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Beautiful photographs of the shamans of Lima, Peru
07.03.2014
08:48 am

Topics:
Art
Belief

Tags:
photography
Peru
shamans


 
Photographer Andrea Frazzetta‘s “Urban Shaman” series captures a strange array of commerce, tradition and mysticism. The faces and rituals of the curanderos are documented with an eye for intense beauty, but the photos still manage to feel educational, and not voyeuristic—the series is very intimate. Frazzetta provides a context for the shamans of Peru on his website:

”I MAKE LOVE TIES”

”I PASS THE BLACK CUY”

”REFLOWERING BATHS DONE HERE”

”ORIGINAL CURANDERA OF THE NORTH HEALS ALL ILLS”

Writings such as there are ever present, hanging on the streetlights in Lima. Peru’s capital is full of shamans and ”curanderos” who compete with doctors and psychiatrists. The Peruvian parliament even discussed a controversial law proposal that equates curanderos to doctors.

A large percentage of the Peruvian population habitually visits curanderos and shamans to solve a very wide array of issues: health, work, business, travels, etc. Curanderos, on their part, offer a lot of different healing methods.

In Lima, where more than half of the population is the result of migrations, it’s possible to find any type of curanderos. The chaotic and overpopulated capital of Peru assures shamans a very large quantity of patients.

Many, unfortunately, exploit the people’s trust and it is estimated that about three quarters of those so called ”healing masters” are fakes.

But there are others who have inherited a tradition, and a popular knowledge, passed on from father to son for decades.

It’s strange to think of shamans being divided into frauds versus bona fides, but there’s a distinct sense of training and tradition involved that at the very least suggests some kind of “pedigreed” expertise. From Frazetta’s further exposition, we learn that animals are used to absorb illness (then they are killed and their remains are “read” for health indicators), a doll is the artifact of a love ritual, and that one of the most popular curanderos in Lima has his own daily TV show.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Via Feature Shoot

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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There’s an Iranian imitation of ‘Modern Family,’ but it’s minus Cam and Mitchell
07.02.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Belief
Queer
Television

Tags:
Modern Family


 
When I first stumbled upon Haft Sang (translation: Seven Stones)—the Iranian version of ABC’s Modern Family—I was excited to see just how the gay characters Mitchell and Cam would be portrayed in this Iranian version of a “modern family.” Sadly, both important characters—who make the show, IMO—have been replaced with hetrosexual characters. 

In Haft Sang, an unauthorized remake of the show, their parts have either been written out or given a heterosexual makeover as Iranian TV tries to translate the appeal of the ABC hit show within the strict religious guidelines of an Iranian theocratic state.

Other characters have also had their genders changed to avoid depicting pre-marital mixing of men and women to Iranian audiences.

Not very modern now, is it?

Below, a side-by-side comparison of Haft Sang and Modern Family:

 
Via Gay Star News

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Autographed portrait of Jesus goes up for auction
06.26.2014
11:17 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief

Tags:
Jesus


 
This 1969 “autographed” portrait of Jesus signed “With love, J” is going up for auction on August 17, at 8:00am sharp! It’s estimated to bring in anywhere from $100-$200. Only $200 for the John Hancock of our Lord and savior? Really? What is this world coming to?!

If you’re interested in this goofy hippie-era artifact, you can check out the listing at Live Auctioneers. The seller also has this one up for auction:
 

 
No, but I checked under the fridge…

Last week Jesus turned up with a lamb in Arizona… on an apple. Only watch this segment if you aren’t worried about losing brain cells. You have been warned.
 

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The gory and grotesque art of Soviet antireligious propaganda
06.17.2014
06:52 am

Topics:
Art
Belief

Tags:
propaganda
Soviet
atheism


 
The images below are from the Soviet anti-religious magazine, Bezbozhnik, which translates to “Atheist” or “The Godless.” It ran from 1922 to 1941, and its daily edition, “The Godless at the Workplace,” ran from 1923 to 1931. The scathing publication was founded by the League of Militant Atheists, an organization of the Soviet Communist Party members, members of its youth league, workers and veterans, so while it was in many ways a party project, it was not state-sponsored satire.

The Soviet Union adopted a formal position of state-atheism after the revolution but it wasn’t a clean break. The expropriation of church property and the murder or persecution of clergy was certainly the most obvious supplantation of power, but the USSR was a giant mass of land, most of it rural and much of it pious, so the cultural crusade against religion was an ongoing campaign for the hearts and minds of citizens who might resist a sudden massive secularization. The monstrous, violent art you see below depicted religion as the enemy of the worker and footman to capitalism. You’ll notice a wide array of religions depicted, as the USSR was very religiously diverse.
 

Depicting the Muhammad, the Christian god, and a Jewish Kabbalist. Despite the ethnic cartoons, the founder and majority of staff were Jewish.
 

Mocking the “piety” of racist America with the title, “God’s country”
 

The Pope, with Jesus and the Bible astride a cannon, aimed at the 35 million European unemployed
 

Jesus, dumped like so much industrial waste
 

Deities getting smooshed by a Five Year Plan
 

Even Buddha gets his share of hate
 

God is responsible for plagues
 

Luring the people to church with music
 

A soldier literally skewering god. The books under his arm read “Lenin” and “Technology.”
 
Via The Charnel-House

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Nick Cave talks songwriting, Hell-fire and redemption but tells no jokes


 
Nick Cave lost his innocence watching Johnny Cash sing. He was about nine or ten years of age, living with his librarian mother and teacher father in rural Wangaratta, in Victoria, Australia. Cave didn’t know much about rock ‘n’ roll, but watching Johnny Cash sing on TV, he suddenly realized:
 

...that music could be an evil thing, a beautiful, evil thing.

For me it was very much the way he began the show. He’d have his back to you in silhouette, dressed all in black, and he’d swing around and say “Hi, I’m Johnny Cash”. There was something that struck me about him, and about the way my parents shifted around uncomfortably.

 
After joining the school choir, Cave harbored his own ambitions for a career in music. His first major success came with The Birthday Party, five chaotic individuals in search of a tune, where Cave unleashed his own “evil thing,” a vision of hell, fueled by drink, drugs, and his constant reading of the Hell-fire and damnation of the Old Testament.
 

The brutality of the Old Testament inspired me, the stories and grand gestures. I wrote that stuff up and it influenced the way I saw the world. What I’m trying to say is I didn’t walk around in a rage thinking God is a hateful god. I was influenced by looking at the Bible, and it suited me in my life vision at the time to see things in that way. .... After a while I started to feel a little kinder and warmer to the world, and at the same time started to read the New Testament.

 
Cave was smart enough to know this “solipsism of youth” couldn’t last, and after the band split he returned to home. After a few months, fellow Birthday Party musician, Mick Harvey, suggested they form a band, and so was born Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

While we wait for the full release of the biographical drama-documentary on Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth, this edition of Melvyn Bragg’s The South Bank from 2003, presents a revealing portrait of the singer, poet, author, actor, and screenwriter. Cave discusses his influences (from Cash and John Lee Hooker to Nina Simone), inspirations for songs, the key moments in his life, and the importance of being a writer.

The Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds tour of the US and Canada starts this month, details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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The Unarius Academy of Science, America’s zaniest UFO cult


 
At some point in the fall of 1992 Jello Biafra and I travelled to El Cajon, California with a small camera crew to shoot a short documentary about the Unarius Academy of Science for a Showtime pilot I was directing. The Unarius Academy of Science is a colorful (and quite harmless, no hint of a Heaven’s Gate vibe) UFO cult with their own cable access show, and was at that time housed across the street from both a center for recovering drug addicts/methadone clinic and a sleazy plasma center where you could sell your blood for cash. A Foster’s Freeze was a block or two away. There wasn’t much of anything else going on there. Just a bunch of empty parking lots and an occasional unoccupied building, some threadbare thrift stores and a funeral home. Not to say it was a ghost town, but minus the Unarians, and the junkies, in this part of town, there seemed to be almost no one else around.

To a certain extent, that might be the reason that people joined the cult in the first place: because there is next to nothing to do in El Cajon which isn’t related to gang activities, drug dealing, burglaries, car theft and crime in general. El Cajon’s crime rate is three times the national average. There are very few legitimate jobs for the people who live there, even at the best of times. Maybe some of the town’s residents looking for a little solace from a cruel universe that dealt them the shitty hand of ending up in El Cajon, might be an explanation for the goofy cult’s local appeal.

But then again, maybe nothing can adequately explain it.
 

 
The Unarius Academy of Science was formed by Ernest and Ruth Norman, a couple of dotty New Agers, in the mid-1950s. Unarius is an acronym which stands for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. The story I heard was that Norman was a traveling psychic medium who put grieving WWII widows in touch with their dead husbands and Ruth was one of his clients. One of his wealthier clients, whose dead husband had left her a restaurant chain or so the story went…

The two met and were married within weeks. Soon Ernest would start self-publishing channeled books and they began having public meetings in Glendale, CA, ultimately publishing over 100 books and garnering several hundred followers. After Ernest’s death in 1971, Ruth Norman moved Unarius to the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, where she also bought up several parcels of now valuable real estate so that a landing strip could be built for the “Space Brothers” of whom Archangel Uriel (as Ruth Norman now called herself) was their emissary on Earth.

The Unarian cosmology predicted that 33 planets would simultaneously send ambassadors in spacecraft that would lock together and form a futuristic city. Uriel taught that beings outside of our direct experience and comprehension exist—she was one of them!—and that one day the Space Brothers will help us silly humans evolve, turn deserts into vegetable fields, stop wars and improve our architecture. 
 

 
In the early 80s, “The Arrival,” an elaborate, seemingly high budget film about the Space Brothers showing up in the year 2001 was produced by the group, allegedly with the help of someone who worked for George Lucas doing special effects on the Star Wars films.

In the early 80s, certain members of the cult began to take an interest in making a cable access television program promoting the group’s beliefs: “Everything is energy.” “You, as a form of indestructible energy, possess a soul that has recorded data from past lives.” “All happenings to you currently have their origins in past lives and past actions.” “Negative acts must be compensated for by positive acts.” And best of all, Asians are Martians and vice versa (Unarians are not racists, this is seen as a good thing, i.e. proof that the aliens have been here for millennia!). The “star” of these programs, naturally was Uriel/Ruth Norman, who took to wearing clothing that would make Liberace blush, often made with Christmas tree lights that needed to be plugged in, thereby awkwardly limiting her mobility!

Some of the shows would just be Uriel talking to her followers and others would be like super low budget “psychodramas”—think Kuchar Brothers, early John Waters, Andy Milligan, etc.
 

 
These “psychodramas” were unfuckingbelievable, featuring full outer space costumes, zany make-up and and batshit crazy scenarios. For instance, Uriel might decide that a certain Unarian had been a murderous space captain or an evil sea serpent in a past life. So the group would do these semi-improvised and somewhat elaborate plays, that were designed to “drastically relive” these past lives, so that the Unarian follower would be freed from their karma (more or less). In the one with the sea serpent, they literally videotaped it next to a swimming pool and several people got into a crappy aquatic dragon suit fashioned from floating pool furniture and inner tubes and swam around as the rest of them held a trial and passed judgement on the “creature.” A lot of their psychodramas had a “trial by jury” aspect to them. Holy shit were they tweaked.

These programs made it as far as New York’s cable access weirdo home, Channel J. I used to have dozens of them on tape (which were tragically all stolen, along with the camera originals of the shoot with Biafra, from a car parked inside the old Playboy building in Beverly Hills. Who would steal goddamned hand-labeled tapes?)
 

 
Biafra and I never did get to meet Ruth Norman herself, her health didn’t permit it, but he did speak to her on camera via a speakerphone. The next morning, in their parking lot, we shot their Interplanetary Confederation Day, where far fewer than 33 Unarians marched around in a circle with fewer than 33 banners representing the (hilariously named) 33 planets who were supposed to supply all 33,000 of the Space Brothers who would arrive here in 2001. A tin spaceship contained 33 doves who were supposed to spill out into the sky at the ceremony’s climax, but they didn’t figure on it being as hot as it was on the day and most of the birds could barely dribble out of the thing. Some probably fried inside as the fully-costumed Unarians marched around their parking lot to the amusement of the folks, like myself, who were there to gawk at them in amazement. Spectacular it wasn’t, but you had to admire their commitment in the face of mainly disinterest, secondarily people driving by and shouting insulting things at them the whole time and that it was boiling hot that day and they were all in their layered interplanetary garb.
 

 
I believe they still do the Interplanetary Confederation Day every year. Frankly, I’m just amazed that 20 years after Ruth Norman’s death that the cult still exists. But they do. And even with their leader long gone, her prophecies that didn’t even remotely come close to passing and the sheer pointlessness of the whole thing, the Unarians persist, although the ones who we met 22 years ago are a bit longer in the tooth now (aren’t we all?) What’s weird is that they never grew out of their quirky belief systems even after the Space Brothers failed to arrive—the WHOLE THING that their belief system hinged on—in 2001. Uriel herself was supposed to return then, too. She didn’t even send a text!

If you think of the Unarians as characters straight out of a Daniel Clowes comic, it might make a little more sense.
 

 
This weekend at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, Jodi Wille, co-director of the acclaimed documentary on The Source Family hippie cult of the Sunset Strip has arranged a THREE DAY spectacular screening of rarely seen films and videos from Unarius. This “full-immersion” weekend includes core Unarius members onstage for live Q&As, the world theatrical premiere of Unarius’ 1979 film The Arrival, highlights from their massive archive of public access videos — plus a Unarius costume exhibit, Uriel’s space Cadillac, a pop-up reading room stocked with Unarian literature, workshops and tea house on Cinefamily’s back patio.

Here’s the trailer for the event:
 

 
After the jump. the trailer for Bill Perrine’s feature-length Unarius documentary, Children of the Stars…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Harry Dean Stanton shares his Zen wisdom
05.27.2014
06:06 am

Topics:
Belief
Movies

Tags:
Harry Dean Stanton
Zen

naedyrrah.jpg
 
Who knew Harry Dean Stanton was such a mystical Zen master? Apparently Marlon Brando did and the two actors spent many an hour sharing their wisdom about acting, life and the meaning of existence. One day, Brando asked Stanton what he thought of him? Stanton replied:

“I think you’re nothing.”

Brando laughed.

“He knew what I was talking about. The old eastern concept, one guy phrased it, ‘To realise you’re nothing is wisdom. To realise you’re everything is love. Or pure intelligence or pure awareness.

“Ultimately that can’t be defined in words, it’s beyond words, beyond consciousness. And that’s a hard sell, but it’s true.”

If that doesn’t twist your melon, then you may be surprised to hear that Mr. Stanton thinks everything is predestined. That might scare the shit out of some people, but dear old Harry still thinks life is predestined. When asked to explain what he means and how predestination affects the reasons he chose one role over another, Stanton responds:

“Again there’s no answer to that. Don’t you follow what I’m trying to say? Everyone wants an answer to why I did this, why all this happened, ultimately there is no answer to it.

“Everything happens the way it’s going to happen, no one’s in charge, it’s all going to go down, you know, Iraq, war, Napoleon, serial killers, wars, all of it. You never know what’s going to happen next. We think we’re in charge and ten seconds from now none of us in this room know what we’re going to be thinking or saying. So who the fuck’s in charge?”

You are Harry, and for the next twenty minutes you’re going to tell us all about it.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Lemmy is God: Image of Motörhead leader’s face appears on pancake
05.23.2014
08:00 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Food
Music

Tags:
Lemmy
Motörhead


 
Yesterday Motörhead tweeted an image of what appears to Lemmy on a pancake. There’s no backstory to where the Lemmy pancake came from. Perhaps a fan sent it to them?

All hail the Lemmy pancake!!!
 

 
Via Cherrybombed

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Pranksters make a Crass logo crop circle, oblivious ‘astronomologer’ attempts to interpret it
05.22.2014
05:28 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Belief

Tags:
Crass
crop circle


 
In 2011 some ambitious punks made this crop circle of the Crass logo not too far from Stonehenge. If that doesn’t already give you a giggle, take a look at what mega-earnest “Astronomologer” Donna Provancher, interpreted from it! (Astronomology, by the way, is defined by Donna as “the practice of astrology using astronomy to build the chart and supply new insights,” so while it’s not entirely clear why crop circles fall in her professional purview, my guess is something to do with aliens or Wicca.)

You know those pictures of the Gods and Goddesses with eight or eighteen or a thousand arms? That’s what we are when we work together. You can tack thousands of pairs of eyes and ears to that image while you’re at it. Nothing escapes our notice.

Roving Astronomologer eyes and ears (thanks again Solar Ophiuchus Raya King—that makes two Gold Stars for you) directed my attention early this morning to a new crop circle reported June 20, 2011 near Stonehenge.Crop Circle Connector is calling this area “Stonehenge (1)” whatever that means. I have a Facebook Wall ping out to Philip Peake (visit his blog Thoughtsoftheguru.com) my longtime Friend (with a capital F), Web Host and Webmaster who is from the U.K.  Maybe he can tell me where this is in relation to the megaliths. The map wasn’t revealing of that little detail.

Something about the above photo immediately bothered me. My first instinct was to want to walk around the circle until I found up, down, left and right. So you know me. I couldn’t leave it alone—I had to tweak it.

To her credit, at this point Donna rotates the logo to match the cover of Christ: The Album! Well done, Donna! From there though, her interpretations go back to indecipherable New Age esoterica.

Oh yes, this is definitely it!

—As Above, So Below (opening greeting)

—An equal-armed or Tau-Cross (the balancing of Earth’s energies)

—A double-headed serpent wrapped around one of the axial poles of the planet — we’ll have to assume it’s the poles of the planet since East-West doesn’t have an axial pole.  The piece on top (the double-headed serpent) is bolted to the Tau-Cross, so at this point, Raya’s vision of the Staff of Asclepius is partially correct; she just didn’t finish it.

The 2-headed King-snakes I used to see at the San Diego zoo had tails. This one isn’t like that. But then it’s not imitating a snake, it’s picturing a new concept. The new Planetary Caduceus. It needs to be finished. This is something else I haven’t discussed yet but it looks like this is one more Agenda Item on the Table I’ll put this on my To-Do list to discuss. What else is on there?  Ophiuchus and Solar Physics since Gloria Prophet requested that I share more on this topic [see Solar Physicists Stymied—Sky & Telescope News Blog].

Oh Donna, no one knows what you’re talking about, but I’ll be damned if you’re not adorable. Say what you will about her lack of punk rock cred, when you see a New Age lady on the subway, you know she’s going to smell good—like patchouli—can you say that for your average crust punk?
 
Via PORK

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Get baked and watch ‘Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks’


 

“He’s a rewarder of those who seek him. Some say God is a punisher, but do you know what we do with child abusers today? We put child abusers in prison if we find out about ‘em. God is not a child abuser! God is a good god. Why don’t you just say that out loud with me right no? God is a good god, you always remember that! God is not gonna do you harm… (pause) There is a judgement coming someday…”

—“Mrs. Hook” from The Christian Pirates cable access show.

History will note that for a short period at the end of the 20th century, there was this “format” called “VHS” (“Video Home System” is what it stood for) that allowed people to do something called “videotaping” “off” their television sets (it didn’t work exactly like that, but it’s, you know, close enough). But what history might neglect to record is that certain things got passed around from hand to hand on this format samizdat style in what was then called the “VHS tape trading underground.” During the mid-1980s to the late 90s, traders and flea market dealers were making pirated copies of things like the banned Rolling Stones movie Cocksucker Blues, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, “Screaming Boy” (lunatic Dallas public access preacher Jonathan Bell, later made famous by The Daily Show), a tape of a groupie blowing out a candle with her pussy for guitarist Steve Vai and “The Great Satan At Large,” a satanic talk show, among hundreds of other things.

One of the most heavily circulated items during the “VHS tape trading underground” days was a synapse-frying excursion straight into the dark heart of the most deeply disturbed, bat-shit crazy 80s TV evangelism titled “Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks.”  When the tape began making the rounds in the early 90s, the jaw-dropping selection of low IQ buffoonery, superstitious insanity and wildly inappropriate kiddie shows made by people who should NEVER BE LEFT ALONE UNSUPERVISED WITH YOUNG CHILDREN was the centerpiece of many a drug and alcohol-fuelled viewing fest.

An unnamed Internet reviewer said this of “Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks”:

Americans: See why the rest of the world thinks we’re a bunch of blithering idiots!

Rest of the world: See why Americans are a bunch of blithering idiots!

That pretty much sums it up in a nutshell and yes, the “foreigners” do like this one, it’s true. They’re flummoxed by it.

One of the more perplexing things on exhibit in “Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks” are the clips from the no budget “Christian Pirates” cable access show where godless children are forced to “walk the plank” by one-legged Captain Hook and they sing songs about hoping that Satan gets paralyzed and has to use a wheelchair. There’s Jimmy Swaggart’s tearful confession of whore mongering (a masterclass in fleecing the faithful with the “I have sinned” ploy). A Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker press conference. There’s a lot of asking for money, natch, some racist Bible prophecy, preaching against something one of them calls “Marxism” and a “joyous” man with hands growing from his shoulders who, er, counts his blessings. It’s not just Christianity that takes a beating here. New Age beliefs are lampooned and there’s even an appearance by Queen Uriel from the nutty Unarius Academy of Science.
 

 
“Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks” was produced by a zine called Zontar. It came with an attached pamphlet that you can see reproduced here. Aside from being a masterpiece of video folk art (YES, this should preserved and elevated to museum status) it’s one of the single best things ever to get stoned and watch. I guarantee you’ll be blown away by “Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks” (and if you’re not, you’ll be issued a full refund...)
 

 
Disgraced—but still currently raking it in like a gangsta on BET—TV evangelist Robert Tilton in the infamous “Pastor Gas” video that has made the rounds on the Internet since the first days of MySpace. My VHS copy of “Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists and Kristian Kiddie Kooks” included this:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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