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Strangely Wrought Creatures of Life & Death: Ancient Symbolism in European and American Architecture By Gary R. Varner
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In his seventh book on folklore and symbolism, Gary R. Varner provides a look at strange and grotesque images we see everyday on our churches, banks and in our cemeteries. Images with origins far... More > older than the structures they adorn. What are the meanings behind these grotesque creatures, why are carvings of griffins and dragons, unicorns and Green Men found throughout the world on churches and cathedrals, government buildings and even apartment buildings? Illustrated with over 50 original photographs, Varner explores the meanings of the carvings found on both old and contemporary buildings, from France and Great Britain to New York and California. In addition, Varner explores strange images that are commonly seen in our cemeteries, engraved on grave-markers and tombs. This is a book for anyone interested in symbolism and folklore, architectural history and the development of religion. Gary R. Varner is a member of the American Folklore Society and the Foundation for Mythological Studies.< Less
Ancient Footprints By Gary R. Varner
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When we think of the “First Americans” we generally tend to think of the American Indian. After all, there is no doubt that the Indian has lived in North America for thousands of years,... More > descended from those original explorers who trekked across the Bering land bridge. At least this is what we are taught in school. But is this entirely correct? Were there others that came perhaps before and during the original population of North and South America by those that would later be called “Native Americans”? Were there others that embarked on expeditions to the mysterious lands to the west (or east) that brought not only trade goods but knowledge and ideas of other religions, cultures and oral traditions?< Less
Water from the Sacred Well By Gary R. Varner
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An illustrated exploration of the folklore and mythology of sacred water found throughout the world. A companion volume to Sacred Wells, Water From the Sacred Well continues the quest for the... More > underlying sacredness associated with water and the universal themes found in folklore and religious traditions from around the world. Blending personal exploration with archaeology, folklore, and ancient traditions, Water From the Sacred Well takes the reader on a fascinating trip to surreal lakes, hot springs, and rivers in search of the spirit helpers, demons, faeries, mysterious Black Dogs, Women in White, Water Babies and the gods and goddesses that are part of this story. Water From the Sacred Well connects common themes found in water lore to sites around the world. Varner provides a glimpse into the world of spiritual development and the continuing rituals and traditions associated with life-giving waters and how these traditions continue to create a need for sacred space.< Less
Ghosts, Spirits & the Afterlife in Native American Folklore and Religion By Gary R. Varner
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Death. We deny it. We fear it. Some of us welcome it. No matter what age we live in we keep the traditional feelings for our departed. We try to ease the soul into the afterworld as best we can.... More > “Celebrations of life” provide a time for friends and loved ones to gather, share food and stories and grieve. Some who pass on are cremated to free the soul. Some are buried believing that the body will not become corrupted but will survive until the final judgment day. “Grave goods” are still commonly buried or are cremated as well with the body. While we believe we are more "advanced" than those who lived before us, we actually do the same things they did to honor and to provide for our deceased loved ones. We are not so very different after all. This book provides a brief survey of how America’s first people reacted to death, how they disposed of their dead, their thoughts about the spirit world and the possibilities of being reborn.< Less
The Dark Wind: Witches and the Concept of Evil By Gary R. Varner
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The Dark Wind provides a survey of witches around the world, their prehistoric origin and how society has viewed them throughout history. Folklorist Gary R. Varner explores the use of magic,... More > spells and curses among indigenous groups as well as state approved religions such as those observed in ancient Rome and Greece, and how even contemporary Christianity uses many of the same "magic" combinations. Also examined is the current "witch craze" in several countries where thousands are being killed as witches,the underlying reasons for this tragedy and the history of anti-witchcraft laws. The Dark Wind is a book for everyone interested in anthropology, archaeology, ancient history, religion and the occult. Illustrated with contemporary woodcuts and drawings. The author is a member of the American Folklore Society and the Foundation for Mythological Studies.< Less
Gargoyles, Grotesques & Green Men: Ancient Symbolism in European & American Architecture By Gary R. Varner
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The symbols and strange images that we find in our cemeteries, religious structures, banks and in our parks are the same symbols that have been part of the framework of the human psyche for thousands... More > of years. While contemporary man may think that they are simply decorative manifestations of a by-gone era, they represent the fears, dreams, ideas, beliefs and struggles that humankind has endured since we began to walk upright. This book surveys many of these icons and will give a meaning for them both in the context of ancient history and folklore as well as a meaning that is suitable for our contemporary times. Illustrated with dozens of photographs, this book will be of interest to anyone interested in historic preservation, ancient symbolism, the Green Man and the universal application of imagery. Gary R. Varner has written numerous books on ancient traditions, folklore, the environment and contemporary issues. He is a member of the American Folklore Society and the Foundation for Mythological Studies.< Less
The Owens Valley Paiute - A Cultural History By Gary R. Varner
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Living as long as five thousand years in the arid Great Basin, the Owens Valley Paiute and other Native groups survived to create a rich oral and ceremonial tradition, subsisting on what the earth... More > provided. A peaceable and social culture they were overwhelmed by the ever advancing flow of American settlers, explorers and profit seekers. This is the story of the Paiute Nation, their social structure, mythology, religion, art, folklore and enduring spirit. It is also the story of their great leaders Sarah Winnemucca and Wovoka and the creation of the Ghost Dance religion which ultimately resulted in the massacre of the powerful Sioux at Wounded Knee. Illustrated with 28 pages of photographs.< Less
The History & Use of Amulets, Charms and Talismans By Gary R. Varner
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Amulets and charms have been used since mankind evolved from its distant origins millions of years ago. They have been used to protect and to harm, and in both the practice and avoidance of... More > witchcraft and sorcery. They are made of wood and stone, clay, metal, plants and dead animals. They are carved into crude shapes and in the most exquisite forms. They may also be composed entirely of words, which are believed to have great power and magical properties. Used by pagans, Christians, Jews and followers of every faith and tradition known across the world, they are considered direct links to the gods and local spirits. All are links to the supernatural. Regardless if they are called amulets, charms or talismans, these objects are credited with providing cures, causing evil, and bringing health and prosperity. This book, using ethnographic studies, ancient records and folklore, will explore the history and use of amulets and will show that they continue to be an important part of our modern culture.< Less
Hidden in Plain Sight II By Gary R. Varner
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The historic city of Pittsburgh has been the home to Native Americans and immigrants from around the world. It is also home to a large variety of gargoyles, grotesques and monsters carved in stone... More > and adorning banks, government buildings and churches. Today thanks to a city that cares about it's past these icons can be found at the Dollar Bank, the Marine Bank, Union Arcade, the county courthouse, jail and mortuary and Pittsburgh's First Presbyterian Church among other locations. Once a mighty steel producer Pittsburgh today features world class universities, museums and medical facilities as well as a hidden world of arcane images in stone. Pittsburgh has one of the largest concentrations of gargoyles and ancient imagery outside of the United Kingdom. Profusely illustrated. This is the second in a series of books about America's cities and the hidden symbols they contain.< Less
ETHIOPIA: A Cultural History of an Ancient Land By Gary R. Varner
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According to ancient Ptolemaic writings, Ethiopians were the first men that ever lived and the first to worship the gods and to honor the gods with sacrifice. Some believe that the Ethiopians were... More > the origination of Egyptian religion in the worship of Osiris as well as the worship of Zeus. The Ethiopians, according to Herodotus, “reverence of the gods Zeus and Dionysos alone, and these they greatly honour; and they have an Oracle of Zeus established, and make warlike marches whensoever this god commands them by prophecy and to whatsoever place he commands.” Science was also believed to have traversed from the Upper Nile, the homeland of the Ethiopians, into Egypt. Before these gods, however, the ancient Ethiopians worshipped the serpent and even sacrificed to it. Today many believe Ethiopia is the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. This book is an ethnographic analysis of the ancient cultures of Ethiopia, their religious beliefs and current environmental and political challenges.< Less