Sunday, March 31, 2013
Ordo Templi Orientis is a mystic organization that was started in the early twentieth century. The group was established along the same lines as the less secretive Freemasons, and supposedly relies on ritual and occult practices as a means for members to move from one level of prestige to another within the organization. The general philosophy of the group was a belief in new age esoteric principles and practices as a method of realizing one’s true identity. Famed occultist and all-around eccentric Aleister Crowley composed much of the group’s lore, including a manifesto called the Mysteria Mystica Maxima, and he later became its head. After his death, the influence and popularity of Ordo Templi Orientis began to wane, but it still exists today and has various chapters scattered across the world, chiefly in the United States, the U.K., and other parts of Europe.
As Aleister Crowley’s popularity as a new age figure has continued to grow, more and more of the teachings of the Ordo Templi Orientis have come to light. As such, the group makes much less of an attempt to be secretive today than it did in the past. This doesn’t mean that they don’t still have some bizarre practices. Chief among these is the group’s fixation on the sexual, especially their teachings on the “adoration of the phallus” and the magic of masturbation.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Pitcairn Island is a tiny speck of land located nearly dead in the center of the southern Pacific Ocean. Its closest neighbors are the Gambier Islands and Tahiti to the West, but even these are several hundred miles away. The island, which is the last remaining British territory in the Pacific, has a standing population of some fifty people, many of whom are descended from crewmembers of the famed HMS Bounty. In 1789, the Bounty was the setting for a now-legendary mutiny, when crewmembers enchanted by the idyllic life of the native Pacific islanders overthrew their commander, burned their ship in a nearby bay, and settled on Pitcairn. Today, the descendants of those sailors mostly make their living off of farming, fishing, and selling their extremely rare postage stamps to collectors, but even with modern transportation they still remain one of the most isolated communities in the world. There is no airstrip on the island, and getting there from the mainland requires hopping a ride on a shipping boat out of New Zealand, a journey that can take as long as ten days.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
This battle, fought from July to November of 1917, has come to be synonymous with the grinding and bloody misery of trench warfare during World War I. Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, the aim of the battle was to breakthrough at the village of Passchendaele in West Flanders, Belgium and outflank and beat back the German Army. In a series of “bite and hold” operations against the German lines, the Allies sought to wear down the Germans through bloody attrition warfare, culminating in the Canadian Corps taking control of Passchendaele on November 6, 1917, ending the battle. The conditions during the battle were miserable; both sides suffered horrific casualties, with the British gaining only slender territorial gains for their efforts. Mud was a constant feature of the shot up landscape, bogging down tanks and even drowning men. The British Prime Minister of the time, David Lloyd George, used the battle as an example of senseless waste and bad generalship. The Allies lost a total of 448,614 men to the Germans 400,000.