News of the Past

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Construction of Pagan Temple to Begin in Reykjavík

Iceland Magazine

Plans to begin construction of a pagan temple in Öskjuhlíð hill, Reykjavík, have been set in motion. This will be the first pagan temple to be built in the Nordic countries in nearly a thousand years, said the alsherjargoði Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, head priest of the Icelandic Ásatrúarfélag, in an interview with RÚV. . . . → Read More: Construction of Pagan Temple to Begin in Reykjavík

The Witchy Tale of the Rollright Stones

By BadWitch

[Snip] Once upon a time, a king was out riding with his men when he met a witch who said this to him:

“Seven long strides thou shalt take, And if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be!”

So, the king and his men dismounted and gathered in a . . . → Read More: The Witchy Tale of the Rollright Stones

Last Residents Leave “The Wicker Man” Islands

By Jenny Kane

The Scottish islands that inspired cult pagan film The Wicker Man have lost their last permanent residents.

Tanera Mor in the Summer Isles was the last inhabited island in the group until the owners recent move to the mainland.

The group of 17 islands, set amid the breathtaking, rugged beauty of Scotland’s . . . → Read More: Last Residents Leave “The Wicker Man” Islands

Ancient Irish Trees Brought Back to Life

By Darragh Murphy

Down towards Gougán Barra, where the remote wilds of west Cork meet the gentle slopes of the Lee valley, Ted Cook’s home seems like a relic from a forgotten era.

A pheasant keeps sentry out front, unperturbed by visitors. Behind the gate, the grassy driveway looks like it hasn’t seen a car . . . → Read More: Ancient Irish Trees Brought Back to Life

Ancient Slab May Be Sundial-Moondial

By Stephanie Pappas

A strange slab of rock discovered in Russia more than 20 years ago appears to be a combination sundial and moondial from the Bronze Age, a new study finds.

The slab is marked with round divots arranged in a circle, and an astronomical analysis suggests that these markings coincide with heavenly events, . . . → Read More: Ancient Slab May Be Sundial-Moondial

Ancient Cult Complex Discovered in Israel

By Owen Jarus

A massive cult complex, dating back about 3,300 years, has been discovered at the site of Tel Burna in Israel.

While archaeologists have not fully excavated the cult complex, they can tell it was quite large, as the courtyard alone was 52 by 52 feet (16 by 16 meters). Inside the complex, . . . → Read More: Ancient Cult Complex Discovered in Israel

The ‘Catholic Witchdoctors’ of Bolivia

By Jake Wallis Simons

On the vast plains of the Altiplano plateau in South America live people who believe in magic.

Many of the Aymara — an ancient, indigenous race found in Bolivia, Peru and Chile — suppose that on Tuesdays and Fridays, ordinary people become vulnerable to harmful spirits and the evil eye.

That’s . . . → Read More: The ‘Catholic Witchdoctors’ of Bolivia

The Surprising Story of Mongolian Shamanism

MIT anthropologist finds that after Soviet domination, a rebirth of shamanism helped Mongolia rewrite its own history

By Peter Dizikes

In 1990, as the Soviet Union was disintegrating, Mongolia, long a satellite of the U.S.S.R., regained its independence. Socialism was out and free markets returned. Religion — in the form of Buddhism, shamanism, and other . . . → Read More: The Surprising Story of Mongolian Shamanism

Indian Court Bans Animal Sacrifice

Agence France-Presse in Shimla

A court in remote northern India has banned a long tradition of sacrificing animals for religious reasons, deeming the practice cruel and barbaric.

The high court in Himachal Pradesh has asked police and other officials to enforce its ban on the slaughter, mainly of goats in Hindu temples throughout the . . . → Read More: Indian Court Bans Animal Sacrifice

The Earth Mother of All Neolithic Discoveries

By John Lichfield

French archaeologists have discovered an extremely rare example of a neolithic “earth mother” figurine on the banks of the river Somme.

The 6,000-year-old statuette is 8in high, with imposing buttocks and hips but stubby arms and a cone-like head. Similar figures have been found before in Europe but rarely so far north . . . → Read More: The Earth Mother of All Neolithic Discoveries