By Deni Béchard, Foreign Policy
KINSHASA, Congo — Inside a small concrete church, lit by a few tungsten bulbs hanging from exposed wires, hundreds of people stood packed together in stifling heat, repeating the words their pastor bellowed into a microphone.
“On va tuer les demons” — “We will kill the demons.”
It was after midnight in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but the service was just getting under way. The pastor, Pierre Pinda Buana, wore a simple, blue button-down shirt. Its acrylic shimmered as he moved around the center of the room — smooth, practiced, confident. For almost an hour, Pinda led his congregation through songs and chants, the fervor in the church mounting. Then he preached about the main event they had all come to witness: exorcism.
Charles, a Congolese friend of mine, who asked that I not use his real name, translated Pinda’s words from Lingala, a local language, to French. But the cries, clapping, and ululations of the crowd often drowned out his voice.
Pinda began describing a demon that was living in the body of a woman who stood before him, almost entirely blocked from my sight by the crowd: “It’s attacking the heart. It’s attacking the stomach. It strikes faster than an arrow.” He called out to the demon, asking why it wanted to kill the woman.
Electrical contacts crackled — I glimpsed a church assistant crouched over a fuse box in the rear doorway — and the bulb dangling above Pinda went dark. Light fell inward from the corners of the room, yellow and angular. Suddenly, the woman collapsed onto the ground and began shouting. The crowd pressed in around her as she writhed and arched her back.
“Elle dit” — Charles told me — “she is saying the spirit wanted to kill her in her sleep because she had a good future. The spirit wanted to destroy the hope in her.”
Pinda spoke in a commanding voice, and the woman replied, every word staccato, like a glottal stop. The demon was speaking through the woman, Charles said, and resisting the exorcism. Pinda repeated “deliverance” again and again, his voice echoing in the church’s speakers. The center bulb flared back on as he pointed down at the woman and cried out for the demon to leave. The people in the crowd pressed in even more tightly, lifting their arms. Each time the demon told Pinda it would not go, the pastor raised his voice and the crowd clamored, calling out to Jesus.
Suddenly, the people fell silent. The woman had closed her eyes. Those nearest to her hunched down, touching her as they prayed. In the background, a keyboardist in the church’s band played a few soothing chords on a synthesizer.
The exorcism was surreal to an outsider standing in the clutch of believers — a startling glimpse into what, for most people in the room, was a typical church service. Yet the most striking thing about the scene was that, despite the alleged cries of a demon, the professed presence of evil, the crowd never appeared scared of the exorcism — only impassioned.
They were wary, however, of a cluster of children huddled in one corner of the room. Occasionally, a congregant would look over at these children in the shadows, most of them asleep. No one but Pinda’s assistants went near them.
Charles, a university-educated, deeply religious man in his 30s whom I had met while working on a book project and who had agreed to serve as my guide to Kinshasa’s churches, had hesitated to come that night because he knew the children would be there. They would be central to the service’s finale, he explained: Pinda would exorcise them of malevolent spirits that are particularly dangerous when they possess the young.
Before the service, as the congregation waited on the dirt road outside the church, Charles had appeared nervous, arms crossed and shoulders drawn in. At one point, a church assistant walked outside and pushed his foot into a rut between the road and a sewer’s concrete edge, prodding at what looked like a pile of rags. A child sat up; he had been sleeping next to the gutter and was covered in dirt. People in the crowd pulled back or stared, their eyes wide. The assistant nudged the boy, at most 5 or 6 years old, toward the church. He walked like any half-asleep child, slouched and staggering. He lost a disintegrating shoe and stopped to kick at it repeatedly until his foot went in. People parted to let him pass.
Charles backed away and took my arm. Leaning close, he whispered, “C’est un enfant sorcier” — “It’s a child sorcerer.”
This mother and her children were accused of sorcery and thrown out of their home because they were said to be causing the family’s financial problems.
Over the past two years, during several visits to Kinshasa, I heard terrifying rumors — of children who strangle parents in their sleep or eat the hearts of their siblings. Of swarms of children flying through the skies at night, stealing money or deliberately causing illnesses like HIV and polio.
These children, people said, are sorcerers. They are possessed by dark powers that cause them to commit nefarious, even murderous deeds. To prevent child sorcerers from mischief or worse, people told me, their families should reject them and society should shun them. Or they should be taken to church — 80 percent of Congolese are Christian — where a pastor can perform exorcisms in the name of God. Congo’s wildly popular églises de réveil (“revival churches”) — an umbrella term for sects rooted in a mix of Pentecostal, charismatic, and prophetic beliefs, as well as local superstitions about dark magic — are more than willing to oblige.
Indeed, the hysteria over child sorcery has spurred a frightening witch hunt, with devastating results. According to UNICEF in 2013, Congolese children accused of sorcery “number in the thousands.” People experiencing hardship (a sudden illness, the loss of a job, the death of a relative) often search for a child to blame and find one in their own families. Some of these children are killed, but far more are abandoned, left to join Kinshasa’s tens of thousands of street children. Or they are dragged to churches, where they may well find further misery. According to Human Rights Watch, alleged child sorcerers taken to churches may be denied food and water, whipped until they confess, or sexually abused. “[M]ore than 2,000 churches practice deliverance in Kinshasa alone,” the organization has reported. Similarly, in a 2013 report about Congo, the U.S. State Department described “exorcisms of children accused of witchcraft involving isolation, beating and whipping, starvation, and forced ingestion of purgatives.”
This is not an isolated phenomenon. Although the situation is difficult to quantify precisely, UNICEF has found that accusations of witchcraft against children are on the rise across sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the problem is so pervasive in Congo — in Kinshasa and elsewhere — that the country passed a law in 2009 banning allegations against children. To date, it appears to have had little effect.
Many writers and anthropologists, such as Mike Davis in his book “Planet of Slums,” have explained what’s happening in Congo as a product of poverty: Families unable to feed or otherwise support their children accuse them of sorcery to get them off their hands. Some Congolese activists describe the problem in similar terms. “I think it’s a trick so they [families] can get rid of them,” said Marie Marguerite Djokaba, of the Network of Educators for Street Children and Youth (REEJER), in an interview. “The child sorcerer problem is related to the economic situation. It’s an excuse to kick children out.”
But this explanation of poverty and convenience feels incomplete; it doesn’t account for how utter societal breakdown in Congo — a country with a life expectancy of about 50 years and a GDP per capita of around $300 — intertwines with religion. Revival churches, their leaders, and the extreme beliefs they promote offer a way for people to cope with a place like Kinshasa. Coined Kin la Belle (“Kin the Beautiful”) during the colonial era, the Congolese capital — with its sprawling slums, its widespread sickness, its refugees of the country’s wars, and its scarce opportunity — now sports the nickname Kin la Poubelle (“The Trash Can”).
The Kinois, as the city’s residents are known, seem to be searching for some semblance of power over their lives: a way to understand it, control it, eliminate the terrible from it. Tragically, religious faith that promises protection from evil — and that locates the source of that evil in beings as vulnerable and ever-present as children — has become an answer.
The history of religion in Congo is one of worldviews colliding and then merging. A belief in spirits and magic long held a place in the traditions of the Bantu, the people who began spreading out from what is now southwestern Nigeria into central Africa thousands of years ago. After the Portuguese introduced Catholicism to coastal Congo at the end of the 15th century, traditional beliefs coexisted with Christianity. Many Congolese attended church while still seeking out witch doctors for guidance and healing. This transformation occurred alongside a series of massive social and economic disruptions: the slave trade and, eventually, the rule of Belgium’s King Leopold II, whose administrators enslaved Congo’s population to harvest rubber and ivory.
Though the first Western Pentecostal evangelists visited Congo in the early 20th century, a larger wave came after the end of colonialism, preaching the promise of a more direct connection between God and believers, as well as the power of divine healing. “Pentecostals see the role of healing as good news for the poor and afflicted,” Allan Anderson, an expert on religion at the University of Birmingham, has written. The promotion of “signs and wonders,” he also notes, is what “led to the rapid growth of Pentecostal churches in many parts of the world.”
Yet, like other Christian traditions in Congo, Pentecostalism’s influence was repressed during the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled from 1965 to 1997. With U.S. support during the Cold War, Mobutu pillaged his country’s vast mineral wealth and hoarded state earnings in Swiss bank accounts, but he also eschewed Western influences on Congolese culture. He forbade the use of Christian names and emphasized traditional African beliefs. His payments to witch doctors took up 3 percent of the government’s budget (more than the entire Health Ministry). During the 1974 World Cup, he even sent a plane full of witch doctors to cast spells on his country’s opponents. (His team lost, badly.)
When Mobutu finally lifted restrictions on the activities of churches in 1990, Pentecostalism began expanding as Congo’s social fabric was torn apart. Economic despair and political unrest already reigned by the time Mobutu fell from power, and the country soon descended into a war involving seven neighboring states, among them Rwanda, Uganda, and Angola. Funded by the global demand for Congolese resources, such as gold, diamonds, and coltan — a mineral required for hand-held electronics — the war killed more than 5 million people, the majority through disease and starvation.
Since then, conflict and poverty have continued to wrack Congo. Today in Kinshasa, a megaslum of between 8 million and 10 million (estimates vary and censuses are outdated), people are subject to all manner of predation. Soldiers and police routinely demand bribes from the poor, who can barely afford to eat; dilapidated taxi-vans dubbed les esprits des morts (“the spirits of the dead”) veer wildly through traffic, indifferent to pedestrians; and organized gangs of young men called kulunas, after the Portuguese word for an army column, raid poor neighborhoods at night. Diseases like HIV/AIDS, cholera, typhoid, yellow fever, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and dysentery are rampant.
According to José Mvuezolo Bazonzi, a political scientist at the University of Kinshasa, the brutality of life in Congo has created the ideal conditions for revival churches to flourish, from a limited presence in the early 1990s to a thriving, inescapable one today. (An evening drive through Kinshasa reveals many half-built églises de réveil, the congregations often visible where the walls are unfinished. Eight of the 13 faith-based radio stations in the capital belong to revival churches, as do nine of the 11 Christian TV stations.) Rejecting forms of authority that seem only to be failing, and offering both solidarity and agency through faith, the églises de réveil owe their popularity, Bazonzi writes, to the Congolese people’s “search for identity, to the survival of thousands of despairing souls before adversity and precarious socioeconomic and political circumstances.”
The churches’ popularity also owes to the hybrid faith that they preach. Revival pastors have grabbed at threads of belief that aren’t consistent, but nevertheless appeal to believers seeking both change and tradition in their lives.
Churches have blended the Bantu conviction that spirits can directly influence earthly affairs with the Pentecostal doctrine of spiritual warfare: The devil tries to destroy souls, and Christians must battle the devil with faith. Critically, what has been lost from Bantu tradition is the idea, described by British anthropologist Victor Turner, that sufferers can reconcile their problems with the spirits afflicting them. Instead, because spirits are to blame for suffering, according to contemporary beliefs, the faithful must hunt down their human intermediaries and drive the evil out.
So people shop for preachers who reportedly have l’onction (“unction”), the transformative power of God to overcome any ill or problem. When word gets out that a preacher has cured blindness, made a cripple walk, or helped someone find a job — l’onction operates in the economic sphere too — people flock to his church. “The good news in Africa, Pentecostal preachers declare, is that God meets all the needs of people, including their spiritual salvation, physical healing, and other material necessities,” Anderson has written.
Pinda, called le prophète by his flock, is known to have great healing powers. When I visited, a flier on his church’s exterior wall promised a 14-day marathon of “Prophecy and Deliverance” and showed pictures of Pinda curing people of ailments. Many in the crowd at his midnight service were gaunt or sickly; some leaned on crutches, and one woman’s face was covered in a rash. Pinda promised them all liberation from sickness and pain, if only they believed strongly enough in God.
“You must make war in your life,” he shouted. “God does not put his trust in doctors. He doesn’t trust doctors because they have their limits. Have faith in the eternal. Doctors can’t heal you. Only the eternal can.”
Yet his alleged ability to heal is not what has earned Pinda his greatest veneration.
“The pastors with the most onction,” Charles explained to me, “are the ones who can cast the demons out of child sorcerers.”
Child sorcerers have become a national fixation in large part because revival churches condemn them as the most virulent of all evils. While theories about sorcery abound in Kinshasa, many churches see children as the perfect vectors for bad spirits to wreak havoc on the world. They cannot be avoided because there are so many of them all around. And when spirits invade children, rather than only causing bodily or other pain, they turn their vessels into sorcerers, hiding behind the innocent look of youth and inflicting harm on others. “Child sorcerers scare people more because we don’t know when they might act or what weapons they might use. Everyone, everyone is afraid of them,” Charles said.
It is true that children are everywhere, requiring care from families, the state, and churches that cannot always be provided. Congo has a very high fertility rate — six children per woman — and the country’s median age was just 17 in 2010, according to U.N. statistics. And in Kinshasa specifically, there is a booming population of homeless children. Djokaba of REEJER said a 2010 survey suggested some 20,000 children were living on Kinshasa’s streets — up from 13,000 in 2007. In 2011, UNICEF estimated the numbers at 30,000. These children are called shegue, an abbreviation of “Che Guevara,” because of the toughness they require to survive.
Their ubiquity and susceptibility, however, also make children easy scapegoats. As in the religiously fueled witch hunts of Europe and America centuries ago, which pursued widows or solitary women, perhaps children in Congo are accused of sorcery because they are society’s most vulnerable members. Perhaps some are accused, too, because — in suffering or even in fending for themselves — they are symbols of the disintegration of family and communal bonds brought on by Congo’s decades of struggle. Belgian anthropologist Filip De Boeck has described Kinshasa’s children as “the human intersections where the ruptures and fault lines of an African world in transition are manifested.”
According to UNICEF, anthropologists, and international and local NGOs, almost anything can trigger an accusation of sorcery: not only sickness, death, or other loss within the family, but also a child’s own hunger or illness — even precociousness or adolescent anger. Save the Children has reported that signs include “dirtiness, red lips or eyes, deafness, ugliness, young body but old face, epilepsy”; being “untidy, disobedient, sad, mentally retarded, impolite, full of hatred, mysterious, disrespectful, quick-tempered, unruly”; and behaviors like “do not sleep at night or sleep badly, eat a lot … wet the bed, defecate in their clothes, talk to themselves, sleepwalk, collect rubbish, wander, don’t study, go out even when they are ill.”
Children are generally powerless to protest the accusations and have few places from which to seek help. The government is more often an enemy than a friend. In 2013, it launched an operation called Likofi (“Punch” in Lingala) to round up delinquents living on the streets; reportedly, at least 20 people, 12 of them children, were killed. UNICEF, which has said that 70 percent of street children receiving assistance from its programs have been accused of sorcery, provides aid to local shelters, orphanages, vocational training programs, and centers that reintegrate children into their families. But there are more needy children than resources available to help them.
Many children accused of sorcery find refuge in churches because they have no other option or because they believe what is said about them and want help — ironically searching for it in the very institutions complicit in their misery. I spoke to dozens of children in Kinshasa accused of sorcery, and most appeared confused when asked whether they believed they were possessed. Some simply said no, but others said they must be since a pastor had told them so. Most looked to the nearest adult for guidance on how to answer.
In seeking help from churches, children are taking their chances. Revival churches are not only complicit in ratcheting up fears of child sorcery, but they also profit from them — when parents pay to have their child exorcised and when parishioners come to see the show. And the churches perpetrate abuse that only boosts their popularity. Congolese told me of pastors rooting out spirits by spitting into children’s mouths or pouring the wax of church candles on their bodies until they confessed. One pastor reportedly forced a child to stand in a dark room for days, never letting him sit, and then made him drink olive oil until he vomited. The pastor inspected the vomit to see whether it contained human flesh or money — both alleged signs of sorcery.
Other pastors, however, offer shelter in addition to superstition. At the church and orphanage Coeur et Mains du Christ (“Heart and Hands of Christ”), I met with pastors Jerôme Anto Kashala and Shium Bukassa Shidisha. They told me about the children they protect, including one boy whose parents blamed him for an illness that killed his brother and accused him of eating the brother’s heart. The parents beat him, tied him up, and cut his skin repeatedly with a knife, trying to make him confess. Eventually, they took a discarded tire from trash in the street, put it over him, and set it on fire. He was seriously burned by the time he was able to flee. Today, he is working toward a mechanic’s certificate.
Yet the pastors’ willingness to care for children accused of sorcery, it seemed, was complicated by their religious convictions. When I asked Kashala and Shidisha whether they had ever encountered any real child sorcerers, they glanced nervously at each other. “Well, there was one,” Kashala said. “She posed very difficult problems for us, to the point that she killed another child. She started giving rotten food to the others until finally one died.”
Charles was with me, and he nodded gravely, agreeing.
Ultimately, the pastors determined that the girl could not be saved, and they had no choice but to send her away from the orphanage, back to the family that had chased her away in the first place.
After several hours of the frenzied late-night service, when Pinda finally called up five children who had been quietly sitting in the corner, the room hushed. The congregants didn’t press close as they had during the earlier exorcisms, instead stepping back. I was apprehensive, thinking of the stories of cruel exorcisms.
But the prophet was gentle, encouraging the children to speak. Their eyes were cautious, avoiding the crowd. One by one, they spoke softly, their voices barely audible in Pinda’s microphone; he filled in where their words trailed off. A 10-year-old girl explained that, after her mother’s death, her father had blamed her.
A boy in a Curious George shirt murmured that his parents had died and others in his family had accused him of eating their hearts. A thin 12-year-old boy in a white-striped shirt with his arms crossed, hands under his armpits, said his parents had told him he was a sorcerer and left him alone in Kinshasa; he now made a living selling plastic bags of drinking water in the street.
The drummer in the church band gently tapped a cymbal to punctuate the children’s testimonies.
Pinda talked about the failures of parents: “If your child is a sorcerer, you cannot throw him out.” He also spoke of children overcoming the demons within them and becoming great men. The audience remained hushed and pensive, Pinda seeming to berate them for their fear of child sorcerers while simultaneously acknowledging that the fear was very real.
Everyone prayed quietly to deliver the children. As the service drew to a close, well after 3 a.m., Pinda’s assistants sold small bottles of olive oil around the room and people brought them up for the pastor to bless. They rubbed the oil on their faces, on their arms and chests, in their hair, as protection from evil spirits. Pinda then asked for money to support the continued building of the church.
This wasn’t the dramatic scene I had feared I would witness. Was Pinda acting so kindly toward the children because an outsider was there? (He had invited me to his service.) Was he deftly avoiding breaking the law against accusing children of sorcery? Or was something else going on?
I asked Charles. He said sometimes exorcisms of child sorcerers take place in private because they are difficult. Maybe these children had already been saved.
A few days after the service, seeking to understand his strange relationship with the children, I met the prophet in his office — a small room containing three dilapidated office chairs, a desk, and an electric bass guitar leaning in the corner. Outside, dozens of people waited for private meetings with Pinda. All such meetings, one of his congregants told me, required a payment, however small.
Pinda explained that more than 60 children accused of sorcery lived in his church — children like the boy who had been sleeping next to the gutter before the night service I attended. They had come to him on their own or had been brought by their parents because of his reputation for casting out spirits. He introduced me to some of them, between the ages of 4 and 12. They had been accused of costing their parents jobs or killing relatives. Some had been told their diseases, like crippling polio, were signs of possession by spirits and had been kicked out of their homes.
As the children left, Pinda picked up the electric bass. He sat back in his chair, plucking the thick strings. In a gravelly voice, he told me it was tiring to have so many children around and that he kept encouraging people not to leave them. He’d even gone to social services for help, only to be turned away.
But did he believe the children were sorcerers? He replied that, for most children, “it’s just accusations.” Prayer, he explained, generally shows him they aren’t possessed. Sometimes, though, parents’ testimonies tell him otherwise. So long as parents report that a family member is ill, for instance, a bad spirit must remain in a child, requiring his attention. Some parents bring children back multiple times, until they are able to report to Pinda that “there is peace — they sleep calmly and there is no more sickness in the family.”
Complicating his explanation was the fact that Pinda makes money off these visits and that dealing with children accused of sorcery has enhanced his stature. Perhaps Pinda doesn’t want to condemn these children as other pastors do, or perhaps his belief in sorcery isn’t as strong or as sure as in others. Yet driving spirits out of children has earned him the title of prophet — has convinced his congregation that the power of God flows through him and can save them from all the suffering, all the pain and hardship, in their lives. It brings hundreds to his church late at night, to stand for hours in the heat, connected to one another and, they feel, to a power beyond their reach.
I asked him whether he thought he had improved the lives of the accused child sorcerers for whom he prayed. For some he said yes — one boy, for instance, had been saved and returned to his parents. Then he described a 13-year-old girl whose parents accused her of killing two people. She still lived in the church.
“She isn’t doing well at all. Because this is church,” he said. “After prayer, the people leave. Even I go home.”
Béchard, a freelance writer, is the author of “Empty Hands, Open Arms: The Race to Save Bonobos in the Congo and Make Conservation Go Viral.” Follow him on Twitter at @denibechard and on Instagram @denibechard.
The remains of “witches” burned at the stake for killing children in the 17th century were found by archaeologists
In the Polish city of Bochnia, archaeologists unearthed the charred remains of two women. The discovery was made during restoration work in the local market.
They are believed to have lived approximately 300 years ago. According to scientists, it is known that in 1679 three women were burnt in this place. So far, two skeletons have been found, but experts have no doubt that they will soon find a third one, according to Express.
Researchers believe that the victims were accused of witchcraft and murder of children. After that, they were probably burned in the city market. Such punishment was common in the Middle Ages, from the 5th to the 15th centuries. Historians believe that the public burning allegedly showed “witches” going to hell.
Archaeologists will continue to investigate the remains, but they have already stated that the women were buried right at the place of execution. According to experts, in that era it was customary: people convicted of such a crime could not be buried near the church.
According to historical sources, at least 13 women accused of witchcraft were executed in Bochnia. Before the execution of the sentence, they were kept in the neighboring town hall and, most likely, tortured in order to get a confession of their deeds. In addition, the archives contain the names and crimes of the “witches”.
Which castle in Europe is considered the most mystical: you will be surprised
Many castles have survived in Europe, which to modern people seem incredibly beautiful and majestic. Their main purpose was to deter enemies if necessary.
That is why such factors as a good location, a moat, a rampart and other opportunities to repel potential enemies played a strategic role.
However, there is one architectural object that does not fit into the traditional framework.
The majestic is one of the most famous landmarks in the Italian region of Apulia. Moreover, it will not be an exaggeration to say that this is the most mystical castle in the world.
Unlike other mystical places, this amazing castle is not hidden from prying eyes behind the mountains and forests. On the contrary, it is visible from afar. You drive along the freeway and see it, towering on top of the hill. It doesn’t matter that the name of the building is translated as “castle on the mountain”, only those who have never seen real mountains in their life can literally take the name Castel del Monte.
It was built on a castle on the very spot where the Maria del Monte monastery was located until the thirteenth century, hence the first name of the building, which few people remember today – castrum Sancta Maria de Monte.
Today, crowds of people frequently visit Castel del Monte. For this, many thanks to the magical world of cinema and the Italian director Matteo Garrone in particular, because it was in the unusual halls of this monumental structure that he settled the characters of his “Scary Tales” – the king who raised a flea, and the princess whom the eccentric father married to a cannibal. Curiously, until the twentieth century, the castle was in an abandoned state, and shepherds spent the night there.
Today, the architectural structure is in the care of UNESCO, as a result, it was cleaned and put in order, but the interior decoration of the halls was not preserved – for that reason, Matteo Garrone had to hastily fill the space of the premises with the props brought to the castle.
Garrone chose Castel del Monte for the film adaptation of the tales of the Neapolitan Giambattista Basile for a reason, because this place is incredibly mysterious. Although located 16 kilometers from the city of Andria, Castel del Monte bears the honorary title of one of the most famous medieval castles in the world, in essence it is not a castle.
The fact is that in the understanding of a normal person of the Middle Ages, a castle could only be built for one of two purposes. The first goal, it is also the main one – defense and terrain control. In this case, one or another lord erected a small fortress, as a rule, on the top of a mountain, which helped to repel enemy attacks, and at the same time to influence the situation in the region as a whole. The second task is a fortified place to live. Sometimes castles grew to the size of cities, take, for example, the same Carcassonne, but their powerful walls, again, made it possible to hold back hordes of enemies.
But Castel del Monte is not intended for defense at all. Where are the walls and the moat with water? Where are there any decent defenses?
This place also seems to be of little use for life. Of course, even Walter Scott in his “Ivanhoe” wrote that the concept of “comfort” did not exist in the Middle Ages, but this castle, even by medieval standards, is far from the home of a self-respecting lord. It’s okay that all the rooms inside are connected to each other, but, most importantly, there is no place for a stable and there is no kitchen.
So, most of all, the castle looks like a kind of an old art object, built for the sake of ideas, such houses are sometimes designed by modern architects who have received absolute carte blanche for the implementation of their creative ideas coupled with an unlimited budget.
This association is quite appropriate if you know who built Castel del Monte. The castle was built on the mountain by the Emperor Frederick II Staufen – a legendary person in all respects. He not only managed to win the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from competitors and lead the sixth crusade, but was also considered one of the most educated people of his time.
He knew Greek, Latin and Arabic, founded a university in Naples, where not only Christians, but also Jews and Arabs taught, and this, by the way, is the height of tolerance by medieval standards. Frederick II as a whole was very far from Christian prejudices, here are illustrative examples: the emperor insisted that doctors study anatomy on corpses, and Frederick also had a warm attitude towards Fibonacci and even organized mathematical tournaments.
The emperor also had a penchant for writing: he is credited with writing an essay on falconry, and at his court he created a Sicilian school of poetry. At the same time, like all progressive people of his time, Frederick II was an admirer of a wide variety of mystical teachings, studied astronomy and astrology.
With the personal life of the emperor, everything was also interesting, he earned the reputation of Bluebeard, because he was married four times, however, the church did not recognize his last marriage with his permanent mistress Bianca Lancia. Frederick II spawned a great many children – 20 legitimate, but for obvious reasons, no one scrupulously counted the bastards.
Historians still cannot solve the riddle of the Italian Castel del Monte, to which scientists have many questions
Castel del Monte was built by Frederick II from 1240 to 1250, that is, in the last decade of his life. The name of the architect is unknown, but many historians, not without reason, believe that he was the emperor himself – a painfully intricate design was the result.
The fact is that, like many medieval mystics, Frederick was obsessed with the number eight, which symbolizes infinity, and it is constantly traced in the structure of the castle.
To begin with, the castle, when viewed from above, is a regular octagon, and an octagonal tower is erected at each corner of the structure. The shape of the inner courtyard of the castle also repeats the octagon. The castle has only two floors, the roof is flat, and the main entrance to Castel del Monte looks strictly to the east, because, as it was believed in the Middle Ages, the good news came from the east.
There are 8 rooms on each floor of the castle, all of them are connected to each other, so that Castel del Monte can be easily walked around the perimeter. The rooms are made in the form of trapezoids, and windows are cut through the walls. Toilets, wardrobes and spiral staircases are located in the corner turrets.
By the way, the castle has a separate story with the stairs – usually in all castles they are “twisted” to the right, since this is optimal for the defense of the object, but in Castel del Monte, on the contrary, they are “turned” to the left, that is, the way it does nature, because it is to the left that the shells of mollusks or snail shells are twisted.
All rooms of the castle are exactly the same, the rooms differ from each other only in the location of the doors and the number of windows. In the decorative elements, the number eight again dominates: on the capitals of the columns there are eight leaves each, on the bas-reliefs in the rooms there are eight leaves or clover flowers.
Another interesting thing is that direct rays of sunlight fall into the windows of the second floor twice a day (with the first floor, this rule works only in the summer), so many assume that the mysterious castle is nothing more than a huge sundial, and at the same time astronomical device.
In addition, twice a year, during the summer and winter solstice, sunlight is evenly distributed among all rooms on the ground floor. This, of course, is also no coincidence, so many historians suggest that the first floor of Castel del Monte is a kind of analogue of the solar calendar.
Here’s another curious reason for thinking – twice a year, on April 8 and October 8, the sun’s rays pass through the windows of the castle into the courtyard in such a way that they fall strictly on the part of the wall where in the time of Frederick II a certain bas-relief was carved, now lost.
Well, and to make everything quite difficult, it is worth remembering that October in the thirteenth century was considered the eighth month of the year.
The castle bears the title of the most mysterious at all because there are many ghosts or other manifestations of mysticism
Frederick II died before he could finish the construction of the castle – the building of Castel del Monte was completed, but the interior decoration was not completed to the end. After the death of the emperor, there were legends in Europe that Frederick did not die, but disappeared in an unknown direction in order to reform the church and establish universal brotherhood and peace.
A certain symbolism is seen in this, because the octagon, repeated in the structure of Castel del Monte, in the Middle Ages symbolized the transition from the world of the living to the kingdom of the dead, and at the same time the union of heaven and earth.
Everything is very simple here – a square was considered a symbol of the earth, a circle was a symbol of the sky, and an octagon was an intermediate figure that signified both unity and transition. However, scientists far from mysticism believe that the repeated use of the octagon is simply a reference to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, because Frederick II saw the dome over the cornerstone during his crusade.
Historians are confused by the dubious architecture of the object – in such a castle there was not a single chance to hide from an armed attack. No protective mechanisms were used during the construction.
In addition, the building itself boasts the ideal shape of a real octagon. The castle has also 8 turrets.
Scientists did not fit the theory that this castle was used by noble people in order to rest there after hunting. Castel del Monte looks too monumental and luxurious for this.
Some historians suggest that the purpose of the mysterious castle was to comprehend the secret sciences
Castel del Monte has encrypted and biblical symbols. The fact is that the castle has exactly five drainage basins and five fireplaces, many associate this with the phrase of the Baptist John from the Gospel of Luke:
“I baptize you in water for repentance, but the One who follows me is stronger than me; I am not worthy to bear His shoes; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
So, it is easy to assume that Castel del Monte was for Frederick II an analogue of the temple, built according to his personal project, and this fully meets the ambitions of the emperor.
By the way, this hypothesis is confirmed by another curious detail. If you look closely at the entrance to the castle, you can see a giant letter F encrypted there. If inside the tomb of Frederick II, associations with the pyramids would be inevitable, and so Castel del Monte seems to be a kind of personal portal of the emperor, erected according to his plan and in his honour.
At least when you stand in the courtyard of the castle and, with your head raised, look at the sky, imprisoned in an octagon of powerful limestone walls, even the most inveterate materialists have a feeling of belonging to the medieval magical tradition.
The energy of this place is special, in the style of those “Scary Tales” by Matteo Garrone.
Occult symbolism of the 2020 Vatican nativity scene
On December 11, the Vatican unveiled its 2020 nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square. And as soon as the red drapery covering the stage was removed, the crowd found a towering, brutal and totem-like angel Gabriel watching them, along with an astronaut and a masked executioner (yes, those guys who kill people on death row).
Let’s say the applause after the opening was “polite”. Here are some images of the nativity scene.
An ominous angel looks down at the crowd while Jesus remains in the red cloth for a while (not sure why). Behind the figures is a neon light that should probably look like mountains on the horizon. However, at first glance, it looks like a lightning strike in a nativity scene.
In a press release, the Vatican Governorate announced that the nursery “is intended to be a sign of hope and faith for the entire world, especially during this difficult time due to the health emergency related to COVID-19.”
But this did not bring “hope and faith” at all. In fact, almost all observers hated it.
It is as if the Vatican purposely created something so ugly that devout Christians hate the play depicting the birth of Jesus. Satanists couldn’t have done better.
Ugliness with weapons
This nativity scene, titled “Monumental Christmas”, was originally created between 1965 and 1975 by students and teachers of the F.A. Grue art school in Castelli, Italy. The original work contained over 50 pieces, but only a few were selected for the Nativity scene at the Vatican, and they chose the horned-masked executioner.
The “Monumental Nativity Scene” is considered a tribute to the world-renowned pottery works of the Abruzzo region and gives a postmodern twist to the classic nativity scene.
In a conversation with a local newspaper, Italian art historian Andrea Chionchi asked if it was “a nightmare or a masterpiece.”
“Forget the sweet face of the Madonna, the tender radiant incarnation of the Child Jesus, the paternal sweetness of Saint Joseph and the pious miracle of the shepherds. For the first time in the middle of the colonnade, Bernini, the Vatican erected a work of the sixties in a brutal postmodern style.
The figures resemble the masks of the ancient and ferocious Samnites, the ancestors of the Abruzians, who professed a pantheistic, animistic, fetishistic and magical religion, somewhat reminiscent of the Andean goddess of fertility, Pachamama.
Castelli’s “Nativity Scene” is an outdated work, the product of a strongly ideological art school. The work offers a depiction of Castelli ceramics that is definitely not true, given that this remarkable art is renowned for its formal elegance and refined, subtle decorative inspiration, which are completely absent here.
References to Greek, Egyptian, and Sumerian character sculptures suggest a liberal historical-critical method of interpreting Scripture. Liberal Bible scholars have hypothesized about various aspects of the Bible as an adaptation of pagan cultures, and not as a result of divine revelation.
Although “ugliness” is subjective, this nativity scene almost tries its best to be as unpleasant to the eye as possible, which in turn is unpleasant to the soul. At least one could say that this scene is anti-Christian. I mean, who’s actually going to pray to this thing? You just can’t. And that’s kind of a target for the twisted minds behind this thing.
Moreover, in addition to its general ugliness, the nativity scene also contains many symbols and historical references that convey a rather egregious message: it is actually an anti-Christmas scene.
Usually in the center of the nativity scene is the baby Jesus. However, in this case, Baby Jesus is essentially a random toddler who just stands there and looks like a giant cork.
The focus of this play is not Jesus, but rather the angel Gabriel. It is surrounded by a massive halo, while Jesus still stands there like a giant cork. In addition, the angel rises above everything on a ribbed pillar. The overall shape of this column closely resembles an important symbol of Ancient Egypt: the Jed Column.
Jed is a common symbol in Ancient Egypt believed to represent the god Osiris, or rather his spine. While this symbol probably has an esoteric meaning in relation to the chakras (which are said to be based on the spine), the Jed also has a phallic character and is associated with fertility rites. In fact, the “erection of the Jed” was an important ceremony in ancient Egypt.
The erection of the Jedi ceremony is to symbolize Osiris’ triumph over Set. During the ceremony, the pharaoh uses ropes to lift the pole with the help of the priests. This coincided with the time of year when the agricultural year began and the fields were planted. This was only part of a 17-day celebration dedicated to Osiris. In general, the ceremony of the erection of the Jed personified both the resurrection of Osiris and the strength and stability of the monarch.
– Ancient origins, sacred symbol of the Jed Pillar
Did the Vatican trick its believers into witnessing the Jed Ascension ceremony? One thing is for sure: the Egyptian influence of this den sit well with what is immediately behind it.
The general plan of the Vatican is Egyptian magic in plain sight. The phallic obelisk (representing Osiris and the masculine) faces the womb-like dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (representing Isis and the feminine). The same exact layout can be found in various power centers of the world, including Washington, DC.
In Washington DC, an obelisk (Washington Monument) faces the dome of the US Capitol.
In Egyptian magic, the union of masculine and feminine principles (Osiris and Isis) gives birth to a “star child” (Horus). From an esoteric point of view, this star child is a powerful magical energy.
The hieroglyph representing Sirius, the most important star of occult symbolism (read my article on this here), consists of three elements of the Egyptian trinity: an obelisk, a dome and a star.
So, the Vatican has an obelisk and a dome. Where is the star completing this trinity? It is there, but you have to look from above.
The Obelisk of St. Peter is located right in the center of the eight-pointed star, also known as the Ishtar Star.
The eight-pointed star also adorns the Christmas tree that stands next to the nativity scene this year.
Speaking of cosmic things, the Vatican nativity scene also depicts an astronaut. Why? God knows.
It seems that the astronaut is holding / giving birth to something. There is also an eight-pointed star on the helmet.
Given the fact that this figure was created between 1965 and 1975, this may be a reference to the 1969 moon landing. But why in 2020 did the Vatican choose this thing to stand next to Jesus?
It is even more incomprehensible why an executioner in a horned mask is standing next to Jesus?
In ancient times, executioners carried out death sentences for lawful convicts by chopping off their heads. In some cases, they wore grotesque masks with dark and menacing features to further intimidate prisoners, depersonalizing them as a person. In short, it is an odd figure to be placed next to the newborn baby Jesus, especially considering the fact that Jesus himself was ultimately sentenced to death.
Apparently this guy is here to represent the “Vatican’s opposition to the death penalty.” This is a rather weak argument that makes little sense. I mean, I’m pretty sure the Vatican is also against methamphetamine. Should they also add a methamphetamine dealer to the nativity scene?
In the scene literally called “Christmas,” this horned figure represents death. This is the complete opposite of “Christmas”. I don’t think Satanists would have done better by desecrating the scene depicting the birth of Jesus.
In a sense, this year’s nativity scene is a sad reflection of 2020. This is a collection of expressionless and socially detached figures who do not interact with each other, standing under the neon lights of phones and computers.
It also reflects how the occult elite has raised their ugly head this year, poisoning every aspect of our lives with their toxic program. Through their outspoken anti-Christian demonstration, the elite sought to prove that its toxic ideology was also ingrained in the Vatican.
Although the Monumental Nativity scene was created several decades ago, it was chosen for the Christmas scene in 2020 for a special reason: it contains certain symbols, conveying a certain energy. Like everything else that has happened this year, this scene demonstrates the control of the elite and the demoralization of the masses.
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