Everything Mysterious And Strange

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling


According to legend, a monk who broke his vows was sentenced to be walled up alive. He begged for clemency and promised to write a book that included all human knowledge — in just one night. At midnight, he realized he would never succeed in his task, so he prayed to the fallen angel Lucifer to help him. The devil delivered, so the monk drew the devil’s portrait on page 577 of his manuscript in gratitude. In reality, one monk did write the entire book, but it took him approximately 25 to 30 years to complete it. The over sized book was initially kept at a monastery in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), but was stolen by the Swedes during the Thirty Years’ War and taken to Stockholm as war booty in 1649. Now the book is housed at the National Library of Sweden. The white leather volume adorned with fancy gewgaws is about three feet tall and weighs a staggering 165 pounds. To protect this 800-year-old book from the damages of air and light, it’s kept in a climate-controlled case.The book is bound in wooden boards covered with leather. The inside is composed of 310 leaves of vellum that were reportedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys, although they may also be calfskin. Mystery alert: The book originally held 320 sheets, and no one is sure who removed the 10 extra pages or why.

The contents of the book include the complete text of the Old and New Testaments in Latin, as well as incantations, exorcism spells, the Ars medicinae (a 12th-century medical textbook), the Chronicle of the Bohemians, a calendar, and Hebrew, Greek, and Slavic alphabets. Toward the end of the book, there’s a drawing of the kingdom of Heaven with the infamous illustration of the devil on the facing page. The red, comma-shaped dashes on the devil’s loincloth are thought to be the tails of ermine furs, which were a common symbol of sovereignty at the time. The two long, red tongues poking out of his mouth evoke serpents, i.e., forked tongues, representing dishonesty. The image of Heavenly Jerusalem comes after the monk’s admission of his own sinfulness. He confesses to his battle against depravity, pride, envy, gluttony, lust, and more. The image of the city is based on an account in the Revelation of John and is meant to show that man has a clear choice between the realm of God or that of Satan. That’s why the devil appears on the very next page. In the text, the monk says that the devil has been ‘captured frozen in the utmost depravity and sin. This commingling of the religious and the secular may seem strange to modern eyes, but it was quite normal until about the 1700s, when the biblical canon became more finalized.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling


n February, 1891, the first few advertisements started appearing in papers: “Ouija, the Wonderful Talking Board,” boomed a Pittsburgh toy and novelty shop, describing a magical device that answered questions “about the past, present and future with marvelous accuracy” and promised “never-failing amusement and recreation for all the classes,” a link “between the known and unknown, the material and immaterial.” Another advertisement in a New York newspaper declared it “interesting and mysterious” and testified, “as sProven at Patent Office before it was allowed. Price, $1.50.”This mysterious talking board was basically what’s sold in board game aisles today: A flat board with the letters of the alphabet arrayed in two semi-circles above the numbers 0 through 9; the words “yes” and “no” in the uppermost corners, “goodbye” at the bottom; accompanied by a “planchette,” a teardrop-shaped device, usually with a small window in the body, used to maneuver about the board. The idea was that two or more people would sit around the board, place their finger tips on the planchette, pose a question, and watch, dumbfounded, as the planchette moved from letter to letter, spelling out the answers seemingly of its own accord. The biggest difference is in the materials; the board is now usually cardboard, rather than wood, and the planchette is plastic.The real history of the Ouija board is just about as mysterious as how the “game” works. Ouija historian Robert Much has been researching the story of the board since 1992; when he started his research, he says, no one really knew anything about its origins, which struck him as odd: “For such an iconic thing that strikes both fear and wonder in American culture, how can no one know where it came from?”

The Ouija board, in fact, came straight out of the American 19th century obsession with spiritualism, the belief that the dead are able to communicate with the living. Spiritualism, which had been around for years in Europe, hit America hard in 1848 with the sudden prominence of the Fox sisters of upstate New York; the Foxes claimed to receive messages from spirits who rapped on the walls in answer to questions, recreating this feat of channeling in parlors across the state. Aided by the stories about the celebrity sisters and other spiritualists in the new national press, spiritualism reached millions of adherents at its peak in the second half of the 19th century. Spiritualism worked for Americans: it was compatible with Christian dogma, meaning one could hold a séance on Saturday night and have no qualms about going to church the next day. It was an acceptable, even wholesome activity to contact spirits at séances, through automatic writing, or table turning parties, in which participants would place their hands on a small table and watch it begin shake and rattle, while they all declared that they weren’t moving it. The movement also offered solace in an era when the average lifespan was less than 50: Women died in childbirth; children died of disease; and men died in war. Even Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the venerable president, conducted séances in the White House after their 11-year-old son died of a fever in 1862; during the Civil War, spiritualism gained adherents in droves, people desperate to connect with loved ones who’d gone away to war and never come home.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling

Hell



Hell, in many religious traditions, the abode, usually beneath the earth, of the unredeemed dead or the spirits of the damned. In its archaic sense, the term hell refers to the underworld, a deep pit or distant land of shadows where the dead are gathered. From the underworld come dreams, ghosts, and demons, and in its most terrible precincts sinners pay—some say eternally—the penalty for their crimes. The underworld is often imagined as a place of punishment rather than merely of darkness and decomposition because of the widespread belief that a moral universe requires judgment and retribution—crime must not pay. More broadly, hell figures in religious cosmologies as the opposite of heaven, the nadir of the cosmos, and the land where God is not. In world literature the journey to hell is a perennial motif of hero legends and quest stories, and hell itself is the preeminent symbol of evil, alienation, and despair.The Old English hel belongs to a family of Germanic words meaning “to cover” or “to conceal.” Hel is also the name, in Old Norse, of the Scandinavian queen of the underworld.

Many English translations of the Bible use hell as an English equivalent of the Hebrew terms Sheʾōl (or Sheol) and Gehinnom, or Gehenna (Hebrew: gê-hinnōm). The term Hell is also used for the Greek Hades and Tartarus, which have markedly different connotations. As this confusion of terms suggests, the idea of hell has a complex history, reflecting changing attitudes toward death and judgment, sin and salvation, and crime and punishment.Mesopotamian civilizations from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BCE produced a rich literature dealing with death and hell, much of it designed to impress upon the hearer the vast gulf separating the living from the dead and the fragility of the cosmic order on which vitality and fertility depend. In Mesopotamian traditions, hell is described as a distant land of no return, a house of dust where the dead dwell without distinction of rank or merit, and a sealed fortress, typically of seven gates, barred against invasion or escape.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling



For centuries, historians and archaeologists have puzzled over the many mysteries of Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument that took Neolithic builders an estimated 1,500 years to erect. Located in southern England, it is comprised of roughly 100 massive upright stones placed in a circular layout. While many modern scholars now agree that Stonehenge was once a burial ground, they have yet to determine what other purposes it served and how a civilization without modern technology—or even the wheel—produced the mighty monument. Its construction is all the more baffling because, while the sandstone slabs of its outer ring hail from local quarries, scientists have traced the bluestones that make up its inner ring all the way to the Preseli Hills in Wales, some 200 miles from where Stonehenge sits on Salisbury Plain. Today, nearly 1 million people visit Stonehenge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, every year.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling

Tarot



The Tarot is probably one of the most popularly used tools of divination in the world today. While not as simple as some other methods, like pendulums or tea leaves, the Tarot has drawn people into its magic for centuries. Today, cards are available to purchase in hundreds of different designs. There is a Tarot deck for just about any practitioner, no matter where his or her interests may lie. Whether you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or baseball, whether you love zombies or are interested in the writings of Jane Austen, you name it, there’s probably a deck out there for you to choose.

Although methods of reading the Tarot have changed over the years, and many readers adopt their own unique style to the traditional meanings of a layout, in general, the cards themselves haven’t changed much. Lets look at some of the early decks of Tarot cards, and the history of how these came to be used as more than just a parlor game.In both France and Italy, the original purpose of Tarot was as a parlor game, not as a divinatory tool. It appears that divination with playing cards started to become popular in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, although at that time, it was far more simple than the way we use Tarot today. By the eighteenth century, however, people were beginning to assign specific meanings to each card, and even offer suggestions as to how they could be laid out for divinatory purposes.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling


The US government's official name for Area 51 is the Nevada Test and Training Range, which is a unit of the Nellis Air Force Base. Today it is used as an open training range for the US Air Force. According to the CIA, the name Area 51 comes from its map designation. It was also previously referred to as "Paradise Ranch" in order to make the facility sound more attractive to those that would be working there. "Paradise Ranch" was then shortened to "the Ranch." Other nicknames include "Watertown" and "Dreamland." In 1958, under Public Land Order 1662, the 38,400-acre land area was "withdrawn from public use by the US Atomic Energy Commission, a predecessor to the US Department of Energy."

It is located more than 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It is restricted to the public and has armed guards patrolling the perimeter. It's also impossible to enter the airspace above without permission from air traffic control. Area 51 has long been a topic of fascination for conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts who believe it to be the location where the US government stores and hides alien bodies and UFOs. One popular UFO conspiracy is that in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, remains from a flying saucer that supposedly crashed were brought to Area 51 for reverse engineering experiments in order to replicate the extraterrestrial spacecraft. In June 2019, a poll conducted by YouGov found that 54% of US adults think it is likely the government knows more than it's telling about UFOs.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling


At the heart of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert sits a crater of fire the size of a football field that’s been perpetually burning now for almost fifty years. Locals have suitably dubbed it the ‘Door To Hell’, officially it’s known as the Darvaza Gas Crater. It’s not volcanic, that’s not magma, in fact, this sinister flame pit was man-made and thought to be the result of a Soviet-era gas drilling accident, yet Turkmenistan has no official record. To those travelers who’ve defied all odds in having their visas granted to this closed nation, reaching the ‘Door To Hell’ is at the top of their list. I was no different, and on an overnight camping trip, I finally got to visit what camel spiders everywhere have been talking about for years. Departing Ashgabat, this is a photo essay covering my visit to the ‘Door To Hell’.

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Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago

I Have A Black Belt In Joint Rolling



We learn from geography classes that water bodies are marked with blue on the map. But nature likes to mess with us and creates oddities just like Lake Hillier in Western Australia. With its mere 600 meters in length, Lake Hillier is not one that will impress you by its size. Nor will it impress you by its diverse fishes that inhabit it.

Lake Hillier delights your eye with its pink color. Moreover, it lies just next to the Pacific Ocean, thus if you watch it from above, the contrast between the mellow pink of the lake and the blue of the ocean is striking. The reason of its unique colour is still a topic that is not fully understood by scientists, although most suspect it has to do with the presence of the Dunaliella salina microalgae. The Dunaliella produces carotenoids, a pigment found in carrots as well. But the presence of halophilic bacteria in the salt crusts could be another explanation. A reaction between the salt and the sodium bicarbonate that is found in the water may cause it as well. The Hillier Lake was first discovered in 1802 by navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders who took samples from the lake and mentioned its existence in his journal. The lake is located on Middle Island, off the coast of Western Australia. As noted above, the Hillier Lake is quite small, its length is 600 meters and its width is no more than 250 meters. It is surrounded by eucalyptus and paperback trees and the ocean on its northern part. Its pink color is less accentuated when viewed from the surface but it is very prominent from above. However, unlike other pink lakes around the world, its water is still distinctively pink even when it is in a glass. For a few years they used to extract salt from the lake but nowadays it is only used for tourism purposes. The water of the lake is otherwise clear and it causes no harm to the human skin and the Dunaliella salina alga is completely harmless as well. In fact, swimming in the lake’s water is safe and fun but impossible to do for normal tourists as the lake can’t be visited.

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