History Girls

Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto
are two of the primary kami found in ancient Shinto mythology. The divine siblings are the deities of the terrestrial creation myth, whereby the lands and all the creatures that inhabit them came into being. Specifically, they are honored as the originators of the islands of Japan.

While they star in the same creation story and both play essential parts in the generation of beings, they also have different roles and responsibilities. The myth focuses on the things they create together, but it also allows each of the kami to have an individual role in the mythology.

The primordial deities in the sky who preceded the pair in existence ordered Izanagi and Izanami to go down to earth to make something useful of the vast terrestrial realm. But at that time there was still nothing down there to sustain them or even provide a platform for their creative mission. While standing on the floating bridge of heaven, the pair looked down upon the face of the earth and pondered whether or not a potential country was beneath them. Higher still above them, the primordial deities realized that there actually was no place for their emissaries to land, so they cast down to them a magnificent jeweled spear.

Izanagi thrust the jewel-spear of heaven down into the ocean and stirred. With a “curdle-curdle” sound, he stirred up the brine of the ocean, and when he lifted the spear the brine coagulated and dripped off. It soon hardened and formed the island of Onogoro (“spontaneously-congealing”) island in Japan. This mythical island, supposedly located somewhere off the northeastern coast of today’s Shikoku, became Izanagi’s and Izanami’s home.

Read More http://jedijack-his-story.blogspot.com/2010/06/izanagi-and-izanami-creators-of-japan.html


When Axaiacatzin, King of Mexico, and other lords sent their daughters to King Nezahualpilli, for him to choose one to be his queen and lawful wife, whose son might succeed to the inheritance, she who had the highest claims among them, for nobility of birth and rank, was Chachiuhnenetzin, the young daughter of the Mexican King.

She had been brought up by the monarch in a seperate palace, with great pomp, and with numerous attendants, as became the daughter of so great a monarch. The number of servants attached to her household exceeded two thousand. Young as she was, she was exceedingly artful and vicious; so that, finding herslf alone, and seeing that her people feared her on account of her rank and importance, she began to give way to an unlimited indulgence of her power.

Whenever she saw a young man who pleased her fancy she gave secret orders that he should be brought to her, and shortly afterwards he would be put to death. She would then order a statue or effigy of his person to be made, and, adourning it with rich clothing, gold, and jewellry, place it in the apartment in which she lived. The number of staues of those whom she thus sacrificed was so great as to almost fill the room.

When the king came to visit her, and inquired respecting these statues, she answered that they were her gods; and he, knowing how strict the Mexicans were in the worship of their false dieties, believed her. But, as no inquity can be long committed with entire secrecy, she was finally found out in the manner……

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Courtly love is epitomized by the idea of the lover’s unworthiness, the educative and ennobling effects of love, the need for secrecy, the idealization of the woman, and the pain that the lover feels.

Often the love is characterized as hopeless: the lady is stony-hearted or far away. Courtly love was predominantly an institution of serving male interests: the acquisition of honor and status. 

Yet women were necessarily implicated in the tradition. The rhetoric and practices of courtly love did nothing to raise the status of women in the regions where courtly love flourished. If idealization of the feminine became culturally widespread, there were no tangible benefits to actual women in terms of individual autonomy.

The ideology of courtly love was evolved by men intent on working out their own ideas of what women should be, ideologies which fulfilled their own emotional needs and desires.


Although the great majority of the female population were married at some point in their lives, the writings by women which survive are overwhelmingly those monastic women, who have never been, or were no longer, married. Yet the universality of marriage in one form or another is such that there are many texts which serve to flesh out a conception of the changing institution emerging in law codes and theological writing throughout the period.

Marriage customs varied by region and marriage patterns were modified by class. At the most general level marriage is a social mechanism designed to regulate the distribution of women between male members of society and to formalize the links between a man and his offspring. In western Europe men have tended to have only one wife at a time: serial monogamy.

In early medieval Europe divorce seems to have been relatively easy to obtain. A declaration before witnesses that a husband or wife was divorcing his or her spouse was all that was necessary. However, by the tenth century, marriage had changed from an essentially private arrangement between a man and a woman and their respective families, into a Christian and lifelong monogamous partnership.

The wife had to have useful kindred to cement political alliances, be able to provide sons and heirs in sufficient numbers to ensure inheritance, and, increasingly, to be a companion to her husband.


Medieval medical writers and natural philosophers, as opposed to theologians, viewed sex as necessary to both men and women. Without a regular outlet for sexual desire both sexes were likely to become ill. Male seed, and the female equivalent which many writers believed to exist and be discharged by the woman during orgasm, had to be eliminated from the body periodically, just as other discharges such as phlegm, saliva, etc.

Thus, sexual pleasure of the woman was regarded as a precondition of conception. Without orgasm, it was thought, ejaculation of the ‘female seed’ would not occur and conception could not take place. Women were then expected to take pleasure in sex. It was commonplace in writing that women were naturally more lustful and voracious in their sexual appetites than men, and that they could easily exhaust and destroy their husbands’ with their relentlessness.

Source: uiweb.uidaho.edu
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Women’s History Magazine

{June 12, 2010}   The Pleasures of Courtly Love

It would be false to conclude that love involved nothing but suffering. Medieval love involved two main components: suffering and pleasure. I would first argue that love was pleasurable because it involved the sating of ones desires. When one loves something, one desires it.

Therefore, when one is with the object of one’s love, then the desire is being sated. The sating of one’s desires is clearly a source of pleasure. Hence, when one sates the desire that is involved in one’s love, one is pleasured.

In addition to the larger characteristic of pleasure, there are three “mini-elements” of love in the Middle Ages. These three “mini-elements” support the fact that pleasure is a characteristic of love in the medieval period.

Sexual Pleasure

The most obvious “mini-element” of love is sexual pleasure. This element clearly supports the idea that love involved pleasure. Andreas Capellanus touches on this element of love when he quotes the Queen (of the so called “court of love”) as saying that women prefer young men for lovers because of “physiological reasons”.

The “physiological reasons” that she is referring to are clearly sexual. Apparently, “medieval ideas were far from the Victorian notion that women did not enjoy sex”. In fact, “thirteenth-century German scholar, Albertus Magnus” believed that “greater [sexual] pleasure and appetite belonged to the woman”. Whether or not this was the case, it seems that sexual pleasure was enjoyed by both partners involved in the love affair.


The second “mini-element” of love in the Middle Ages will be termed fantasy. Though it is not certain exactly what role courtly love played in medieval life, it is certain that it existed in the fantasies of the medieval people. The songs and poetry of the time period often centered on themes of love: “courtly love, the pure love a knight felt for his lady whom he sought to win by military prowess and patience; or the love he felt for the wife of his feudal lord; or carnal desires seeking satisfaction”.

Whatever the exact theme, love was often the topic of these works. Also, these works often involved fantasy. In fact, fantasy was especially involved for those who read or sang the songs or poems. This is because the enjoyment of these things is predicated upon imagining that what they describe is actually taking place.

This imagining, I think, can be called fantasizing. Clearly, then, love was often the topic of these fantasies. In this aspect, love is again found to be pleasurable. For what are our fantasies if not creative imaginings for the purpose of pleasure.

Heightening of Honor and Worth

The fact that love involved the heightening of honor and worth conveys the final “mini-element” of love. Andreas Capellanus wrote about the effects of love which, according to him, included this characteristic:

Love causes a rough and uncouth man to be distinguished for his handsomeness; it can endow a man even of the humblest birth with nobility of character; it blesses the proud with humility; and the man in love becomes accustomed to performing many services gracefully for everyone. O what a wonderful thing is love, which makes a man shine with so many virtues and teaches everyone, no matter who he is, so many good traits of character!

The Countess Marie seems to agree with Capellanus. In a letter to him, she writes about the necessity of love to increase a man’s honor and worth of character.

Certainly, pleasure is involved in the increasing of a man’s honor and goodness of character. But is this pleasure only afforded to men? Georges Duby suggests that the answer is no. He believes that courtly love “gave a woman a definite [though confined] power”. Duby also writes that women engaged in love affairs “were entitled to certain marks of respect”.

Additionally, this characteristic of love is applicable to women in that love “compensated the medieval lady for the brutalities of marriage and recognized her existence as an individual”.

The respect and compensation that love offered to women of the Middle Ages prove that love was pleasurable to women as well as men in that it involved the heightening of honor or worth of character.

Source: westminstercollege.edu
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{June 10, 2010}   What is Love?

The multifaceted nature of love poses a challenge when attempting to define or even study ‘love.’ This challenge was echoed in both our online and class conversations. There are many different definitions love in the dictionary, in research articles, and in our discussion about the topic.

Love can be companionate or romantic in nature. We can possess love for our friends, family, and romantic partners. In different cultures and countries, love may exist in different forms as well. Love can be thought of as an emotion or a collection of different emotions. Is love a state of mind or a state of being or both? Based on our discussions, the phenomenon of love may be generated by biological, genetic, emotional, social, evolutionary, and social factors.

During our discussion, many people echoed that love is universal but is also extremely subjective and personal, which is an inherent contradiction within love itself that makes creating a definition for ‘love’ even more challenging….

When examining the evolution of love, we considered what makes love evolutionarily adaptive. First, emotions appear to play an important role in decision-making and in other cognitive and rational processes. Love, as a specific emotion, may work as a catalyst for our decision-making and, in turn, make the process more efficient and rapid.

For example such evolutionary adaptiveness is evident when a mother decides to help her child in dangerous, life-threatening situation out of love for her child, which would promote the passing on of her genes to future generations. Secondly, the health benefits of being married, or in a long-term committed relationship, such as lower mortality rates, happiness, and decreased stress, provide support that love is evolutionary adaptive.

Although, we should consider that there may be some third variable contributing to the health benefits of relationships that we are not detecting through this correlational research. Love appears to have been a part of the human experience for thousands of years, and when considering why this emotion has persisted and is universal in nature, a potential answer lies in the evolutionary adaptiveness of love.

From fMRI evidence, researchers have made the claim that love may have addictive qualities because the same ‘reward pathway’ involved in addiction also appears to be involved in romantic love. Love, like other emotions, possesses addicting qualities, and the regulation of emotions often affects reward pathways. This result proved to be controversial in our discussions.

No matter the result of the fMRI scan of ‘romantic love,’ researchers probably would come up with a plausible story and would relate the brain areas that lit up in their study with the same areas that lit up in other studies concerning topics associated with some aspect of romantic love. In addition, concerns were raised about the methodology used to determine the neural basis of love because ‘romantic love’ is simply defined as looking at a photograph of a loved one during an fMRI.

Therefore, some individuals are skeptical about these fMRI results of ‘romantic love’ and about the conclusion of ‘love as an addiction.’ However, other individuals believe the connection between fMRI studies of addiction and of love and the recognition that both utilize similar brain areas is a valid, logical conclusion to make. Only through the appropriate collaboration of studies can we study specific brain areas and discover their actual functions.

Can romantic love be boiled down to a few hormones, neurotransmitters, and brain regions? Even though we have identified some key hormones, brain regions, and neurotransmitters, these key components interact with many other parts and substances in the brain and body, and therefore, we cannot isolate love to one chemical or brain region. Identifying specific biological substrates of something so complex as love is a difficult, and maybe even impossible, task, especially when we try to figure out the exact neural pathways and processes involved.

Discussing love from a neurobiological perspective is attractive to some individuals because it can provide ‘answers’ or help figure out what the elusive subject of ‘love’ actually is in more concrete terms. However, for others discussing love from the neurobiological perspective is disenchanting and inappropriate.

Source: brynmawr.edu
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During the Hanoverian era, Britain experienced considerable demographic growth, the birth of an industrial economy, and extensive social change.

The British population doubled in the century after 1721, from 7.1 to 14.2 million people. Most of the growth occurred after 1750, and particularly after the 1780s.

Between 1810 and 1820, average family size reached five or six children per family, the highest rate in any decade in modern British history.

This surge in population was to some degree the result of falling mortality, which itself was partly the result of widespread smallpox inoculation in the early 19th century.

But it resulted more from a rise in marital fertility, which came primarily from more people marrying and, moreover, marrying at a younger age, thereby maximising women’s childbearing years.

Improved material circumstances in industrialising parts of the nation explain the trend towards earlier and more extensive marriage and larger families. Britain already had a thriving economy in the early 18th century, with productive agriculture, scientific ingenuity, a strong commercial and middling sector, and extensive manufacturing.

After 1760, a gradual but continuing rise in the rates of industrial and economic growth led to Britain becoming the world’s first industrial nation. Britain built factories and canals, extended agricultural productivity through parliamentary enclosure, experienced rapid urban growth, manufactured and patented new industrial techniques, achieved a breakthrough in fuel sources for energy and traded extensively along its own coasts and with Ireland, Europe and the wider world.

Industrialisation did not affect all parts of the nation equally. It was particularly strong in south Lancashire, Yorkshire, Birmingham and the Black Country, the Edinburgh-Glasgow corridor and London.Though industrialisation brought disruption to communities, pollution, booms and slumps and unequal gains, it led in the long term to a better standard of living for most workers.

Read more: bbc.co.uk

{June 2, 2010}   Love is Insanity

Well, love is insanity. The ancient Greeks knew that. It is the taking over of a rational
and lucid mind by delusion and self-destruction. You lose yourself, you have no power
over yourself, you can’t even think straight.

~ Marilyn French ~

{May 30, 2010}   I Will Love You Forever

I love you so deeply,
I love you so much,
I love the sound of your voice
And the way that we touch.
I love your warm smile
And your kind, thoughtful way,
The joy that you bring
To my life every day.
I love you today
As I have from the start,
And I’ll love you forever
With all of my heart.

{May 28, 2010}   Longing by Matthew Arnold


      Come to me in my dreams, and then
      By day I shall be well again!
      For so the night will more than pay
      The hopeless longing of the day.

      Come, as thou cam’st a thousand times,
      A messenger from radiant climes,
      And smile on thy new world, and be
      As kind to others as to me!

      Or, as thou never cam’st in sooth,
      Come now, and let me dream it truth,
      And part my hair, and kiss my brow,
      And say, My love why sufferest thou?

      Come to me in my dreams, and then
      By day I shall be well again!
      For so the night will more than pay
      The hopeless longing of the day.

        by Matthew Arnold

Once upon a time there was a young man who was engaged to marry a pretty girl. After a while the bridegroom-to-be became suspicious of his fiancée and her mother. You see, they were both witches.

The day came when witches go the Brocken, and the two women climbed into the hayloft, took a small glass, drank from it, and suddenly disappeared. The bridegroom-to-be, who had sneaked after them and observed them, was tempted to take a swallow from the glass. He picked it up and sipped a little from it, and suddenly he was on the Brocken, where he saw how his fiancée and her mother were carrying on with the witches, who were dancing around the devil, who was standing in their midst.

After the dance was ended, the devil commanded everyone to take her glass and drink, and immediately afterward they all flew off in the four directions of the wind. The bridegroom-to-be, however, stood there all soul alone on the Brocken, and freezing, for it was a cold night. He hadn’t brought a glass with him, so he had to return on foot.

After a long, difficult hike he finally came to his fiancée’s. However, she was very angry, and her mother scolded him as well, for having drunk from the glass. Mother and daughter finally agreed to turn the bridegroom-to-be into a donkey, and that is what happened.

The poor bridegroom-to-be was now a donkey, and he plodded unhappily from one house to the next, crying a sad “ee-ah, ee-ah.” A man felt sorry for the donkey, took him into his stall, and gave him some hay. But understandably the donkey did not want to eat, and was driven from the stall with blows.

After wandering about for a long time, long-ears finally came back to the house of his fiancée, the witch, and he cried out pitifully. The fiancée saw her former bridegroom-to-be, standing there before her door as a donkey with bowed head and ears hanging down.

She regretted what she had done and said to the donkey, “I will help you, but you must do what I tell you. At a child’s baptism, place yourself before the church door and let the baptismal water be poured over your back, and then you will be transformed back into a human.”

The donkey followed his fiancée’s advice. The next Sunday, a child was baptized, and the donkey placed himself before the church door. When the baptismal service was over, the sexton wanted to pour out the baptismal water, but the donkey was standing in his way.

“Go on, you old donkey!” said the sexton, but the donkey did not yield. Then the sexton became angry and poured the water over the animal’s back. Now the donkey was redeemed and was transformed back into a man. He hurried to his fiancee, married her, and lived happily with her from that time forth.

More witch legends at pitt.edu

et cetera