Saturday, May 30, 2009
"like sky-blue air" (part 1)
A little while ago, a visitor to this site left a comment regarding the apparent suicide of an actress. I have looked at a few Hollywood deaths because they came to my attention in one round about way or another. The information that comes my way does so via word of mouth. I followed Jaspal's link & found Lucy Gordan whom I'm sure you all know about. It was her method of death that made me take notice as well as her linking with Heath Ledger - both synching up for me with the death of Adrienne Shelly in 2006.
"Former Oxford High School pupil Lucy appeared in the 2002 film The Four Feathers with Heath Ledger, 28, the Australian star who died from a drug overdose last year. Lucy died two days before her 29th birthday and hours before she was due to be interviewed at the Cannes film festival." (Adrienne Shelly was waiting to hear from the Sundance Film Festival).
I had thought this would have been a continuation of that Fair Phantom series, but instead a different path has opened up.
This last week has been a struggle for me. I've had the worst head cold I've ever had & it led to some nights where breathing was a struggle. Is it a coincidence that I should start researching hanging at this time?
I have to admit that in the beginning I was pretty immune to hanging, after all I grew up with it.
Hanging is very familiar to us as both as a historical fact & as a popular method of dispatching victims in murder mysteries. It also turns up from time to time in the news. I was also fairly desensitised to the siblings of hanging - strangulation & suffocation - I simply recognised the words & what they meant on a descriptive level.
Researching hanging has been the worst thing I've ever looked into. I was so afraid of slipping onto a site where I would see what I could not unsee. My friend Michael from Hidden Agendas has been helping me, as well as allowing a firing back & forth of ideas, so I owe him a big thank you for his strength & his ideas which are also a part of this article.
Hanging is ugly beyond words. Wiki states thusly: "Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck." I won't be posting any pics.
Memories of hanging on tv or in stories has always been clean & tidy, with the sad but pathetic figure of a still body suspended by the neck. The often familiar suicide scene set in police cells.
Wiki on suicide: "In Canada, hanging is the most common method of suicide, and in the U.S., hanging is the second most common method, after firearms. In Great Britain, where firearms are less easily available, as of 2001 hanging was the most common method among men and the second-most commonplace among women (after poisoning)."
A little more fact "...There are four ways of performing a judicial hanging — the short drop, suspension hanging, the standard drop, and the long drop."
The more I looked at hanging the uglier it became. The descriptions of the different methods of hanging, reeked of cold-blooded murder. I was informed that hanging was a blood free method that was easy to carry out & thus was adopted widely.
Recently historical mis-facts have been 'coming to light' & we are being 'treated' to 'the truth' - history is being cleansed of exaggeration. One such cleansing is the revelation that almost all witches were hanged rather than burned - ahh what a relief, that's all right then.
Calculated hanging (a more recent invention) was designed to break a human beings neck - it required (cold-blooded) planning - "The standard drop, which arrived as calculated in English units, involves a drop of between four and six feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) and came into use from 1866, when the scientific details were published by an Irish doctor, Samuel Haughton."
This being seen to be an improvement on the short drop - "A ladder was also commonly used with the condemned being forced to ascend, after which the noose was tied and the ladder pulled away or turned...The condemned prisoner dies of strangulation, typically between ten and twenty minutes. Before 1850, it was the main method."
There are horrific variations of what people suffer & this includes loss of control of bowels & bladder.
Human history is shamefully full of murders & a huge amount of this was through hanging. I think it was writing so recently about air that made me sit up & start asking questions. All killing is wrongful, but I believe there are reasons to ask questions about why hanging has been such a 'popular' & worldwide sport for thousands of years.
When I wasn't sure whether or not I should write about this topic I was inundated with synchs. I was drawn to a book at the library, called 'The Way of the Dream.' On opening it randomly, I found myself looking at a chapter entitled The Hanged Man. Within that chapter was a wealth of information. in particular we are told that hanging is a type of negative deification & we are reminded that the God of Western Civilisation was, after all, a hanged man. Indeed wiki says that hanging "... also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain "hanging"."
"gallows c.1230, pl. of M.E. galwe "gallows," from... P.Gmc. *galg- "pole" (cf. O.Fris. galga, M.H.G. galge "gallows, cross")... Originally also used of the cross of the crucifixion. Plural because made of two poles."
"Hanging is one of the most ancient forms of execution. The Book of Esther, for example, centers on the hanging of the genocidal traitor Haman, and British and U.S. law have always incorporated death by hanging."
So my question is this "Was hanging designed to impact upon the human psyche & if so why?" You do not need me to include a picture of a noose, in order to understand what I'm referring to do you?
Well actually you do - here is one I borrowed earlier
"noose: c.1450, from O.Fr. nos or cognate O.Prov. nous "knot," from L. nodus "knot." ."
A noose is a knot. A browse in the wikimarket aisle of death reveals: "According to popular belief, the hangman's noose must have 13 coils... Also, tradition holds that nooses be wrapped in a left-hand spiral." Nothing strange about that then.
I remembered a little book I used to own on natural magic. I remembered that it had a chapter on knot magic. I went to the library & found it - magic! It told me that "knot magic stretches back "at least 4000 years."
Then I went to the Internet as it's easier to cut & paste, than type out passages.
"Throughout history many different traditions and peoples have believed that knots in cords are magical, and can be tied or released to activate the spell. There is the famous Greek myth of Jason and the Agurnaughts , who had a magic cord, as he released the knots, it released the winds."
"...especially in Celtic lands where, it was believed, the Faerie folk could not be held in any knot, the skill of tying knots was a faerie gift. A very sacred and holy thing."
"...some of the best knots are used for binding an enemy, symbolically tying up the enemies intestines, shortening someones life, or sending them to the gallows, and other such lovelies from the horror hit parade."
"Tying up an illness, binding a demon, securing someones love - for all these things and more, knots were used. In older times illness or misfortune was regarded as an evil Spirit to be bound up in cloth or rope, therefore inhibiting its progress."
"The gods, perceiving now that ordinary bonds, however strong, would never prevail against the Fenris wolf’s great strength, bade Skirnir, Frey’s servant, go down to Svart-alfa-heim and bid the dwarfs fashion a bond which nothing could sever."
"We can take another look at knot work, in the specialised skills of old fashioned midwifery. As soon as a child is born, and the umbilical cord is cut and tied, this is the first act of magic practiced upon the new born infant, and in older times, the midwife would have been responsible for giving the child his future good fortune, by saying a little prayer or blessing as the cord is cut and tied, securing his future health and happiness."
"It was believed that witches of old cast a death spell over a person by tying the knots and then hiding the cord, and the only way to undo the spell was to find the secreted cord and untie each knot."
A bit far fetched you think?
Well... legend has it that the Prophet Mohammed was bewitched by an evil man & his daughters, who tied 11 knots in a cord & hid it in a well. Mohammed had all but kicked the bucket (though not the one in that particular well), when God intervened & sent an obliging archangel to reveal the secret location & the advise on the unspelling techniques.
In the Koran there is a request for protection "from the evil of those who practice witchcraft when they blow in the knots"
A book entitled Knot Craft tells us that in a show of hands scenario, Plato would have raised both of his in favour of the death penalty for 'those who injured others by means of magic knots.'
Witches & sorcerers were believed to have the power to bind the wind with knots & sometimes these were sold to sailors - "loose one knot, you get mild winds. Two knots gives stronger winds and three hard storms" - at last a way to make a little money on the side - I wonder if I'd have to pay tax on that?
In Western African witchcraft, the tying of a knot while saying a person's name gave the 'knotter' power over the 'namee'.
We cannot slip (knot) by this search without a little 1st degree look at la maison de masons
"...A hangman's noose is then placed around his neck, the end of the rope hanging down behind him. He is blindfolded." I couldn't help thinking of this masonic ritual & rolled up trouser legs'n'things when I first spied this painting. (You have to click on it, it won't come to you, but be warned it's a painting of a hanging)
Seeking,(knot searching) elicited a few more images
From a carving at the da Vinci ..err sorry I mean Rosslyn Chapel "One carving may show a blindfolded man being led forward with a noose around his neck -- similar to the way a candidate is prepared for initiation into Freemasonry. The carving has been eroded by time and pollution and is difficult to make out clearly"
"There are few known figures of the period showing nooses about their necks. The best known is the statue called 'The dying Gaul'."
I have also read that the common or garden variety neck tie is a variation on a knot theme
"The tie is a noose turned upside down.It tightens around the neck. The closing tension is not caused by an intentional collapse-of-the-body-beneath-the-weight-of-the-world, but an auspicious and determined yank of the arm towards it."
Should you still doubt there is weight behind knots just recall what happens when you get married & 'tie the knot'. I don't know if business mens ties come in red tape (they should do) for they are so often the purveyors of 'binding' agreements. How often have you used the phrase that "something was bound to happen"?
For every article written there is a ton of information left out. This article has tested my endurance during a week when I have felt way below par. The worst thing was reading (but trying not to) about the effects of hanging on human beings, you know those people like you & me. With any luck I'll now go to the wiki page on hanging for the last time:
It seems that on top of all the other atrocities of hanging, men often get erections when hung "It was a common belief in some countries that a mandrake plant would grow in the shadow of a gallows, where the semen of a hanged man dripped on to the earth; this would appear to be the reason for the methods employed by the alchemists who, in alchemy terms, "projected human seed into animal earth."
Thus far in this article we have looked at an act of murder that has been accepted in human society for thousands of years. We have added the suggestion that hanging is a ritual (possibly a sexual ritual) using knot magic. I have to leave this for now. There is much more to come as we look at just why the neck has been targeted & what that has meant or means for humanity.
"Now your cord must be programmed for a specific purpose such as healing or as a magickal storage system for use in any number of things in the future."