Monthly Archives: July 2010

Happy St. Ezekiel’s Day!

Since St. Ezekiel is the unofficial patron saint of gamers, this is a very important day to remember!

(Some would say this is because he was commanded by God to draw a map, make a model siege of Jerusalem, and play a tabletop wargame in Ezekiel 4:1, and then spend a couple years live roleplaying being caught in a siege — all as a warning to the folks of Jerusalem. Some would say it’s because his vision of the Valley of Dry Bones launched a thousand stop-action horror effects. But others would say this is because God commanded him in Ezekiel 4:4 to lay around the house all day eating junky food, for more than a year.)

Here’s another hymn for prophet and patriarch saints, from Mone’s Lateinische Hymnen des Mittelalters, #638:

De patriarchis et prophetis.

O patriarchae gloria
sublimes, o prophetae,
vestra peto suffragia
Dei fortes athletae!

Ne mentem gravent vitia,
subsidium praebete,
ut fruar pacis gratia
in virtutis quiete.

O patriarchs, o prophets,
In glory may you soar on high.
I ask your prayer support,
Strong athletes of God!

So vices won’t hold down my thoughts,
Provide me help;
That I may enjoy the grace of peace
calmly, in virtue.

I’m a bit disappointed that I haven’t found any Ezekiel hymns specifically. I’m sure they are out there, and that wheels are involved.


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Astropia News

Apparently, at some point in the recent past, the Icelandic gamer movie Astropia was picked up by a US distributor, Vanguard Cinema. Back in March. I am such a twit that I didn’t know this.

You can now buy Astropia at Amazon and other fine US places that sell DVDs, in local format and everything.

You can digitally rent Astropia from Amazon for $2.99, or digitally buy it for $7.99.

You can digitally borrow Astropia from some public libraries, if your library has Overdrive and happens to have picked Astropia. (The Seattle Public Library has it; my county system doesn’t.)

I can’t say enough about how fun Astropia is, how human and fannish, and how ridiculously beautiful the Icelandic landscape is. Please don’t miss it.

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There’s Another Verse to “Sumer Is Icumen In”?

Man, nobody ever tells me these things. Nobody. Not even in the SCA. Sheesh, what good is a songbook if it leaves out half the song?

As you can see, the original ms of “Sumer Is Icumen In” includes another text in Latin — a song about the Passion of Christ! Awesome! (And here’s the translation.)

Perspice, Christicola,
Que dignacio!
Celicus agricola
Pro vitis vicio,
Non parcens exposuit
Mortis exicio,
Qui captivos semivivos
A supplicio
Vite donat
Et secum coronat
In celi solio.

The next question is: what are the Latin words of the “cuccu” equivalents? “Que dignacio” seems logical, at least in part. But maybe it didn’t have a second and third part, for greater solemnity?

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Hymn to St. Virgilius of Salzburg

Your man St. Virgilius (probably Fearghal in his original Irishness) was known for his astronomical teaching (which proved unexpectedly controversial to St. Boniface, who wasn’t sure if his first generation Christians were ready to contemplate nonhumans living in “other worlds”). So it’s not surprising that this hymn leverages a lot of stellar imagery, even though it’s a hymn about the second bishop of Salzburg. (St. Rupert being the first.)

It seems to be to the tune of the Christmas song “Iam lucis orto sidere”.

Hymn for St. Virgilius of Salzburg (Fearghal)
from Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, Vol. 4, p. 254

Hujus diei gloria
Exsultet coelum laudibus,
Ex cordibus praeconia,
Vota sonent ex vocibus.

In the glory of these days,
May all heaven rejoice in praise.
A celebration from our hearts,
A votive pledge, may voices raise.

Sol ab occasu rediens
Vergente mundi vespere,
Fit novus dies prodiens
Jam lucis orto sidere.

The sun returning to the west,
The evening world turns to its rest.
But even now, the newborn day
Brings forth the sun’s first dawning ray.

Virgilius Hibernia
Natus, de mundi finibus
Illuxit, nova gaudia
Dans oriens partibus.

Virgilius, of Irish birth,
Shone to the ends of all the earth,
Giving a new joy to the hearts
Of those who lived in eastern parts.

Hora prima incipiens
Et in diem proficiens
In carne carnem nesciens
Et mundus mundum transiens.

From the first hour he began
Until this day, his race he ran
As if not knowing he wore flesh;
Pure, in the passing world of man.

De bono semper melior,
Spe grandis, fide firmior,
Caritate perfectior,
Fit morte pretiosior.

He made good better every day,
Increasing hope and firming faith,
Perfecting love and charity,
His death was precious every way.

Coelum adauxit gaudiis,
Mundum replet suffragiis,
Perfectos ditat gratiis,
Parvos fovet auxiliis.

Heaven intensified its joys,
Earth was filled with applause’s noise.
He now enriches perfect grace,
And still helps foster little boys.

* Because he founded the cathedral school.

Ex meritorum copia
Gratis redundat gratia.
In laude stat et gloria
Virgilii memoria.

Out of his merits, grace on grace
Flows over all over the place.
Virgilius’ memory still stands strong
In glory and in endless praise.

Sit laus patri cum filio,
Sit gratiarum actio
Spiritui paraclito
Semper ut a principio.

Praise be to grace’s great action.
Praised be the Father and the Son
And the Holy Spirit, evermore
From the beginning, Three in One.

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Liz Shaw from Dr Who — Audiobook Bible! Free!

Liz Shaw, the iconic no-nonsense UNIT scientific adviser who worked with the Third Doctor on Dr Who, was played by Caroline John, a very good actress with a very good voice. I’ve always been sorry we haven’t seen more of her work over here.

Now, in an amazing project for charity, Caroline John has recorded a complete audiobook version of the Gospel of Mark, and a good chunk of the Gospel of Matthew (currently, Chapters 1-11 have been posted). I think it’s the King James version; and it was professionally recorded over in London.

The Lambs Audio Bible is being put together by longtime US Dr Who fan Jeri Massi, who has been running the Conference of the Lambs, a group for documenting abuse of members of independent Fundamentalist churches (mostly a small denomination called IFB), and helping the survivors heal. The idea here is that people have sometimes been misled by selective quoting of the Gospels, and that hearing them as a whole will help people reorient themselves.

But anybody can use this. It’s free to download and may be freely distributed, too. (Details on the first chapter of Mark.)

Oh, such a lovely English voice. Even if you’re not religious or Christian, this is a real treat for any audiobook listener or Who fan. Obviously, Caroline John should be hired immediately by audiobook companies everywhere.

Here’s a Facebook page for just the Gospel of Mark.

Caroline John has also read bits of scripture previously for various series of talks on Jeri’s podcast All of Grace. (About which I don’t know much, and obviously Jeri’s theology isn’t Catholic; but there you are.)

UPDATE: See comment below from Jeri Massi. Apparently three out of the four Gospels were finished and are good, but the Gospel of John had audio problems. So posting is ongoing, but production is at the Argh! What to do?!? stage.


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In Re: Posts Below

A lot of people seem to be toooooootally unaware that the Catholic Church thinks the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament are in Heaven — as opposed to rotting in Hell or hanging around the Bosom of Abraham in sheol/hades (little h hell) till the end of time.

This ancient teaching is why you have the line in the Apostle’s Creed about how believing that Jesus “descended into hell”. If your denomination says it, you too are supposed to believe that Jesus descended into hell with a small h and preached the Gospel to the patriarchs, matriarchs, prophets, and all other dead Jewish* people from before the Crucifixion; that the souls of all those who accepted Him came back out of sheol with him; and that they are now in Heaven among the blessed saints, sharing in eternal bliss. Why this isn’t preached more, I don’t know. It’s an important and consoling doctrine; and it’s important for Christians to understand the continuity between the world of the Old Testament and the New.

(*Whether or not the dead people who were not part of the Covenant were included in all this, we don’t know. Waiting around till the end of time isn’t going to hurt you, in the sheol little-h hell; but since the pre/non-Jewish St. Melchizedek of Salem is supposed to be in Heaven, presumably monotheists may have gotten in on this happy deal of getting in early. Righteous pagans, probably not so much. Eastern theology has a different viewpoint on this whole thing’s workings; but they agree about the OT saints being saints, and even spotlight them more. So wherever you go, the basics are standard doctrine.)

So I’m going to poke around, and post stuff about the OT saints when I find it. Usually they would fall under the standard saint categories and generic saint hymns; but there was sometimes hymnody specifically tailored to them.

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Sequence for St. Elisha’s Day: Catholic Hymns to OT Patriarchs and Prophets

This is a prose or sequence for the feast of St. Elisha (Elisaeus) which was on June 14 in the Carmelite Rite. This was written down about 1418. It was sung antiphonally, as sequences often are, with one side of the choir singing a verse, and then the other side singing the corresponding verse. I don’t know what tune you could sing it to, but it’s a fairly common sequence meter.

St. Elisha was a big deal for the Carmelites, since he was the disciple and successor of their inspiration in the monastic life, St. Elijah the Prophet. Since they had their own Rite in those days (in communion with the Pope), the General Chapter of the Carmelites in 1399 declared in 1399 that they would be celebrating St. Elisha’s feast from then on, and they did. In the Latin Rite, it’s another optional memorial thing.

Festivemus sollemniter
Cantemus unanimiter
Cordis cum tripudio,

In hoc festo Elisaei;
Fidus servus veri Dei,
Astans ei iugiter,

We feast solemnly,
We chant all together,
Hearts in triple time dance.

On this feast of Elisha;
The true God’s faithful servant,
Waiting on him constantly.


Rem difficilem rogavit,
Quam a Deo impetravit,
Ut de eo legitur,

Quamvis hoc sit difficile
Nos esse sine crimine,
Elisaeus instabit.

He asked a hard thing
Which from God he got;
So one reads of him.

*Right before leaving in the chariot of fire, Elijah asked his disciple Elisha to ask him for something. Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit, which Elijah said was a “hard thing”. But God granted it.

Although this may be hard
For us, to be without sin,
Elisha will approach it.


Lepra Naaman mundatur
In Iordane et purgatur
Suo adiuvamine.

Omnes fratres de Carmelo
Pie petunt bono zelo
A crimine purgari.

The leper Naaman is cleansed
In the Jordan, and purged
By your help.

All brothers of Carmel
Piously beg with good zeal
To be purged of sin.


Et Sunamitis filio
Per ipsum resuscito
Redit matris gaudium.

Si vexamur trina morte,
Tunc per ipsum aequa sorte
Protegamur iugiter.

And the Shunamite’s daughter
Was revived by him;
The mother’s joy returned.

If we are troubled by three deaths,
Then by him, in the same fate,
We are protected continually.


O quam fame Samariae
Eiusdemque penuriae
Repent[in]e subvenit.

Subvenire nos dignetur;
Pius est, dum invocetur
Suo patrocinio.

Oh, from what famine the Samarian woman
Who was also in penury
You rescued suddenly!

May he deem us worthy to rescue.
He is kind, provided we pray for
His protection.


O rex creator omnium,
Qui per Eliae pallium
Iordanem desiccasti,

Ariditatem tribue,
Malos consensus remove
A tuis supplicibus.

O King, Creator of all,
Who through Elijah’s cloak
Dried up the Jordan,

Divide [our] dryness,
Remove consent to evil
From your suppliants.


Puerique illudentes
[Et] prophetam infestantes
Ab ursis sunt necati.

Ne ab infernali ursu
Tribulemur in hoc cursu,
Defende nos suaviter.

And the abusive young men
Attacking the prophet
Were put to death by a mama bear.

But by bears from hell
May we not be troubled on this passage.
Defend us gently.


O Elisaee inclite,
Ad te clamant Carmelitae,
Sis eis propitius,

Pallium tuum candidum
Sit eis propugnaculum
Contra mala cosmica.

O renowned Elisha,
To you the Carmelites cry out,
Be well-disposed to them.

Your white cloak,
May it be their rampart
Against worldly evil.

Pretty cool, huh?

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Dragon-Stompin’ Jesus!

Sometimes, you just need a good song about whacking things and harrowing Hell. Here’s an Easter poem by the Scottish poet Dunbar, which clearly needs more exposure. (So I’m modernizing and Anglicizing the spelling.)

Everything goes better with dragons.

Done is a battle on the dragon black,
Our champion Christ confounded has his force;
The gates of Hell are broken with a crack,
The sign triumphal raised is of the Cross,
The devils tremble with hideous voice,
The souls are borrowed and to the bliss can go,
Christ with His blood our ransoms does endorse: *repay
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro. *”The Lord rises from the tomb.”

Done in is the deadly dragon Lucifer,
The cruel serpent with the mortal sting,
The old keen tiger with his teeth ajar,
Which in wait has lain for us so long,
Thinking to grip us in his claws strong;
The merciful Lord willed not that it were so,
He made him for to fail of that fang:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

He for our sake that suffered to be slain,
And like a lamb in sacrifice was dight,
Is like a lion risen up again,
And as a giant raised Him up on height;
Sprung is Aurora, radiant and bright,
On loft is gone the glorious Apollo,
The blissful day departed from the night:
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

The foe is chased, the battle is done cease,
The prison broken, the jailers fled and flemmed; *banished
The war is gone, confirmed is the peace,
The fetters loosed and the dungeon temmed, *emptied
The ransom made, the prisoners redeemed,
The field is won, overcame is the foe,
Despoiled of the treasure that he yemmed: *guarded
Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro.

Hell as a dragon’s dungeon-lair full of his hoard and his prisoners, and Christ as a dragonslayer. Man, you have to love Dunbar.

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Catholic Hymns to Patriarchs and Prophets: St. Isaac and St. Jacob

From page 304 of Vol. 48 of Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi, a hymn for St. Isaac and St. Jacob. St. Isaac’s day is March 25 (the same as the Feast of the Annunciation). I can’t remember Jacob’s, right now.

To the tune of “Aeterne rex altissime”, another well-known tune back in the day, since they sung it at Matins from Ascension to Pentecost. The chant tune from a Lutheran group, via Chantblog. Here’s a harpsichord version by an old composer named Redford, which seems to be a pretty straight harpsichord adaptation of the tune.

Isaac verse:

Ave, qui carens lumine
Benedixisti filio
Minori pulso dubio
Pilosae pellis tegmine.

Hail, you who lacking light
Blessed the younger son,
Who drove out doubt
With a hairy hide covering.

* Isaac was blind with old age, hence “lacking light”. I think they’re praising his mistaken blessing for Jacob as being a foreshadowing of Jesus, who truly covered Himself with flesh in the Incarnation. But I’m not sure this is what they’re getting at.

Jacob verse:

Ave, qui hora funeris
Testans dedisti comminus
Tuis vocatis liberis
Ventura illis eminus.

Hail, who for your funeral hour
Makes [Joseph] swear before him
Your children would be called
To come to that far place.

*Machpelah, in Canaan, where Jacob was buried by Joseph and tons of folks coming out of Egypt. A foreshadowing of the Exodus.

O patriarchae nobiles,
In fide Deo stabiles,
Orate pro me seduli
Deum, rectorem saeculi.

O noble patriarchs,
Firm in faith in God,
Pray for me, persevering ones,
To God, steerer of ages.

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Catholic Hymns to Patriarchs and Prophets: For St. Isaiah and St. Daniel

If you poke around, there seems to be quite a few hymns in the Western tradition which were written for the optional memorial feasts of the prophets and patriarchs of the Old Testament. There was only one such obligatory feast for Latin Rite Catholics — the feast of the Holy Maccabees (Machabae). But lots of people did celebrate the optionals, and they always came into the Martyrology readings, in the pre-1913 Liturgy of the Hours. Also, many orders had a special love for certain OT saints, as the Carmelites did for St. Elijah; and of course many individual churches, chapels, and altars were dedicated to OT saints (particularly by people named after such saints). So of course people wrote hymns for feasts, either for the Office or for processions.

Here’s a hymn with custom verses, so it can be sung on either the feast of St. Isaiah (Isaias/Esaias) on July 6, or the feast of St. Daniel on July 21. It’s to the tune of a well-known Christmas/Epiphany hymn, “A Solis Ortus Cardine”. So it’s a pretty easy one for your medieval schola to have learned and sung. If desired, somebody could have run up a custom verse for any prophet you wanted, so it would cover you for a good number of possible feasts. As a choir member, I approve!

Isaiah verse:

Ave, certum praesagium
Ferens de partu virginis
Dicendo: Ecce, numinis
Virgo pariet filium.

Hail, sure prediction
Telling of the virgin birth,
Saying, “Behold! of the divine
The virgin will bring forth a son.”

Daniel verse:

Ave, cuius vox conterit
Iudaeos hoc praesagio:
Cum sanctorum advenerit
Sanctus, cessabit unctio.

Hail, Whose voice breaks [kingdoms]
With this prediction to the Jews.
When the saint comes with the saints,
[His] anointing will rest.

Generic verse:

O prophetarum contio
Certo vigens praesagio,
Exora voce sedula
Pro me regentem saecula.

O speech of the prophets!
O trusty active prediction!
Win me, o careful voice,
Directing me for ages.

This is on page 303, Volume 48 of Analecta Hymnica Medii Aevi.

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Happy St. Macrina’s Day!

Today, among many many saints on the calendar, we celebrate St. Macrina the Younger, the monastic elder sister and teacher of the great theologians St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the rest of her saintly siblings.

As we all know, St. Macrina the Younger was herself no mean theologian, and her long dialogue with St. Gregory on her deathbed, on this day in 379 AD, is recorded in his works “On Death and the Resurrection” and “The Life of Macrina”. This deathbed dialogue is notable for arguing (among many other things) for the existence of a creator God from the human ability to make lifelike automatons and robots. (Which the Greeks had been doing since the Hellenic period, and which would become a Byzantine specialty.)

So today, obviously everyone should go play with animatronic robots to the glory of God! Hurray for St. Macrina!

Here’s a non-lifelike robot cake template from Betty Crocker.

UPDATE: A nice little article on St. Macrina’s reaction to the deaths of various people, as a key to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s writings about his big sister.

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The Fellowship of the Fishing Company

Obviously, it’s not right to treat Christianity as if it were some kind of business school, as the prosperity gospel and other sorts of business Christianity groups sometimes do. But among the standard kinds of imagery used by Jesus, business and trade imagery is very very common. (Which isn’t surprising — He worked for a living before He went out preaching!) And since the same is true of big chunks of the Bible, both OT and NT, it’s silly to treat the Bible as if it were completely free of any good word for filthy filthy lucre.

But… there’s a pretty big business metaphor at the very heart of Catholicism, and I didn’t know it. Just read about it this morning in a book of excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s works, The Essential Pope Benedict XVI. (I’m sure lots of you folks out there already knew about this, but I didn’t.) This comes in the Scripture section, in “Meditation on the Priesthood”, on page 274.

Let’s cut to Luke 5:7. Simon, soon to be Peter, and his buddies have been out fishing all night and haven’t caught anything. Jesus tells them to lower the nets again. They do, and the net fills up to the bursting point. “And they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them.” (Well, actually, they “nodded down” to them, in the Greek. So you can picture the soon-to-be Apostles with their hands full, jerking their heads at the guys in the other boat.) So then they’ve got two boats full of fish from one net, and Simon falls down at Jesus’ feet and calls him “Lord”, and everybody is astonished, including “James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.”

The first “partners” is “metochois“. The second one is “koinonoi“.

Both “metousia” and “koinonia” mean partnership, communion, sharing. Koinonia, however, had a very well-known business sense. A koinonia was a partnership like a law firm, or a fellowship like a group of merchant adventurers. Simon was running a fishing company, and his buddies were all shareholders, joint owners, and partners in it. They had a specific legal relationship to each other and to the company.

Jesus made them fishers of men… and you could take the view that he was setting up a new kind of fishing koinonia, with him as head partner to run it. After some training, the Apostles became overseers (episcopoi), managers, with Peter acting as the head partner’s representative. Everyone who is in communion with the Church is a koinonos, a shareholder, partner, and employee of Jesus’ fishing company, with certain obligations and responsibilities.

On the bright side, this means no Catholic is ever totally unemployed. :)

This doesn’t mean that the other connotations of fellowship and community aren’t there, of course. In the ancient world, most people didn’t really believe in “strictly business”. Your business partners were your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, your in-laws — and if they weren’t, they soon would become those things. Being adopted children of God and co-heirs with Jesus, being God’s servants and the servants of others, and being a community, are all right in line with being partners in a company headed by Jesus.

There’s also some interesting connotations for property ownership. You could argue that by joining the koinonia, we’ve thrown all of that, along with ourselves, into the company. If we are called upon to help other people by giving, we’re really distributing company assets and not our own. Etc. But of course, we’re also expecting a return on our shares, in the afterlife.

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Cain and Abel in Legend and Lore

Apparently, Will Smith is going to do a Cain vampire movie with his nearest and dearest. (He’ll play Adam.)
White Wolf’s Vampire: the Masquerade game theorized Cain as the first vampire also. But was that the first source, or is this old folklore/fantasy fiction news?

Well, in legend it’s usually Lilith (the apocryphal non-human first wife of Adam) who’s associated with blood-drinking and preying upon innocents, while certain monsters (like Grendel) were descended from Cain. (Judas Iscariot, having been a suicide and having attended Mass with Jesus, has also been proposed as the proto-vampire.)

However, in the Bible, Cain’s descendants are a highly civilized, sometime-ally tribe of sometime-nomad desert smiths and musicians, the Kenites. Heber, the husband of Jael of the tent peg, was a Kenite; she probably was a Kenite also. (Deborah’s song called Jael “most blessed of women in tents”, which the rabbis said meant that she was more blessed than all of Israel’s great matriarchs who had lived in tents.) Moses’ father-in-law the priest of Midian, Jethro, and his wife, Zipporah, were probably Kenites. Saul and David gave the Kenites of their time favorable nation status, because the Kenites had helped the Israelites during their 40 years in the wilderness. Balaam’s prophecy to the Kenites (when the Israelites first showed up) tells us that at one time the Kenites lived securely in a “nest set in the rock” (probably a fortress), but that Asshur (the Assyrians) would eventually come to “waste” Cain and then take the rest off to captivity. Still, Jael’s husband’s clan of Kenites was supposed to be cozy with the Assyrians, so presumably they didn’t all worry about Balaam’s famous prophecy.

A strand of the tribe descended from a man named Rechab was ordered by their leader Jehonadab never to live in cities or drink wine; they are mentioned in Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and 1st Chronicles. Many of the “sons of Rechab” were scribes. Not terribly vampiric.

Here’s a small academic site collecting some Cain and Abel material, including an Armenian folktale:

One day Eve called to her Cain and Abel, who, still little children, were playing on the grass.

She held out to her firstborn her right arm, and to her second son her left, and said, “Bite them, I command you.”

The elder boy bit till he drew blood, but Abel merely imprinted a long lingering kiss on his mother’s arm.

Then said Eve to her husband, “Our Cain will be a wicked man.”

There’s also a very confusing Italian folktale in which Cain and Abel, who are both bad ‘uns, run into a merchant who’s a wizard and who makes Joseph’s prophecy. (Yeah, I said it was confusing.) Anyway, Cain ends up as the Man in the Moon, forced by God to live forever, observe all mankind’s doings, and obey all evil sinful commands by sorcerors and wizards and witches. (Yep, it’s not exactly a miracle of logic and theology. Also, it makes Cain sound like the Watcher in Marvel Comics.)

However, the idea that the Man in the Moon and his bag of twigs or thorns is a picture of Cain goes back to medieval times; even Dante mentions Cain’s bundle of twigs. (See citations in the blue box.)

However, during the days of early Christianity, there was a Gnostic sect (at least one) that called themselves Cainites, and claimed to follow Cain as their leader. They also claimed to be descended from Cain, but they don’t seem to have actually been Kenites or Rechabites. Their theory was that all the Biblical bad guys were actually good guys who had been lied about, or who had concealed the fact that God had ordered them to be agents provocateur. Some of them passed around a Gnostic Gospel of Judas.

There’s a racist piece of folklore that popped up several places along the years, that the skin coloration of black people (or various other races) was the mark of Cain. A lot of Mormons were taught that, but they weren’t the only ones. Thankfully, I think this one’s pretty much died out in mainstream Christian groups. Various birthmarks have also been seen as the mark of Cain; many Russians said this about Gorbachev’s prominent birthmark, for instance.

Another medieval legend held that Cain was still wandering the earth as commanded by God. (The Wandering Jew legend seems to have been a ripoff of this one.) This is still around, and apparently at least one Mormon guy last century claimed to have met Cain in Tennessee. Apparently this was picked up by Christians among the Spokane Indians, who told Sasquatch that they knew now that he was actually Cain. Presumably the Saxons had similar ideas about the monster children of Cain.

Still another old idea about Cain (this one from Brittany) was that he was sent around by God to collect the souls of the dead as the hooded “Ankou” (basically, the Grim Reaper).

Still another legend (widespread) held that Judas had been red-haired, and so had many other villains of the Bible. such as Cain. Some people felt that the worst vampires were redheads, the “Children of Judas” who could drain a man’s blood in one bite. (This might go all the way back to the Egyptians, who figured that Set and all the Typhonians were redheads, just like the horrible Shepherd Kings who took over Egypt.) There was also a legend, however, that all the folks of the house of David were redheads, so you see conflicting art legends!

Some people felt that the mark of Cain was a yellow beard. This also shows up in medieval art.

In a weird reversal of this idea, there’s apparently a conspiracy theory going around (in the weird back suburbs of evangelicalism, not believed by any but the most twisted) that Cain was actually Satan’s son and not Adam’s, and that all really bad people in the world are “Kenites” and part of the “serpent seed”. (How conveeeeeenient.) All the bad Jewish priests were also really Kenites pretending to be Levites, and Israel was led astray only by this fifth column. (How conveeeeenient.) In fact, all Jewish people living today are not Hebrews/Israelites, but Kenites, and that Jewish people know it and are lying to everyone. (How conveeeeeeeeniently anti-Semitic.) Some of them apparently believe that Kenites really are some kind of reptilian humanoids, sort of like the aliens in V. Others seem to think that Kenite is a convenient label for atheists, Catholics, or anybody else they don’t like. So if you want to see sick minds battling the fifth column of their own brain, there are apparently lots of YouTube videos explaining who is and isn’t a Kenite.

But still no pre-existing art of Cain vampires… maybe in Marvel Comics?

UPDATE! Yay, previous folklore! It’s in an article originally from the National Review (the old one, not the conservative one) but reprinted in The Living Age, in its May 7, 1887 issue. In “Personification of the Mysterious Among the Modern Greeks” by I. Theodore Bent, the writer tells us that in Karpathos (Carpathia), they call vampires “Cains”, and say that when Cain died, he became the first vampire. Cain was a huge man with goats’ feet, who wore wooden shoes. The Cains also have goats’ feet, and appear on earth only from Christmas to Epiphany. They try to come down the chimney at night, unless the embers of the fire are kept burning during those twelve days. If they can’t get human blood, they eat lizards and snakes. They also like to play tricks with the household utensils, and hearing crickets is a sure sign that they’re coming to do this.

Also, there’s a poem in The Oberlin Evangelist, Vols. 11-12. “The Mexican War” by “The Workshop Bard”, includes these stirring epithets:
“Ye warrior chiefs! Ye vampire brood!
Ye sons of your father, Cain!”

But back to Will Smith’s upcoming movie….

The interesting thing is that, almost as a retaliation for the “mark of Cain = black” folklore, there seems to have been a lot of African folklore which claimed that all the Genesis people were black, but that Cain and his descendants were doomed by God to be white. This came over to America. At least one folklorist claims that blackface minstrels took Cain as a sort of patron for this reason. Anyway, apparently a lot of the minstrel skits by actual black people were about Cain, and “Jim Crow” dances were imitating the story about Cain learning to bury Abel from the ground scratching of a crow. Thus the expression about “raising Cain”, if this folklorist is to be believed.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Smith and Pinkett families come up with, in their movie The Legend of Cain.

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Limeade Is Very Good Stuff.

There was a sale on that Simply Limeade stuff, so I stocked up. Yum, yum, yum. Yum. Also… yum.

That is all.

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