Asia

  • Princess Liễu Hạnh

    Princess Liễu Hạnh is one of The Four Immortals worshiped by the people of Vietnam’s Red River Delta Region.  In the Taoist faith, she is the thirteen daughter of the Jade Emperor.  The Jade Emperor is also known as Yuanshi Tianzun, one of the Three Pure Ones, the three primordial emanations of the Tao.  According to their faith, she has been incarnated on earth multiple times.   The first incarnation was as the daughter of a righteous man Le Thai Cong.  He had been knocked unconscious while his wife was pregnant and had a vision of a Liễu Hạnh dropping the Jade Emperor’s favorite jade cup and smashing it into…

  • Empress Wu Zetian

      In the East as in the West, female rulers were not the norm.  In China, the famous philosopher Confucius is reported to have said a woman ruling was as unnatural as a “hen crow like a rooster at daybreak.”  Huh.  A regular John Knox, that guy.  Well cock-a-doodle-doo, Confucius, because this is the story of Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang dynasty, the only female emperor in Chinese history.  Originally, named Wu Zhao she was given the name Zetian, which means “emulator of heaven”, after death.  Sources about Wu Zetian’s life are a hodgepodge, which some condemning her as the devil himself and others testifying she was an absolute…

  • Nana Asma’u

    There is a lot of talk in the news about the education of girls.  In fact in recent history Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for daring to go to school and being female at the same time.  However, education for women was not always considered taboo in Islamic cultures.  Nana Asma’u is a perfect example of this. Born Nana Asma’u bint Shehu Usman dan Fodiyo in 1793 as the daughter of Usman dan Fodio.  He was the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, which was one of the most powerful kingdoms in Northern Africa.  Usman dan Fodio led the Fulani Jihad, which conquered Nigeria and Cameroon.  She was named…

  • Yama God of Death

    Yama or Yamarāja, also called Imra, is a god of death, the south direction and the underworld, belonging to an early stratum of Rigvedic Hindu deities. In Sanskrit, his name can be interpreted to mean “twin”. In the Zend-Avesta of Zoroastrianism, he is called “Yima”. According to the Vishnu Purana, his parents are the sun-god Surya and Sandhya. In Hinduism he is the twin brother of Yami, brother of Shraddhadeva_Manu and the step brother of Shani. He is sometimes depicted riding a buffalo. In Hinduism, Yama is the lokapala (“Guardian of the Directions”) of the south and the son of Brahma. He has two dogs with four legs and wide…

  • The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

    Sometimes laughter isn’t the best medicine. We’ve all been there- laughing until our sides hurt. Thinking if we laughed anymore we might never stop. Now imagine a laughing epidemic. The laughter epidemic is rumored to have begun on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha, on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania near the border of Uganda. The laughter started with three girls and spread throughout the school, affecting 95 of the 159 pupils, aged 12–18. Symptoms lasted from a few hours to 16 days in those affected. The teaching staff were not affected, but reported that students were…