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Occult

Divine Guardian: A Warrior’s Magic Shirt

The word talisman refers in its widest sense to an object made to protect the owner, to avert the power of evil, and promote well-being. Talismanic objects in various cultures belong to realm of magic and made in many different forms and sizes some were even worn as clothing like the shirt.

Islamic tradition

The history of talismanic shirts goes back a very, very long way. The prophet Joseph (Yusuf in Arabic) is believed to have owned one that protected him from hardship and evil. It is even credited with performing miracles – as when it restored the vision of Joseph’s father Jacob (Ya‘qub in Arabic), following an instruction recorded in the Qur’an, Surah Yusuf (XII, verse 93):

اذْهَبُواْ بِقَمِيصِي هَـذَا فَأَلْقُوهُ عَلَى وَجْهِ أَبِي يَأْتِ بَصِيرًا وَأْتُونِي بِأَهْلِكُمْ أَجْمَعِينَ

“Take this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father; he will become seeing. And bring me your family, all together.”

Though talismanic shirts were used as protection from disease, famine, difficult child birth, sudden death, and the unpredictability of travel, it is believed that the majority of these shirts were meant for use in battle. Particular verses from the Qur’an that refer to victory were commonly inscribed on shirts worn under armour – the word of God was intended to protect the owner while they fought.

Four distinctive types of Islamic talismanic shirts have been identified: Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal (Indian) and West African –none of which can be dated to earlier than the 15th century. Each group has its own unique stylistic approach to the shape of the garments and the talismanic formulas used, as well as the design of the illumination.

Ottoman culture

The tradition of talismanic shirts – known as the Ottoman magic shirts- dates from Turkey’s shamanist past. Back then, the shirts, engraved with geographical designs, were believed to protect the person who wore them against diseases and enemies.

With Islam, the geographical designs became verses from Quran and the “talismanic shirts” entered the Ottoman Palace, to be mostly worn by crown princes, to protect them from the wrath of their brothers and contenders to the throne or to assure they had plenty of offspring to ensure their line of blood continued.

By comparison to how accurate curators can sometimes be about the making of these incredible shirts, their function is far more debatable. Unfortunately, there are very few sources that discuss or even mention the use of these objects. One source, written in the 1530’s in Istanbul, describes a shirt made by a holy man in Mecca through which neither bullets nor swords could penetrate. That shirt was commissioned for the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520—1527) by his wife Hürrem Sultan, and still survives to this day. It is housed in the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul.

The Talismanic Shirt was worn by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520—1527) under his armor at the Mohacs Battle and during other military confrontations. It was prepared by the head (or court) astrologer (Münecimbashi) according to his time of birth and contains the Al-Fath (Victory) Sura and other Suras of the Koran. (Image Source)

Another Topkapı shirt was commissioned for Cem Sultan (d.1495), son of Sultan Mehmed II, and includes not only the exact date and time at which the construction of the shirt was begun, (30 March 1477, Tuesday, 12:36pm, the Sun in 19 degrees Aries), but also the exact date and time it was finished (29 March 1480, Sunday 3:57am, the Sun in 19 degrees Aries). Topkapı’s dated example gives an unusually accurate idea of how time consuming the production of such garments could be – three years to complete a single shirt.

Slavic culture

In ancient Slavic culture it was common to have a talismanic shirt – tight fitting garment, worn as a sort of armour. It was supposed to hold back diseases and the evil eye and protect from enemies on the battlefield.

Traditional Slavic warrior shirts featured magic symbols and some amulets could be stitched or embroidered directly to onto the collar, sleeves and the bottom part.

Divine Guardian: A Warrior’s Magic Shirt

Left: Sketch of Slavic male ritual shirt. Right: Sketch of Slavic male warrior shirt (Image Source)

Usually the decoration was made in red pattern represented a “fire-line”. Main spiritual protecting element of warrior shirt was so called “shield” rectangular piece, outlined with a different colour, in the top front of the shirt. Containing some special symbols it believed to possess strong protective powers.

Viking Age

During the Viking Age there were so called berserkers (or “berserks”) super skilled  Norse warriors who are primarily reported in Icelandic sagas to have fought in a trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word “berserk.” They are said to be possessed by the spirit’s of the animals they worshipped, at the times, Berserkers join up with the regular Vikings to fight alongside them for unknown reason, they are said to jump into the battle without any fear or hesitation and were ready to slaughter anyone who stands in their way.

Divine Guardian: A Warrior’s Magic Shirt

An engraving of an image shown on a Vendel era bronze plate discovered in Öland, Sweden. Depicted are a berserker about to decapitate his enemy on the right and Oden on the left. Oden’s famous characters markers are not present.

Interesting fact that these warriors would often go into battle without mail coats, wearing instead a kind of shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-). The bear was one of the animals representing Odin, and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favour of Odin.

This expression berserk most likely arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (ber-) during battle. The bear was one of the animals representing Odin (Odin is a widely revered god in Norse mythology), and by wearing such a pelt the warriors sought to gain the strength of a bear and the favor of Odin.

The bear-warrior symbolism survived to this day in the form of the bearskin caps worn by the guards of the Danish and British monarchs, the Royal Life Guards and the Queen’s Guard.

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Occult

The Little Known History of the Tarot

In recent years there’s been a huge upswing of interest in the Tarot, the card-divination technique that is often claimed to have truly ancient roots, dating back to ancient Egypt (or, for some, even ‘Atlantean’ times). And with the surge of interest in the Tarot there’s also been a massive expansion in the number of decks available – in recent years here on the Grail we’ve mentioned Twin Peaks-themed deck as well the wonderful ‘Ghetto Tarot‘.

For those newcomers interested in the Tarot who are confused about its origins, and as to which of the many available decks is ‘genuine’, or at least which is the best to start with, Gaia have produced a fantastic short introductory video (embedded below).

The video consults with our good friend Mitch Horowitz, who has written on many occult traditions (including a piece on the Ouija in our Darklore anthology) and also has been involved in a separate video introduction to the Ouija board, so it’s a good common sense view of an esoteric tradition that has certainly generated plenty of speculative theories over the years.

Throughout its history, tarot has has been associated with various ancient mystery schools and esoteric ideologies. However, evidence points to a deck of cards that wasn’t used exclusively for fortune telling until centuries after its creation. Occult historian and author Mitch Horowitz sheds some light on how this powerful tool transitioned from an early version of bridge to a mystical divination tool.


SOURCE:

The Daily Grail

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Occult

It’s Not Just Valhalla Where The Fallen Vikings Go

Folkvangr (interpreted from Old Norse to mean ‘field of the people’, ‘field of the warriors’, or ‘field of the hosts’) is among a few places where the deceased could go to their afterlife in Norse mythology. This area or meadow is thought to be the domain of Freyja, a Vanir, who’s among the most prominent goddesses in Norse mythology. In addition, it turned into a home for the goddess’ specially selected Viking warriors following their earthly demise.

References to Folkvangr are in literary sources such as the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, both of which are believed to have been compiled around the 13th century AD.

Freyja’s Domain

Folkvangr is believed to be ruled over by the goddess Freyja. In Norse mythology, Freyja was a Vanir, the daughter of Njord, and the twin sister of Freyr. She was regarded to be an important goddess, and had power over love, beauty, and fertility.

Some have speculated that Freyja evolved from an earlier pagan Germanic goddess, Frija, and that during this process, she was split from another goddess called Frigg, the wife of Odin, and the’Queen of the Æsir’. This may be said to further strengthen the significance of Freyja in the Norse belief system.

In any case, the Norse believed that Folkvangr was the home of Freyja. This is one of the four homes owned by goddesses, the others being Fensalir (where Frigg dwells), Helheim (the realm of Hel), and Thrymheim (the abode of Skadi after her father’s death).

Hel and the dog Garm. ( Public Domain ) Hel is a Norse goddess overseeing another of the realms of the afterlife, Helheim.

Hel and the dog Garm. Hel is a Norse goddess overseeing another of the realms of the afterlife, Helheim.

Folkvangr vs Valhalla

According to Norse mythology, there are several different places where the souls of the dead may go to in the afterlife. The three main ones are as follows, Helheim (meaning ‘home of the goddess Hel’), Valhalla (meaning’Hall of the Fallen’), and Folkvangr. Whilst the souls of those who died of either old age or disease would be received in Helheim, those who were slain in battle would travel either to Valhalla or Folkvangr.

Viking army in battle. ( Public Domain )

Viking army in battle.

According to some sources, Freyja was given the right to select half of the warriors who were slain in battle. The souls of these fallen warriors would be taken to Folkvangr. The other half of the dead warriors would be taken by Odin to Valhalla. Others, however, have speculated that Valhalla was reserved for leaders, Folkvangr was the place where the souls of ordinary warriors would end up in.

References to Folkvangr

Reference to the home of Freyja can be found in the Poetic Edda, specifically in the poem Grimnismol (which translates as ‘The Ballad of Grminir’). In this poem, Odin, disguised as Grminir (meaning’Hooded / Masked One), journeys to the home of King Geirröth as a part of a bet with his spouse.

Frigg claimed the king was an inhospitable figure and could torture his guests when he believed that too many were coming to him. Odin disregarded this as a lie, made a wager with Frigg, and visited Geirröth in disguise. One of Frigg’s maid-servants was sent to the king to warn him of a traveling magician who had been arriving to bewitch him. Thus, when Odin came, Geirröth had him tortured placing him between two fires, in order to make him speak.

Odin’ (1893) by Georg von Rosen

‘Odin’ (1893) by Georg von Rosen.

After eight days, the king’s son, Agnar, brought him a horn to drink from, after which the god disclosed his identity to the boy. It had been during his address to Agnar which Odin mentions Folkvangr, which can be as follows:

The ninth is Folkvang, where Freyja decrees

Who shall have seats in the hall;
The half of the dead each day does she choose,
And half does Othin have.

Ultimately, it may be noted that some other reference to Folkvangr can be found in Gylfaginning (which translates as ‘The Beguiling of Gylfi’), a book from the Prose Edda.   Folkvangr is described in this work in precisely the exact same fashion as the Grimnismol. Nevertheless, this source adds that Freyja has a great hall called Sessrúmnir (meaning ‘Seat Room’) at Folkvangr.

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Spain’s Mysterious Cursed Village of Witches

Nestled away within the rolling foothills of the Moncayo mountain range, in the province of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain, is the tiny village of Trasmoz. The town has a long history, with its origins as a lordship dating back to the 12th century. It’s colorful and turbulent past has seen it being conquered by Jaime I, king of Aragón, as well as a civil war with the nearby Veruela Abbey, and it is also known as being the temporary home of Manuel Jalón Coróminas, the Spanish inventor of the mop and its bucket. Over the years the population has dwindled here from around 10,000 people in its heyday to just around 62 permanent residents, and it seems like just another quaint little Spanish countryside town, but this place is remarkable as having a rather sinister past as a place of witches, pagan rituals, and black magic.

Ground zero for rumors of witchcraft can be traced to the construction of the Castle of Trasmoz sometime in the 13th century. The layout of the spooky and imposing structure was a unique hexagonal shape, which was seen as a sure sign of witchcraft afoot, and it did not help that the castle supposedly constantly issued forth anomalous noises such as rattling chains, the banging of metal, which was seen as the result of witches mixing potions in their cauldrons and other mischief, as well as occasional shrieks and arcane wails. Even the construction of the castle was wreathed in myth, as it was said to have been created in a single night by a magician called Mutamín.

Many of these bizarre rumors seem to have been originally intentionally spread by the castle’s very own inhabitants. At the time the Castle of Trasmoz was said to be a major den of the illicit manufacture of fake coins, which was helped along by the rich silver and iron mines of the area. It is said that in order to keep the locals from becoming too nosy about all the noise they were making, the counterfeiters intentionally began to fan out rumors that the scraping and banging of metal was from the nefarious activities of witches engaged in their dark, arcane business. The ploy worked, and it is thought that this is where the village’s reputation as a haven of witches began.

Unfortunately for the villagers, the rumors spread by the fake coin forgers worked a little too well. Before long the rumor grew to encompass the whole village, until it was seen as a veritable hive of witches and warlocks, a cursed place and a center of the dark arts that stirred fear and superstition in the surrounding areas, an idea still held on to by many today. It got to the point that the neighboring monastery of Veruela had the entire village officially excommunicated from the Church, although this is often seen as just being an excuse to force Trasmoz to pay taxes to them, something from which had previously been exempt as it didn’t officially belong to the Catholic Church. With the excommunication carried out and in full effect, the villagers nevertheless refused to beg for forgiveness, with many of them Jews and Muslims and not even Christian, which only furthered their reputation as Devil worshipping heathens.

The friction between Trasmoz and Veruela Abbey would continue for many years, eventually almost leading to civil war when the abbey began trying to divert the village’s irrigation water without paying. Although the King of Spain, King Ferdinand II, deemed Trasmoz to be in the right in terms of the water dispute and ruled in their favor, the Church took this as an affront. Seething that they had been bested by this witch infested, excommunicated town, the Catholic Church went about getting revenge. Pope Julius II gave permission to dust off the powerful and rarely used Catholic curse “psalm 108 of the Book of Psalms,” which is said to be a potent curse saved for the worst of times, and in this case it was invoked to curse the entire village of Trasmoz.

It was in the wake of this wicked curse that the once prosperous and populous village fell into severe decline, suffering from a mysterious epidemic of disease, famine, a fire which burned down the Castle of Trasmoz in 1520, and other myriad woes, during which time the population fell to its current low. Even to this day the village is poor and in shambles, its buildings weathered and decrepit, its nearly empty streets cracked and weed-choked, a veritable ghost town, and for many this is a result of the Catholic curse, which is technically still in effect as no Pope has ever officially lifted it. This makes Trasmoz the only whole town in all of Spain to remain both excommunicated and also cursed by the Catholic Church, as well as to incidentally still be considered a haven for witches and witchcraft.

This reputation has brought in droves of tourists to this tiny, withered village, who come for the dark history and to see for themselves what an officially cursed town of witches looks like. Trasmoz does little to downplay this history of witchcraft, and indeed there is the yearly Feria de Brujeria festival held here, during which amulets, potions, herbs, charms, and other magical witch’s items are sold, and there is even the crowning of the “Witch of the Year,” called the Bruja del Año. There is even a museum of witchcraft now located in the Castle of Trasmoz, where the whole legend started. If one is ever to visit, there are plenty of charms to be bought against witchcraft, so rest assured you are in safe hands.

SOURCE: Mysterious Universe

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