Mummy

The Rosicrucian Mummies of San Jose

The following article is from the book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into California.

Zarathustra~commonswiki

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Ancient occult societies, alchemy, and magical chanting—how much do you really know about your nice neighbors in San Jose?

MUMMY DEAREST

Tucked away in an area of San Jose best known for its green lawns and high-end homes are ancient mummies of everything from cats to catfish, including a few mummified people. These mummies rest in San Jose’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum with more than 4,000 other artifacts (originals and replicas), the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in the western United States.

The museum building, designed to resemble the ancient Amon temple that once stood in Karnak, Egypt, is part of a beautiful, but somewhat baffling, complex built by the Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC). The what? They’re a group devoted to self-improvement and the study of mysticism. Rosicrucian Park takes up an entire city block in San Jose and features a planetarium, a research library, a temple, a shrine, and a peace garden replete with Egyptian plants, a pond, and fountains. All the buildings —except the Moorish-style planetarium— have exteriors inspired by Egyptian structures.

How this blend of ancient Egypt and New Age mysticism came to be located in a San Jose suburb is a strange story. For some, it begins in 1915 when Harvey Spencer Lewis, a former advertising illustrator from New Jersey, founded the AMORC to “study the elusive mysteries of life and the universe.” For others, though, the story really begins in 1500 BC, when some of those mummies in the museum were still alive.

EGYPT, BY WAY OF GERMANY?

The AMORC is an offshoot of the Rosicrucian Society, which has puzzled, intrigued, and sometimes angered people for years. Like the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucian Society has been linked to secret symbols, famous people, and conspiracy theories. The first Rosicrucians appeared in 16th-century Germany, supposedly founded by Christian Rosenkreutz. According to legend, he was both an enlightened mystic and a successful alchemist (he could turn lead into gold, though we have no idea how), so he had a lot of clout in the worlds of religion and mysticism.

But many historians now believe that Rosencreuz was a mythical figure, rather than a real person. Three pamphlets appeared in the 17th century—one about Rosencreuz, a second about his secret society, and a third about alchemy and spiritual enlightenment. No one knows exactly who wrote the pamphlets, but the authors may have been German Protestants who started the society themselves. Regardless, those pamphlets spawned elaborate legends about the Rosicrucians, elite Christian mystics who clandestinely practiced magic and alchemy while trying to bring about spiritual enlightenment. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists accused the Rosicrucians of trying…

Ötzi the mummified Iceman actually froze to death

Ötzi

NEW ORLEANS, La. — In 1991, hikers in the high Alps along the Austrian-Italian border discovered the remains of a man frozen in the ice for some 5,300 years. What had killed this man — nicknamed, Ötzi (OOT-see) the Iceman — has remained a mystery. A new analysis comes to a fairly simple conclusion: It was the weather.

“Freezing to death is quite likely the main cause of death in this classic cold case,” reports Frank Rühli. An anthropologist, he works at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Ötzi had been a Copper Age hunter-gatherer. And it appears that the extreme cold killed him within anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Rühli shared his team’s new assessment April 20, here, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Ötzi had a range of injuries. In fact, some analyses had hinted he might have been the earliest known murder victim. After all, he had been shot. A stone arrowhead remained in his left shoulder. He also had a series of head wounds.

Researchers have now subjected his remains to new forensic analyses. These included X-rays and CT scans. They show the stone weapon did not penetrate far into the shoulder. It ruptured a blood vessel but caused no major damage, Rühli reports. There was internal bleeding. It totaled only about 100 milliliters,…

Ötzi the mummified Iceman actually froze to death

Ötzi

NEW ORLEANS, La. — In 1991, hikers in the high Alps along the Austrian-Italian border discovered the remains of a man frozen in the ice for some 5,300 years. What had killed this man — nicknamed, Ötzi (OOT-see) the Iceman — has remained a mystery. A new analysis comes to a fairly simple conclusion: It was the weather.

“Freezing to death is quite likely the main cause of death in this classic cold case,” reports Frank Rühli. An anthropologist, he works at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Ötzi had been a Copper Age hunter-gatherer. And it appears that the extreme cold killed him within anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Rühli shared his team’s new assessment April 20, here, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Ötzi had a range of injuries. In fact, some analyses had hinted he might have been the earliest known murder victim. After all, he had been shot. A stone arrowhead remained in his left shoulder. He also had a series of head wounds.

Researchers have now subjected his remains to new forensic analyses. These included X-rays and CT scans. They show the stone weapon did not penetrate far into the shoulder. It ruptured a blood vessel but caused no major damage, Rühli reports. There was internal bleeding. It totaled only about 100 milliliters,…

8 Mummified, Mythical Monsters Found in Remote Japanese Temples

In remote locations, far from the eyes of foreign tourists, Shinto temples across Japan claim to house the ancient, mummified remains of everything from ogres to mermaids. These artifacts are commonly believed to be elaborate pieces of faux-taxidermy created for entertainment purposes at Edo Period carnivals called Misemonos. The proceeds of these carnivals often benefited local shrines, and the mummies were either presented alongside or later associated with myths that represented local beliefs and practices. Now, hundreds of years later, they stand out as some of the most unusual pieces of cultural history in the world. Here are some examples of mythical mummified creatures—and where they can be found.

1. OGRES (ONI)

Original illustration by Zardulu

Ogres, or oni, are one of the most common figures in Shinto folklore. While most of them live in the netherworld, a few of these brightly colored brutes end up wandering the Earth doing all kinds of terrible things like eating people. One ogre may have bitten off more than he could chew when he visited the town of Naruto—at least that’s what we can guess based on the remains at Kikotsuji Temple. Inside is a golden shrine that holds a few thumb-sized ogre molars and a bulbous horn.

Original illustration by Zardulu

The remains of a second ogre can be found in the town of Usa, near the Jyuppouzan Daijyoin temple complex. A set of 108 stairs leads to an entire mummified body, complete with horns and three-fingered hands. No one knows for sure how old the specimen is, but for many generations, it was in the possession of a noble family—until the patriarch fell ill in 1925. Believing himself to be cursed by the ogre heirloom, he handed the mummy over to the local temple, after which he reportedly made a complete recovery.

2. USHI-ONI

Original illustration by Zardulu

Ushi-Oni is a term that’s come to encompass any supernatural creature with the head of an ox; the most common depictions feature giant, bipedal flying squirrels. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see one, look no further than Negoro-ji, a temple near the town of Iwade. Not only is there a statue of a googly-eyed, dancing ushi-oni outside—the inside houses the horns of one that, according to legend, was slain 400 years ago by a famous archer, Yamada Kurando Takakiyois.

Original illustration by Zardulu

The remains of another ushi-oni are housed in the city of Kurume’s Ishishikakizan Kannonji temple. This one was vanquished by a priest named Konko Fujinori Konnon using only the power of prayer. According to the temple, the creature’s foot, now mummified, has been in their possession for the nearly 1000 years since its disembodiment.

3. MERMAIDS

Original illustration by Zardulu

Almost everyone is familiar with the Disney cartoon The Little Mermaid, where Ariel gives up her life in the sea to become human….