awkwardsituationist:

if someone were to ask me what the most important outward manifestation of hinduism was, i would suggest that it was the idea of cow protection.” - mahatma gandhi

although hindus follow no single set of rules, reverence for cows can be found throughout the religion’s major texts. some trace the cow’s sacred status back to lord krishna, who is said to have appeared 5,000 years ago as a cowherd, and is often described as bala gopala, “the child who protects the cows.” other scriptures identify the cow as the “mother” of all civilization, its milk nurturing the population.

photos from the gai tihar festival in the secular but hindu dominant state of nepal, where cow slaughter remains illegal and can carry a prison sentence of up to twelve years. they were taken by (click pic) niranjan shrestha, navesh chitrakar, prakash mathema, sunil sharma, binod joshi, and niranjan shrestha

yahoonews:

The sacred art of Buddhist tattoos, or Sak Yant, has a mysterious history. Devotees believe the tattoos have magical powers that can protect them from bullets, or improve their luck, help attract a mate, or turn their lives around. Sak Yant are painful, done by a knitting-needle-sized instrument dipped in what some believe to be magical ink. Photographer David Longstreath shot these photos and this gallery at the famed Wat Bang Phra temple in Thailand during a sacred tattoo festival, known as “Wai Kru.”

mothernaturenetwork:

Fasting as a family for Ramadan?Ramadan began this week, and Muslims around the world are observing the month-long holiday by fasting during the daylight hours. According to tradition, young Muslims are not required to fast until they reach the age of puberty, but that doesn’t stop many Muslim kids and tweens from wanting to join the fast with family and friends.  It’s a family decision about when kids will start to fast. Here are some great tips for those who want to help young children ease into the tradition.

mothernaturenetwork:

Fasting as a family for Ramadan?
Ramadan began this week, and Muslims around the world are observing the month-long holiday by fasting during the daylight hours. According to tradition, young Muslims are not required to fast until they reach the age of puberty, but that doesn’t stop many Muslim kids and tweens from wanting to join the fast with family and friends.
 
It’s a family decision about when kids will start to fast. Here are some great tips for those who want to help young children ease into the tradition.

stufftoblowyourmind:

Hell is Here: The Gnostic Option
Hell is here on Earth. Just casual attention to current events and the terror of history tends to support that notion. The concept also factored into a rather memorable episode of This American Life titled “Heretics,” in which Reverend Carlton Pearson renounced the notion of Hell all together. Because Hell is here.
It’s also the stuff of late-antiquity Gnosticism. First, imagine an ideal universe ruled by an all-powerful creator deity — and don’t get too attached to that universe because that’s not the one we get to live in.
Because next imagine an angelic being named Sophia. In admiration of the all-mighty creator deity, she attempts to imitate its creation — and things don’t go all that well. Instead she brings into being a a lesser, flawed deity and a second, imperfect material universe. And yes, this would be the universe we occupy: where a flawed god that thinks itself absolute rules over a a flawed world…
READ MORE: http://is.gd/2SiWlN

stufftoblowyourmind:

Hell is Here: The Gnostic Option

Hell is here on Earth. Just casual attention to current events and the terror of history tends to support that notion. The concept also factored into a rather memorable episode of This American Life titled “Heretics,” in which Reverend Carlton Pearson renounced the notion of Hell all together. Because Hell is here.

It’s also the stuff of late-antiquity Gnosticism. First, imagine an ideal universe ruled by an all-powerful creator deity — and don’t get too attached to that universe because that’s not the one we get to live in.

Because next imagine an angelic being named Sophia. In admiration of the all-mighty creator deity, she attempts to imitate its creation — and things don’t go all that well. Instead she brings into being a a lesser, flawed deity and a second, imperfect material universe. And yes, this would be the universe we occupy: where a flawed god that thinks itself absolute rules over a a flawed world…

READ MORE: http://is.gd/2SiWlN

missedinhistory:

Vladimir I is often credited with bringing Christianity to Russia, though he actually embraced paganism first as Grand Prince of Kievan Rus. Wishing to unite Russia under one religion, Vladimir changed the spiritual path of his country forever. Here’s his story.

missedinhistory:

Much of the writing about the temple to Karni Mata in Rajasthan, India, makes a big point of talking about the rats. And while it’s hard not to notice the 20,000 rodents that make the temple their home, they’re just one part of Karni Mata’s story … which spans from the Hindu goddess Durga to the founding of Bikaner, India.

Happy Passover to those who celebrate. On all other nights we hope you take joy in learning and sharing cultural knowledge, but on this night we hope you do so with family, friends, and a really good brisket.

diasporicroots:

the-nile-river:

African Gods of the Nile from history

Below is a brief overview of ancient gods that existed along the Nile from present day Egypt all the way to Ethiopia

Amesemi
Protective goddess and wife of Apedemak, the lion-god. She was represented with a crown shaped as a falcon, or with a crescent moon on her head on top of which a falcon was standing. 

Apedemak

Apedemak, was a lion-headed warrior god worshiped in Nubia by Meroiticpeoples. A number of Meroitic temples dedicated to Apedemak are known from the Butanaregion: NaqaMeroe, and Musawwarat es-Sufra, which seems to be his chief cult place. In the temple of Naqa built by the rulers of Meroe he was depicted as a three-headed leonine god with four arms, but he is also depicted as a single-headed leonine deity.

Apedemak played little role in Egyptian religion, being a product of the Meroitic culture.

Arensnuphis

Arensnuphis (in Egyptian: Iryhemesnefer, ỉrỉ-ḥms-nfr, “the good companion”) is a deity from the Kingdom of Kush in ancient Nubia, first attested at Musawwarat el-Sufra in the 3rd century BC. His worship spread to the Egyptian-controlled portion of Nubia in the Ptolemaic Period(305–30 BC). His mythological role is unknown; he was depicted as a lion and as a human with a crown of feathers and sometimes a spear.

Arensnuphis was worshipped at Philae, where he was called the “companion” of the Egyptian goddess Isis, and at Dendur. The Egyptians syncretized him with their gods Anhur and Shu.

Dedwen

Dedun (or Dedwen) was a Nubian god worshipped during ancient times in that part of Africa and attested as early as 2400 BC. There is much uncertainty about his original nature, especially since he was depicted as a lion, a role which usually was assigned to the son of another deity. Nothing is known of the earlier Nubian mythology from which this deity arose, however. The earliest known information in Egyptian writings about Dedun indicates that he already had become a god of incense by the time of the writings. Since at this historical point, incense was an extremely expensive luxury commodity and Nubia was the source of much of it, he was quite an important deity. The wealth that the trade in incense delivered to Nubia led to his being identified by them as the god of prosperity, and of wealth in particular.

He is said to have been associated with a fire that threatened to destroy the other deities, however, leading many Nubiologists to speculate that there may have been a great fire at a shared complex of temples to different deities, that started in a temple of Dedun, although there are no candidate events known for this.

Although mentioned in the pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt as being a Nubian deity,[1] there is no evidence that Dedun was worshipped by the Egyptians, nor that he was worshipped in any location north of Swenet (contemporary Aswan), which was considered the most southerly city of Ancient Egypt. Nevertheless, in the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, during the Egyptian rule over Kush, Dedun was said by the Egyptians to be the protector of deceased Nubian rulers and their god of incense, thereby associated with funerary rites.

Mandulis

The Temple of Kalabsha in Nubia was dedicated to Mandulis which was a Nubian form ofHorus. A cult dedicated to Mandulis can also be found in Egypt, at Philae.

Mandulis was often depicted wearing an elaborate headdress of ram’s horns, cobras and plumes surmounted by sun discs. He was sometimes shown in the form of a hawk, but wearing a human head.

Mehit

Lioness-goddess and wife of Onuris; she was in Egyptian myths told to be from Nubia. She appears to have been a vengeful goddess, representing the “Eye of Re.” Another spelling was Mekhit.

Sebiumeker

God of procreation, originating in Meroë region. He was represented in human form. His main cult centres were at Musawwarat al-Sufra, east of the 6th catararct. He was either associated with, or transferred into Atum, through Egyptian influences.

It is important to note that in MOST African spiritual systems the feminine principle of god is generally present.

reuters:

WATCH LIVE: Pope Benedict XVI departs from the Vatican

How the Papacy Works: Electing the Next Pope

The College of Cardinals elects a new pope in conclave, which is the process of sequestering the voting members of the college in Vatican City so that they have no contact with the outside world. The word “conclave” comes from the Latin phrase cum clavis, meaning “with key.” The term is suitable since the cardinals are locked inside the Sistine Chapel in the Apostolic Palace during the voting process.

Cardinals participating in conclave stay in St. Martha’s House, a hospice inside the Vatican that has 130 rooms. Arrangements are made to ensure that the cardinals are not approached as they are transported between St. Martha’s and the Sistine Chapel.

It is an accepted practice for popes to publish the norms that regulate the election of their successors, and popes often make small adjustments to the procedures. In 1996, Pope John Paul II described the complex procedures that would be used to elect his successor, Benedict XVI, in an Apostolic Constitution called Universi Dominici Gregis (UDG).According to John Paul II, these changes are made “with the intention of responding to the needs of the particular historical moment.”

The UDG laid out these rules for electing a new pope:

  • The maximum number of electors from the College of Cardinals is 120. The college is currently composed of 194 cardinals.
  • Any cardinal who turns 80 before the day the Papacy is vacated, either by death or resignation, cannot take part in the election. Currently, 135 cardinals are eligible to vote under this rule (15 of those 135 would be disqualified from the vote because the limit is 120).
  • A two-thirds-plus-one majority is required to elect a pope.
  • Two ballots each are held in the morning and afternoon, for a total of four per day.
  • If a new pope is not selected after 12 to 13 days, the cardinals may choose to impose a majority vote, which would allow selection of a new pope by a simple majority.

Each rectangular ballot is inscribed at the top with the words Eligo in Summum Pontificem, meaning “I elect as supreme pontiff.” Below these words, each cardinal writes down the name of the person he chooses as the pope. The vote is done in secret with paper and pen. The voting cardinal then folds the ballot twice, holds it in the air, and carries it the chapel’s altar. He then says, “I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected.” The cardinal places the ballot on a plate that sits atop the ballot receptacle and uses the plate to drop the ballot into the receptacle. After bowing before the altar, he returns to his seat.

Three Scrutineers, who are selected by all of the cardinals, are charged with counting the ballots. Once the ballots are collected, the Scrutineers count the ballots to determine if everyone has voted. If the number of ballots doesn’t match the number of electors, the ballots are immediately burned and another vote is taken.

Here are the steps for the vote-tallying procedure:

  1. The first Scrutineer takes a ballot, notes the name on it, and passes it to the next Scrutineer.
  2. The second Scrutineer notes the name and passes it to the third Scrutineer.
  3. The third Scrutineer reads aloud the name on the ballot, pierces the ballot with a needle through the word Eligo at the top of the ballot, and slides the ballot onto a string of thread.
  4. Each elector notes the name that is read.
  5. Once all ballots are read, the Scrutineers write down the official count on a separate sheet of paper.
  6. The third Scrutineer ties the ends of the thread on which the ballots are placed in a knot to preserve the vote.
  7. The ballots are placed in a receptacle.

After each vote, the ballots and any notes regarding them are burned. Smoke from the burning of the ballots appears over the Vatican Palace. If no pope has been chosen, a chemical is applied to the ballots in order to create black smoke when burned. White smoke signals that a pope has been elected.

The newly elected pope remains pope for the term of his life, or until he retires. Before Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation on 2/11/2013 (to be enacted on 2/28/2013), no pope had taken this action since Gregory XII in 1415.

Keep reading….

breakingnews:

Church of England drops opposition to gay bishops
The Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.
In an announcement from the Church’s House of Bishops, the Church says it would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate. Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fiercely resist the development, BBC News reports.

breakingnews:

Church of England drops opposition to gay bishops

The Church of England has dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops.

In an announcement from the Church’s House of Bishops, the Church says it would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate. Conservative evangelical Anglicans say they will fiercely resist the development, BBC News reports.

(via stuffmomnevertoldyou)

How Nirvana Works

You probably hear the word “nirvana” pretty often — people might say they’ve achieved nirvana when they’re really happy, for example, or they might talk about going to nirvana as an eternal reward after death. Then, of course, there’s the famous rock band Nirvana, who adopted the term with a certain amount of irony.
­So the word is fully entrenched in the modern vocabulary. But do you know what it actually means? To most people in­ the Western world, religious nirvana is a total mystery.
In this article, we’ll find out the truth about this fascinating concept, and we’ll see how it fits into Buddhism and Hinduism. If you don’t know much about Eastern religion, you’ll probably be surprised at what nirvana actually is.

Keep reading…

How Nirvana Works

You probably hear the word “nirvana” pretty often — people might say they’ve achieved nirvana when they’re really happy, for example, or they might talk about going to nirvana as an eternal reward after death. Then, of course, there’s the famous rock band Nirvana, who adopted the term with a certain amount of irony.

­So the word is fully entrenched in the modern vocabulary. But do you know what it actually means? To most people in­ the Western world, religious nirvana is a total mystery.

In this article, we’ll find out the truth about this fascinating concept, and we’ll see how it fits into Buddhism and Hinduism. If you don’t know much about Eastern religion, you’ll probably be surprised at what nirvana actually is.

Keep reading…