Mystery cults greatly influenced the development of Pythagoreanism as Pythagoreans adopted many of their traditions, behaviors, and beliefs. Pythagoras, the founder of the Pythagoreans, established a school in which he developed and taught these adopted cultural behaviors and beliefs. “The nature of daily living in the school, both its moral and its intellectual disciplines, can perhaps best be understood as an intellectualized development from earlier mystery cults such as the Eleusinian” (Wheelwright 201).
The Pythagoreans and the mystery cults were not identical, but they shared many similar beliefs on subjects such as the soul, transmigration and reincarnation, and they practiced many of the traditions of initiation, ritual and secrecy. Pythagoreans combined the mystery cults’ views on these subjects with philosophical thought as a foundation to develop their own unique beliefs.
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The term “mystery cults” comes from the Greek word musteria and initially only referred to the mysteries of Eleusis and signifies a secret celebration or secret worship that only initiates (mustai) who have become initiated (muein) participate in. “Originally, then, mysteries denotes a specific religious manifestation that is essentially different in character from other, official cultic functions; the mysteries are not open to everyone but require a special initiation” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #10 pg. 230). Contemporary religion historians now use the terms “mystery cults” or “mysteries” to refer to secret cults or ceremonies of initiation.
These ancient “secret cults” influenced the development of many religions with their sacred beliefs on the divine, the soul, transmigration and, most importantly, their stressed importance in rituals, tradition, and secrecy. “In the view of the history of religions school, the mysteries were an expression of popular piety that drew sustenance especially from the so-called Oriental mystery religions of the Roman imperial age; in the long run, it was claimed, even the early church could not escape the influence of those religions” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #10 pg. 231).
The Greek mysteries are traced back to the pre-Classical Mycenaean period and were most likely ancient rituals of initiation into a clan or an association. Of the Greek mysteries, the mysteries of Eleusis, which provided a pattern for the idea of mysteries, were the most important. The mythological background for the Eleusinian mysteries centered on a story of the goddesses Demeter and Kore in which Kore (the divine daughter of Demeter) is carried down to the lower world by Aidoneus.
After searching for her child and mourning for her, Kore is finally restored to Demeter. Before Demeter returns to Olympos, Demeter founded a sacred worship where she instructed the princes of the Eleusinians in the performance of the cult. The story of Kore’s return envelopes the theme of loss (death), grief, search, and (re)discovery (life).
Pythagoreans were a secret society begun by Pythagoras of Somos in the sixth century B.C. The Pythagorean School of Philosophy was founded by Pythagoras in the city of Crotona, Italy. Pythagoras established the school in pursuit of higher studies in mathematics, astronomy, music, metaphysics, and polydaemonistic theology (Wheelwright 201).
The Pythagoreans practiced a very “disciplined community life, which included both a daily regimen of activities and studies and the practice of non-possession by sharing unreservedly all the necessities of living; and by carefully guarded conditions of membership which nevertheless allowed (for the first time in history, so far as known) the admission of women as members” (Wheelwright 201).
The Pythagoreans’ religious beliefs were very similar to those of the early mystery cults. They believed in a dying and rising god and in the hope of life after death. “Their whole way of life is framed with a view to following God; this is the rationale of their philosophy” (Ferguson 92). In conjunction with their beliefs in reincarnation and transmigration, the Pythagoreans would not eat meat and were therefore vegetarians. The Pythagoreans also practiced many rituals such as local vegetation rituals.
They believed that their founder, Pythagoras, was a semi-divine being (a theos aner) basically considered a shaman and forced this recognition through traditional rituals. “Pythagoreanism, which was not just a social movement but also a mystical world vision of the attunement and correspondence of all things, had its meaning and its end in an effort to assimilate existence to the divine, immortal life” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #12 pg. 114). The belief in the doctrine of the immortal soul was the cornerstone of the beliefs on the soul, transmigration, initiation, and the rituals and secrecy of the school.
Greek mystery cults focused much of their attention on the soul. The mysteries supposedly founded by Orpheus (Eleusinian, Dionysian and Samothracian) usually devoted their existence to the theme of the immortal soul and its deliverance from the present world (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #10 pg. 234). They believed that the soul was a divine element located in the body, and that life was a gift from the gods. In the Eleusinian Mysteries, the members believed in a “kingdom of souls below the earth” (Rohde 218).
The only way to the blessed kingdom was to worship Demeter and to keep the soul pure. The members of the cult held the Eluesinian Festival where the religious purification of the worshippers preceded and accompanied the holding of the festival. “To many of the believers, it may have appeared that the whole festival itself was principally a great purification and religious dedication of unusual solemnity, by which the members (“the Pure as they called themselves) were made worthy of the favor of the goddesses” (Rohde 222).
The only way to please the goddesses and to keep the soul pure was through proper worship where traditional rituals took place to pass “redemption” over the soul. The ultimate goal was to achieve the blessings of the goddesses and to become liberated from the human body. “According to Orphic doctrine man’s duty is to free himself from the chains of the body in which the soul lies fast bound like the prisoner in his cell” (Rohde 342). If when death occurs, the soul is pure, the “releasing gods” may bless the soul and grant it salvation. However, if the soul is not deemed pure and good, it will be condemned to return again to the realm of the earth in another human or animal.
Just like many mysteries before them, the Pythagoreans were completely devoted to the soul and its immortality. This belief was something of paramount importance because Pythagoras implied more than the “mere survival” of the soul after death. “Pythagorean beliefs about the soul stand as the movement’s specific contributions to the development of religious thought; Pythagoras and his followers, whether original or not, were the first in the Greek world to articulate fully and successfully to advance the understanding of a self beyond the empirical personality” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #12 pg. 114). As the Pythagoreans believed that “All is number”, they also believed the soul to be a harmony and that the great cosmic harmony with the soul is the ultimate destiny of existence.
Alcmaeon, a Pythagorean, makes a statement that generalizes the Pythagoreans’ view on the immortality of the soul: “He says that the soul is immortal because it resembles the immortal beings in that it is always in motion; for all the divine bodies likewise are in the continuous and unceasing motion-the moon, sun, stars, and the whole heaven” (Guthrie 313). According to Pythagoreans plants as well as animals have life, but not all have soul. “Soul is a torn-off fragment of either and the hot and the cold: it is not coterminous with life, and it is immortal because that from which it has been detached is immortal” (Guthrie 202).
This gave Pythagoreans an aim in life which was to cultivate the soul and keep it pure in hope that one day they might be released from the cycle of transmigration into the great divine soul from which they had come. They believed that the soul was impure and weighted down with sins of the human body. In order to keep the soul healthy, Pythagoras and his followers stressed the symbolic character of the religious formulations. During rituals, Pythagoreans often practiced purification and revelation. Pythagoreans also tried to avoid contaminating the soul by avoiding bodily influences and practicing strict codes of conduct among the school.
Many mystery cults such as Orphic and Eleusinian mysteries believed in transmigration and reincarnation of the soul. “To those who share in the Eleusinian worship a privileged fate is promised” (Rohde 218). According to Orphic doctrine: “The death of the body only frees it for a short while; for the soul must once more suffer imprisonment in a body. After leaving its old body, it flutters free in the wind, but a breath of air sends it into a new body again” (Rohde 342).
Throughout this “Circle of Necessity”, the soul may endure the lives of many human and animal life forms alike. This is the reason that many mysteries practiced strict vegetarianism except when sacrificing a beast to the gods during purification rituals. “Thus, Nature, ever reverting to its own beginnings, draws men with it in its senseless revolution around itself” (Rohde 342). To free the soul from the process of reincarnation and eternal misery, the soul must follow the ordinances of salvation with perfect obedience. In the Orphic mysteries, this salvation is granted directly from Dionysos himself.
Pythagoreans adopted many similar if not identical beliefs on transmigration and reincarnation as the mystery cults. “The whole religious side of this movement, which included an elaborate cycle of rebirths, cannot be separated from that adopted by Pythagoras, and to make the attempt would probably be unhistorical. The Pythagoreans not only used the religious books promulgated under the ancient name of Orpheus: prominent members of the school were named in later antiquity as the authors of some of them, and the tradition ascribing some to Pythagoras himself goes back, as we have already noted, to the fifth century B.C.” (Guthrie 198).
Pythagoras believed that “the present life is a sojourn, a temporary stage in a long pilgrimage; and the body (soma)was likened to a tomb (sema) in which they held that the soul has to live out a sort of shadow-life, a half-life, which is more nearly death than it is life” (Wheelwright 209). Pythagoreans were life-long abstainers from animal flesh just like the followers of the Orphic mysteries. The only time the Pythagoreans tasted meat was during ceremonial offerings to the gods.
Pythagoreans strongly stressed the kinship of all life. “Since then all animals are our kin-if it is clear that, as Pythagoras said, they have the same soul-the man who does not keep his hand off his own relatives is rightly condemned as unholy” (Guthrie 195). Pythagoras recognized that (because of his belief in reincarnation) all learning in the present life is a recollection from past lives, and so the Pythagoreans believed that truths are already in us waiting to be stirred up.
The initiation ceremonies and the entire initiation process were very important to members of the mystery cults. “By initiation into the mysteries of Demeter the Earth-mother and her daughter Persephone (Kore), their worshippers believed that they could be actually adopted into the family of the gods, and by this adoption secure for themselves not mere survival-but a far better and happier fate in the life to come” (Guthrie 197). All classes, including slaves, were admitted into the Eleusinian mystery cults.
However, a distinction was made according to participation between the initiates (mustes) and the fully initiated viewers (epoptes). The initiation ceremonies were divided into two sections: 1) Lesser Mysteries, 2) Greater Mysteries. The Lesser Mysteries at Agrai took place annually in February and were regarded as a preliminary stage leading to the Greater Mysteries held at Eleusis in September.
The initiation ceremonies were always directed by a hierophant, who from time immemorial had been a member of the Eumolpides, a noble family that had held the kingship of old, and the Kerukes family filled the other offices (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #10 pg. 233). “Sacrifices, libations, baths, ablutions, fasts, processions (especially bringing the “holy things,” the cult symbols, to Eleusis), and torches all played an important role in both feasts.
The center of all activity was the ceremony that was not public” (Encyclopedia of Religion Vol. #10 pg. 233). These “secret” ceremonies were held in a place of consecration known as the Celestron. “The main Eleusinian practices involved two steps-purification and revelation, the ritualistic sea-bathing by boys undergoing initiation and the dramatic exhibition in a dark room of the sacred grain stalk in a flash of light” (Wheelwright 201).
The Pythagoreans initiated in much the same way as the Eleusinian initiates did. They were careful of who they let to become initiates, but they also were revolutionary in that they allowed women to join. “Granted that the ritual and the mystery had a symbolic character for the ancient Eleusinian worshippers, Pythagoras in taking over the basic pattern minimized the ritual and stressed the symbolic character of the religious formulations” (Wheelwright 201).
To be eligible for consideration to become initiated, the initiates had to take a pledge of silence. “Iamblichus tells us that applicants for membership of the brotherhood were made by Pythagoras to keep a five-year silence as part of their novitiate” (Guthrie 151).
Traditional rituals (such as initiation) were a necessary characteristic of the “mysteries”, but many mystery cults practiced their own unique rituals, traditions, and secrecy. The Orphics’ beliefs could only be satisfied through strenuous efforts and rituals lasting their whole life. “Initiation was an essential part, but the rites must be periodically renewed and life as a whole lived differently, with the observance of ritual prohibitions among which abstention from meat was, as with the Pythagoreans, of the greatest importance” (Guthrie 198).
During the Orphic rituals, a priestess most often purified the members of the cult by dumping water over their heads while the members prayed to god with a serpent in their hand. The Eleusinian mysteries held traditional beliefs but did not practice ceremony with the exception of initiation.
Common to all mysteries was the secretive way in which they all operated. Orphics and Eleusinian mysteries alike practice the sacred initiation ceremonies in secret. The beliefs of the mysteries were not beliefs expressed to the public, but beliefs only know to those who have been initiated. Oftentimes, the initiates (must) weren’t fully educated to the beliefs of the cult until after the initiation occurred, and during initiation, the members were made to take a vow of secrecy.
Pythagoreans practiced many rituals derived directly from preceding mystery cults such as sea bathing at initiation and fasts. They adopted most of the rituals and traditions from the Eleusinian mysteries, but they also used Orphic religious books as a reference to traditional ceremonies.
Pythagoreans performed many rituals as part of their daily routine. “The practice of silence each morning, between rising from bed and the ascetically sparse community breakfast, was a means on the one hand of reawakening one’s inner affinity with the divine, and on the other hand of exercising and strengthening one’s power of memory by daily practice in recalling the ordered events of the preceding day, then of the day before that, and so on” (Wheelwright 201).
These ritualistic actions were traditional to the Pythagoreans as well as daily readings, community meals, and the practice of sharing. Pythagoreans are famous for their strict secrecy policies. “Isocrates in a bantering vein (Bus. 29) remarks that those who claim to be disciples of Pythagoras are more admired for their silence than their most famous orators for their speech” (Guthrie 151). To become a member of the school, an initiate took a pledge of silence for five years. Religious historians will never know exactly what Pythagoras said to his followers because of the remarkable silence the Pythagoreans kept.
While the Pythagoreans adopted most of their central beliefs from ancient mystery cults, they developed some differences as well. Mystery cults were totally dedicated to religious beliefs such as the immortality of the soul and transmigration, and so were the Pythagoreans, but the Pythagoreans dedicated themselves to higher learning as well (as is seen by the establishment of a school which mystery cults never had). “To a degree and in a manner which it is difficult for a modern thinker to realize, trained as he is in the ways of specialism, the Pythagoreans regarded mathematical and astronomical studies as inseparable from moral and religious disciplines and from personal self-examination.
Behind the practices of self-discipline and self-examination which were part of the daily life there lay a profound set of convictions about the nature and destiny of the soul” (Wheelwright 209). Because of the Pythagoreans religious school, there was “a particularly strong temptation, not only to venerate the founder but to attribute all its doctrine to him personally” (Guthrie 149). Mystery cults such as the Eleusinian mysteries worshipped a specific god or goddess, but the Pythagoreans can almost be considered worshippers of Pythagoras.
Another difference between the mystery cults and the Pythagoreans lies in the beliefs on the route to salvation. “Eleusis taught that immortality was to be obtained through the single revelation, after suitable preparation, of the mystic objects or symbols; the Orphics added the need for carrying out in daily life an elaborate system of religious, possibly also moral, prohibitions; to Pythagoras, the way of salvation lay through philosophy” (Guthrie 199). At Eleusis, initiation was all that mattered. The participants of the Eleusinian cults returned home to live normal lives. Pythagoreans dedicated their entire lives to education and excellence that would gain them access to the “divine soul” after death.
The Eleusinian and Orphic mysteries strongly influenced the development of Pythagoreanism with their beliefs on the soul and their practices in initiation, rituals, and secrecy. Both these mysteries, as well as the Pythagoreans, believed in the immortal soul that cycles through the process of transmigration until the soul becomes pure enough to unite with the divine.
The Pythagoreans adopted the initiation ceremony from the Eleusinian mysteries as well as many traditions and rituals. While the Pythagoreans adopted many of the rituals and traditions, they also developed their own in conjunction with the studies of mathematics, astronomy, music, and metaphysics. The Pythagoreans also adapted and expanded upon the traditional secrecy policies of the mysteries. The central beliefs of the mystery cults were at the central beliefs of the Pythagoreans, but the Pythagoreans developed and expanded (making minor changes to) the mystery cults using studies in education and philosophy.
Example #2 – Mysteries Of The World
Mystery and the study of the unknown has always fascinated people. The search for truth in the “uncomprehensible” has led to many controversies. Some belief in the “supernatural”, while others simply do not. Both types of people obviously have their own reasonings for believing or disbelieving in it. There are numerous world-famous mysteries that are still controversial and remain “unsolved” to this day. Some of these mysteries include the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman, and the Bermuda Triangle.
The Loch Ness Monster is a legendary animal that supposedly resides in the depths of Loch Ness, a long narrow lake situated in rural Scotland. Stories concerning the monster date back to the 6th century A.D. The region was in complete isolation until a road was built alongside the lake in 1933.
Then large numbers of people travelled through the region for the very first time. Over the years thousands have reported seeing something in the lake. Most reports depict a long neck surging from the water with a small head of a unknown creature. Pictures have even been taken of this “creature”, but most scientists however, refuse to believe any creature of this kind lives in the Loch Ness.
They claim that most reported cases are simply products of overactive imaginations, and as for the pictures, scientists say they are not lucid enough to distinguish items clearly, and some pictures are dubbed as “fake”. A large number of non- scientists believe however, that the Loch Ness is the site of a breeding colony of large unknown aquatic animals, due to the fact that Loch Ness was once an arm of the sea. Yearly summer investigations have been conducted since 1963 in attempt to unravel the mystery.
Investigators have obtained films and sonar readings that indicate that there just might be some unknown animal in the depths of the Loch Ness. Evidence however, is inconclusive, and the controversy continues.
Along with the Loch Ness monster, the abominable snowman shares fame as one the great mysteries of the world. The abominable snowman is a legendary creature of the Himalaya mountain region. It is reported to live in forested regions near the snow line. This creature is also known to some by the name Yeti. The abominable snowman is said to walk upright and have the appearance of half-man, half-ape. Many of the descriptions given to this creature are based upon the findings of large, unidentified foot prints in the snow, found in the Himalayas.
In order to ascertain the truth behind the abominable snowman legends, countless expeditions have been undertaken, and most turned up empty. Today most experts hold the view that the “abominable snowman” is simply a “fairy tale” and don’t take the matter seriously. The foot prints used to support the legends, are thought by scientists, to be prints of a bear or markings left my drifting snow and falling rocks.
The legend of the abominable snowman has been kept alive ’till this day, mostly by the Sherpa, a tribe of people living in the Himalayas. These people have always kept the belief that the abominable snowman is a true fact of life. To them he is seen as a religious figure, to be feared as well as protected. Without any concise evidence however, no one can prove this legendary animal from the mountains exists, so the mystery continues to baffle.
Like the Loch Ness monster and the abominable snowman, the Bermuda triangle presents another intriguing wonder to the world. The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s triangle, is a triangular area of the Atlantic Ocean (305,000 km2) where the disappearances of ships, airplanes, and boats has led to the belief that “supernatural” forces inhabit this area of the sea. More than 200 planes, ships, and boats are believed to have disappeared in this triangle without a trace.
This includes over 1,000 seamen and airmen. In most of these disappearances, it is the fact that no distress signal was ever received from the disappearing ships and/or planes that heightens the mystery of what happened to them. Although violent storms and downward air currents frequently occur in the area, scientists have not revealed anything extremely peculiar.
Boundaries of the Bermuda Triangle are formed by drawing an imaginary line from Melbourne, Florida, to Bermuda, to Puerto Rico, and back to Florida. Could there truly be an unnatural force at work in this geographical triangle or are these disappearances merely coincidence? Either way, numerous people remain unwilling to step over the boundary line into the Devil’s Triangle.
As we have just discussed the mystery of the Loch Ness monster, the conundrum of the abominable snowman, and the enigma of the Bermuda triangle, we must realize that they are only a few of the many world famous “unsolved” mysteries.
From them however, we observe that it can be extremely difficult to ascertain the truth of unexplainable phenomena due to the many opposing opinions in this field. Will we ever come up with a definite conclusion or truth, when it comes to mysteries? The future remains to answer this question, and we humans remain intrigued, and confused about what to believe.
It was a sunny Saturday morning, my first time hiking and we were on the road to the Drakensberg mountains. My dad, Lanny, was driving us and I was lying on the back seat listening to music. Oh yes and my little brother Ross was in the passenger seat speaking to my dad, asking him about hiking. When we had arrived at 11:00 am we were booking in at one of the hotels close to our hiking trails starting point.
We were unpacking and ready to get some sleep for the big day ahead of us. Waking up at the crack of dawn was hard but we were able to do it and made snacks for the hike. At 6:00am we were ready to hike and at the trail. As we started it seemed easy but continued to get harder. My younger brother Ross was struggling up the mountain and asked me to carry his bag for him.
I had a strange thought; I should be nice to him because if something had to happen to him I wouldn’t like it if the last thing I said was nasty. We had been hiking for just over an hour when we decided to stop for a break and brunch. My brother was in need of the toilet. We told him to just go behind the bush. I heard a rustle in the bushes around us and a cold shiver ran through me.
HELP! We ran to the bush he was behind. Looking around we saw marks and footprints on the ground. We followed them down the bank. Running as fast as we could, we saw the huge creature. It turned around, we dived behind a shrub, I don’t think it saw us. Jumping up again, we were out of breath but continued chasing.
The creature was very big with white fur, bigger than a gorilla or a bear. We were determined to find him and as we approached the village that these Sasquatch type beasts were using, we peeped over the fences made of steaks and vines, we were sure Ross was in great danger. When looking over the walls we saw many of the Sasquatches and searched for little Ross among the crowd of beasts. We had made up our minds, we were going in. After we tried to get his attention several times we noticed he was in such great shock that he didn’t recognize us. Hiding behind each tavern and bush. Jumping and rolling from bush to bush. Then Bang!
There the sound of something landing behind us. We turned around and saw its giant feet then ran. But we were no match for them, they surrounded us. My dad said, “just be calm we’ll be fine”. They tied us up and put us each in separate taverns. I saw my back pack and tried to get the Swiss army knife out, but the primitive Sasquatch saw me and couldn’t understand what I was doing so he locked me up in small dark room.
They took off my ropes and confiscated my bag. They left me in this room with only the belongings in my pockets and my clothes. I wrote this message on my cell phone and sent it to everyone I know. Please try save us!
The mystery fiction attracts many readers because of the plot richness and strong emotions evoked while reading mystery stories. The vividness of a mystery story and the effectiveness of unexpected finales depend on the author’s talent. The prominent masters of the American mystery fiction are Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Flannery O’Connor.
Dashiell Hammett is the founder of mystery fiction as a genre. Thus, the writer developed characteristic features of the hard-boiled fiction as well as the principles of developing the mystery story which is followed by many writers even today (Hammett, 2001). Raymond Chandler is also a follower of Hammett.
Chandler is the prominent detective fiction writer who contributed to the further development of a genre while creating a range of crime stories. Philip Marlowe, the protagonist of Chandler’s many stories, is the favorite character of many readers who prefer mystery stories because he embodies the traditional vision of a detective (Chandler, 2001).
It is also important to pay attention to the works by Flannery O’Connor as the famous female author who created the wonderful world of mystery in her short stories. O’Connor’s story “The Comforts of Home” is a good example of the author’s use of the Gothic elements, grotesque, and ethical questions in the mystery story (O’Connor, 2001). These three authors are the real masters of the American mystery fiction who stated the main principles of the genre.
A good mystery story should contain several important elements in order to attract and even grab the readers’ attention. These elements are a perfect mystery which is associated with the crime, a brilliant detective who is able to use his logic and mind in order to resolve the puzzle, a detective’s assistance, many secondary characters which can be the main murderer or stealer, and a lot of specific details which should be carefully analyzed by the detective.
The role of a detective in the story is the main one, but the readers’ focus is on the process of solving the mystery. Thus, a good mystery story can be compared with the pepper sauce with a lot of ingredients that are intricately combined and mixed. This story makes a reader worry and empathizes with the detective until the finale when the mystery or a puzzle is solved.
The mystery genre has a lot of similarities with such genres as suspense, thriller, and suspense thriller. It is possible to state that there are more similarities than differences between these genres. The mystery genre is based on depicting the process of the problem’s resolution which is often a crime. Nevertheless, a mystery story can depend on resolving any problem and any crime when thrillers are predominately based on murders.
These three genres are closely connected because their elements can be observed in stories belonging to various genres and categories. Thus, suspense as a literary device and an element of creating the story can be presented in the mystery genre and thrillers because of adding to the emotional depth of the story.
Detectives who are depicted as the main characters in mystery and suspense stories can overcome a lot of difficulties while resolving the key secret or a problem, but the difference between these two genres is in the readers’ knowledge of the hidden information. Thus, reading a mystery story, a person follows the actions of a detective, and the detective’s eyes are the reader’s eyes.
Reading a suspense or thriller story, a person can know more than a detective or main character because of the author’s intentions to use the effect of suspense. The historical development of the mystery genre is associated with the development of civilization because crime stories can be discussed as part of people’s life since Biblical times.
From this point, the first crime story was described in the Bible with references to the personalities of Cain and Abel. During the late part of the 19th century, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes became the example of the perfect detective in Britain and in the USA.
Focusing on the history of the mystery genre’s development in the USA, it is important to determine such periods as the second part of the 19th century when Edgar Allan Poe writes his first mystery stories, the period of the 1920s-1940s when the American writers develop a specific genre of the hardboiled mystery stories and unite in a specific organization of the Mystery Writers of America to protect their interests as authors.
The second part of the 20th century is associated with developing the mystery stories full of the elements of thriller and suspense. Thus, the combination of genres can be observed. From this perspective, the heyday of the American mystery story is the 20th century when the norms of the hardboiled mystery stories were determined by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (Hillerman & Penzler, 2001).
The era of a brilliant detective was changed with the era of an active detective who can operate successfully in a world full of violence, corruption, and lie.
There are many mysteries that question the mind, but none that can compare to the intrigue in the supernatural. Ghosts, goblins, poltergeists, Death Omens, curses, unexplainable phenomena, and hauntings; mysteries of the paranormal could go on and on. There are centuries of ghost stories and tales that have been passed down from generation to generation. From the Bermuda Triangle mysteries, phantoms of the ocean, ships, and glowing ghosts of little boys, to the curse of James’ Deans’ car, The Little Bastard and the Amityville Horror.
A little background history of this bone-chilling horror may help one decide whether or not to believe in the existence of the beyond. “Everywhere on earth and all through history, people have believed that there is more to the world than meets the eye. Behind the outward material appearance of things there is sensed something inward, immaterial, and probably invisible.”(Cavendish 1) Apparitions of things have been seen all over the world. The definition of an apparition, as given by Richard Cavendish, is “the supernormal the manifestation of people, animals, objects, and spirits.” (Cavendish 25)
In the ancient folklore of England and Europe, glowing ghosts of little boys who have been murdered by their mothers appear. This particular apparition portends ill-luck and violent death. The name “radiant boys” could have possibly originated in German folklore with the word “kindermorderinn.” However, there are numerous radiant boy stories in the Cumberland area of England. These boys seem to resemble a flame; slightly orange with a glow about them.
These ghosts have never been proved to have caused any ha! rm, they simply appear and disappear as mysteriously as they came. There has only been one claim that these radiant boys have attempted to cause harm or scare people. One account of the radiant boy apparition was in Knebworth, England when Edward Bulwer-Lytton stated that he had seen a strange glowing boy with long golden hair sitting in front of the fire. This boy then drew his finger and slid it across his throat three times.
Later, however, this story was proved to be false and just another attention-getting scheme by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. (Guiley 274) Another mind-boggling series of apparitions was the Legend of the Faceless Gray Man of Pawley’s Island.
The story has it that this faceless man appears just before hurricanes strike at Pawley’s Island off the coast of South Carolina. In fact, this particular apparition has been credited with saving thousands of lives. Residents of the island believe him to be the ghost Percival Pawley who was the first to settle and name the island.
Whatever the case may be, inhabitants of the island claim that this faceless phantom appeared just before the hurricanes of 1822, 1893, 1916, 1954, and 1955. (Guiley 115) A more recent ghost, and a female at that, was Resurrection Mary. Resurrection Mary is one of Chicago’s most famous ghosts. This beautiful blonde, a blue-eyed girl dressed in white has been reported in the Chicago environs since 1934, the year of her alleged death. Mary takes her name from Resurrection Cemetery where she is supposed to be buried. Her full name is unknown and her existence is unproved.
According to legend, Mary was killed one night in an automobile accident in 1934 after an evening of dancing at the Willowbrook Ballroom, formerly known as the O’Henry Ballroom. Her ghost was said to have begun making appearances in 1934. She would hitchhike and request a ride to the O’Henry where she would dance the night away. After a fairytale evening of dancing, she would then request a ride home.
She would give the driver vague instructions past Resurrection cemetery where she would mysteriously disappear. All of Mary’s dance partners throughout the evening said that she was quiet, aloof, and with icy cold skin. The only evidence or proof of Resurrection Mary is old cemetery records of a Polish girl near Mary’s age buried in that same cemetery. (Guiley 280)
On a different note, another type of supernatural mystery is the childhood fear of “Bogart”, or otherwise known as the “Bogey Man”. Believe it or not, there is actually the belief of the bogey man in English folklore. The Bogart is a” bogey” or type of hobgoblin that has habits like that of a poltergeist. Although at times the Bogart can be helpful and sociable with some people but is most often mischievous, annoying, and frightening. The Bogart is not a visible nuisance, but plays tricks on people, like pulling off their bedclothes. The Bogart hauntings are also accompanied by terrible noises or laughter.
The Bogart is also known to be nasty and mean; these habits include scratching, punching, and pinching, and even in some cases snatching people up and carrying them away. These vicious ghouls can inhabit a church, house, or graveyard, and even at times a cat or a dog. These are evil things but are usually put to an end by exorcism. On a somewhat humorous note, this terrifying creature, who is feared by many, is said to be frightened of automobiles which explains their absence in the modern-day world. (Guiley 44)
Another fear of children is the closet monster or the monster that lives under the bed. These two phantoms have never been proven, and are simply fears of small children. (Guiley 76) People, in general, are afraid of death. This fear would explain many mysteries and superstitions of death omens and bad luck. There are countless numbers of superstitions that people believe,” from not letting a black cat cross your path” to” breaking a mirror is seven years bad luck.”Whether or not these superstitions are practical or not is just another mystery of the unknown, a personal preference. One of the most famous death omens of British folklore is large. spectral demon dog called Black Shuck.
A death omen is something that comes to collect souls. It is a British belief that if someone envisions the Black Shuck they may expect death to come within a year. The large, all black, demon dog is about the size of a calf, with large eyes that glow yellow, green, or red as if on fire. These spooks are often headless, with large glowing holes for eyes. They mostly haunt graveyards or enter the homes of their victims.
When the Black Shuck comes to claim his victims! his bone-chilling howls can be heard rising above the wind. His feet make no sound, but people can feel his breath on their necks. There are many names for this unwanted visitor, such as Galleytrot, Old Shuck, Shug Monkey, the Hateful Thing, and Hell beast.
Hopefully, this superstition does not exist, but if it does, it’s characteristics will not go undetected. (Guiley 43) Aside from actual ghosts, ghouls, and poltergeists, there are also centuries of unexplained happenings all around the world. “There are places on the earth’s surface where the realms of the human and the sacred are felt to be specifically close, places with a powerful atmosphere of sanctity or evil.” (Snow 15)
The four following accounts of places being unnatural or haunted are all unexplained mysteries of the beyond; the fifth account sounds so impossible that it is left up to the reader to decide whether or not to believe. Adelphi Theater is in London and is said to be haunted by the ghost of William Teriss. William was a popular Victorian actor who was murdered by a jealous rival. As Triss lay dying in the arms of his beloved Milward, he gasped “I’ll be back.” Although the murder occurred in 1897, Teriss’ ghost was not reported until 1928. The most recent account of haunting at the Adelphi Theater was in 1962. On this particular evening, two-night workmen claim they saw a greenish light take the shape of a man and float across the stage.
The ghostly figure opened the stage curtains and then proceeded into the stalls tipping the seats as it went. This figure was later identified when one of the workmen sketched a drawing that had a remarkable resemblance to a picture of the late William Teriss. (Guiley 43) The second of the five hauntings is one of the most talked-about poltergeists in America today, the haunting at 112 Ocean Avenue in Long Island,
New York. “The Amityville Horror is one of the most sensational and controversial of an alleged diabolical presence, but took place not in a European chateau but in a suburban Long Island, New York.”(Guiley 9) The Lutz family moved into the large Dutch colonial house at 112 Ocean Avenue on December 16, 1975. The house was comparable to a palace, but was ironically available at the low price of eighty – thousand dollars; this cheap price was because of the murder that had taken place there approximately thirteen months before. On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo brutally murdered his entire family claiming he had been hearing voices telling him to do so.
The Lutzes ignored the superstition and the warnings of the realtors and purchased their dream home. From the very first day, the house and its inhabitants terrorized them. Ghostly apparitions of hooded figures, clouds of flies in the sewing room and in the children’s’ playroom, window panes that broke spontaneously causing severe injury to the children, bone-chilling cold alternating with suffocating heat, severe personality changes, nightly parades by spirit marching bands, levitations, green slime spilling down the stairs, putrid smells, sicknesses, strange scratches on Mrs. Lutzes’ body, objects moving on their own accord, repeated disconnection of telephone service, and even communication between the youngest, Missy, and a devilish spirit she called “Jodie”; all of this unexplainable phenomena turned their dream home into a hell on earth. Both Mr. and Mrs. Lutz had dreams about the DeFeo family and even envisioned the actual murders in their dreams. This strange activity went on for twenty-eight days before the Lutzes fled in terror.
Later on with investigations of the weather reports and other evidence, police claim that this ordeal was s! imply a hoax and was just something the Lutzes cooked up around their kitchen over several bottles of wine. The truth will never be known by anyone but the Lutzes and the spirits. (Guiley 9) A similar case was the Amherst haunting in 1878. One of the similarities was that both of these poltergeists named themselves, this one calling itself “Bob”.
Many of the same supernatural activities occurred here as at the Lutz home nearly one – hundred years later. (Guiley 4)
Ghost stories are made to scare, horrify, and build up suspense until you can’t bear it anymore. Tension creates an atmosphere and when you don’t expect it strange things start to happen, maybe its paranormal activity or it could just be your mind playing tricks on you. It tends to make you feel as if there is something behind you, the forbidding, panic before you turn around and see what’s actually there. The uneasiness of the place builds tension and the anxiety is then so overwhelming that you feel as if you’re enclosed into the room or space.
Even if you’re in the woods of an open area you still feel as if you can’t escape. The first story I will consider is, “The Signalman”. It begins with the narrator, who pays a visit to the signal box, to speak to the person operating it. The narrator shouts out from above the man, “halloa! Below there! ” These words are instantly recognized by the signal box operator. Every time these words are spoken a horrific tragedy occurs, killing several people. This suggests to the reader that the narrator a Para-normal spirit. Signalman’s job is lonely and un-sociable.
With a monotonous job, it would mean that the signalman is trustworthy and would be a good friend. The signalman begins to tell a story of how on two occasions, he had seen a distant and deluded figure and on both occasions, a disaster had occurred.
He goes on to talk about the disasters, the first of which was a train crash and the second was a young lady who died of mysterious circumstances. In many instances the signalman tried to see the ghost, but to no avail. He got a distinct impression that he was being haunted. The narrator promised help to the signalman, in the way of medical advice.
The next morning he went to see the signalman, he saw a similar figure to what the signalman did. The narrator had learned from some men that he had died in a terrible train accident. Would this mean that the narrator is now going to be haunted? ‘The Signalman’ takes place in a deep decollate railway cutting, during the nineteenth-century. The cutting is dark and monotonous, “barbarous, depressing and forbidding air”, which is a difficult vocabulary to read and write. The signalman does no have much happening around him and is very secluded. Maybe he was imagining a figure, which wasn’t actually there.
The narrator describes the signalman as being “a dark sallow man with a dark beard and rather heavy eyebrows”. The signalman is so precise about his work and rarely makes a mistake, but he does realize it is forlorn and cut off from the outside world, “His attitude was one of such expectation and watchfulness”.
In the story, the signalman had obviously been distressed by events and how they have occurred. Towards the end of the story, the narrator tries to offer help but then leans that the signalman had been killed, “… cut down by an engine”.
I am sitting at my desk with the fruit I’ve chosen placed directly in front of me. I’ve placed a pen and plenty of paper to right, which enables me to record all of my observations. Using all four of my senses (sight, touch, smell, and taste) as well as my thoughts throughout this exercise, I will try to make it clear what fruit I have chosen.
Using just my sight I see that this fruit is almost a perfect sphere. It is about the same size as softball, but because of what looks like indentations and knots, it has lost its perfect shape. The colors of this fruit make it look as though it has been badly bruised. Where it once resembled part of a spectrum going gradually from light orange to bright red has now been interrupted by large brown scab like marks.
I take a closer look and notice what looks like millions of little pores covering every inch of the surface. At the center of each pore, the color becomes a bit brighter than the surrounding area. Upon rotating the fruit clockwise, I notice one large gash moving vertically along the side. As I continue rotating I count three more scars similar to the first.
I then look at it from a birds-eye view, and I become aware of a perfectly round indentation at the highest point of the fruit. After a moment of thought, I conclude that a stem once covered this small opening, but because of poor treatment, it has been separated from the fruit.
Blankly staring at the fruit my mind begins to wander. When I realize I’ve lost my train of thought, I again examine the mark left behind by the stem. Strangely the fruit begins to take on another image; it begins to resemble a large eye.
The actual cavity becoming the pupil while the slightly bruised area surrounding the pupil becomes the iris. I see this eye looking at me suspicious of why I m just staring at it, telling me Stop staring at me! If you re going to eat me just do it!
What else could possibly be said from only observing this fruit using only my sight? At this time I m becoming very frustrated, unable to think of anything else to explain. Out of frustration, I lay my head down continuing to examine this fruit. I begin to think about how this fruit has gotten in such bad shape. It looks like it s had a very hard life even though it may have just become ripe. The exterior of this fruit is covered with remnants of beatings, drops as well as close encounters with a knife or two. At this point, I am very bored and tired of looking at this single fruit. It s amazing how short my attention span seems to be for this assignment.
So far, using only my sight I have learned this fruit is almost a perfect sphere, no larger than a softball. I’ve also observed the once vibrant colors of its exterior have now begun to fade away due to the negligence of previous handlers of the fruit.
After looking at it from every angle I feel as though I have gathered all the information possible using nothing more than my sight. However, after reviewing the notes I’ve gathered, I realize that my observations are not enough. The clues I’ve gathered so far are still very vague, making it very difficult for the identity of this fruit to be revealed. Observing this fruit-based solely on what can be seen may have narrowed the choices a bit, but it can still be one of several different fruits. It has become obvious that an analytical observation requires more than just one of my senses.
I sit for several minutes staring at my fruit sitting comfortably in the palm of my hand. The temperature of this fruit is very cool as if I had just removed it from the refrigerator. Running my fingers across the surface, I feel every inch of the fruit, and feeling much like skin that is covered with goosebumps after a chill blows over it, I feel a tingling sensation at the tips of my fingers.
As I hold my fruit in my hands, I begin to play with it, gently tossing it from one hand to the other. While doing this I am reminded of playing softball. I really wish I could be playing softball instead of sitting and observing a piece of fruit. Holding the fruit in one hand I begin throwing imaginary pitches aiming directly towards the trash can, wishing I could just throw it in and forget about this unreasonable assignment.
I take aim again, gently squeezing this soft yet firm fruit, pulling my arm back I follow through with the pitch. Just as I reach the point that I must release it and send it flying through the air straight towards the trashcan, I chicken out continuing to grasp the large fruit in the palm of my hand. Reminding myself of the many hours I ve spent on this exercise so far all my work would have been in vain.
Bringing the fruit close to my nose I take in a deep breathtaking in the bittersweet citrus smell into my lungs. I feel a sigh of relief as the soothing scent begins calming all of my frustrated nerves. I take in another breath and examine it more closely. The scent is sweet like an orange.
At the same time, there is the presence of a sour scent almost like a lemon but not as acrid as lemons usually are. After taking a few more breaths, I again place my fruit on the desk and realize that the refreshing smell still remains on my hands. I begin smelling both hands until the smell eventually disappeared.
Now that I have experienced the relaxing feeling this fruit s natural scent can give me I become a bit excited looking forward to observing how this fruit tastes. I must now dissect this unknown fruit, but how shall I proceed in doing so? Should I cut it into two symmetrical halves? Or should I peel it by removing layer by layer? After careful consideration, I decide to peel it. Where should I start?
I quickly decide to choose any random place on its surface, dig my fingernail through the thick exterior, and pull back a large section of it. As this section is being pulled back it makes the sound of an ice-cold soda can being opened. It also allows a mist to escape along with even more of the refreshing scent spraying all over my hands. As I finish peeling the remainder of the exterior I notice that there is yet another layer.
This layer seems to be somewhat thinner. The color is creamy pale pink with many lines that resemble veins running around the fruit. Feeling somewhat tricked I continue peeling layer after layer.
With the removal of each layer, the smell becomes much stronger and my fingers have become drenched in the sweet juices that have escaped through the punctures I have made with my nails. When I’ve completely peeled off every trace of the creamy pink layer, I am left with bright pink fruit. What was once badly beaten and bruised is now a beautiful piece of fruit. The many outer layers served a purpose, to protect this precious fruit in the middle. The bright pink fruit is covered in tiny little veins running throughout the fresh-looking fruit.
I split the fruit into two identical halves and look even further inside this well-protected fruit. Along with the fresh tear of each half, there are a few big drops of juice, which reminded me of dew found on leaves early in the morning. The bittersweet smell has filled the air surrounding me urging me to take a bite.
Finally, after watching this fruit for so long I am able to taste it. I clear away all the seed and take a big bite. AHH! Mist from the juicy fruit tickle my nose and some of the juice begins dripping down the side of my hand. This fruit is very sweet, much sweeter than I d expected. I then continue to eat the fruit.
What kind of fruit is this? Is it an orange? No, this fruit is far too pink to be an orange. Maybe it could be a lemon? No, lemons are much smaller. After taking a few more bites I notice a very bitter after taste and I ve become very thirsty. I take another bite and my thirst is quickly quenched. Wait a minute I ve got it! There are very few fruits that I’ve ever tasted with an after taste like that. Combined with the other observations that I have made it becomes clear to me. IT S A GRAPEFRUIT!
Having spent so many hours observing this grapefruit I ve learned that when trying to concentrate on something that is very frustrating for me whether it be an object or a lesson, my mind tends to wander very easily. I noticed that when I looked at the grapefruit at different angles I became very bored at times staring at certain marks or shapes for long periods. While I stared at this fruit for a while the marks and shapes took on a whole different shape or reminded me of old memories.
Observing all that I saw usually turned into the cloud game (taking shape or characteristics of the clouds and naming what it looks like), every color, every bump or mark began to take on a life of its own. When I was able to touch the fruit I began playing with it out of frustration and remembered things I normally wouldn’t think about if I were doing something I really enjoyed. In doing this assignment I’ve also realized that I must concentrate harder on what I m doing as well as control my wandering thoughts regardless of whether I m enjoying it or not.
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