Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Florida Cult Members Drink Snail Snot

It's amazing what people will do in a cult. According to Fox News, a leader of a Florida cult has been raided by Federal authorities after members of his religious group were sickened from drinking the mucous of a giant African snail. He is most likely to be busted for importing a species that is dangerous to ecosystems. The snails will eat anything, even plaster. They can reproduce without a partner, which I suppose makes getting a date on Saturday night a good deal simpler. Followers of the sect reported getting violently ill, losing weight and developing lumps in their stomachs.

There are other weird religious practices out there. There is a region of Saudi Arabia in which women cover their faces completely as soon as they reach sexual maturity. Not even their husbands or children are allowed to see their faces. The American BEDU blog explains the story as follows.

"In the Nej’d region of Saudi Arabia (which includes Riyadh) there are tribal women who never remove their veil. This is a cultural custom that has been in practice for many generations. Although they come into this world unveiled, once a woman from this tribal region begins her menses, she puts on the veil and it remains on her face until the day of her death. Even when she comes of marriageable age and the marriage is arranged (within the tribe) it is very unlikely that her husband will ever see her unveiled as well. This woman is also unlikely to unveil with her children either."

The Digambras of the Jain religion are distinctively attired, in nothing at all. Since it is only the male clergy who go naked, it is odd that they are called Jains. Fund raising is a bit difficult, because they are not allowed to use cups or bowls for donations, and anyhow where are you going to put a wallet?

In the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, there is a group of people who worship Prince Phillip, husband of Queen Elizabeth as a god. BBC reporter Nick Squires reports as follows with his encounter with a devotee of the Prince Phillip cult.

"I wondered if it was all some sort of elaborate joke. But the look on Chief Jack's face told me it was not. He dispatched one of the villagers and a few minutes later the man returned from a hut with three framed pictures.

They were all official portraits of the Prince.

The first, in black and white, looked like it was taken in the early 1960s.

The second was dated 1980 and showed the Prince holding a traditional pig-killing club - a present from the islanders.

The most recent was from seven years ago.

They had all been sent from London with the discreet permission of Prince Philip, who is apparently well aware that he is the subject of such distant adoration. "

There are in that part of the world a number of cargo cults. Cargo cults originated during World War Two when the US Navy occupied a number of Pacific islands and employed local workers. The workers got their pay every month from an officer they remember as John Frum. They used to be able to buy chocolate, cigarettes and hair ribbons as well as canned goods.

When the US military left, they built models of the "silver birds that came from the sky" and prayed to them for the day when John Frum will return to them.

Russia has a number of bizarre sects. Some used to whip themselves. Why would they do such a thing? Beats me. Then there is the Skoptsy, a group that lasted into the 20th century and overcame sexual desire by castrating themselves. (They must be awful drivers. I'll bet they cut people off all the time.)

One of the harmless yet unusual groups is the Japanese "Kirishtans" These were people whose ancestors converted to Catholicism but were driven underground in the 16th century when the Japanese government banned their religion. The adherents of this faith would outwardly practice Shintoism but would pray in secret in what became a garbled mix of Latin and Japanese.
Some of the adherents of this crypto Christianity did not recognise or feel comfortable with modern day Christianity and returned to their hidden way of life.

It is amazing what people will do when they are searching spiritually. Drinking snail snot, beating themselves up, covering their faces 24/7, I guess there is no shortage of strangeness on our small planet.

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