sold for increased good karma.
All the boots produced will be size nine -- Beckham's size -- and will cost nearly £500.
To help create a yin and yang harmony, the boots will come in Becks' trademark red and silver. The silver represents class, purity and value, the red power and stimulation for his heart and breathing.

Becks turns to Feng shoe-i - The Sun, 3rd August 2004.

More African 'witch' murders

Tanzania: Seven people have been murdered and another seven injured in a series of brutal attacks towards the end of last month. The victims were all accused of witchcraft.

According to police investigations, a few days before the killings, some villagers conducted a secret ballot to unearth suspects thought to be involved in witchcraft.

The RPC said on July 20 at night, more than ten youths armed with spears, sharp pieces of metal, pangas, and other crude weapons like bows and arrows, invaded Ndapo Village, killing one person and wounding another.

On July 25, the marauding youths attacked Nungu Village at around 10.00 pm and killed three people and wounded four others.

Three people were killed and two others wounded in a similar attack conducted between July 27 and 28 at Kinyika Village, he added.

Villagers also threatened those they think are witches, and several people have had to move as a result. Twenty-two people have been arrested and murder charges are expected to follow.

Outrageous witchcraft murders in MaketeThe Guardian (Tanzania), 3rd August 2004.

Cult Caught Playing the Grant Game

Australia: Feòrag's finely tuned Google News filters vomited forth the tale of a local wingnut with his very own doomsday cult who has opted for the time honoured method of procuring money favoured by all religious groups; applying for a Government grant.

A doomsday cult led by a self-proclaimed prophet who has been banned by the Vatican has secured $332,000 from the Howard Government to run a private school [Saint Joseph's School in Cambewarra, near Nowra, on the NSW south coast.] since 1996.

William Little Pebble Kamm has previously predicted a tsunami would devastate Australia's east cost and believes his Order of St Charbel converts in NSW, Victoria and South Australia will survive the coming apocalypse after he is appointed as the last pope.

August 2, 2004

Bargain of the Day: portable ritual kit

The neopagans of today are apparently not as magickally adept as the pioneers of their faith, and are not capable of just doing it with their outstretched forefinger. These days, it seems, a Wicca/wiccan portable ritual kit is a must, to ensure that the modern witch has just the right gadgets at all times:

Her is an interesting piece we developed to overcome the problems of the travelling Pagan. We developed a kit that can be easily dis assembled, and folded into a soft roll a little more than eight inche long and five inches in diameter so that you have no reason to miss another full moon or sabbat again. This kit includes a 7 inch athame, a pentacle cloth, sealed chalace, an incense burner for cones, and five hand painted candle placements, with the Alchemical symbols painted into the face. Each piece comes with a sewn pouch, and to start it all, we include the candles and the incense! The kit is ready for consecration, all you need to supply is your book of shadows, and the wine for the chalice. The Mini chalice is sealable, so that you may prepare the kit before travel, that way there is no need to fumble around for a fragile wine bottle. A one page destruction sheet is also supplied to show the symbols and placements.

The knife means it has to go in checked luggage though.

August 1, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Buddha Duck

[Buddah rubber duckie]More ironic commentary than serious religious tat, this Buddha Celebriduck should bring serenity to any bathtime.

This is a one of a kind collectible item. The Buddha Duck is hand painted and individually numbered. There are only 1500 available. They are made out of a non-toxic material. They make a great present and will be a wonderful addition to your tub, spa or pond. They were made in gratitude for my closest friend's recovery from cancer.

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