Roman Mithraism — popularly called the Cult of Mithras or Mysteries of Mithras — remains one of the least understood religions in all of late antiquity. Known only from outside accounts and the artifacts and architecture of the mithraea temples, with any internal religious documents hidden or destroyed many centuries ago, guesswork sits at the center of all Mithraic studies. The internal mechanics of the religion — of which several hundred associated sites have been discovered — are one mystery. Its dramatic disappearance during the twilight years of the Roman Empire are another. Most often, Mithraism is depicted as an…
I lived a million lifetimes in my summer in South Dakota’s Black Hills. They have a rich history and a treasure trove of hidden secrets. Their natural scenery is unique and utterly unparalleled. And they serve as a perfect launching pad into the rest of the west. But my dream of them died young. Around July’s end, I woke up one morning to find my usual view of the dramatic Elkhorn Mountain smothered.
The smoke had drifted all the way in from the area of Canada’s Lake Winnipeg. It lingered for nearly a week, choking out the mountain and drawing…
The American West is no stranger to feverish periods of boom followed by crushing eras of bust.
The gold rushes of California, Pikes Peak, the Black Hills and the Yukon dominate the first pages of western history books. By then, though, the whole western half of the continent had already experienced one of the most dramatic population declines in human history; the decimation of the western indigenous peoples via diseases, conflicts with migrating eastern tribes and genocides by Europeans. The resulting extended population decline stayed, in many places, unbroken until either the railroad went through or some sort of precious…
Modern humans have been around for 300,000 years now. Of course, the more we learn about those most distant ancestors of ours, the more we come to appreciate the intelligence and complexity of their cultures. But now, we may even have to admit that their societies handled a plethora of problems better than our own. Despite their lack of impossible technology, sprawling global connections, and wealths of technical knowledge, they were no less anatomically developed — and in fact, were often far healthier — than we are today.
Even with the huge diversity of healthy food (for some) and the…
I was a man of reason in the most insufferable sense. There wasn’t a wonder in the world I couldn’t coldly rationalize. That was, until I found myself so interlocked in loving arms and ruby hair that my rationality went and melted right away. It was sleepy time, but we were content to cuddle wide awake. The candle on the nightstand died, but we didn’t mind the dark. A warm wind and a soft song complemented our embrace.
I beheld her dreaminess all night. Morning marched on us much too soon. …
They say I was born out of stone all erupting
From lips of the Earth I emerged all triumphant
Taking days at a time as a young child a-wandering
With my wild entourage, content to sing songs to them
Hosting idyllic picnics before mighty mountains
Every crumb to the weight of a lone soul a-mounting
Then I trekked treacherous trails, dead-set to go nowhere
Seeing if there’ll be peace once I’m out on my own there
But at least it’ll add
From the good to the bad
To the height of the mightiest tale of them all
Of the man…
All of the talk in the world, and the only bit that was to him was talk of trouble and problems. Hubbub as usual, and none of it good. It grew. And grew. Even more than it typically did. He stood up; if nothing else, he could at least blow off some steam by ripping into his unruly employees.
His assistant stormed into the room, grabbing his hand and racing him past a stumbling old man. A woman’s banshee cry pierced the office air. Suddenly, some pale teen with red eyes stood up and pointed out toward the water. He…
Westerners robbed of the religious worldview by the death of the traditional Christian God have evermore turned to the past and to the East for spiritual inspiration. And, certainly, the ever-popular works of the Stoics and Taoists have many true and crucial lessons to teach modern people. But the works of old aren’t perfect.
A common idea in Stoicism and Taoism is of some metaphysical force, law or principle, guiding all existence to bring about a particular creative order. In Taoism of course, this is the Tao, and in Stoicism, it is the Logos; a term passed down to them…
I tried my best to work beside the bustle of a dozen people chatting away in the one room for a mile around with Wi-Fi. For a while, too, I succeeded. But then a family of four came in and sat down on the table beside me. A mother and two older children all talked without glancing at each other. Three phone screens shined bright. And, as they thoroughly ignored him, a curious toddler boy scanned the room.
I barely took note, simply continuing on my work. The toddler, meanwhile, seemed more interested in what I was doing than I…
As the sun goes up and the work begins
Everybody hits the fields except for him
But at least he gives encouragements from his seat on the fence
He’s a high horse son of a bitch
But the one with the dollar at the end of the day
So everybody tries to shine up his green shoes anyway
That harmonica boy bangs tunes as his men all sweat
Doin’ what they hate
Goin’ all astray
Making their world go black and red
“Real good,” he says, “for folks like you”
Now tell me, what’d you have ’em do