Inktober Week 3

Day 15: Cipactli (Aztec Mythology) - A primeval sea monster; Every one of its mouths has an insatiable appetite.

Day 16: Mare (Scandinavian Folklore) - A spirit who gives people bad dreams by sitting on them in their sleep.

Day 17: Kishi (Angolan Folklore) - A cannibalistic two-faced demon. They use their human face, smooth talk and charms to attract young women, who they then eat with the hyena face.

Day 18: Ramidreju (Cantabrian Mythology) - It is born once every hundred years from a weasel or marten. Their fur heals any sickness and the creature has a strong desire for gold.

Day 19:  Ballybog (Irish Folklore) - Repugnant in both appearance and sound, they grunt and slobber instead of speaking. Their long spindly limbs are too thin and weak to support their weight.

Day 20: Bunyip (Australian Aboriginal Mythology) - Living in the creeks and billabongs of Australia, they are to be avoided; they will eat any people and animals in their territory.

Day 21: Fuath (Scottish Folklore) - Destructive creatures with a preference for wearing green. They fear sunlight and cold iron.


The Egyptian Osireion, Abydos, 19th Dynasty, ca. 1280 B.C.E.

This huge cenotaph is behind the temple of Seti I, and was built to represent both the Primeval Mound and the tomb of Osiris (god of the afterlife, underworld, and the dead).

The ‘Primeval Mound’, according to Egyptian mythology, was the first land to rise above the primeval ocean at the dawn of time. It remained the center of the cosmos, and a place of everlasting creation. Osiris was strongly associated with the Primeval Mound by the New Kingdom. Some Underworld Books show the souls of Osiris and Ra meeting in bird form at the top of the Mound in order to bring new life to the dead. The resurrected Osiris was shown enthroned on top of the Mound at the center of the underworld.

The Osireion, the largest cenotaph built, is on an artificial island surrounded by a moat (mythologically, the primeral waters) where water was channeled through a subterranean pipeline. On this moat stand two rows of large granite pillars, each weighing 55 tons. Two square depressions on the island (mythologically the first land in the primeral waters) mark the site of a canopic chest and the sarcophagus. Although now open, the Osireion was originally sealed off, likely under an earthen mound. Outside the great enclosure walls to the north lies the real entrance to the cenotaph. This image may help in understanding the layout of the Osireion.

Photos courtesy & taken by Olaf Tausch. When writing up this post, G. Pinch's Handbook of Egyptian Mythology and M. Seidel & R. Schulz’s Egypt: Art and Architecture were of great use.

Georges Lemaître - The Birth of Space, 1931.

According to the Big Bang theory, the expansion of the observable Universe began with the explosion of a single particle at a definite point in time. This startling idea first appeared in scientific form in 1931, in a paper by Georges Lemaître. The theory, accepted by nearly all astronomers today, was a radical departure from scientific orthodoxy in the 1930s. Many astronomers at the time were still uncomfortable with the idea that the Universe is expanding. That the entire observable Universe of galaxies began with a bang seemed preposterous.

Lemaître explored the logical consequences of an expanding Universe and boldly proposed that it must have originated at a finite point in time. If the Universe is expanding, he reasoned, it was smaller in the past, and extrapolation back in time should lead to an epoch when all the matter in the Universe was packed together in an extremely dense state. Appealing to the new quantum theory of matter, Lemaître argued that the physical Universe was initially a single particle - the “Primeval Atom” as he called it - which disintegrated in an explosion, giving rise to Space and Time and the expansion of the Universe that continues to this day. This idea marked the birth of what we now know as Big Bang Cosmology.

Pathophysiology of the Blight and Red Lyrium

All right!  This will be my last science meta post about Thedas for a while, unless something else strikes me.  As always, thanks to everyone who’s shown an interest in these sorts of posts.  I hope they’re entertaining and interesting, I know I’ve had a ton of fun thinking about them.

Part 1: Lyrium Addiction and Withdrawal

Part 2: Biology and Life History of Lyrium, and Dwarven Physiology

The Blight is two different entities: one is the coordinated attack on the surface world by darkspawn led by a tainted Old God, the other is the disease that results in infection and the creation of wastelands.  We’ll be talking about the latter.

The Blight pathogen has to be something pretty elastic; it is able to infect animals, plants, and fungus.  Our options for infectious agents include bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and prions.  

Parasites are typically fairly host-specific, sticking to well-established life cycles, so they’re out; there’s no parasite in nature that would infect both plants and animals, and when they do infect animals of different classes, typically it’s just a handful (i.e. mosquitoes and dogs both are affected by heartworm, not mosquitoes, houseflies, beetles, ants, dogs, bears, birds, lizards, etc.).  

Viruses are more diversified than parasites; consider rabies virus, which is capable of infecting all mammals.  However, plants and fungi, as well as birds and reptiles, would be safe from rabies.  There are certainly viruses that jump entire classes of creatures - West Nile infects birds and mammals – but I really can’t name one that jumps kingdoms, affecting Animalia AND Plantae, for example; making it more doubtful that the Blight is a virus, in my mind.  

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