A Krampus Carol to remind you of why rotten kids should be wary this season

Anthony Bourdain left us earlier this year, but the joy he found in the world's many cultures and traditions will always be around for us to savor.

In this quick holiday story, written by Bourdain, North America is given a brief, dark, humorous peek into the mythos surrounding Krampus, a goat-demon who comes during the Christmas holidays to punish children who misbehaved over the last year. A good pal of Santa Claus, Krampus, and the dread he has instilled in rotten kids for generations, most likely pre-dates Christianity.

From Wikipedia:

There seems to be little doubt as to his true identity for, in no other form is the full regalia of the Horned God of the Witches so well preserved. The birch – apart from its phallic significance – may have a connection with the initiation rites of certain witch-covens; rites which entailed binding and scourging as a form of mock-death. The chains could have been introduced in a Christian attempt to 'bind the Devil' but again they could be a remnant of pagan initiation rites.

Merry Krampusnacht! Read the rest

British shopping center creates Christmas tree out of Remembrance Day poppies

Britain, like most of western Christendom, celebrates Christmas with ornamented trees. The British mark Remebrance Day for World War I on November 11 by wearing paper poppies. A shopping mall in Salisbury, England, has ingeniously combined the two events by making a giant Christmas tree out of paper poppies.

One tweet described the red tree as an oddity, saying: "Christmas and Remembrance Sunday, together at last in one oddly conceived package."

Another comment described it as "tasteless", while a further tweet said it was "disrespectful". But the Royal British Legion said it was "grateful to all individuals, as well as any shops, pubs and other commercial enterprises, which choose to show their support for the Armed Forces Community".

There's something about the way monumental paganism remains an emergent property of the British condition, even (especially) when it's trying to do blithely inoffensive corporate promotional material.

MARKETING CONSULTANT: George, something's come up about the sign by the poppy tree. It's Selfridges. They object to some of the text.

GEORGE: What now?

CONSULTANT: It's the line that reads "KNEEL BEFORE THE BLOOD TREE! FUCK BEFORE THE BLOOD GOD!" They're wondering if it could say "copulate" or "make love" instead of "fuck".

GEORGE: (sighs angrily) There's always something. Read the rest

Baphomet embroidery and other marvels

Zeynep Marr creates wonderful work in needle and thread. Here's an embroidered and framed Baphomet, yours for $400; see also geisha, dragon girl, and Care Bears.

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Interview: Dr. Karl E H Seigfried talks Ásatrú, Heathenry and beards

A few weeks back, we pushed out a post about the fact that Heathens serving in the U.S. Army are now allowed to sport a beard as part of their faith. In the story, I mentioned that a group that stands for heathens serving in the military stated that the growing of a beard wasn’t a tenet of Heathenry. Given that Ásatrú, Heathenry and Paganism have been used to describe a wide number of belief systems and religions, I wasn’t sure if making a basket statement like this was factually correct. Fortunately, I know someone who does.

Dr. Karl E.H. Seigfried was the first Ásatrú to earn a graduate degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. While at the university, he was President of Interfaith Dialogue and served on the Spiritual Life Council, the advisory board for the Spiritual Life Office. He holds degrees in literature and music from University of California at San Diego, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and University of Texas at Austin. He studied literature and art history at Loyola University Chicago, Rome Center, in Italy and took Icelandic language courses through University of Iceland's distance learning program.

Dr. Seigfried currently works at the Illinois Institute of Technology as an Adjunct Professor in Humanities and as a Pagan Chaplain. He’s Goði (priest) of Thor’s Oak Kindred—a Chicago-based organization, dedicated to the practice of the Ásatrú faith and a member of the Troth Clergy Program. Previously, Dr. Seigfried taught Norse mythology and religion at Loyola University Chicago, Carthage College, and the Newberry Library Seminars Program. Read the rest

Bone & Sickle, a new macabre podcast by Al Ridenour

Krampus LA co-founder (and occasional BB guest blogger) Al Ridenour is taking a stab at podcasting with Bone & Sickle, a show that "celebrates the intertwining of horror and folklore."

He writes:

Like my Krampus book, the show explores elements of horror within folklore, or folklore within horror. It’s not an interview show, but more of a manic lecture spun into an overwrought background of original music, drones, effects, snippets of found audio, etc. All within a fictional, manor house framework. Featuring Rick Galiher as my much abused valet, Wilkinson.

In honor of the German holiday of Walpurgisnacht on April 30, Al has "binge released" three 30-minute episodes at once. He suggests starting with the third episode.

Here's a taste of what to expect:

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Nina Paley's haunting, mesmerizing, and life-affirming God-Mother animation

Nina Paley, the ridiculously-talented artist, cartoonist, and animator, has just posted her latest video, God-Mother, and it's another jaw-dropper. Nina is known for intense, highly arresting animations, like This Land is Mine, my vote for one of the greatest visual indictments of war, cycles of violence, and the horrors of human conquest. She's also done the feature-length trip through the Ramayana, Sita Sings the Blues, Death of the First Born Egyptians, and Copying is not Theft. Nina is also a free culture activist.

God-Mother is Nina's ode to Mother Earth and goddess religions. Her haunting, mesmerizing animation is perfectly paired with the Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir, singing the Bulgarian folk song, Godmother Denkou. The life-affirming spirit of the video ends with a sad and snarky grace note that is pure Paley. God-Mother is part of Seder-Masochism, an eventual animated feature for which Nina has been amassing content.

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Felt animal hats

Barbara Keal makes unusual felt hats, perfect for cold winter mornings and pagan orgies. [via Trendland] Read the rest