RESOLVE ET COAGULA
They say there are many unique curses. THERE’S ONLY ONE! It’s airborne. Everywhere. Waiting. The evil that people do, the empty cavities they carve out of themselves, the Curse is just the thing that pours into the void, incubating, waiting for the proper confluence of spiritual-chemical variables. Grotesque alchemy. Every individual type of damnation is just another tumbler in a lock, and the Curse is a turning key, AND IT HAS SO MANY TEETH.
myth/folklore question: does there exist any cultural tradition involving the disposal of the body with a mask attached to the face to distinguish the original person from hypothetical corpse-possessing demonic impersonators? the thought occurred to me earlier today and i'm wondering if i ought to try to build something around the notion.

energycrow:

I’m… not sure I’ve read the question right? It seems to me that if something possessed a corpse with a mask attached, it would naturally also have the mask, and therefore be indistinguishable from the corpse. Or are you saying it’s to mark that it’s a corpse and not just the wrongfully interred living? 

In either case, not really, no. The idea of a demonic corpse-possessor is very much a Christian one. In most cultures, if they thought the corpse was walking about, it was because the former owner had disregarded the eviction notice. This ran into problems when Christianity regarded God’s power over the afterlife as absolute; obviously, ghosts and zombies couldn’t really be ghosts or zombies, just someone playing a trick. I believe the first link in this train of thought goes back to the Witch of Endor who called up the ghost of Samuel the prophet to advise King Saul. Obviously she couldn’t have actually summoned Samuel, as necromancy was false and powerless, so what actually happened was she summoned a demon disguised as Samuel to trick Saul. (Other theories say that God allowed Samuel to answer the Witch’s powerless summons, and interpret the scripture as the witch being surprised when Samuel actually shows up.)

I couldn’t think of many examples of funerary masks at all, oddly enough; it seems such an obvious idea but not a lot of cultures use it. The three best examples, I think, are the Egyptians, the Inuit and the Mixtec (and other Mesoamerican cultures they influenced). We’re all familiar with the idea of mummification; specifically, in this case the mask was meant to make the dead look perfect in the afterlife. The Mesoamericans (I’m reading an old racist text so I’m not sure how accurate the labels are but the analysis seems ok) had a similar idea, but different.

See, the Mesoamericans really like the idea of transformations in a cycle: the wheel of the directions, the turning of the seasons, male and female, alive and dead. They had a tradition of making funerary masks and effigies that this guy thinks they used to represent that transformation between dead and alive. Specifically, the face of the corpse represented death, and the mask symbolized the perfect spirit leaving the body and returning to the cycle to become part of life again. To this end, the masks often show beautiful faces, even if the actual dead were average-looking; they are also often half-flesh and half skull.

The Inuit I only found a brief excerpt that I could trust, but there may be more down this path. Again, I’m not sure of the actual labels, given that the text referred to them as Eskimo (the incorrect and offensive term) and made a big deal of the superstitious savages. Nevertheless, it seems a Russian expedition found the body of a shaman buried with a funerary mask that echoed the real face accurately except that the eyeholes were covered over with bone. The scholars who studied it suggested that this was to keep spirits from entering the mystical entry points of the eyeholes and messing with the corpse, but I’m unclear on the status of the shaman’s own soul in such a situation, and really the whole Inuit afterlife and mythos in culture (it’s shameful how little I know about like 70% of the world). 

If you’re really looking for masks and death stuff (is this for Geist? it sounds like Geist) you may be interested in the African use of masks in ancestor worship: those who wear the masks representing their ancestors are believed to (depending on culture and interpretation) either speak for or actually become the dead ancestors. The living can then talk to and negotiate with them for more favorable treatment, etc.

I also found an interesting Japanese concept that I only looked briefly into called sorei, which is that certain of the dead have memorial ceremonies performed for them on numerologically significant anniversaries of their deaths. Apparently this helps them to lose their individuality and become part of the collective “ancestors”, fading away from being individually dead to part of the collective force that is ancestors of sorei. Definitely something interesting to look into.

okay so i’m a little fuzzy on the particular wod thing that prompted the thought (i do remember it wasn’t geist though and i’m p. sure it was either changeling or vampire [probably vampire b/c the strix chronicle just came out this week])

and now that i think about it i can’t entirely remember how folkloric vampires were treated in my myth-legend-and-folklore class that largely covered vampires. typical behavior was for them to go after the family of the deceased but i don’t know if this was attributed to the person the vampire was in life or just something using people familiar to the body as a starting point. this in turn reminds me of Ghost Children from werewolf, where the spirit starts with trying to kill its parents and then moves on to a generalized hatred of the species.

in any case death-as-transformation definitely muddles the question of is-this-the-guy-who-died-or-not so it is probably worth exploring maybe

also i vaguely remember gargoyles figuring into my reasoning somewhere around the third degree of abstraction and “denying monsters the loved one’s face” around the fifth

sry i’m incoherent and terrible

Spitballing on the nature of ghosts and gods

So one of the things that’s been a bit of a curiosity in the Underworld is the chthonians — weird inhuman things that inhabit the realm of the dead and seem to have never been alive.

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I cut my finger last night while I was making chili. I might have done it on a sharp can lid. I might have done it while I was chopping onions with a knife. I could even have taken out my razor and done it on purpose, were I so inclined. But the result is a quarter inch slit in my finger. No matter how I did it, same blood, same risk of infection.

Vampirism is a wound.

Russell Bailey

commodore-sparklebutt:

kexcormacson a réagi à votre billet : I want to take that Jesus/Horus post and punch…

I googled it after I hit “Add to Queue” apparently there are some similarities between the two but not a lot. :O

I have very strong feelings about this so I am going to repeat myself at greater length:

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"Mother is the oldest god in creation.  Mother, and death.  The prehistoric cave paintings you find aren’t of Hermes or Apollo: they are of Aphrodite or Demeter.  Everyone has a mother-goddess, even if they think they don’t: Mother who creates the world on her own, or with the help of a duck, or with whatever the fuck you feel like throwing in there - there is always Mother.  There is not always Father.  But fertility (and death) was among the first and foremost concern of mankind, and among the first concepts to be deified.”

And suddenly the Circle of the Crone makes even more sense.

A public service announcement for people who think the Gangrel weakness makes them dumb:

thetwothousandiqkilljoydetective:

wonsab:

If you’re giving your Gangrel low Intelligence and Wits you basically forfeit your right to complain about the Gangrel being stupid just because you are making stupid Gangrel.

(You’re also building your Gangrel unwisely, because hey, know what a good example of in-the-moment application of your Wits rating is? Dodging.)

Mood-wise I prefer the classic Gangrel flaw of taking on beastial aspects but that shit was broken.

Deviations of Flesh and Feel from the Nosferatu book seems like it could be easily ported over.

(I know of an anecdote concerning Tzimisce-made catgirls that still makes me cringe.)

A public service announcement for people who think the Gangrel weakness makes them dumb:

If you’re giving your Gangrel low Intelligence and Wits you basically forfeit your right to complain about the Gangrel being stupid just because you are making stupid Gangrel.

(You’re also building your Gangrel unwisely, because hey, know what a good example of in-the-moment application of your Wits rating is? Dodging.)

We came to a great mountain, and a vast door of iron was set into the mountainside. A thousand times a thousand men and women who had skins of snow and rain, and the claws and feet of beasts, and eyes made of night and many other things. They hammered at the door and clamored for it to open. The door opened, and the people rushed in, and the creatures behind the door looked like demons, and some of them were beautiful and some were hideous. The demons begged for mercy, and vowed that they had loved the people and had not meant to harm them, and the people stormed the place behind the mountainside and put the demons to the sword, and took their place, and they despoiled the earth and went out, and took slaves just as the demons had once done.
Eschaton 7:1-7
Coming up on the end of reading the Testament of Longinus.

The Book of Eschaton is pretty fucking great, for one reason and one reason especially:

And I said to Amoniel the angel, “What does this mean?” and the angel said, “This is not for you to understand. This is only for you to set down that others might understand.