Daily Archives: July 20, 2004

Herbal Refresher

Honestly, apart from the cool bath before bed, one of the only things that keeps me sane in the summer is dampening a cotton ball with rose water and wiping my face, arms, and neck with it (especially the back of the neck). Standing in front of the fan directly afterwards makes it even better. Rose water can be found in most specialty and cultural groceries; the little place around the corner from me sells a good-sized bottle for under five dollars. I use it as an offering as well, and often add a splash to my altar water. Some day I’ll pour three bottles into my bathwater and soak in my big claw-foot tub, but I haven’t been that brave yet.

Unless you hate the smell of roses (like my friend Raven, for example), you’ll likely find that this is a remarkably easy way to cool off and relax at the same time. And if you do dislike roses, you poor person, then there’s always orange water you can use instead.

The Importance of Supernatural Belief

Christopher Whittle has written an interesting article on the presence of paranormal belief in modern culture, published in the March 2004 Skeptical Inquirer and available for reading here.

A sample:

We are taught about angels, witches, devils, spirits, monsters, gods, etc. virtually in the cradle. Some of these paranormal beliefs are secular, some are religious, and the most pernicious are crossover beliefs, beliefs that are at times secular and at other times religious. Santa Claus, angels and vampires, ghosts and souls, and the Easter Bunny are examples of cross-over beliefs. Crossover beliefs are attractive to children (free candy and presents), and on that basis they are readily accepted. The devils, ghosts, and monsters are reinforced through Halloween rituals and the mass media. As the child matures, some crossover beliefs, called “teaser” paranormal beliefs, are exposed as false. Traditional religious concepts are reinforced as “true and real.” They give us Santa Claus and we believe in an omniscient, beneficent old elf and then they replace Santa with God, who is typically not as generous as Santa Claus and whose disapproval has more serious consequences than a lump of coal. We learn about God and Santa Claus simultaneously; only later are we told that Santa Claus is just a fairy tale and God is real.

In a synergy of cultural indoctrination and the individual’s cognitive and affective development, a general belief in the paranormal and the supernatural forms. Once we have knowledge of the paranormal, we can then experience it. One cannot have Bigfoot’s baby until one is aware that there is a Bigfoot, or aliens, or ghosts. In other words, you cannot see a ghost until someone has taught you about ghosts. Countervailing influences, experiential knowledge, and knowledge of realistic influence have little effect on paranormal beliefs because they are applied after the belief is established through cultural and familial authority.

I don’t necessarily agree with him throughout the entire article — there are a couple of leaps — but he raises some interesting points.

(Found via Arts & Letters Daily.)

Musical Ephemerae

I finished my new Music page of the site last night. I was rather surprised to discover that I’ve only been with the orchestra for three seasons, not four, and I’m rather impressed at the amount of repertoire I’ve acquired since joining them.

Rumour has it that my goddaughter is currently enthralled with celli. I must get the viola fixed so that she can hold it like a cello and mess about with it.

And the Not-Music-Related part of the post:

Note: a cool bath before bed brings the body temperature down, and the world doesn’t seem as humid and infernal as it actually is. I had a wonderful night’s sleep. Although swinging my legs over the edge of the bed in the morning only to discover that my feet no longer reach the floor is still slightly disconcerting. It will fade in time.