Homunculus: The Alchemical Creation of Little People with Great Powers
By dhwty, 2015
Although science has made much progress in the last century, there are still numerous ethical issues that need to be addressed by the scientific community. One such issue is that of the creation of artificial life. For some, this is the logical progress of scientific knowledge; for others, this is a realm that should not be intruded by human beings. Concepts relating to the creation of artificial life such as genetic engineering and human cloning are relatively modern scientific ideas. In the past, however, it was in the field of alchemy that Medieval scientists sought to artificially create life. One of the beings that alchemists were purportedly able to create was the homunculus, meaning ‘little man’ in Latin.
The homunculus is first referred to in alchemical writings of the 16 th century. It is likely, however, that this concept is older than these writings. The idea that miniature fully-formed people can be created has been traced to the early Middle Ages (400 to 1000 AD), and is partly based on the Aristotelian belief that the sperm is greater than the ovum in its contribution to the production of offspring. Continue reading
A homunculus (Latin for “little man”, plural: “homunculi”) is a representation of a small human being. Popularized in sixteenth century alchemy and nineteenth century fiction, it has historically referred to the creation of a miniature, fully formed human. The concept has roots in preformationism as well as earlier folklore and alchemic traditions.
References to the homunculus do not appear prior to sixteenth century alchemical writings; however alchemists may have been influenced by earlier folk traditions. The mandragora, known in German as Alreona, Alraun or Alraune is one example.
In Liber de imaginibus, Paracelsus however denies that roots shaped like men grow naturally. He attacks dishonest people who carve roots to look like men and sell them as Alraun. He clarifies that the homunculus’ origins are in sperm, and that it is falsely confused with these ideas from necromancy and natural philosophy. Continue reading
Male Nkisi Figure with Strips of Hide, held at the Brooklyn Museum, CC
Nkisi (plural minkisi, zinkisi or nkisi [n- concords with mi-] according to dialect). The term nkisi is the general name for a a spirit, or for any object that spirit inhabits. It is frequently applied to a variety of objects used throughout the Congo Basin in Central Africa thought to contain spiritual powers or spirits. The term and its concept have passed with the enslavement of Africans into the Americas, especially South America (in Palo Mayombe the spirits of nkisi are often called “[…]”).
The current meaning of the term derives from the root, *-kitį- referring to a spiritual entity, or material objects in which it is manifested or inhabits in Proto-Njila, an ancient subdivision of the Bantu language family.
In its earliest attestations in Kikongo dialects in the early seventeenth century it was spelled “mokissie” (in Dutch), as the mu- prefix in this noun class were still pronounced, and was reported by Dutch visitors to Loango as referring both to a material item and the spiritual entity that inhabits it. In the sixteenth century, when the Kingdom of Kongo was converted to Christianity, ukisi (a substance having characteristics of nkisi) was used to translate “holy” in the Kikongo Catechism of 1624. Continue reading
Orgy scenes, such as the one depicted in Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma Tadema, did not exist, according to Dr Alastair Blanshard.
Classical orgies are a myth of our own making
By Kate Rossmanith, 2006
A University researcher has dispelled a myth which has validated the saucy exploits of libertines for centuries: the widespread existence of the Roman orgy.
According to Alastair Blanshard, a Greek history researcher from the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry, there was no such thing. [Eyes wide shut. 7M]
“I’m sorry if there are any suburban swingers out there, but whatever you’re doing, it’s certainly not classical,” Dr Blanshard told the audience at a public lecture in the Nicholson Museum.
Dr Blanshard is studying how modern culture imagines antiquity, and how it perpetuates stories about the sex lives of ancient civilisations. He began unearthing whatever evidence he could find of illicit affairs, juicy encounters and frenzied group sex in classical Greece and Imperial Rome. Continue reading
The Holy Piby
by Robert Athlyi Roberts (1924)
The Holy Piby, a book founded by the Holy Spirit to deliver the gospel commanded by the Almighty God for the full salvation of Ethiopia’s posterities.
In time the Piby shall contain all worthy prophecies and inspirations endowed by God upon the sons and daughters of Ethiopia, but no article shall be permitted to enter the Piby save that which is in accordance with the gospel of the twentieth century, preached by his Holiness, Shepherd Athlyi, apostle Marcus Garvey and colleague; the three apostles anointed and sent forth by the Almighty God to lay the Continue reading
Preface to the First Edition
From The Kebra Nagast
by E.A. Wallis Budge (1932)i
This volume contains a complete English translation of the famous Ethiopian work, The “KEBRA NAGAST“, i.e. the “Glory of the Kings [of ETHIOPIA]”. This work has been held in peculiar honour in ABYSSINIA for several centuries, and throughout that country it has been, and still is, venerated by the people as containing the final proof of their descent from the Hebrew Patriarchs, and of the kinship of their kings of the Solomonic line with CHRIST, the Son of God.
The importance of the book, both for the kings and the people of ABYSSINIA, is clearly shown by the letter that King JOHN of ETHIOPIA wrote to the late Lord GRANVILLE in August, 1872. The king says: “There is a book called ‘Kivera Negust’ Continue reading
Preface to the Present Edition
From The Kebra Nagast
by E.A. Wallis Budge (1932)i
WHEN the English translation of the “Book of the Glory of Kings” appeared in 1922 it received a generous welcome from the gentlemen of the Press, and the approval of it by the public generally was shown by the fact that within two months from the day of publication a reprint was called for. The amusing and interesting character of the book which piles up fancy tales, fables, legends, folk-lore, dogma, mysticism and pious remarks on a substratum of historical fact was frankly admitted by all the reviewers, but a few of them raised the question of the historicity of the Book of the Glory of Kings. Continue reading
Chapter 5 (Spiritual Ailments)
From Quranic Healing
Types and Signs of the Evil Eye
1- The Human Evil Eye.
2- The Jinni Evil Eye.
Regarding the Signs of the Evil Eye, the following issues need to be dealt with:
1) Issues related to the diagnosis of the evil eye are not a matter of metaphysics or the supernatural, the evil eye has signs and effects that show its affliction. Previously mentioned were a number of prophetic sayings that denote this concept, as indicated by the relation of Om Salama when Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) saw a girl in her house whose face had a black spot so he said: ” She’s under the effect of an evil eye, so treat her with Ruqya”. Also Asmaa told Allah’s Messenger (PGBUH) about Gaafar’s children that ”The evil eye goes quickly to them”. This clearly indicates that there are certain signs that can be Continue reading
Two ivory Djed pillars found in a
First Dynasty tomb at Helwan.
(photograph taken by J.D.Degreef)
The Concept of the Djed Symbol
By Vincent Brown, 2012
One of the most enigmatic symbols of Ancient Egypt is the Tet, or Djed. Although it was widely used as a religious icon throughout much of the history and geography of Ancient Egypt, it is still not clearly understood what the Djed was originally conceived to represent. Determining its meaning from its appearance alone is not an easy task so we shall take some of the suggested definitions and analyse each individually. But first of all lets look at the key elements that make up the symbol.
Typical Distinctive Features:
- Four horizontal bars surmounting a vertical shaft
- Vertical striations between each bar
- These striations are shown in profile on the sides of the Djed creating a curved appearance
- Four bands around neck of the shaft
- Sometimes a small capital can be seen surmounting the Djed
- The Djed often stands on a rectangular base
The Djed-pillar, Egyptian , is an ancient symbol for stability and endurance. It is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom:
You shall emerge as Horus-of-the-Underworld at the head of those who never set and sit on your metal throne above the your canal belonging to the watery region (of the heavens), living like an ankh-beetle, enduring like a djed-pillar.
Pyramid Texts of Pepi I, PT 537 
The djed‘s magic could enhance endurance and stability of persons, institutions like the kingship, and of physical structures. One assumes that the djed-signs engraved on columns were hoped to improve the stability of the building. Continue reading