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Occult Word of the Day - Diablerie

PRONUNCIATION:
(dee-AH-bluh-ree or dee-AB-luh-ree)

 

MEANING:
noun:
1. Sorcery; witchcraft; black magic.
2. A representation of devils or demons in art or literature.
3. Mischievous manner or conduct.

 

ETYMOLOGY:
From French diable (devil), from Latin diabolus (devil), from Greek diabolos (slanderer), from diaballein (to slander), from dia- (across) + ballein (to hurl). Earliest documented use: 1653.

 

USAGE:
“[The hat] unquestionably lent a diablerie to my appearance, and mine is an appearance that needs all the diablerie it can get.”
P.G. Wodehouse; Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves; Simon & Schuster; 1963.

A History of Ghosts in the Western World

GhostStarting today at 7pm New York Time! This three part online series explores how people have thought about ghosts through time in the Western world.

Here is the link to register.

Course Description

In this course, we'll trace the history of ghostly encounters reported across the Western world, both friendly and nefarious. We'll begin with ghosts from the classical world who haunted heroes like Gilgamesh and Odysseus, and look at the Biblical story of Saul and the Witch of Endor. We'll meet medieval necromancers, Victorian spiritualists, and finally, the modern ghost-hunter. By the end of our time together, you'll not only have a deep understanding of how cultures have conceived of the most common supernatural entity throughout history, but also ideas and suggestions for engaging in your own supernatural investigations. 

Syllabus at a Glance

This course includes three total sessions, each lasting for 1 hour on three Mondays beginning January 22.

Session 1 (Monday, 1/22, 7–8:00 PM ET) | From Gilgamesh to the Victorians

We'll explore the earliest history of ghosts, including Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, and Biblical stories; cover medieval necromancers; and learn how the Victorians fell in love with the seance. 

Session 2 (Monday, 1/29, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Who You Gonna Call (in the 20th century)? 

We'll cover early scientific investigation of ghosts, including spirit photography and audio recording; the first great ghost-hunters; and ghosts in 20th-century literature and film.

Session 3 (Monday, 2/5, 7–8:00 PM ET) | Today's Ghosts

In our final session, we'll take an in-depth look at modern theories regarding spirits and ghost-hunting, including a close examination of equipment and the use of mediums and psychics.

Between Sessions

Students will be given recommended readings and materials that touch on the topics covered in class.

Pricing Options

This course is available at three ticket prices. This tiered pricing model is designed to increase access for a wider range of students as well as to support our instructors. In addition to tiered tickets, we offer a limited number of no-pay spots for students who would not otherwise be able to take this course. No-pay spots are selected via a randomized drawing two weeks before each section begins. For more information and to apply for a no-pay spot, please click here. To learn more about our pricing model and randomized selection process for no-pay spots, please visit our FAQ page.

Community Guidelines for Students

Please take a moment to review our community guidelines for students, which aim to share our classroom ethos and help set the stage for the best possible learning experience.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

Atlas Obscura Courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit www.atlasobscura.com/online-courses. For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

Founded in 2009, Atlas Obscura created the definitive community-driven guide to incredible places across the planet and is now an award-winning company that shares the world’s hidden wonders in person and online.

Where We’ll Be

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to each class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access all sessions of your course via Zoom.

 


Finding Relaxation with Computer Games

Computer gamerWe welcome a guest post from Evelina Brown, an expert on the beneficial impact of computer games:

What do you think about computer games? Is this part of modern life evil or a good release for the brain? Today we would like to talk about those aspects of computer games that can only benefit you! Let's go!

Computer Games Are A Modern Method Of Recreation

Computer games are not just a way to have fun. Playing a computer, a person relaxes and plunges into a new world. The gameplay creates an alternative virtual place where the player does not spend a resource on physical presence, where the player literally may or may not be himself or herself. The effect of alternative reality can be vividly felt in role-playing games like The World of Warcraft, Fallout, The Outer Worlds and many others. The opportunity to have a role, being another person or character, gives a sense of freedom and relaxation. A sense of inner freedom and confidence is given not only by role-playing games, but also by other types of games.

What do people usually think about computer games? Often, when people wonder about computer games, they represent in their mind something that is not the most useful for our health. Especially for the health of the eyes and head. However, today we want to talk about the advantages of computer games for your health and general psychophysical condition. There are really a lot of pluses if you do it wisely.

Most of us are engaged in complex mental and physical labor every day. Studying, working and training are a big part of our life, which takes a lot of our energy. We usually spend a lot of energy and health on concentration and perseverance. Obviously, in order to keep yourself in good shape, you need to relax perfectly and have a good rest in your free time. There are quite a lot of ways for a quality holiday and each of us is suitable for his own. What is the beauty of computer games? Let's figure it out!

Moving in space

In order to travel, it is not necessary to book a plane and a hotel. Sometimes it's enough just to take a computer mouse or joystick! Moving between worlds is the main way of entertainment of the 21st century!

Fans of different worlds – plots of books, movies, TV series can find themselves right inside their favorite stories! Thanks to the realistic graphics of computer games and recreated to the smallest detail popular alternative worlds, modern people can literally travel in space. Doesn’t it sound fantastic?

Leisure with friends

The modern world is moving faster and faster towards digitalization and increasing the influence of the Internet on our lives. Most likely, you even have friends whom you met online and have never met. But at the same time, we communicate with them in exactly the same way as with friends from real life, except for the possibility of tactile contact. The days when we could contact a friend from another part of the planet only by phone or via SMS have already passed. Today we can spend evenings together and see each other as real!

Pleasure

Pleasure is one of the key reasons for the love of computer games.

So, for example, in the multiplayer game Path of Exile, you can not only have a cool time with your friends, but also make new ones right online! And if it seems to you that difficult tasks and hard leveling stages will cause negative emotions and impotence to you, then do not forget that players can use the poe carry service and enjoy the game to the fullest! Why be indignant and irritated after a tough day, if you can get a full range of positive emotions!

Logic and exercise for the mind

In contrast to the previous point, let's talk about computer games as a warm-up for the brain. Many studies of the scientific community from different countries have provided information that computer games are able to develop in a person such indicators as attentiveness, concentration, reaction speed, memory and even thinking flexibility. Games give you the opportunity not only to have fun and relax, but also to test your logic for strength. Going through difficult tasks and various stages, you train to keep your brain in good shape!

Skills training

It is difficult not to agree with the fact that in the modern world, various kinds of simulators are actively used, which allow you to hone certain skills while sitting at home and not being exposed to any unnecessary danger.

Are you planning to get a driver's license? Then try to play a car simulator for driving, which will help in practicing skills and memorizing the right actions in various road situations. You can even try yourself as a new profession if you play specialized simulators. And you've probably heard about the most popular truck driver simulator called Euro Truck Simulator 2, which has the largest fan base among similar games, whose participants create mods that include various cities of the world and much more. There are a lot of offers in the world of simulators! Try everything!

What is the main thing?

Life in the modern world has such a high pace that sometimes there is not even enough time for something uniquely useful. The passage of another computer game can take from several tens to hundreds of hours of real time.

At such moments, the realization comes: the main thing is balance and harmony in everything. Including hobbies. If you set aside a certain amount of time for this, monitor your condition and avoid excess, everything will definitely be fine!

Therefore, play for fun, keep your balance, look for new friends and spend your free time cool! As all the above facts show, computer games can be really useful both for your state of mind and for the stationary system.

 


Word of the Day - Pythoness

PythonessI am always trying to improve my new age vocabulary and just found a new word - Pythoness!

A Pythoness is a woman who practices divination, a female soothsayer or conjuror of spirits. The word comes from the late 14c., phitonesse, Phitonissa, "woman with the power of soothsaying," from Old French phitonise (13c.) and Medieval Latin phitonissa, from Late Latin pythonissa, used in Vulgate of the Witch of Endor (I Samuel xxviii. 7), and often treated as her proper name. It is the female version of of pytho "familiar spirit;" which ultimately is connected with the title of the prophetess of the Delphic Oracle, Greek pythia hiereia, from Pythios, an epithet of Apollo, from Pythō, an older name of the region of Delphi (see python). 


Is Artifical Intelligence Going to Replace Astrologers?

Tarot reader 1The New York Times recently wrote an article on a new machine in a store in NYC that uses AI to construct astrological predictions.

In my opinion (and since I have asked ChatGPT to write a horoscope to see how it would do), the result was a horoscope that lacked verve, passion or emotion. Sort of like eating a dry piece of cardboard on a bun compared to a juicy hamburger. 

AI could replace those astrologers who do not write or express themselves well and do not offer great and detailed insights into one's chart. Personally, I am not concerned and welcome the possible competition, as poor as it may be.

Here is the NYT article. I welcome your opinion!

Is A.I. the Future of Astrology?
 
A new machine furthers a technology company’s aims at providing astrological readings using artificial intelligence. By Saam Niami who reported from Iconic Magazines, where he spoke to more than two dozen people. (He is a Taurus.)
 
The machine stood beside a deli counter, towering over cardboard boxes piled near the entrance to the Iconic Magazines store in NoLIta. It had the stature of a standing washer-dryer, with black buttons, rows of blinking lights and gauges labeled with celestial bodies — “sun,” “moon,” and the eight planets — on the front of its white facade. “It could be something from NASA,” said Tim Wiedmann, a 27-year-old student from Germany who visited the store on a Wednesday night in June.
 
While Mr. Wiedmann stood in front of the machine, its front screen directed him to “ask the stars.” Using a knob, he cycled through some 100 questions. Among them: How do I get better at my job? Should I leave New York? Should I start a cult? After choosing a question, Mr. Wiedmann entered his birth date, time and place. The screen flashed a message that read, in part: “All answers are based on astrological calculations.” The machine, using a built-in camera, took his picture. Moments later, it spat out a piece of paper containing his grainy portrait and an answer to his question.
 
“It’s like someone is in there,” said Mr. Wiedmann, who was one of many that came to use the machine that night. At times, lines started to snake through the store as people waited for a turn. A lot of visitors said they had heard about the machine on TikTok, including two 19-year-old students. “I asked for my red flags,” one of the students said of the question he chose, before the other student read the machine’s printed answer aloud.
 
She said: “Your red flags include a tendency to set high expectations and a fear of conflict. Your Jupiter and Saturn placement suggests a need for perfectionism and a fear of rejection. By avoiding conflict, you may limit your potential for growth and meaningful connections. Remember, conflict is an inherent part of intimacy. Practice it with compassion and let go of unrealistic expectations.”
 
Like most people who used the machine that night, neither he nor she initially knew that its answers were generated using artificial intelligence, including ChatGPT and GPT-3. The machine was developed by Co-Star, a technology company with a buzzy astrology app that uses A.I. to generate readings. It will be at Iconic Magazines for most of the summer and then move to Los Angeles later this year.
 
Astrologers for centuries have referred to the movement and positions of planets and other celestial bodies to inform readings and horoscopes. Co-Star follows similar methods, but its daily readings are prepared by A.I. that pulls text from a database written for the app by a team of astrologers and poets.
 
The machine, which was free to use, was created to promote Co-Star’s new in-app service, Embrace the Void, which starts at about $1. The service functions similarly to the machine: Users can ask open-ended questions that are not normally addressed in the app’s astrological readings and receive answers generated by A.I. using Co-Star’s database of prepared text.
 
Banu Guler, 35, the founder of Co-Star, named a range of aesthetic inspirations for the machine, including Soviet-era computers, devices used by NASA, photo booths and vending and washing machines. It was also influenced by the Zoltar fortunetelling machines that were once common attractions at boardwalks and arcades, she said. “The best part is you get your little reading,” Ms. Guler said of the Zoltar machines. “And then you put your reading on your fridge, or in your book, or in your journal, or it just loiters at the bottom of your bag for months, if you’re me.”
 
“Even though you know it’s garbage, it’s special garbage,” she added, flashing a smirk.
Before starting Co-Star in 2017, Ms. Guler was working in art sales. She said that back then, she taught herself how to code A.I. that could predict how certain factors, like the weather on the date of an auction, might influence the sale price of an artwork. She later drew on what she had learned about A.I. to develop Co-Star. “It was like, How can this fit into astrology?” she said. “Astrology is not a perfect science, but there’s also no perfect science, which I’m not saying in an anti-science way,” Ms. Guler added. “I don’t believe that science is perfect, and I don’t believe anything else is perfect, because humans are imperfect. And that’s cool. Like, genuinely, it’s beautiful.”
 
Vijender Sharma, an astrologer of 35 years in northern India, who specializes in Vedic astrology, said he has used software to prepare readings. He said that because astrology was informed by science, as long as A.I. was trained with the proper knowledge, he did not see any harm in using the technology.
 
Susan Miller, an astrologer in New York who has written horoscopes for decades, was more skeptical. “A.I. is exciting for things like splitting atoms,” she said, adding that she would not trust such technology in a practice that often deals with human emotions. “Machines make mistakes,” Ms. Miller said. “And the person who gets the answer may walk around with that wrong answer in their head forever.”
 
After checking out the Co-Star machine at the magazine shop, Nisarga Kadam, 23, who works in financial technology in New York, was also skeptical of its A.I.-generated answers. “It’s a bunch of trained words put together,” Ms. Kadam said. “It’s not personal.”
 
Anna Jonska, 26, a video director in New York, felt the opposite. Ms. Jonska said she isn’t the biggest fan of astrology and that the machine’s use of A.I. made her trust it even more. “I’d be more inclined to believe that an old lady leaning over a crystal ball is lying to me than a computer,” she said.

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