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Relief known as "the three Tyches"—T...

Relief known as “the three Tyches”—Tyche is the Greek goddess of Fortune; since the Hellenistic period, each city has its own Tyche, represented with a crown of ramparts. This relief, found at the Via Appia, is known since the 18th century and belonged to the Borghese collections. It may come from the Triopius, the funeral complex built by Herodes Atticus for his wife Annia Regilla. Marble, ca. 160 CE. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tyche (Greek: luck) is the Greek goddess of chance or fortune. Her Roman equivalent is the goddess Fortuna. Personifications of Tyche are unclear in the preSocratic period, but the abstract idea of Tyche is found throughout ancient literature.

Her imprint appears on ancient Hellenistic coins about three centuries before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Tyche is often described as one of the Fates or as a daughter of Zeus. Temples for Tyche were, for the most part, built around cities. They offered protection or good luck. Alternately, Tyche was often blamed for natural disasters like floods, frost and drought. Even political misfortunes could be attributed to Tyche.¹

One source says she’s an Oceanid, one of a group of 3,000 nymphs who are daughters of Oceanus, the oldest of the Titans. In art she’s sometimes depicted as blind but her influence goes further than that.

Istanbul Archaeological Museum - Goddess Tyche...

Istanbul Archaeological Museum – Goddess Tyche holding in her arms Plutus (god of wealth) as a child (detail). Hellenistic art, Roman period, 2nd century AD. The coloring of the hair is remarkably well preserved. — Picture by : Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 28 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In medieval times

she was depicted as carrying a cornucopia, an emblematic ship’s rudder, and the wheel of fortune, or she may stand on the wheel, presiding over the entire circle of fate. In the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, Tyche became closely associated with the Buddhist ogress Hariti.²

As evident in the related articles, below, the name Tyche also appears in various marketing and media projects.

Related Posts » Taboo


² Ibid.

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Rabindranath Tagore

English: Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gand...

Rabindranath Tagore with Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi at Santiniketan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was an Indian renaissance man born in Calcutta, W. Bengal. Tagore is known throughout India and the world for his paintings, folk songs, verse, short stories, plays and novels.

In 1901 Tagore founded an open-air school at Santiniketan, West Bengal. Sometimes referred to as the ‘asram’ at Santiniketan, Tagore’s school integrates Eastern and Western approaches to education and has flowered into Visva-Bharati university, which offers a diverse curriculum in the arts, sciences and humanities while hosting students from abroad. The school is recognized by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, which funds qualified international students, particularly for graduate studies at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels.¹

In 1913 Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

In his Presentation Speech Harald Hjärne, Chairman of the Nobel Committee, said

Amra Kunja by Paul Ancheta (Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan. Bolpur, Birbhum, West Bengal, India)

Amra Kunja by Paul Ancheta (Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan. Bolpur, Birbhum, West Bengal, India) via Flickr

Tagore’s Gitanjali: Song Offerings (1912), a collection of religious poems, was the one of his works that especially arrested the attention of the selecting critics.²

Tagore’s worldly acclaim and social impact didn’t stop there. Knighted in 1915, he shocked India and the British Empire by resigning his knighthood in 1919 in protest over the British colonial presence in India. And he continues to inspire creative people of all ages.³

¹ As a Canadian, I was eligible. It was great to not have to worry about money for two years, and just study in such a unique environment (MC) .

² See

³ See, for example, this great video made for a school project:

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Urban Legend

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Urban Legend is a kind of modern folk tale of dubious truth, but it’s usually told as if true.

Urban legends often involve horror themes that attempt to evoke strong emotions. They’re transmitted by word of mouth, through the print media, TV, radio or the internet. Ghost stories, vampires and the idea of creepy things in city sewers would be some examples.

Wikipedia puts it this way:

An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true, and often possess horror implications that are believable to their audience.

Despite its name, an urban legend does not necessarily originate in an urban area. Rather, the term is used to differentiate modern legend from traditional folklore in pre-industrial times. For this reason, sociologists and folklorists prefer the term “contemporary legend”.¹

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The academic view may be more correct, technically. But the term “urban legend” has a cool ring to it that’s missing in the phrase “contemporary legend.” Maybe that’s partly why pulp fiction sells better than academic text books. The very term “urban legend” also plays into the mystique. And that’s probably what people seek when consuming this kind of stuff. A bit of excitement. Escape. Or as Carl Jung put it, an experience of the numinous.

Urban legend, especially regarding urban tales, differs from mythology. Traditionally, myths are said to carry some kind of supernatural connotation. Myths also are understood by modern people to be factually untrue. But with urban legend, the listener doesn’t know if the story is true or not. And urban legends do not necessarily have a supernatural element.

Urban legend is also said to differ from myth in that urban legends linger in the imagination as if they may be true, however exaggerated they might become through repeated telling.²


² This distinction seems debatable. Consider Hindus who believe that the story of Krishna is not myth but reality. Also, many Christians take aspects of the Bible literally, no matter how fantastic or limiting some Bible tales may be. And yet many see the Bible as just another myth. Alternately, many see it as a combination of myth, politics, prejudice, distant history and spirituality.

Related Posts » Ticket


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English: Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Pas...

B&W image of supposed UFO, Passaic, New Jersey Edited version of Image:PurportedUFO NewJersey 1952 07 31.gif. By Bach01. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UFO means “unidentified flying object.” Because UFOs are unidentified objects, this leaves the door open for all kinds of possibilities. UFOs are usually taken as extraterrestrial spacecraft but they could be an energy or spirit field (or possibly being), like the many orbs that have been observed through camera and the naked eye.

Alleged UFO sightings have been reported throughout history. Since the 1950’s UFOs and aliens have been popularized by the news and entertainment media. Some authors like George Adamski and, more recently, Rael and Whitley Streiber claim to have encountered aliens.

Alien sightings and abduction accounts have increased in the media, especially on sci-fi TV networks and radio shows like Coast to Coast AM.

Also making the news was an apparent U.S. military cover-up of a crashed flying disc and its inhabitants at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) quickly modified an earlier announcement about a crashed flying disc, saying later in the same day that the disc was attached to a weather balloon. The Air Force has responded to charges of “controlling public information” by stating that there was “no evidence” of UFO air traffic over Roswell and the case has been officially closed.

Public figures like Dan Akroyd, however, continue to explore the possibility of a government cover-up.

Not everyone sees UFOs through the lens of conspiracy theories. Raelians believe that mankind was created by wise, loving aliens. And some contemporary writers believe that mankind is gradually being acclimatized to the reality of ETs through the media. Conversely, some Christian fundamentalists believe that aliens, and anything associated with them, are demonic.

Others take a middle path, believing that aliens may be benevolent or malevolent. Just as human history is a complicated mix of good and bad, it seems to reason that interstellar realities would be much the same.

Alien Possession Theory (APT) is the idea that some ET’s, embodied or disembodied, try to manipulate individuals through the use of psi.

Some UFO theories are quite bizarre. Hollow Earth theorists, for instance, believe that UFOs originate from the bowels of the planet, where an advanced civilization apparently resides.¹

Adamski's photograph, which is said to be of a...

Adamski’s photograph, which is said to be of a UFO, taken on December 13, 1952. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The depth psychologist Carl Jung (1875–1961) said that the disc shaped UFOs of the 1950s and early 60s could be real but he also viewed them as archetypal images of the self. For Jung, UFOs were a modern mandala. Meanwhile the respected author Jacques Vallée likens UFO lore to fairy tales and mysterious trickster beings.²

Since Vatican Council II (1962-65) was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church has endorsed inquiry into the possibility of ETs and UFOs. This makes the Catholic position on UFOs and ETs quite different from that of many Christian fundamentalists.

¹ See related entries in The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends (London: Headline, 1993) and The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (London: Headline, 1992) by Stuart Gordon.

² Ibid.

Related Posts » George Adamski, Aliens and Extraterrestrials (ETs), “ET’s, UFO’s and the Psychology of Belief,” Foo Fighers, Moses and Monotheism, Possession, Michael Talbot, Neil Young



Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.

Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nichelle Nichols – American actress and singer who first plays Uhura

Lieutenant Uhura is the communications officer serving on the bridge of the starship Enterprise and Enterprise-A in the original TV Star Trek and the first six Star Trek films.

Uhura is one of the few black women to take a prominent role in 1960’s American television. Previously, black women had been cast as servants or foreign ‘primitives’ in the popular media.

As for the name itself:

“Uhura” comes from the Swahili word uhuru, which means “freedom”. Nichols states in her book Beyond Uhura that the name was inspired by the fact that she had with her a copy of the book Black Uhuru on the day she read for the part.¹

With the inclusion of an international crew, program creator Gene Roddenberry hoped to eradicate racism and many other forms of prejudice. The original series, however, may seem sexist from a contemporary standpoint.

Zoë Saldana as Uhura in Star Trek (2009).

Zoë Saldana as Uhura in Star Trek (2009). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zoë Saldana – American actress and dancer who plays a younger Uhura

In the 2009 film Star Trek, a younger Uhura is played by actor Zoë Saldana. We learn that she’s a former student of Spock, who is also romantically involved with him. In the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, she and Spock are still romantically involved.²

The young Kirk flirted with Uhura at a earlier point in the story arc, but she rebuffed him. However, on board the Enterprise they have a good rapport, and share their frustrations in dealing with Spock (Kirk as best friend, Uhura as his lover).

Uhura is particularly heroic when using her linguistic skills to face hostile Klingons by herself, getting Kirk and Spock out of a jam³ (Klingons had not joined the Federation of Planets at this time in the overall storyline).


² It might seem this film takes too much artistic license by having the super-emotional Spock play the lover. Would not Spock’s emotional repression be worse at a young age, only flowering, perhaps, in old age? This is one way of looking at it. Another is that Spock had not mastered his emotions at a younger age, and he increases mastery as he grows older. In defense of the film, Spock’s father Sarek was married to a human woman, Amanda, so romance must come into play in a Vulcan’s life. This also means that Spock is only half Vulcan. He’s also half human.

³ For more details see



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Black’s Medical Dictionary (39th edition) defines the unconscious as “a description of mental activities of which an individual is unaware” (p. 567).

In the West, the idea of the unconscious has an interesting history. It’s found in the ancient Greek literature of Sophocles, with related ideas like hubris, and in Shakespeare and more recent luminaries like James Joyce.

Philosophical debates about its character flourished in the 18th century among thinkers like John Locke and David Hume. In the 20th century, Freud, Pierre Janet, Alfred Adler, Carl Jung and many others presented their unique theories about the unconscious.

Arthur Koestler believes the idea of the unconscious was already known before the actual word was coined. Koestler cites several examples where the notion of the unconscious is implied in the arts and philosophy (e.g. Dante, Kepler and Kant). Koestler also says that consciousness and unconsciousness are not discrete states but exist along a continuum.¹

From Koestler it seems reasonable to suggest that the range and character of this experiential continuum varies among individuals. In other words, some people access different types of thoughts and emotions than others.

Arthur Koestler with Mamaine Paget, Robie Maca...

Arthur Koestler with Mamaine Paget, Robie Macauley and Flannery O’Connor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But we should remember that the unconscious is just a concept. All too often it’s reified. Reification means ideas are assumed to represent some real entity or thing–for instance, the sociological idea of “the state.” Reified concepts may even point to detailed legal entities.²

A common misunderstanding among contemporary writers is to say that Freud sees the unconscious as uniquely personal while his former protege Carl Jung sees it as collective.³ In fact, both theorist recognize personal and collective aspects within their respective theories of the unconscious.

¹ Koestler, Arthur. The Act of Creation. New York: Penguin [Arkana], 1989: 147-177.

² Reification is also a concept. So the question remains as to whether the thing written or talked about actually exists as described.

³ See shadow, archetypes

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"Extreme Unction", part of The Seven...

“Extreme Unction”, part of The Seven Sacraments, by Rogier Van der Weyden (1445). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unction is an oil ritually applied to sacred statues and the dead for magical and religious purposes.

The practice was common in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and among the Hittites. The Jews of the Old Testament and the first Christians also used oil for anointing.

Today the Catholic Church uses oil for Baptism, Confirmation, Coronation ceremonies and for conferring spiritual strength.

The Catholic sacrament of Holy Unction or anointing of the sick replaced Extreme Unction in 1972.

The old name: “Extreme Unction” means last anointing. “Extreme” was used to mean “last.” “Unction” means anointing. The sacrament has not changed, but the name “Sacrament of the Sick” or “Anointing of the Sick” better conveys that fact that it is a healing sacrament that is meant for the living as well as for those near death. It has always been meant for both. This is not new. The sacrament has not changed–just the name.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.¹

Extreme unction. Esperanto: Lasta sankt-oleado.

Extreme unction. Esperanto: Lasta sankt-oleado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This sacrament also appears within the Eastern Orthodox Church. For Catholics, to participate in the sacrament one must

(a) be of the age or reason

(b) have recently received the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, formerly called Confession

In actual practice, however, there is no real way for a priest to definitively determine if a parishioner has recently received the sacrament of Reconciliation or not. And I suggest elsewhere, Catholic teaching compared to what parishioners actually believe and practice might not always be in accord. ²

¹ “What ever happened to Extreme Unction?” »



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