The Sacred Chickens of Rome

Strange custom: The ancient Romans were reportedly loath to embark on any major undertaking, particularly battles, before they had consulted sacred chickens. As told by

The pullarius [keeper of the sacred chickens] was responsible for keeping sacred chickens and using them to make divinations or "predictions." These holy birds, which had been sourced from the island of Negreponte (now Euboea, near Athens), were kept unfed in their cages for a predetermined amount of time before being released and presented with some grain. If they ate the grain, the venture upon which the Romans were consulting them was deemed favourable. If they didn't touch it, however, the venture lacked the god's backing and was therefore to be abandoned.

Publius Claudius Pulcher And The Sacred Chickens

However, the advice of the sacred chickens wasn't always followed. As told by the Anecdotes from Antiquity blog:

During the First Punic War, Publius Claudius Pulcher turned to the sacred chickens for approval of his plan to launch a surprise attack on the Carthaginian fleet at the harbour of Drepana. When the chicken watcher notified Pulcher that they were not eating, which constituted a bad omen, he replied, ‘Since they do not want to eat, let them drink!’ and had them hurled into the sea. The naval battle which ensued saw the near annihilation of the Roman fleet.

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 05, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Customs, Religion

Dannie Druehyld, Only Official Witch of Denmark, Has Passed

Some interesting videos, not in English, at the obituary.

Dannie Druehyld knew every single plant and stone in Rold Skov, after calling the forest [her] home for more than 30 years. Now Denmark has lost its only officially registered witch. Dannie Druehyld died on Monday, aged 74. She leaves behind a daughter and a granddaughter.

According to Dannie Druehyld, she was a witch before she was born, and in Rold Skov she has over the years taught children and adults about the forest's magic, folk beliefs and ancient wisdom through her workshop in the Rebild Center. She has also published several books, including "The Witch's Handbook", which tells about witch life all year round.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 05, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, New Age, Religion, Rituals and Superstitions, Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, Europe

Marilyke Fashion

In 1953, Reverend Bernard Kunkel of Bartelso, Illinois launched the Marilyke fashion movement. Dresses that were sufficiently modest, like the Virgin Mary would have worn (i.e. 'Marilyke'), were given a seal of approval in the form of a Marilyke tag they could display. The tags were "there to guide the Catholic girls."

It seems that only wedding dresses and formal gowns were tagged. As Kunkel noted, "There's not much to be done about bathing suits... We strongly disapprove of the trend in modern bathing suits."

More info: Aliens in this world

source: University of Dayton

Detroit Free Press - June 13, 1955

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 09, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Religion, 1950s

Bock Beer Ads

The fact that Bock Beer allowed in the German language for a pun with "goat" (bock) meant that the drink had a handy visual icon as symbol. But since goats had an alliance with Pan and Satan, many of these ads seem in my eyes to have lewd and devilish connotations. Also fitting for drunkenness, I guess.

See more ads here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 02, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Gods, Religion, Advertising, Europe, Nineteenth Century, Alcohol

The Wicked Bible

An edition of the Bible printed in 1631 came to be known as the 'Wicked Bible' because it omitted one, important word — the word 'not' from the seventh commandment. This made the commandment read, 'Thou shalt commit adultery'. More details from The Guardian:

One thousand copies of the text, which also came to be known as the Adulterous or Sinners’ Bible, were printed, with the printing error only discovered a year later. When it was uncovered, the printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas were summoned by order of Charles I to court, and found guilty. They were also fined £300, and their printing licence removed, with the entire print run of the offending text called in, and the majority destroyed.

There's still debate about whether the omission was accidental, purposeful, or sabotage.

Only ten copies of the Wicked Bible are known to exist today. The current going price for one is around $100,000.

More info: wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 13, 2021 - Comments (10)
Category: Religion, Books, Seventeenth Century

How big is heaven?

A strange Christian controversy from the 1920s: how big exactly is Heaven?

A Presbyterian minister recently preached on heaven, in which he displayed an astonishing amount of information about the place. He stated that, after much research and study, he was convinced heaven was to be established here after the present world and heavens had been destroyed. He further stated that heaven would cover over 1,150,000 square miles, that it would be 10 times as big as Germany, 10 times as big as France and 10 times as big as England, that on the basis of the number of people to the square mile in the city of London the population would be 100,000,000,000—70 times the present population of the globe.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Aug 8, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 04, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Religion, 1920s

Suing the Devil

1971: Inmate Gerald Mayo made legal history by trying to sue "Satan and his staff" for violating his rights by "placing irresistible temptation in his path." The judge dismissed the case because Satan lived outside the court's jurisdiction, and federal marshals were unable to bring him to the court.

Pomona Progress Bulletin - Dec 9, 1971

Suing the Devil was also the theme of a 2010 film starring Malcolm McDowell as Satan.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 20, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Religion, Lawsuits

Anti-Barbecue Preacher

1929: Evangelist G.W. James, who preached against "barbecue sandwiches, cigarets, high-heeled shoes, short skirts, bobbed hair and other modern ideas," announced he was discontinuing his services due to low attendance. If the folks of Normalville wanted to hear him preach, he said, they would need to "indicate a desire for him to resume".

Connellsville Daily Courier - Oct 30, 1929

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jan 14, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Food, Religion, 1920s

Samsara Perfume

Samsara the perfume was created by Jean Paul Guerlain in 1989, and it's still for sale. Here's Guerlain's publicity blurb about the perfume:

In Sanskrit, Samsara means the eternal cycle of life. It is an imaginary place, sacred and mysterious, where Orient and Occident meet. Samsara is the symbol of harmony, of absolute osmosis between a woman and her perfume. It is a spiritual voyage leading to serenity and inner contemplation. The bottle, in the sacred red of the Orient, echoes the figure of a Khmer dancer in the Musée Guimet in Paris, her hands folded in a gesture of offering, expressing plenitude and femininity. The stopper evokes the eye of Buddha. A tantalizing floral-oriental perfume, Samsara is a harmonious blend of all-natural essences, including jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood and tonka bean.

I'm no expert on Hindu-Buddhist religion, but I'm pretty sure that Samsara isn't supposed to be a good thing. My understanding is that it's the endless, repeating cycle of birth and death from which we're supposed to hope to awake. Kind of like the endless cycle that Bill Murray's character, in the movie Groundhog Day, finds himself trapped in. Which makes it odd to name a perfume after this.

Of course, I'm over-analyzing this. Guerlain probably a) didn't understand the concept, and b) wouldn't have cared anyway because he just figured the name sounded exotic.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 06, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Religion, Perfume and Cologne and Other Scents

Brussels Sprout Jesus

While preparing veggies for Christmas dinner, Shaunagh Roberts was surprised to see the face of Jesus staring back at her from a Brussels sprout. Though she admits it might also be Johnny Depp. (I think it looks a bit like Einstein.)

She says, "I didn't have the heart to cook him so I left the sprout in a corner cupboard and he just sat up there for a little while. After he stopped looking like Jesus he got put in the green recycling bin."

More info: The Sun

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 27, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, Religion

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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