I've been in a learning mood this past couple of weeks, that mood and the internet makes the perfect combination. I've found so many interesting things so I think I'll share the more interesting stuff I've learned with you all here. Since these were found from random searches and momentary sparks of interest, I'm not going to bother with sources because I don't even remember where I read most of them -
1. P.B Shelley had a doppelgänger. He saw his own doppelgänger on a terrace (spooky!), and it said to him "How long do you mean to be content?" (extremely chilling).
2. Yukio Mishima had his first masturbatory ejaculation while looking at this picture of St. Sebastian.
3. My interest in Yukio Mishima led to an interest in Seppuku - a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. It's gory, but I still find it kind of **something** (the word escapes me), romantic maybe.
Part of the samurai honor code, seppuku has been used both voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies... With his selected attendant (kaishakunin, his second) standing by, he would open his kimono, take up his tanto (knife) and plunge it into his abdomen, making a left-to-right cut. The kaishakunin would then perform daki-kubi, a cut in which the warrior was all but decapitated (a slight band of flesh is left attaching the head to the body). - wiki
Mishima, a three time Novel Prize nominee for literature, in modern time, performed Seppuku. You can see the decapitated head of Mishima here if you're not weak of heart or stomach (it's actually okay, I find it interesting that after performing such an act, there is no expression of pain on his handsome face, in fact, he almost looks happy.) You can watch a staged presentation of how a ritual Seppuku is performed here - again, not gory.
4. According to Gnostic beliefs, and their text the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, Jesus never died on the cross, it was Simon the Cyrene, the guy who helped Jesus carry the cross. Incidentally, Simon has always been one of my favorite characters from the Bible. Simon, and Dimas (the thief on the cross) - I've always thought they're both so lucky.
5. When St. Francis of Assisi died, he thanked his donkey for carrying him during his life, and his donkey cried.
6. In the Quran, the arhcangel Gabriel is called Jibril, and Satan's Islamic equivalent is Iblis.
7. The patron saint of alcoholics is Saint John of God (San Juan de Dios). I guess that would mean he is my friend Macavity's patron saint :-)
8. This bush has been identified by monastic traditions as Moses' burning bush, still alive and green, but no longer burning.
9. Richard the Lionheart, contrary to most young women's imaginations, (I'm 99.9% certain) was not handsome - disappointingly. However, Saladin was, most likely.
10. Magdalena de la Cruz, a Fransican nun, who for many years exhibited stigmatas and was honored as a saint, confessed to faking it when she fell ill, ascribing most of the marvels to the action of demons by which she was possessed - wiki. I have my own doubts about stigmatas in general, but this IS REALLY creepy!
I have a lot more that I want to write about, but it's lunch time and I'm hungry.
Anyway, it's been fun reading up on these things, so once again, thank God for the internet! You understand how once one's attention pounces on something, one is doomed to a state of eternal distraction unless one follows up on it to one's heart's content.
It can be great fun, and sometimes we also like to throw in lies here and there to make it more fun. One time, we dedicated an entire day to reading up on John the Baptist, I started earlier than Shirley did, and all she was thinking about was how handsome she believes John must have been. So I caught her unawares and asked -
"Shirley, did you know that Napolean witnessed John's beheading?"
"Wow, really? I never knew that, I wonder why my mom never told me about that!"
All the internet's wiki and info and papers
Could not put Macavity's brains together again :-)