The Encyclopedia of Spirits is a comprehensive and entertaining A to Z of spirits from around this world and the next. The spirits in this encyclopedia represent every inhabited continent, deriving from many cultures, eras, and spiritual traditions. Some, like the goddesses Kwan Yin and Ma Zu, currently possess millions of devotees while others are barely remembered. Awaiting you among these pages are spirits of fertility, birth, healing, death, and destruction; spirits of disaster relief and those of good fortune; spirits whose primary purpose is to relieve world suffering, as well as a few who really enjoy stirring up trouble!
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By Judika Illes. The Encyclopedia of Spirits is a comprehensive and entertaining A to Z of spirits from around this world and the next. Within these pages meet love goddesses and disease demons, guardians of children and guardians of cadavers. From the beneficent to the mischievous, working with these spirits can bring good fortune, lasting love, health, fertility, revenge, and relief.
The Encyclopedia of Spirits also provides an overview of the role of spirit communication throughout history and a general guide to working with spirits. No matter what your life's problems or desires, this book can guide you to the right spirits who can help fulfill your dreams. For the spiritual adept, the amateur, or the simply curious, the E ncyclopedia of Spirits will inform, inspire, and delight.
Considering how many people vociferously refute their very existence, the extent to which spirits permeate modern human culture is astounding. Let me repeat: spirits permeate human culture. References are so all-pervasive that it can be easy to overlook their original meanings.
Do you want to flatter a woman? Call her a goddess. If a woman is beautiful, small, and lithe, she might be called a sprite or sylph. Sprites, sylphs, muses, sirens: these are all categories of spirits. Names of individual spirits permeate language, too. Want to flatter a man? Call him Adonis or an Apollo. Coming up with these references is no Herculean task; just a little thought and effort and you, too, will be thinking up dozens.
The name for the physical condition of an erection that refuses to recede sometimes to the point of medical emergency is priapism, inspired by Priapus, a Greek spirit, who, as his votive statues attest, sports a permanently erect phallus. Do you have an enemy, someone who is gunning for you?
That person is your nemesis, named for the Greek goddess of justice and vengeance. Ever described being stuck in the office, stuck in an elevator, stuck in a traffic jam or hospital emergency room as like being stuck in hell? Trying to seduce someone? Try an aphrodisiac—something evoking the power of Aphrodite, alluring goddess of love and sex.
Nemesis , priapism , and aphrodisiac are elegant words, indicative of a fine vocabulary. Spirits permeate all facets of speech—obscenities, too. Ever muttered, Oh, Frigg! Jumping Jupiter! By Jove! Names of spirits permeate modern marketing and brand names. Before Nike, Mercury, and Saturn named shoes, cars, or even planets, they named deities. It is not that manufacturers necessarily believe in these spirits or consciously wish to pay homage, but that the essences of these spirits have so permeated our cultural vocabulary that all it takes is their names to evoke visceral reactions en masse.
For instance, I own lipsticks named after biblical seductresses: Salome, Jezebel, and Astarte. Go ahead and guess whether these lipsticks are bold and bright red or pale pink and sedate.
Enheduanna, oldest known author in history, composed hymns to the goddess Inanna over four thousand years ago. Her work remains in print, now in English translation. The Da Vinci Code? Fascination with Mary Magdalen knows no bounds. Sometimes references to spirits are intended literally; sometimes they serve as allegory or metaphor. Worldwide mythology is accurately defined as stories about and involving spirits. An entire literary genre— fairy tales —is named for a branch of the spirit world.
So are comic books: Morpheus, the Erinyes, Uma, Circe, and Lilith are but a few of the spirits who prowl through their pages, as do Brunnhilde the Valkyrie, hammer-deity Thor, and virtually the entire Nordic pantheon. Brand-new folk tales featuring La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, and Bloody Mary, the killer in the mirror, emerge daily. Poems are full of spirits: again sometimes the allusions are intended literally, sometimes allegorically. If you have a taste for classical culture, then you may know that the very first official ballet was inspired by the witch-goddess Circe.
It was but the first of many. Vila guest star in the Harry Potter novels, too. Speaking of rings, spirits are intrinsic to the plots of J. Styles of art, literature, and music may come and go, but the spirits are eternal. They pervade popular music as completely as classical: Stupid Cupid! Cupid, draw back your bow! Sometimes references are metaphoric but not always. Likewise, the macarena is not just a dance craze but a spiritual tribute, in this case to La Macarena, favorite Madonna of Spanish matadors.
Images of spirits surround us. They are everywhere. Cemeteries are filled with images of assorted psychopomps, those spirits who escort human souls to afterlife realms. Garden stores offer stone sphinxes, plaster gnomes, and a vast selection of Aphrodites on the half-shell. Look in store windows and calculate how long until you encounter the ubiquitous image of Maneki Neko, the Japanese beckoning cat, who reputedly attracts customers as if by magic.
Mermaids grace the labels of products like wine, tuna fish, and sardines, not to mention Starbucks coffee. Visit virtually any art museum, except those devoted solely to abstract art, and just try to avoid the spirits.
Once upon a time, Western art was entirely religious : what that means in plain English was that the only officially acceptable art featured images of Christian religious figures: Madonnas, for example. Even centuries later, the subject of spirits never seems to grow stale: it remained a favorite theme of the Salon Painters, Pre-Raphaelites, and Symbolists and remains popular today.
The lwa spirits of Vodou dominate Haitian art no less than angels and saints once dominated European art. A large void is created in Tibetan art should one remove all depictions of the divine Tara. Some religions Islam, Judaism banish imagery to varying degrees for fear that any image may be construed as sacred and thus venerated. Frankly, it may not be humanly possible to eliminate spirit-based imagery; they insinuate their identities into geometric shapes, too, most famously the cross, but also others.
Religion may be defined as veneration of at least one sacred being or deity. Buddhism and Confucianism are often described as philosophies, not religions, precisely because veneration of a deity is not crucial, although neither denies the existence of spirits.
Buddhist art is filled with spirits: like pre-Renaissance Western art, it is intrinsically spiritual in nature. In a museum, objects are neatly and clearly labeled. Many ancient artifacts, whether depicting rotund women the Venus of Willendorf and others of her ilk , recognizable animals Celtic or Scythian artifacts , or fantastic beings dragons, griffins, snake-women are widely interpreted as portraits of the sacred.
These assumptions are not wrong. Throughout time, apparently from our earliest beginnings, people have been inspired to create images of spirits. Spirits may be ubiquitous now; they were ubiquitous way back when, too.
Wood, stone, clay, and metal survive best, but vestiges of other arts survive, too. Some of the earliest documented tattoos, for instance, from ancient Egypt, were inspired by images of deities like Neith and Bes. Mummification preserved ornamented flesh so that tattoos survive as testimony to devotion to these spirits. To this very day, sacred imagery constitutes an extremely high percentage of tattoos.
I have a tattoo design book, published recently in Japan; pages are exclusively devoted to tattoos of spirits, multiple images per page. The ancient Egyptian image of the Eye of Horus retains its popularity. Dragons and mermaids permanently grace many arms and legs. Kickboxers favor tattoos of their patron, monkey spirit Hanuman. Synonyms for religion include spiritual tradition and spiritual faith.
Vodou literally means spirit. Gift stores are filled with little, inexpensive Fairies, pixies, and mermaids. Virtually every Wiccan, Pagan, or occult-oriented store around the world sells reproductions of ancient statues of deities, as well as jewelry and gifts inspired by these spirits. Catalogs representing a wide variety of spiritual traditions sell goods inspired by an ever-growing number of spirits.
Did someone say Santa Claus? Once included, that previously already endless list increases exponentially. Without ghosts and demons, the hugely popular genre of horror films is reduced to little beyond mad scientists, psychopaths, and slashers.
The ancient Egyptians loved them, as did the ancient Chinese. Their appeal remains undiminished. Travel around the world; study the folklore of every culture. We are not outgrowing them. On a spiritual level, Ogun, West African spirit of iron, and Brigid, Irish spirit of smithcraft, no longer have enough smiths to keep them busy. Tireless, energetic beings, both now demonstrate interest in modern technology, especially if it involves metal. Having trouble with your computer or your car?
Call on either one for help. See their individual encyclopedia entries for further details.
The Encyclopedia of Spirits
By Judika Illes. The Encyclopedia of Spirits is a comprehensive and entertaining A to Z of spirits from around this world and the next. Within these pages meet love goddesses and disease demons, guardians of children and guardians of cadavers. From the beneficent to the mischievous, working with these spirits can bring good fortune, lasting love, health, fertility, revenge, and relief. The Encyclopedia of Spirits also provides an overview of the role of spirit communication throughout history and a general guide to working with spirits.
The Encyclopedia of Spirits is a comprehensive and entertaining A to Z of spirits from around this world and the next. Within these pages meet love goddesses and disease demons, guardians of children and guardians of cadavers. From the beneficent to the mischievous, working with these spirits can bring good fortune, lasting love, health, fertility, revenge, and relief. The Encyclopedia of Spirits also provides an overview of the role of spirit communication throughout history and a general guide to working with spirits.
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