Weird Origins Archives

October 19, 2004


Miss Wurzel Todd describes the catacombe dei cappuccini:

Today more than eight thousand mummified bodies line the walls of the Catacombe dei Cappuccini in Palermo in one of the most macabre human "libraries" in the world.

The halls of the catacombs are divided into categories: Men, Women, Virgins, Children, Priests, Monks, and Professors (incl. the corpse of the famous painter Velasquez). The corpses are dressed in fine fabrics and occupy their own individual niches according to their social status.

December 21, 2004

Stack Shot Billy

Another notorious Christmas anniversary: "Stack" Lee Shelton shot Billy Lyons in a barroom in the red-light district of St. Louis on Christmas Day, 1895. Music artists have been singing about it ever since.

March 25, 2005

Eat Your Oats

Was the Black Plague a result of bio-chemical warfare?

In Brandenburg (Germany) there appeared in 1559 horrible men of whom at first fifteen and later on twelve were seen ... the others (had) fearful faces and long scythes, with which they cut at the oats, so that the swish could be heard at a great distance, but the oats remained standing ... The visit of the strange men to the oat fields was followed immediately by a severe outbreak of the Plague in Brandenburg.
And the activity wasn't limited to Germany:
Similar men dressed in black were reported in Hungary ... there appeared so many black riders that the opinion was prevalent that the Turks were making a secret raid, but who rapidly disappeared again, and thereupon a raging plague broke out in the neighborhood.

Strange men dressed in black, "demons" and other terrifying figures were observed in other European communities. The frightening creatures were often observed carrying long "brooms," "scythes," or "swords" that were used to "sweep" or "knock at" the doors of people's homes. The inhabitants of those homes fell ill with plague afterwards. It is from these reports that people created the popular image of "Death" as a skeleton or demoncarrying a scythe. The scythe came to symbolize the act of Death mowing down people like stalks of grain ..

Update 3/27: Some great Grim Reaper pics over on MythologyWeb.

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This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Soldier Ant in the Weird Origins category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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