In this book you can explore many fascinating subjects, including:
Devil Worship ... Zombies ... Doomsday Cults ... Head Shrinkers ... Hungry Ghosts ... the Grim Reaper ... Witch Smellers ... Human Sacrifice ... Dervishes ... Sacred Mushrooms ... Snake Handlers ... Sin Eaters ... Demonic Possession ... the Antichrist ... Golems ... Ritual Crucifixions ... Ghouls ... Pillar Saints ... the Devil's Mark ... the Ghost Dance ... Idol Worship ... and many more.
The Temple of Rats
Everyday about 20,000 rats roam through the Karni Mata temple, which is located in the city of Deshnoke in northwestern India. These rats are believed to be re-incarnations of certain dead people who will eventually be reborn as higher life forms. The rats can move freely throughout the entire temple complex, and they are always provided with all the food they can eat, including milk and special sweets. Visitors must remove their shoes and let the rodents run across their feet.
The temple is dedicated to a 15th-century female sage named Karni Mata, who is now considered to have been an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. The temple complex is mostly made of marble, but has some gold and silver decorations. A small shrine inside the inner temple may have been built about 600 years ago by Karni Mata herself.
The vast majority of the rats are brown, but occasionally a white rat is seen. Some people say that four white rats live in the temple, and that they are incarnations of the four brothers of Karni Mata. The brown rats are thought to be incarnations of her descendants, relatives, and most devoted followers.
Jivaro Head Shrinkers
Up until recent times, warriors of the Jivaro people of South America would cut off the head of a slain enemy and then shrink it down to a much smaller size. The warriors believed that this would trap the soul of the dead enemy inside the shrunken head and prevent it from taking revenge against the killer. For additional protection against attempts at revenge, the head would be soaked in a sacred liquid that would remove all hate from the trapped spirit and transform it into the supernatural slave of the warrior. The shrunken heads were displayed as trophies and used in religious rituals that celebrated the past victories of the tribe.
According to scientists, the first step in shrinking a head is to remove the skull, bones, brain, and facial fat. The remaining skin and attached flesh is then shrunk by boiling it in a brew of special jungle herbs. After drying, it is wrapped around a small clay or wooden ball and molded into the proper shape. The outer surface is then coated with charcoal ash, because the Jivaro believe that this forms a supernatural barrier which prevents the trapped spirit from getting out.
The Jivaro tribes live in a remote section of the Amazon rain forest of South America. Because of their ferocity and independent spirit, they have been less affected by outside influences than most other native peoples of that region. However, recent reports indicate that they no longer practice head-hunting and head-shrinking. Most of the shrunken heads sold in regional tourist shops are either replicas or fakes.
Gods in Human Form
The belief that a god or goddess can appear on the earth in the form of a human is found in many religions. For example, in ancient Greek myths a god or goddess sometimes came to earth in the guise of a human and mingled among ordinary people. In some religions a god can also assume the form of an animal. These bodily forms, both human and animal, are called incarnations. Usually these incarnations are only temporary, and the god eventually returns to his normal form as an invisible supernatural being.
In Hinduism, an incarnation of a god or goddess is called an avatar. Many Hindus believe that avatars of the god Vishnu have appeared on the earth at crucial moments in history in order to save the world from an impending catastrophe.
Spiritual beings such as angels and demons can also temporarily assume a physical form. Thus, although the Devil is normally invisible, he sometimes tries to trick people by disguising himself as a handsome man or beautiful woman. Some people believe that the snake which tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden was Satan in disguise. Other snakes are sometimes regarded as incarnations of demons.