The Sacredness of 1 and 2 Maccabees and Importance in Relation to Hanukkah

I wrote this in response to a classmate, in my World Religions course, that was discussing the Maccabean Revolt and 1 and 2 Maccabees. As a Protestant, she was not familiar with the stories found in these books. In her discussions, she quotes and attaches a video by Dr. Brown – Why the Maccabees Aren’t in the Bible. I have included this video at the very bottom for you to view. The synopsis is as my classmate wrote, “According to Dr. Brown, the Bible is meant to be “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). While this story is interesting as a part of history it is not meant to be used to rebuke, correct, or train into righteousness. He maintains that people should know the story, but not study it as a way of living. It is not meant to show us how to be closer to God nor show us how to be God’s light to those around us.”

As part of our assignments in this course, we are required to respond in a substantive manner to the essays written by our classmates. This week the essays were all related to Judaism. This was my response to her in relation to the importance of 1 and 2 Maccabees as sacred scriptures that include the miracle, mystery, and history of the Jewish Festival of Lights – Hanukkah:

As a Catholic, I am quite familiar with 1 and 2 Books of Maccabees found in the Old Testament. They are used in our readings at Mass.

The first book of Maccabees “devotes a lot of space to wars and political intrigues extending over a period of forty years, his primary purpose is a religious one. He reports the calamities the Jewish people experience on account of their sins, while also stressing the role played by God in his providence, who watches over them as he promised he would (cf. Ps 119:89-90). The success of the Jewish campaigns he attributes to God’s protection, but he makes it clear that faithfulness to the Covenant is, as was the case with their forebears, the ground on which Israel must totally rely. From this it follows that, for the just man, supreme glory consists in being ready to give one’s life, if necessary, to defend God’s interests—the Law, which every Jew must strictly obey.” (1)

The second book of Maccabees “is even more important from the doctrinal point of view. It aims at bringing out even more strongly the religious lessons of the time, and the story is written more like a sermon than a history. It includes such fundamental texts as that which states that God created all things ex nihilo, out of nothing, not out of things which existed (7:28), and those which make it clear that the sacrifice of martyrs is a voluntary form of atonement which placates God’s anger (7:36, 8:5). (1)

The sacred writer’s purpose in the second book is to build up the morale of the Jews. Naturally, any account of the war of liberation led by Judas Maccabeus would have this effect and would show that victory was due to God’s powerful aid (2:19-22). But he also wants to show that God’s purpose in permitting persecution is to discipline the Jews “in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterwards when our sins have reached their height” (6:12-17). Also “Judas’ victory over Nicanor ensures the liberation of the Jewish people and guarantees the proper worship of the true God.” (1)

The second book “gives a very moving account of the martyrdom of seven brothers, whose names are unknown but who are popularly called “the Maccabees” (2 Mac 7:1 ff). Their faith in the resurrection, which they explicitly assert (v. 11), gives them the courage to undergo terrible sufferings to keep the holy Law of God, sufferings in which they are also supported by their mother’s faith. She, having offered God the lives of her sons, then offers herself in sacrifice, giving an example of fortitude and also of that faith in which she had reared her children.” (1)

These “books are well worth prayerful reading, particularly the second, which provides us with many edifying examples – especially the humility which leads its protagonists to trust in God, their fortitude in defending their faith, their patience in dealing with obstacles to observance of the Law, and their deep piety, as shown in their prayer for their dead comrades”. (1)

“First and Second Maccabees helps us to realize that God watches over his own, and they show that Israel always wins victory over its enemies when it stays true to the Covenant.” (1)

Photo from: Chanukah Some New Thoughts on an Old Story – Rabbi Barbara Aiello.

A Jewish take on the exclusion of the books from the Hebrew Bible:

“In spite of the fact that various non-canonical writings did not make it into the Jewish canon, they nonetheless contain much of value and are worthy of study, even if the rabbis did not consider them to be divinely inspired or as holy as the Bible.” (2)

Perhaps, the answer [to why the books were not included was] “lies more within the realm of pragmatism and politics. The Books of Maccabees describe the revolt led by the Maccabean family against the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes. A couple of centuries later, Jewish scholars found themselves in Jamnia with the Temple destroyed and Jerusalem lost. Their circumstances were the result of their own failed revolt against the Romans.” (2)

Perhaps they [the Rabbis] “felt it unwise to promote a text that heralded the successful outcome of a Jewish revolt. It may have posed a threat both internally and externally. The Romans would certainly not look kindly upon the popularization of such a text, since it might very well reintroduce the concept of revolt to a population desperately trying to survive the devastating outcome of its own failed attempts. Ironically, this very internal/external struggle lies at the core of the Hanukkah story, and perhaps it was this very struggle playing out again in history that prevented the basic texts about Hanukkah from being included within the biblical canon.” (2)

Also once the books were included in the Christian Bible its authoritative nature was rejected by the Jewish community.” (2) Ironically, the books are only available for reading and studying because of the Catholic church. There is new interest in these books in the Jewish community and many are now reading and studying them to “help enrich our understanding and our celebration of Hanukkah.” (2)

You [my classmate] wrote, “According to Dr. Brown, the Bible is meant to be “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Tim 3:16). While this story is interesting as a part of history it is not meant to be used to rebuke, correct or train into righteousness. He maintains that people should know the story but not study it as a way of living. It is not meant to show us how to be closer to God nor show us how to be God’s light to those around us.” 

I must disagree with Dr. Brown. I find his take to be quite narrow-minded. 1 and 2 Maccabees are “God-breathed” and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” and do show the Jews (and Christians) “how to be closer to God” and “how to be God’s light to those around us.” 

The books provide lessons and examples in “humility that leads to trusting in God”, it shows “fortitude in defending their faith”, it shows “patience in dealing with obstacles”, it “shows deep piety”. (1)

Will you find God’s light in the books of Maccabees? Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights! For Jews Hanukkah celebrates God’s light in their lives. “Light is a symbol of the divine presence within our lives, and our constant desire to cast away the darkness of gloom and despair, and replace it with the brightness of hope and renewal. God’s light is never diminished when we. . .pursue holiness in our lives.” (5)

Photo from: Nathan H | Flickr

What can we learn from the books?

How important it is to fight against assimilation into a pagan [worldly] culture. The Maccabees remind us of the centrality of religious liberty and the need for eternal vigilance in that regard. These holy warriors stand out as defenders of the purity of worship and the sanctity of God’s House. (3)

In 1 Maccabees, they attempted to force pagan religion on the Jews. But, led by Judah the Maccabee, they “revolted and defeated the overwhelming forces of Antiochus’ Syrian armies. The importance to Western Civilization of [the] Jewish victory can’t be underrated. If [they] had lost and subsequently been assimilated to the surrounding pagan Greek culture, there would be today no Judaism, Christianity, or Islam.” (5)

The lesson [of Hanukkah] is clear: “we aren’t meant to hide our spiritual light from the world. Nor should we only live spiritually in our private lives. It’s about sharing your light with the world. The ideal of spirituality is not simply to keep one’s faith a secret, hidden away from everyone else. We’re meant to shine our spiritual light for all to see. People of faith must have the courage to live their faith in the public square, where everyone can see just whose side they are on in the never-ending battle between light and dark. And in our complicated, polarized times, perhaps more than ever, we need people who are willing not just to see the light, but to share it.” (6)

When you view it from this Jewish perspective, the stories found in the books of Maccabees and the celebration of Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights – takes on a much greater significance.

We must also remember that Luther not only choose to exclude seven books from the Old Testament but also rejected (and attempted to exclude) from the New Testament: Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation, because they didn’t fit into his teaching of saved by faith alone without works. If he had been successful than most Protestant denominations would not accept these books as sacred writings either! (4)

And I agree with you [my classmate], the stories found in the books of Maccabees “would make an excellent movie.” and “. . . someone should tell Mel Gibson” to make a movie about them! 

P.S. I found it funny your [my classmate’s] first connection with this subject [the Maccabean Revolt] was from an episode of Friends! [The Friends episode referenced is from season 7 – “The One With The Holiday Armadillo”] I didn’t remember that scene or episode. But my first encounter with The Guf 🕊️ was from the movie The Seventh Sign, and my first knowledge of a Golem was from an X-Files episode! (The X-Files episode “Kaddish” from season 4).  Isn’t it ironic how TV and movies can spark an interest in a subject?

Below is the video of Dr. Michael L. Brown (for more information on Dr. Brown, please click on the link attached to his name):


☆ This blog entry is from my work in the World Religions course at Phillips Seminary that I am currently taking. ☆


1. 1 and 2 Maccabees | Catholic Answers

2. Why the Maccabees Aren’t in the Bible | My Jewish Learning

3. Lessons from the Holy Maccabees – Catholic World Report

4. Luther and the Canon of the Bible

5. Perspectives: Hanukkah celebrates God’s light in our lives (

6. Hanukkah’s real meaning — Don’t just see the spiritual light, share it with the world | Fox News

Related interesting read:

Chanukah Some New Thoughts on an Old Story – Rabbi Barbara Aiello

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

Posted in Bible Study, Catholic, Judaism, Religious, Theology, World Religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Guf (Treasury of Souls) in Jewish Mysticism, and the Angels Gabriel and Lailah in Judaism.

Photo collage I made is of a Golem, Kabbalah, Hasidic Jews, and Purim. Photo of woman in Purim mask is by photographer Yaki Zimmerman. The wedding couple is from The Times of Israel.

I was torn as to what to write about! I was quite entranced with the Jewish festival of Purim, as well as Hasidic Judaism, the concept of Midrash, the mysticism of the Kabbalah, and the very cool Golem found in Jewish folklore (I actually began last week to write an essay on the Golem, and if I have time this week I will finish it and post it here). But alas I am choosing to write about the original subject I choose to write about in this week of studying Judaism (I actually was thinking about the writing and subject of my essay for week 6 in late August! And I had chosen this subject back then 😉). 

Original painting The Tree of Life by contemporary Israeli painter Elena Kotliarker

The Guf / Chamber of Guf / Treasury of Souls / The Hall of Souls and Spirit. 

The word is sometimes misspelled as guff. 

I first learned about The Guf from watching the 1988 film The Seventh Sign. Being a fan of Demi Moore and of apocalyptic drama horror films, I was quite interested in The Guf mythology portrayed in the film and I developed a general interest in the subject, so I went to the library (in the days before the Internet! 😉) and learned about it. 

Fast forward to 2021, and with studying Judaism in this course this week, the subject came to mind immediately as to what I wanted to write about for my essay.

The word Guf is derived from Hebrew for “body/corpse”.  It is the source of every human soul. It is from the Talmud and Kabbalah texts. In Jewish mysticism, the Chamber of Guf is the Hall of Souls, a heavenly and sacred place where souls reside until they are born to the flesh. It is thought to be located in the Seventh Heaven. Every human soul is held to emanate from the Guf. The Talmud teaches that the Messiah will not come until the Guf is emptied of all its souls. Though some cite Isaiah as the source of the concept, Isaiah never uses the word, so the Talmud offers one of the earliest direct references to the Guf and teaches that the Messiah will not come until the Guf is emptied of all its souls. (1, 2, & 6) “This is given a longer, if more enigmatic treatment in a work of early Kabbalah, Sefer Bahir:

In its hand is the treasury of souls. In the time when Israel is good, these souls are worthy of going forth and coming into this world. But if they are not good, then [these souls] do not go forth. We therefore say, “The son of David will not come until all the souls in the Guf are completed.” What is the meaning of “all the souls in the Guf [Body]”? We say this refers to all the souls in the body of The Adam. [When they are completed] new ones will be worthy of going forth [Bahir 184].” (2)

“The mystic significance of the Guf is that each person is important and has a unique role which only he, with his unique soul, can fulfill. Even a newborn baby brings the Messiah closer simply by being born.” (5 & 11)

In keeping with other Jewish legends that envision souls as bird-like (derived from the Biblical notion that the dead “chirp” – Isaiah 29:4), the Guf is sometimes described as a columbarium, [a dovecote], or birdhouse. This connects it to a related legend: the “Palace of the Bird’s Nest,” the dwelling place of the Messiah’s soul until his advent (Zohar II: 8a-9a). Jewish “folklore, according to Rabbi Isaac Luria, says the trees are the resting places for souls; sparrows can see the soul’s descent and this explains their joyous song. The Tree of Souls produces all the souls that have ever existed, or will ever exist. When the last soul descends, the world will come to an end.” (2, 6, & 11)

(I am providing and attaching these links to know more about Rabbi Isaac Luria, and for Bahir and Zohar for those interested in learning more about those writings).

What is the Seventh Heaven?

Seventh Heaven – “Araboth (ערבות), The seventh Heaven where ofanim, the seraphim, and the hayyoth and the Throne of God are located. The Jewish Merkavah and Hekhalot literature was devoted to discussing the details of these heavens, sometimes in connection with traditions relating to Enoch, such as the Third Book of Enoch.” (7 & 8)

Graphic from:  Guf: a Jewish soul myth | Triangulations

“(A) Tree of Souls: In Paradise (heaven) grows a tree of souls (a Tree of Life) upon which all the souls once began.  Some versions have the souls on the branches with birds, in others, they are on the roots. In some versions, this tree is still in the garden of Eden.

“I am like a cypress tree in bloom; your fruit issues forth from Me.” (Hosea 14:9)
He drove the man out and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the Tree of Life” (Genesis 3:24).

“(B) Falling Souls: When ripe, the souls they fall off the tree and descend to a chamber for holding.

(C) Guf: AKA, Treasury (Otzar) of Souls or Hall of Souls, called “Guf”.  This is felt to exist in the Seventh Heaven.  There are those that say that Guf contains an infinite number of souls, while others insist there is only a finite number of souls in it, and that the Messiah will not come until the Guf has been emptied of every soul.  Others say that from the day the Temple was destroyed, no more souls entered the Guf, and when it has been emptied of all the remaining souls, the Messiah will come.

(D) Angel Gabriel: The angel Gabriel reaches into the treasury (Guf) and takes out a soul, putting it into a human embryo.

(E & F) Angel Lailah & the Womb: The Angel Lailah then guards the embryo while it is in the woman’s womb.” (4 & 17)

In the story of the Guf we experience the mystical concept of the whole universe being filled with consciousness. It strengthens the idea of our interconnectedness, our kinship, our oneness, with all of humanity. 

The Angel Gabriel by graphic artist Aleš Herink 

The Angel Gabriel in Judaism:

Of the four angels mentioned in the Jewish bedtime Sh’ma prayer, “Gabriel appears most commonly in Jewish texts. He is one of at least seven archangels, or focal angels, who are known in liturgy and biblical commentary to be the highest or most powerful of the angelic legions. Gabriel’s first mention in the Tanakh comes in the Book of Daniel.” (9)

Special Prayer for Protection at Night (Bedtime Sh’ma prayer)

In the name of Adonai the God of Israel:

May the angel Michael be at my right,

and the angel Gabriel be at my left;

and in front of me the angel Uriel,

and behind me the angel Raphael…

and above my head the Sh’khinah (Divine Presence).” (12, 13 & 14)

In the pseudepigraphic “Book of Enoch, Gabriel is an avenging angel, sent to incite sinners into war. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 95b), God sends Gabriel to smite the Assyrians, and Gabriel replies that his sword “has been sharpened since the six days of Creation.” In other words, he was in some way created to be an avenging angel.” (9)

“Most references to Gabriel in traditional literature, including the Talmud and the Bedtime Shema liturgy, depict him as the emissary of God’s strength. In fact, the Hebrew name Gavriel, or Gavar El, translates to “God’s might” or “God’s power.” At times he is represented by the element of fire (Talmud Yoma 21b) and at other times, water (Targ. Job 25:2). Regardless, he is always known to be either the absolute strongest or among the strongest of the angels.” (9) 

According to the Jewish EncyclopediaGabriel takes the form of a man and stands at the left hand of God. (15 & 16) Alongside [the] archangel Michael, Gabriel is described as the guardian angel of Israel, defending his people against the angels of the other nations. (10 & 16)

And in the Jewish legend of The Guf, the blossoms of the Tree of Life are souls, they ripen, then fall from the tree into the Guf, the Treasury of Souls in Paradise. The soul is stored there until the angel Gabriel reaches into the Guf and takes out the first soul that comes into his hand. (17)

The Angel Lailah – graphic art by alexamorath – Hobbyist, Digital Artist | DeviantArt 

The Angel Lailah in Judaism:

Lailah is the Angel of Conception, that watches over the embryo until it is born. Lailah is the only angel with a feminine name and distinctly feminine characteristics. (17)

She “is an angel of the night in some interpretations in the Talmud and in some later Jewish mythology.

The name Lailah is the same as the Hebrew word for “night” laylah לילה. The identification of the word “night” as the name of an angel originates with the interpretation of “Rabbi Yochanan” (possibly Yochanan ben Zakkai c. 30 – 90 AD) who read “At night [Abraham] and his servants deployed against them and defeated them” (JPS Genesis 14.14) as “by [an angel called] night” (Sanhedrin 96a).” (21 & 22)

Lailah, the angel of conception, according to “midrash, brings the soul and the seed together, and then sees to it that the seed is planted in the womb. In doing so, Lailah serves as a midwife of souls. While the infant grows in the womb, Lailah places a lighted candle at the head of the unborn infant, so he or she can see from one end of the world to the other” (19) (as it is said, “His lamp shone above my head, and by His light I walked through darkness.” (Job 29:3)) (17)

Ellen Frankel notes that God decides the fate of the child when it is conceived and leaves one thing undecided, whether it will be righteous or wicked allowing it to have free will. (20) 

“So too does the angel teach the unborn child the entire Torah [the spirit of the Torah], as well as the history of his or her soul. Then, when the time comes for the child to be born, the angel extinguishes the light in the womb and brings forth the child into the world. And the instant the child emerges, the angel lightly strikes its finger to the child’s lip” (19) – “the philtrum—that groove we all have above our upper lips—may not be a commonly-referenced body part, but in Jewish mystical tradition, it’s quite significant. And it’s said to be the result of a tap from Lailah, the angel of conception, administered the moment a baby is born” (18) “as if to say “Shh,” and this causes the child to forget everything learned in the womb. Still, the story implies, that knowledge is present, merely forgotten.” (19)

“Lailah is a guardian angel, who watches over that child all of his days. And when the time has come to take leave of this world, it is Lailah who comes to him and says, “Do you not recognize me? The time of your departure has come. I have come to take you from this world.” Thereupon Lailah leads him to the World to Come, where he renders an accounting before God, and he is judged according to his merits.” (17)

Clip from the film The Seventh Sign – The Guf is Empty.

dove divider.jpg

☆ This blog entry is from my work in the World Religions course at Phillips Seminary that I am currently taking. ☆


1. THE TREASURY OF SOULS for Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism (

2. Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: The Guf: Mystical Body, Well of Souls (

3. Origins of the Kabbalah – Gershom Gerhard Scholem – Google Books, p. 53 (The Book – Bahir)

4. Guf: a Jewish soul myth | Triangulations (

5. The 7th Sign – Apocalypse is now – The Guf | Images and Imagination (

6. G – The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism: Second Edition (2016) (

7. Seven Heavens – Wikipedia

8. Scholem, Gershom (1965). Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and the Talmudic Tradition. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

9. Gabriel | My Jewish Learning

10. The Legends of the Jews: Volume I – The Creation of the World (

11. Guf – Wikipedia

12. Jewish Bedtime Prayers (

13. Jewish Prayers | Bring Humanity Together

14. Mishpatim: The angels among us | The Jewish Standard (


16. Gabriel – Wikipedia


18. Lailah, the Angel of Conception, Left Her Mark On Your Face – Jewish Telegraphic Agency (

19. – Interviews and Profiles: Mysteries of the Angel Lailah – By Howard Schwartz

20. Ellen Frankel – The Jewish Publication Society

21. Lailah – Wikipedia

22. Day And Night – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (

Additional related links of interest:

BIRDS (birds as souls) –

PREEXISTENCE (of the Souls) –

Why are There Seven Levels of Heavens in Judaism | Kabbalah Center

Seven Heavens (

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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Salvation in Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Monotheism.

Zoroastrianism “may be a minor religion on the world scene today, but it has had a major impact on the world by way of the other monotheisms.” (15)

Monotheism: “the doctrine or belief that there is only one God.” (16)

The Adoration of the Magi, 1904 by Edward Burne-Jones – Adoration of the Magi (tapestry) – Wikipedia

My prior knowledge of Zoroastrianism was tied to the wise men (magi) who visited the child Jesus. The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ (also known as Arabic Infancy Gospel or Syriac Infancy Gospel) which is part of the New Testament apocryphal writings, and is at least partially based on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and the Protoevangelium of James, includes the story of the wise men. In the third chapter of this gospel, it discusses the story of the wise men of the East that visit Jesus. (17) It does in many ways closely follow the story as found in the Gospel of Matthew, except it adds a piece of information not found in Matthew, that the wise men were sent to pay homage to the Christ child according to a prophecy of Zoroaster.

“Magi were the designated terms for the ancient Zoroastrian hereditary priesthood. According to Herodotus, Magi were one of six Median tribes and formed the priestly clan of the Zoroastrians. He adds that Magi were scholars, tutors, skilled dream interpreters, and gave very accurate prophecies of the future events. An integral part of the wisdom of the Magi was connected with heavenly lights/stars.” (20)

Not all scholars agree that the wise men that visited the Christ child were Zoroastrian Magi, but it certainly is one of the possibilities. 

A study of who exactly the wise men were will make for a great Christmas or Epiphany themed blog entry later in the year! But for now, I will center on the theme of salvation in Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

A tiny introduction to Zoroastrianism:

It is an Iranian (Persian) religion, “founded about 600 B.C.E. by Zoroaster, the principal beliefs of which are in the existence of a supreme deity, Ahura Mazda, and in a cosmic struggle between a spirit of good, Spenta Mainyu, and a spirit of evil, Angra Mainyu.” (18)

“Zoroastrians believed in one supreme God who created the heavens and the earth, who authored all that is good. They also believed in a spiritual adversary who authored evil. They believed in a coming redeemer, a prophet who would be sent by God to save mankind. They strictly forbade the worship of idols. They believed in angels and in devil spirits and in the eventual triumph of good over evil. They set forth a system of laws and ethics stressing a strict code of moral behavior.” (19)

Judaism became immersed in the world of Zoroastrianism when Jerusalem’s leaders were carried off to captivity in Babylon in 587 B.C.E. The Jews remained there for about 50 years. Some who returned to Jerusalem were born there, so had known only that Babylonian culture. It is understandable that they brought back with them some of what they encountered there. They found some of the ideas there persuasive, and so began to mix some of those beliefs with those of Judaism. We could pay attention especially to the Hebrew Bible books of Ezra and Nehemiah in this regard, as well as Books of the Apocrypha.” (15)

I could write several blog entries just about Zoroastrianism, and it’s influence (or lack of influence, for not all scholars agree) on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But this blog entry centers on the aspects of salvation in each of the religions.

Photo from:  Judaism vs Zoroastrianism

Salvation in Zoroastrianism:

Think the good thought, speak the good word, and do the good deed.  Zoroastrians do not believe that human beings are born in sin, thus do not believe in the concept of original sin. (1 & 2)

Tenants of the Zoroastrian faith:

Truth. Zoroastrianism stresses truth more than anything else.  Man is equipped through mental consciousness to discern truth from falsehood, and has the free will to choose between right and wrong.  

Charity. “He who gives assistance to the poor acknowledges the kingdom of God.” – a line from a Zoroastrian prayer Yatha Ahu Vairyo.

Purity. Zoroastrianism puts value on purity – of both the body and the mind.

Dignity of labor. Hard work and the dignity of labor are emphasized in Zoroastrianism. 

The heart of Zoroaster’s thought focused on the freedom of choice that human beings must exercise. (1 & 2)

Humans were charged with the responsibility of making moral choices between good and evil, but they had a natural affinity for the good. At the end of this life, they would be judged at the “bridge of the judge,” where the good would be sent to heaven and the evil to hell. (1 & 2)

Zoroastrians do not believe that human beings are born in sin.  “They believe that there is potential for good as well as evil in every human being.  There is a divine spark or essence in each of us.  We should recognize it and utilize it to its fullest potential.  This divine spark (known as one’s Fravashi or Farohar) is depicted in architecture as a bird with outstretched wings.” (1 & 2)

The goal of the religion of Zoroastrianism:

“To serve God, by good deeds towards others. To acquire and cultivate divine attributes, particularly “good mind and righteousness; to elevate themselves in harmony with God and to listen to God’s guiding voice within them.” (21)

“The case for a Judeo-Christian dependence on Zoroastrianism in its purely eschatological thinking is quite different. And not at all convincing, for apart from a few hints in the Gathas which we shall shortly be considering and a short passage in Yasht 19.80-90 in which a deathless existence in body and soul at the end of time is affirmed, we have no evidence as to what eschatological ideas the Zoroastrians had in the last four centuries before Christ. The eschatologies of the Pahlavi books, though agreeing in their broad outlines, differ very considerably in detail and emphasis; they do not correspond at all closely to the eschatological writings of the intertestimentary period nor to those of St. Paul and the apocalypse of St. John. They do, however, agree that there will be a general resurrection of the body as well as soul, but this idea would be the natural corollary to the survival of the soul as a moral entity, once that had been accepted, since both Jew and Zoroastrian regarded soul and body as being two aspects, ultimately inseparable, of the one human personality.” (3 & 5)

Photo from: The Scarlet Pensieve: Essentials of Judaism – The Path

Salvation in Judaism: 

“In Judaism, salvation is closely related to the idea of redemption, a saving from the states or circumstances that destroy the value of human existence. God as the universal spirit and Creator of the World, is the source of all salvation for mankind, provided we honor him by observing his precepts. So redemption or salvation depends on the human being himself. Judaism stresses that salvation cannot be obtained through anyone else or by just invoking a deity or believing in any outside power or influence.” (6)

In Judaism, salvation can be achieved by: Living a holy and righteous life dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Creation. Fast, worship, and celebrate during the appropriate holidays. (7)

Salvation is obtained “. . .through belief in God and Mitzvot (good deeds).” (21)

In traditional Judaism the blessings for obedience and the consequences for disobedience have effect in the here and now, not in the world to come. (8)

Jews do not believe in the doctrine of original sin. 

Goal of the religion of Judaism:

“To celebrate LIFE! To fulfill the Covenant with God. Do good deeds. Help repair the world. Love God with all your heart. Strong social justice ethic.” (21)

Saves in Neon.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Salvation in Christianity:

We have the need for salvation and Jesus is the one who provides it. Salvation is achieved “. . .through Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.” (14)

Salvation (also called deliverance or redemption) is the “saving [of] human beings from sin and its consequences, which include death and separation from God by Christ’s death, and resurrection, and the justification following this salvation. (9, 10, & 11)

Although there are differences in views among the multitude of Christian denominations about “sin and depravity (the sinful nature of humankind), justification (God’s means of removing the consequences of sin), and atonement (the forgiving or pardoning of sin through the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus)” (12) but the belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior are central to the beliefs in all of Christianity.

Most Christian denominations adhere to the belief of the concept of original sin.

Goal of the religion of Christianity:

“To love God and obey his commandments while creating a relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel so that others may also be saved.” (14)

Graphic from: How To Do Istikhara Step By Step (

Salvation in Islam:

Salvation from sin is not necessary in Islam. They do not believe in original sin. Jesus’ death on the cross was not necessary for salvation. (13) 

Salvation, in Islam is based upon a Person’s Good Works Outweighing Their Bad.

Since Muslims do not recognize original sin, they see no need for salvation in the Christian sense. There is nothing to be saved from. Consequently, if there was no original sin, there is no need for a Savior. Salvation, in Islam, is based upon the deeds of a person.” (13) 

In Islam, “people are saved by the will of Allah through obedience to his law, the Shari’ah. Consequently, in Islam, a person is to live a good life, pleasing God in all that they do. They are to submit to him and follow his commandments. Religion, to the Muslim, does not mean salvation from sin. Instead, it means following the right path, or the Shariah which mapped out by Islamic law. Islam cannot offer anyone assurance of salvation in this life. It is only at the Judgment Day that people will discover whether they have been accepted by Allah.” No forgiveness is necessary. There is no forgiveness for personal sin, forgiveness is something that Allah will give if he wishes. There is no offer of forgiveness based upon repentance. Only those whom Allah wishes to forgive are forgiven. (13)

Goal of the religion of Islam:

“Fulfill [the] gift and responsibility of this life through following the guidance of Holy Quran and Hadith, striving to serve mankind through compassion, justice, trustworthiness, and love for all of God’s creation.” (14).

Graphic from: Love one another -Girls’ Brigade Australia

I would venture to say that tenants of the Zoroastrian faith – truth, charity, purity, and dignity of labor are all accepted virtues in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have a belief in one God. 

Zoroastrianism: “To serve God, by good deeds towards others. To acquire and cultivate divine attributes, particularly “ good mind and righteousness; to elevate themselves in harmony with God and to listen to God’s guiding voice within them.” (21) Freedom of choice.

Judaism: “To celebrate LIFE! To fulfill the Covenant with God. Do good deeds. Help repair the world. Love God with all your heart. Strong social justice ethic.” (21) Free will.

Christianity: “To love God and obey his commandments while creating a relationship with Jesus Christ and spreading the Gospel so that others may also be saved.” (14) Free will.

Islam: “Fulfill [the] gift and responsibility of this life through following the guidance of Holy Quran and Hadith, striving to serve mankind through compassion, justice, trustworthiness, and love for all of God’s creation.” (14) Free will.


☆ This blog entry is from my work in the World Religions course at Phillips Seminary that I am currently taking. ☆


1. About Zoroastrianism – Zoroastrian Association of Metropolitan Washington Inc. (

2. Zoroastrianism | Religious Studies Center (

3. Zoroaster vs Jesus (

4. Chapter 3: Christianity in Persia – Religion Online (

5. R.C. Zaehner, The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 1961. Pg. 57.

6. Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, THE SPEAKING TREE: Concept of Salvation In Judaism – Times Of India ( November 2004.

7. How do I achieve salvation according to Judaism? (

8. Salvation as interpreted by Judaism Chosen People Ministries

9. Definition of salvation in Christianity: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989: “The saving of the soul; the deliverance from sin and its consequences.”

10. Murray, Michael J.; Rea, Michael (2012), “Philosophy and Christian Theology”Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

11. Salvation in Christianity – Wikipedia

12. Salvation in Christianity (slife.orgg)

13. How Does a Person Achieve Salvation in Islam? by Don Stewart (

14. Christianity vs Islam – Difference and Comparison

15. Clement Graham. WK 5 TEACHER TALK.docx. World Religions course at Phillips Theological Seminary.

16. Monotheism Definition & Meaning |

17.  “Arabic Infancy Gospel // 3.1. Manuscripts”. MS 2: Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, codex orientalis 387 [32], fols. 2r–48v (from the year 1299 AD) via Wikizero – Syriac Infancy Gospel

18. Zoroastrianism Definition & Meaning |

19. Jesus’ Birth – The Wise Men (Magi) | Truth in Scripture

20. Magi, the ancient Zoroastrian hereditary Priesthood, and Haplogroups

21. Judaism vs Zoroastrianism – Difference and Comparison

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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The Japanese Akkorokamui

Graphic from:  Art of Newbury

The Japanese people “emerge from the aboriginal Ainu people. There are still remnants of the Ainu in northern Japan.” (1) They were hunter-gatherers that worshiped nature and animals, The Ainu were animists and believed that all things are inhabited by spirits known as kamuy (kami). (2) “There are thousands of Kami, a few appearing as personified beings in Japanese mythology, but the vast majority inhabit specific places in the Japanese landscape. Kami can also be deceased ancestors or national figures.” (p. 161, ROTW) But the kami are not easily classified and this is not an all-inclusive definition.

The Ainu reverence of the Akkorokamui entered into Shintoism, and in which it became a minor kami.  And as such it would be considered both part of Ainu and Shinto religious folklore of Japan. In Ainu folklore, it is called the Atkorkamuy. Its name can be translated as “string-holding kamuy.” “String-holding refers to the octopus’s string-like tentacles, while kamuy is an Ainu term for a divine being (similar to the Japanese term kami).” (3). In Ainu folklore, Akkorokamui is both revered and feared and known as the lord of Uchiura Bay. According to Shinto mythology, the creature is octopus and human-like and contains a bright red color. (3) The 19th-century account by John Batchelor of his encounter with it confirms what the Akkorokamui looks like. John Batchelor was an Englishman and missionary who lived among the Ainu and he is known for his extensive writings about them, their culture, and life. He also kept a journal of his experiences and interactions. In his book, The Ainu and Their Folklore, he provides many details of physical attributes of the creature. In it he states that the creature was 120 meters [131.2 yards] in length and a red color with with large staring eyes. He also specifies that this red color of the Akkorokamui was a striking red, seemingly “likened to the color of the reflection of the setting sun upon the water.” (4 & 5) 

Another old 19th-century account was made by a Japanese fisherman, which I has been translated from the original Japanese:

“And I saw ahead something huge and red undulating under the waves. I at first thought my eyes deceived me and that I was merely seeing the reflection of the sun upon the water, but as I approached, I could see that in fact it was an enormous monster, 80 meters in length at least, with large, thick tentacles as big around as a man’s torso. The thing fixed me with a huge, staring eye before sinking out of sight into the depths.” (6)

Graphic from: Yaoshikepu | Cryptid Wiki | Fandom

The story of the Akkorokamui.

“Once, spirits cursed Rebunge, a villager of Abuta Toyoura in Hokkaido, Japan, to see the destruction of his town. They sent a part-spider-part-human creature, Yaoshikepu (also known as Yushkep Kamuy (goddess of the spiders) or Ashketanne Mat (Long-fingered Woman)), to fulfill the curse. Yaoshikepu caused rampant destruction throughout the town, slaughtering so many that the streets were filled with crimson blood. After hearing the townsfolk tremble with fear, the sea kami, Repunkamui, transformed Yaoshikepu into an octopus, and cast her into the sea.” (8 & 9)

The Reunkamu, the sea kami, are the killer whales [orcas] of Japan who were “known by the Ainu people as Repunkamui – “Gods of the sea”.” (7)

Photo from: Mysterious orcas of Japan – ORCAZINE

I shall swallow the whale and ship, empty the sea, and appear in red when you are cursed.” – Akkorokamui

“After Yaoshikepu was cast into the sea, she began to grow, eventually beginning to consume larger prey, such as whales and ships. One day, Akkorokamui gobbled up a boat full of fishermen. In her stomach, they called for help. Hearing the cries, Repunkamui poisoned Akkorokamui, causing her great pain. As Akkorokamui hollered in agony, the fishermen escaped. However, Akkorokamui learned to harness the venom, using it to attack her prey.” (9) In the description of the sighting of the creature by John Batchelor, he stated that as the monster attacked the ship, it “emitted a dark fluid which has a very powerful and noxious odor.” (4)

“The Akkorokamui is also characteristically described with the ability to self-amputate, like several octopus species, and regenerate limbs. This characteristic manifests in the belief in Shinto that Akkorokamui has healing powers. Consequently, it is believed among followers that giving offerings to Akkorokamui will heal ailments of the body, in particular, disfigurements, and broken limbs.” (9 & 10)

Graphic from: Myth and Folklore: Celebrating World Octopus Day

“Self-purification practices for Akkorokamui are often strictly followed. While Akkorokamui is often presented as a benevolent kami with powers to heal and bestow knowledge, it is fickle and has the propensity to do harm. Akkorokamui’s nature as an octopus means that it is persistent and it is near impossible to escape its grasp without permission. Like other Shinto purification rituals, (Ritual purity: Ritual bathing to spiritually and physically cleanse yourselves before entering a shrine to worship the kami (13)) prior to entering the shrine of Akkorokamui, one’s hands must be cleaned with water with the exception that one’s feet must also be cleaned as well. Akkorokamui enjoys the sea and offerings that reflect this: fish, crabs, mollusks, and the like are particular favorites of Akkorokamui, which give back that which it gave. Homage to Akkorokamui is often for ailments of the limbs or skin, but mental purification and spiritual release are particularly important.” (11 & 12) 

Graphic from: Akkorokamui Giant Octopus Cryptid

More recent reports of the creature in Japan have surfaced over the years as well, including into modern days. In the 1980’s passengers of a cruise ship in the bay in came upon a “surprising sight of what appeared to be a massive creature thrashing about in the water with what appeared to be tentacles breaking the surface. The creature was described as being bright red in color and being around 80 feet in diameter. In the 1970’s, “a fishing boat also reported bumping up against something in the water which they at first took to be a rock, but when the crew looked overboard they saw an enormous red mass, and according to the report an eye peering out from the depths that was supposedly the size of a dinner plate. There was even a report of a beachcomber who supposedly came across a piece of what he said was an octopus tentacle that was reported as being around as thick as a telephone pole.” (6) It has also been sighted in Taiwan, Korea, and other Asian countries.

Before we chalk up the stories of the Akkorokamui as just a folktale to be dismissed, I would remind us as Christians that the Leviathan is a Biblical sea monster! It is a creature with the form of a sea serpent (a very large serpent!) in Judaism, and is referenced in several books of the Hebrew Bible, including Genesis, Psalms, the Book of Job, the Book of Isaiah, and the Book of Amos; it is also mentioned in the apocryphal Book of Enoch. In Genesis 1:21 it states, “On the fifth day God created the tanniynim, which is the plural form of the Hebrew word tanniyn, meaning “sea creature” or “sea monster.” In Isaiah 27:1, in the original text the word tanniyn is used, which is directly referring to the Leviathan (which is also referred to as a dragon or a reptile in some versions). The use of these words leads some experts to believe that since the word tanniyn is referring to the Leviathan in Isaiah, then tanniynim is referring to Leviathans being created on the fifth day. This suggests it is possible that God did in fact kill multiple Leviathans at one point, and that only one remains. The Leviathan in Isaiah is described again as a singular entity that will be destroyed by God, as well as being described as a serpent.” (16) In Job Laviathan is thought to be a fire-breathing dragon. In Bel and the Dragon (extended verses of the Book of Daniel), we again find a dragon (Bel and the Dragon NRSV – Daniel and the Priests of Bel – When – Bible Gateway). Of course we also have the dragon in the New Testament Book of Revelation, but most (but not all) think it’s symbolic.

We also have the talking donkey in chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers, and the talking snake in Genesis. The Nephilim, and, in the King’s James version of the Bible, unicorns! 🦄 

Left: Virgin Mary holding the unicorn (c. 1480), detail of the Annunciation with the Unicorn Polyptych, National Museum, Warsaw. Credit: Public Domain. Right: Maiden with Unicorn tapestry,15th century (Musée de Cluny, Paris). Credit: Public Domain.

Although some scholars believe that unicorn was a translation mistake, there is an argument to be made that the animal did exist but probably looked a bit different than our idea of a unicorn today. (14 & 15) The Biblical unicorn was a real animal and not the later mythical creature known as a unicorn. The word is translated in later versions of the Bible as oryx, or sometimes wild ox, wild bull, buffalo, or rhinoceros. But we really don’t know for sure exactly what the one-horned animal translated from the Hebrew re’em as unicorn looked like.

There are a myriad of stories in The Bible that people of other religions would find odd, bizarre, or strange. I try to be mindful of this when learning about the religions of the world.

Totally unrelated (well not totally unrelated) side note: Researching the Akkorokamui brought to mind one of my favorite TV series streaming on Netflix – The OA, and The Old Night Octopus in season two, episode 4, SYZYGY.

The OA – season two, episode four, SYZYGY.  Photo from Netflix
japanese line.png

☆ This blog entry is from my work in the World Religions course at Phillips Seminary that I am currently taking. ☆


ROTW = Hopfe, Lewis M., et. al. Religions of the World, 13th Edition. Pearson Education, 2016.

1. Graham, Clement. WK 4 TEACHER TALK.docx. World Religions course at Phillips Theological Seminary

2. Ainu: The Indigenous People of Japan — Kiriko Made

3. Ashkenazy, Michael. Handbook of Japanese Mythology. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-Clio, 2003. p. 294-295.

4. The Ainu and their folk-lore : Batchelor, John, 1854-1944.  London : Religious Tract Society, 1901. 

5. 4 Cephalopods from Myth and Folklore: Celebrating World Octopus Day – Kattyayani’s Travelling Circus (

6. The Mystery Monster Octopus of Japan’s Far North | Mysterious Universe

7.  Kushiro: Town of Romantic Sunsets – Hokkaido – Japan Travel

8. Kenji , Murakami. Japan specter Encyclopedia. Kenji Murakami, Kadokawa Shoten, 2005. p. 204.

9. Mythical Creature, ‘The Akkorokamui,’ a Japanese ‘Kami,’ and benevolent octopus spirit – ARJung. Author- Illustrator of children’s books

10. Crump, Marty. A year with nature : an almanac. University of Chicago Press, 2018. p. 282.

11. Tierney, Emiko. Illness and Culture in Japan: an Anthropological View. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

12. Akkorokamui – Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core

13. What are some of the purification rituals that are used in Shinto? (

14. Unicorns in the Bible? | Answers in Genesis

15. The Unicorn In The Bible Was An Oryx – Ancient Translation Mistake | Ancient Pages

16. Leviathan, the Biblical Sea Monster | northatlanticblog (

Links to check out:

To learn more about the Ainu:

Ainu – New World Encyclopedia

The Ainu Peoples of Japan (

Ainu: The Indigenous People of Japan — Kiriko Made

Best places to see wild orcas in Japan, America, and around the world:

Extraordinary Places to See Wild Orcas | Dolphin Project

15 Best Places to Whale Watch in the US + When to Go (

Of general and related interest:

Japanese Folklore of the Ocean: The Ama Divers, Sea Demons, and Ise Jingu – #FolkloreThursday

Sea monsters and their inspiration: serpents, mermaids, the kraken and more | Natural History Museum (

Sea Monster – History and Top 15 Famous Sea Monsters |

Seven real weird things Christians believe – Eternity News

10 Bizarre Stories from the Bible by Rob Kerby l Bible Stories l Tales from the Bible l Truths About the Bible – Beliefnet

20 of the most bizarre stories from the bible | Live Science

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

Posted in Bible Study, Catholic, Religious, Theology, World Religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Kung Fu Warrior Monks of the Shaolin Temple in China.

David Carradine as Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu.

Most of us are familiar with the Shaolin Kung Fu style of martial arts. Even if you do not follow or practice the martial arts yourself, you may have seen Shaolin Kung Fu as portrayed by David Carradine in the 1970’s TV series, or in the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon, as well as more recent movies and TV series. Full disclosure here, I am a child of the 70’s and I loved the TV series Kung Fu! 😉 

They were based on the warrior Kung Fu monks of the Shaolin Monastery/Temple.

Shaolin Temple is a Chan (“Zen”) Buddhist temple located in Dengfeng, Henan Province, China. Chan (Zen) meaning a meditation/meditative state, it is a Chinese school of Mahayana Buddhism. “Mahayana emphasizes the altruistic practice—called the Bodhisattva practice—as a means to attain enlightenment for oneself and help others attain it as well.” (1) (ROTW, p. 108-109 & 145)

The Chan branch of Buddhism developed in the sixth century CE and is an indigenous form of Chinese Buddhism. It spread to several East Asian countries including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Although the word Chan signifies its meditative techniques, that is not what made it distinctive within schools of Chinese Buddhism. What made it different was their “novel use of language, its development of new narrative forms, and its valorization of the direct and embodied realization of Buddhist awakening. In contrast with the epistemic, hermeneutical, and metaphysical concerns that shaped other schools of Chinese Buddhism.” (2)

The Shaolin Temple is believed to have been founded in the fifth century, It is the main temple of the Shaolin school of Buddhism to this day. The martial arts films and the Kung Fu TV series have made the Shaolin Monastery the most famous and popular to visit Buddhist temple in the world.

Two students sparring on the Shaolin Temple grounds. Photo credit: Vision China

Although Kung Fu did not originate at the Shaolin Monastery, and martial arts were practiced in China way before the founding of this temple, there is strong historical documentation of martial arts being practiced there for centuries. (3)

The name of the temple refers to the nearby woods of Shaoshi mountain, which is one of the seven peaks of the Song mountains. The first Shaolin Monastery abbot was Batuo (also called Fotuo, Bodhidharma or Buddhabhadra), a dhyāna (which means profound meditation) master who came to ancient China from ancient India to expand the Buddhist teachings. A legendary Buddhist monk, Bodhidharma was originally a prince from the Pallava Kingdom in South India. He crossed the Himalayas and is traditionally credited as the carrier of Chan Buddhism to China in 464 CE and also as having started the physical training of Shaolin monks, which would eventually lead to the creation of Shaolin Kung Fu. In Japan Bodhidharma is known as Daruma. He is regarded as the first Chinese patriarch of Chan Buddhism. (4, 5 & 6)

The Shaolin monks practice both mindfulness meditation and concentration meditation. (10)

A bit of interesting history involving the monks of Shaolin and Japanese dwarf pirates!

The Wokou pirates raided the coastlines of China, Japan, and Korea. The above picture is of Wokou pirates surrendering to the Koreans on Tsushima in 1389. 

Because of the developed fighting skills, the Shaolin monks were often sent to fight for China. “One of the major threats to China was the ferocious Wokou, the dwarf pirates from Japan. In the early 16th century, many coastal towns in China were frequently ravaged by these pirates. Trade suffered immensely, and people started fleeing from coastal areas.” (9)

In 1553, the Japanese dwarf pirates, the Wokou, attacked the port city of Hangzhou, China. Many people died, and thousands were left homeless. The Ming court decided to sent 120 elite Shaolin Kung Fu monks to attempt to stop and destroy the Wokou. They were not as easy to defeat as the monks originally thought them to be. It took the fighting of four major battles, until at the Battle of Wengjiagan, the Shaolin monks defeated the Wokou. (9)

The Shaolin Temple today is a huge complex where martial arts enthusiasts, Zen Buddhists, and tourists flock every year. Thousands of young people from around the globe come there to study Kung Fu (known as Wushu in China) in the schools around the temple. The studying of Shaolin Kung Fu provides a way out of poverty for thousands of children and young people. (8)

But not everyone likes what commercial success has brought to the temple. The monetary successes are evident everywhere and some sights are even jarring, like the telephone kiosks with Buddhas on top! (8)

The abbot of the monastery is Shi Yongxin. He is a farmer’s son from nearby Anhui, he has been credited as the architect of Shaolin’s revival since taking over in 1999. He is known for his business-minded acumen and for transforming the temple and promoting Chan (Zen) Buddhism throughout the world over the past two decades, this approach has spawned his detractors to give him the nickname CEO MONK. (8)

“Since 1986, he has led Shaolin monk delegations across China and abroad to perform Shaolin martial arts shows, registering the trademark of the names “Shaolin”, and “Shaolin Temple” in 1994.” (8)

He has been accused of fathering children with several women and of pilfering money from the temple coffers. Although so far he has been exonerated of these accusations. He also was criticized for accepting expensive gifts, including a luxury sports car from the authorities, and many monks did not like the decision to host its own martial arts reality TV show. (7 & 8)

But Qian Daliang, general manager of the Henan Shaolin Temple Development Company, insists the temple needs its commercial activities to ensure its survival. “The Shaolin monastery has had its ups and downs. At one point there were over 2,000 monks here, but after the Cultural Revolution, there were only 15 monks left. But the spirit of Shaolin never stops, and that’s what we are aiming to continuously deliver.” said Mr Qian. (8)

Photo from: Shaolin Show: Chinese Land, Luoyang Tradition and Art, Henan, China (

Whether you agree with the commercialization of the Shaolin Temple or not, it provides an abundance of advantageous benefits for the local people of the area, across China, and the world. Including economic, social, cultural, and religious benefits. There are more than a million students of Kung Fu around the world, and many centers of Shaolin culture and learning globally, which stem in large part from the Shaolin Temple.


☆ This blog entry is from my work in my World Religions course that I am currently taking at Phillips Seminary. ☆


ROTW = Hopfe, Lewis M., et. al. Religions of the World, 13th Edition. Pearson Education, 2016.

1. Mahayana Buddhism – Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia

2. Chan Buddhism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

3. The Real Kung Fu Monks of Shaolin Monastery, China (

4. Shahar, Meir (2008). The Shaolin Monastery: history, religion, and the Chinese martial arts. University of Hawaii Press.

5.  Broughton, Jeffrey L. (1999). The Bodhidharma Anthology: The Earliest Records of Zen. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 54–55.

6. Bodhidharma – How Zen Came To China (

7. Controversy-plagued Abbot of Shaolin Monastery Comes under Official Scrutiny | Buddhistdoor

8. Issues | Why the kung-fu monks are losing their religion (

9. 10 Fascinating Facts About Shaolin And Kung Fu You May Not Know – Look4ward

10. Shaolin monks daily life and training – Learn kung fu with monks (

Additional Resources to check out:

1. American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron … – Matthew Polly – Google Books

2. The extraordinary final test to become a Shaolin Master | Sacred Wonders – BBC

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

Posted in Religious, Theology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My ☘️ Irish ☘️ Joynt and Larkin Ancestors from Galway and Clare

Photo from: Blue Wall Art | Fine Art America

“Time is a Great Storyteller.” – Irish saying

The Joynt surname is not one of the most popular surnames found in Ireland. And it’s an even smaller group that were and are Irish Catholic. “Joynt is an Irish surname of Huguenot origin meaning graceful or slim.” (1) It is also listed as “originally a Huguenot name, from the Old French word “joint” meaning “united,” or “joined.” (2)

The surname Joynt was first found in Ireland in counties Limerick and Mayo. Most of the Huguenots arrived in Ireland via England, having first fled to Switzerland, Germany, or Holland. Although some of the Huguenots in Ireland were essentially religious refugees, their numbers were increased by five Huguenot regiments recruited directly from Holland by the English King William of Orange, in his fight against the Irish forces of the deposed James II in 1690. Following William’s victory at Boyne, most of these Huguenots settled in Ireland. They were encouraged (forced) by William of Orange to settle in Ireland and by 1710 they numbered several thousand. (1 & 3)

In Irish Church Records, edited by James G. Ryan, published by Flyleaf Press, Dublin, Vivien Costello points out there were four waves of Huguenots that emigrated to Ireland following persecution in continental Europe: the second half of the 16th century; early 17th century; 60 years following the 1685 Edict of Nantes; and after the war of Austrian Succession ended in 1748. (3)

The migration of a branch of the Joynt family to the lonely, wind-swept country of County Mayo in the West Coast of Ireland is believed to have come about because of the Irish rebellion which started in 1641.

In 1649 Oliver Cromwell arrived with an army to subdue the Catholic rebels a process which took until 1653 to complete. He continued the policy of James I “The Plantation of England” by making substantial grants to his officers to establish an English Protestant presence amongst the rebellious Catholics. It is believed that two brothers of the Joynt family, both Captains in Cromwell’s Army received such land grants and settled in Counties Mayo and Limerick. We know that a William Joynt was the Sheriff of County Limerick c1659. (6)

In all likelihood my Joynt ancestors would have been originally French Huguenots. Were they religious refugees? Or was my ancestor recruited by William of Orange and ended up in Ireland? Or am I related to the two Joynt brothers thought to have been soldiers in Cromwell’s army and received land grants and settled in Counties Mayo and Limerick? However they came to be in Ireland, they would have been of the Protestant faith. How did my Joynt ancestors end up Roman Catholic? It certainly would not have been advantageous at this time in Irish history to convert to Catholicism. I venture to guess that it could have been love that engendered this change of faith. I realize that may be a romantic notion, but there would have been only a few reasons why someone would make such a drastic change in their life by converting to Roman Catholicism. Of course the person would have been disinherited and it would have made for a good reason to migrate to another area and is possibly how they ended up in Clare and Galway.

The furthest I can take my Joynt family line back is to Edmond Joynt who was born about 1782 most likely in County Clare. He lived in Poulataggle, Kilkeedy, Clare, Ireland. He married Honor(a) “Nora” Larkin. He died 15 April 1866 in Poulataggle, Clare, Ireland. He possibly may have been the son of Michael Joynt who is found in records as a flax grower in County Mayo in 1796.

Photo from: Joynt Irish genealogy records (

There are a few more found with the spelling as Joint:

From the above graphics, the majority of Joynt householders in Ireland in the years 1847-1864 lived by far in County Mayo. It’s only a small group of us in Clare and even less in Galway. My ancestor Anna “Annie” Joynt Fahey was already married by this time. Her father Edmond “Ed” Joynt, brother Michael “Ned” Joynt and Joynt kin would have been included in the four Joynt households in County Clare, and the five found in County Galway would include her brother David Patrick Joynt before he came to the USA

The parentage of Honor(a) “Nora” Larkin is unknown. But DNA connections have shown she had at least two brothers. One brother who lived in Tubber, Galway, Ireland, and another brother who lived in Killaloe Parish, Clare, Ireland. I am a DNA match to descendants of both of these brothers. DNA has shown a strong connection to the Larkin families of Killaloe, Clare. It has also shown a tie between the Larkin families in Galway and Clare, and even a remote connection to Tipperary. This is not surprising because the original lands of this branch were on the borders of Munster, Tipperary and Meath. However, Cromwell’s policy of dispersal drove many west to Galway (and Clare). (4) Larkin cousins are found in Ireland, USA, Australia, and New Zealand.

Meaning of the surname Larkin:

The Irish surname “Larkin is an anglicization of the Gaelic Lorcan, a personal name meaning “rough” or “fierce.” The progression to Larkin from the original Ui Lorcain or O’Lorcain name began after the Norman invasion. Under the English influence the O was discarded to leave the name Lorcan or Lorkin. By the 18th century the name had become anglicized to the more common Larkin.” (4)

The ancestral home of David Patrick Joynt and Bridget Ann McDermott in Shanaglish, Galway, Ireland.

If you follow The Cancelled Land Books for Poulataggle it seems to show that Edmond Joynt is “the father of sons, Michael, Martin and David. Michael, being the eldest because he was the one to remain on the land in Poulataggle. Since Edmond’s presumed oldest son was Michael, Edmond may be the son of Michael Joynt who was a flax grower in County Mayo in 1796 and who has not been found on any other records.” (3)

Children of Edmond “Ed” Joynt and Honor(a) “Nora” Larkin:

  1. Michael “Ned” Joynt born about 1802 and was of Poulataggle, Kilkeedy, Clare, Ireland. He may have married Mary ____.
  2. David Patrick Joynt born about 1803 and was of Shananglish, Beagh Parish, Galway, Ireland. He died 15 January 1869 in Dyersville, Dubuque, Iowa, USA. He married Bridget Ann McDermott. (I am a DNA match to numerous descendants of this couple).
  3. Anna “Annie” Joynt born about 1804 and was of Gort, Galway, and died before 1854 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She most likely lived in Shanaglish with her brother or other family before marrying. She married Thomas Fahey of Peterswell Parish, Galway, he was the son of Patrick Fahey and Honora “Norah” O’Donnell. (My direct ancestors).
  4. Mary Joynt born about 1805 and was of Gort/Beagh Parish, Galway, Ireland. She died about 1870 in County Galway. She married John Fahey – he was a cousin of Thomas Fahey who married Anna “Annie” Joynt. Descendants of this couple went to Australia and New Zealand. (I am a DNA match to descendants of this couple).
  5. Honor “Norah” Joynt born about 1812 and was of Gort, Galway, Ireland, she died about 1840 in Gort, Galway, Ireland. She married Thomas Carrig/Carrigg. Descendants of this couple went to Australia. (I am a DNA match to descendants of this couple).
  6. Martin Joynt born about 1816 and was of Gort, Galway, Ireland. He lived in Abbeyknockmoy, Galway, Ireland. He married Mary Fahey who was most likely kin to Thomas Fahey and John Fahey.
  7. Bridget “Biddy” Joynt born about 1820 in Tubber, Kilkeedy, Clare, Ireland. She lived in Abbeyknockmoy Parish, Galway, Ireland.
  8. Daughter Joynt.

Possible additional children of Edmond “Ed” Joynt and Honor(a) Larkin:

  1. Patrick “Pat” Joynt (Joyent) born 8 March 1818 in Tubber, Kilkeedy, Clare, Ireland, and died 29 April 1898 in Wheeling, Ohio County, West Virginia. He married Mary Connors. He lived in Tubber, Kilkeedy, Clare before coming to the USA.
  2. Elizabeth Joynt born about 1819 in Tubber, Kilkeedy, Clare, Ireland and died 29 December 1884 in Southold, New York, USA. She married Patrick Rabbit(t).

Taken from the death record for Edmond Joynt:

Date/Place of Death: 15th April 1866 at Poulataggle. Edmond Joynt, Married. Age Last Birthday: 82 years, Farmer. Certified Cause of Death/Illness Duration: Tumor on Jaw 5 yrs. Informant Qualification/Residence: Thos. Mullins, Poulataggle, present at death.

Of interest from the Parish of Kilkeedy, County Clare, Ireland:

In The Parish of Kilkeedy, A Local History compiled by Frank Brew, on page 211 is an
article written by James O’Loughlin called Memories of Tubber and Kilkeedy
During the “Troubles”. He says, “The Volunteers I remember best were Frank Kelly,
the Ruanes, O’Briens, Moylans, O’Loughlins, Walshes, Joynts…”
The troubles talked about here are 1916-1922, the Volunteers were the old I.R.A.

My great x2 grandfather Daniel “Dan” Wolfetone Fahey (Fay)

My line continues with Daniel Wolfetone “Dan” Fahey (Fay), a son of Anna “Annie” Joynt and Thomas Fahey. He married Catherine Mary “Kate’ Nestor Mullen. She was the daughter of Michael Nestor and Catherine Hansberry. I will be writing another blog entry in the future that centers on my ancestor Dan Fay and his life in Ireland and the USA, and also my other Fahey, O’Donnell, Nestor, and Hansberry ancestors and kin. I do have a secondary Joynt/Nestor family connection, so I needed to include this family information here for it to all make sense.

It appears that the Joynt, Nestor, and Fahey families all knew each other in Ireland, and it made for additional connections in the USA.

David Patrick Joynt, brother of my ancestor Anna “Annie” Joynt Fahey, and his wife Bridget Ann McDermott and most of their children immigrated to the USA.

My additional Joynt/Nestor connection is to one of the children of David Patrick Joynt and Bridget Ann McDermott. They had a daughter named Mary Joynt.

Mary Joynt Nestor Murphy

Mary Joynt was born September 1832 in Shanaglish, Gort, Galway, Ireland, and died 28 January 1905 In Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa, USA. She married first to Michael Nestor on 15 July 1861 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, USA. They had five children together.

Her husband Michael Nestor was the brother of my great-great grandmother Catherine Mary “Kate” Nestor Mullen Fahey (Fay).

Mary Joynt married second to Edward Murphy on 21 May 1872 in Iowa, USA. Two children were born of this second marriage.

I am a DNA match to the descendants of Mary Joynt Nestor Murphy from both of her marriages.


  1. Weekley, Ernest (1916). Surnames. J. Murray. p. 130.
  2. Joynt Name History. – House of
  3. Descendants of David Patrick Joynt (
  4. Larkin Surname Meaning, History & Origin | Select Surnames
  5. The Parish of Kilkeedy, A Local History compiled by Frank Brew, p. 211. 1998.
  6. – Background

For additional research on the Joynt families of Ireland and especially information about the descendants of David Patrick Joynt and Bridget Ann McDermott check out the website Celtic Cousins of Joynt cousin Cathy Joynt Labath. She is not longer doing family tree research and has not updated the site since 2013, but it has some good information. Her research does not include much information gleaned from DNA research, since it was before it was so readily available.

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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Hindu Holy Days – The Ancient Indian Festival of Holi. Also known as The Festival of Love, The Festival of Colors and The Festival of Spring.

Indian woman dancing during the Holi festival in India. Photo from

Hindu Holy Days – The Ancient Indian Festival of Holi. Also known as The Festival of Love, The Festival of Colors and The Festival of Spring.

The Holi festival is mentioned briefly under the Hindu Holy Days section of our textbook (Religions of the World (ROTW), p. 84) and the first photo in this week’s Clement’s Brain (additional resources written by instructor of the my World Religions course) appears to be taken during the celebration of this festival.

Holi is a very popular festival. It is celebrated in February/March. It celebrates the end of winter and welcomes the arrival of spring, and the blossoming of love. It is a time of forgiveness, to forgive and forget, yourself and others. It is a time to celebrate and have fun, meet new people, visit old friends, and create new beginnings. (1, 2, & 3)

“Holi is dedicated to the god Krishna, and . . . once was a fertility ceremony. It “also celebrates the destruction of demons.” (ROTW, p. 84)

figure of Holika burning a top a pyre during the Holika Dahan. Photo from : INDIAN

So, what are the origins of the name of the festival Holi? It is “derived from Holika, the sister of demon King Hiranyakashyap” (4) and aunt of Prahlad. She was a demoness who was burnt to death. 

The Hindu legend of Demoness Holika, her brother the Demon King Hiranyakashyap, and her nephew Prahlad:

“Demon King Hiranyakashyap was an enemy of Lord Vishnu, but his son Prahlad was an ardent Lord Vishnu devotee. Hiranyakashipu didn’t approve of his son’s devotion to Lord Vishnu and planned to kill Prahlad with the help of his sister Holika. Demoness Holika has a shawl gifted by Lord Brahma that protected her from the fire. Holika lured Prahlad to sit with her in a huge bonfire. But as the fire lit, Prahlad prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. So Lord Vishnu summoned a gust of wind to blow the shawl off of Holika and onto Prahlad, saving him from the flames of the bonfire and burning Holika to her death.” (5)

This story of Holika’s death (Holika Dahan) symbolizes good over evil.

The first day of the festival is celebrated as Holika Dahan when people gather and start a bonfire. The Holika bonfire is a place where people gather around the pyre to perform religious rituals and Holika prayers (Holika puja), sing, dance, or just watch the fire and eat and talk with friends. On top of the pyre is a likeness of the Demoness Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. It is believed that Holika prayers give prosperity and power and ward off fear. (4 & 5)

Wedding during Holi – The Festival of Colors. India. Photo from : WEDDINGSUTRA.COM

The second day of the festival is why it’s called the Festival of Colors. 

This is the day when people apply colors to themselves and to one another. It is a time to party and enjoy the festival. Traditional food delicacies are eaten and imbibement of cold beverages, including drinks made with bhang (marijuana). You will encounter on this day people playing drums and other instruments, singing, and dancing. As in the photo above, weddings are a joyful occasion that many couples opt to celebrate during the Festival of Love and Colors. It is a day to celebrate spring, love, and life with colors. “Colors of joy, prosperity, happiness, and peace.” (6) 

It is a festival that is inclusive of all. People of all classes, castes, and religions come together.

Holi is also sometimes known as the Festival of Reversals, because it is a time where people from the lower castes can engage freely with and even tease those of the higher castes. (7)

“. . . caste and taboo restrictions are set aside and pleasure is emphasized.” (ROTW, p. 84)

Photo from website: Female Artists Creates Improvised Chalk Mandalas In The Streets Of Copenhagen

The above mandala is not from a celebration of Holi, but it does show a meshing of religions in the imagery. “The origins of “this too shall pass” are unknown. Some trace the phrase back to Persian Sufi poets, while others credit King Solomon, although it is not recorded in any of his biblical works.” (11)

According to Rabbi Lisa Rubin (Director of the Center for Exploring Judaism), “King Solomon was trying to humble his wisest servant, so he asked him to perform a seemingly impossible task: to find something that did not exist. He requested a magic ring — one that, if a sad man wore it, he would become happy and if a happy man wore it, he would become sad.” The story suggests that the servant could not find anything of such nature. So, King Solomon decided upon himself to go to a jeweler and design a ring with the inscription in Hebrew saying, “Gam ze ya’avor,” which means, “This, too, shall pass.”  (13)

And certainly the verses of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where there are purpose and season for all things under heaven could be said is saying everything shall pass. “All things have time, and all things under [the] sun pass by their spaces. (Everything hath a time, and all things pass forth in their places under the sun.)” (WYC) 

These artists in Denmark that created this and many more mandalas have included the words “This to shall pass” which for them is in relation to the 5 hours spent to create each work of art and it’s temporary nature. One of their mantras is “this too shall pass.”  “. . . remembering this, we like the idea that every mandala has a finite lifecycle depending on the weather.” (10)

Many believe the inclusion of those of other faiths in the celebration of Holi is of importance to all. Muslims and Christians often celebrate Holi together with Hindus, Buddhists, and those of other faiths. (8) The Christian Indian churches have found new meaning in the festival.

“Holi has great significance for Christians, as the Church is increasingly concerned about the integrity of creation. By absorbing Holi into the Christian festival calendar as the feast of creation, the Church in India can impart faith education on man´s ecological obligations,” says Jesuit theologian Fr. AMA Samy (Arul Maria Arokiasamy) of New Delhi´s Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious Studies. He also stated, “Christians should adopt more Indian traditions to counter the charge by Hindu fundamentalists that Christianity and Indian culture are incompatible.” (7)

The absorbing of festivals, holy days, and holy sites is not new within the Christian faith. This happened in Ireland, and the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) comes to mind as well. They are just a few of the countless examples where the church has intermingled local customs, beliefs, holy days, and holy sites with Christian beliefs. 

Fr. George Gispert-Sauch, another Jesuit priest who is an Indologist and was a professor at Vidyajyoti, believes “Holi resembles Easter in spirit and the Western Carnival in observance. The passage from death to life in Holi is similar to Christ’s death and resurrection.” (7)

I am in agreement with the purpose and actions of Ecumenism and interfaith harmony. “The goals of interreligious or interfaith relations are mutual understanding and respect, with collaboration in meeting the challenges we commonly face in the society and world in which we live.” (12)

According to a recent Pew Research Survey, a large number of Indian Christians follow practices and beliefs not traditionally associated with Christianity, including Karma, reincarnation, and the purifying powers of holy river Ganga. Many Indian Christians also celebrate and participate in Hindu holy days including Holi and Diwali. And you will often encounter Christian women in India sporting the ‘bindi’ on their forehead, which is more associated with Hindus, Buddhists, and Jainists. (9) 


Divider image.

☆ This blog entry is from one of the week two assignments in my World Religions course at Phillips Seminary. ☆


1. Jain, Richa. What is Holi, And Why is It Celebrated? ASIA / INDIA / GUIDES & TIPS. culture travel: Book Good – Travel Good – Feel Good. 29 March 2018.

2. Ebeling, Karin (2010), Holi, a Hindu Festival, and its Reflection in English Media; The Order of the Standard and the Differentiation of Discourses: Files of the 41st Linguistic Colloquium in Mannheim. 2006, 1, 107

3. Wendy Doniger (Editor), Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, 2000, Merriam-Webster, p. 455

4. KUMAR, RAJENDRA. 10 Amazing Facts About Holi the Indian Festival of Colors. INDIAN CULTURE. INDIAN YUG.COM. 25 March 2021.

5. TOI Online. Holika Dahan Story: Why is the demoness Holika worshipped on Holi? Religion. THE TIMES OF INDIA. 27 March 2021.

6. Festival of Colors – Holi.

7. UCAnews (Union of Catholic Asian News). HOLI FESTIVAL OF COLOR HAS ´SIGNIFICANCE´ FOR CHRISTIANS. 27 February 1991.

8. THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE (Partnered with The International New York Times). Coloured up: Muslims and Christians join Holi celebrations. 17 March 2014.

9. Swarajya Staff. Many Indian Christians Follow Hindu Beliefs Including Karma, Reincarnation And Ganga’s Purifying Powers: Pew Survey. #SWARAJJYA Magazine. 12 July 2021.

10. Anderson, Mie Buch. Female Artists Creates Improvised Chalk Mandalas In The Streets Of Copenhagen  Bored Panda – art and pop culture magazine. 27 April 2019.

11. Got Questions – Your Questions – Biblical Answers. Is “this too shall pass” found in the Bible? Got Questions Ministries.

12. Ryan, Tom. Ecumenism and Interfaith Harmony: What’s the Difference? | National Catholic Reporter ( National Catholic Reporter. 30 January 2016.

13. Mashburn, Rebecca. Is the Phrase, ‘This Too Shall Pass’ in the Bible? 22 November 2019

Additional Sources (that I found enlightening or informative):

Khatri, Tek Bahadur. Bindi and Tilak – A Biblical Response. The Khatri Parivaar. Together in HIS Service Since 2010 (Joshua 24:15) – a cross-cultural (Pracharak) Evangelist through Indian Evangelical Mission (IEM). 19 February 2018.

Gajiwala, Astrid Lobo. Bindis and Baptism ( – interfaith marriage. 27 April 2010.

To view more of the awesomely beautiful mandalas by artist Mie Buch Andersen, check out her Instagram here: Rikke & Mie (@streetmandalas_copenhagen) • Instagram photos and videos

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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The Sámi, an Indigenous Group in Scandinavia and Northwestern Russia, and their Traditional Religious Belief System.

Photo from National (Links to an external site.)  – Travel 365: Best of 2014.

The Sámi people are an indigenous group that is found in parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and some areas of northwestern Russia. They are the most northernmost indigenous people living in Europe. They have made their home there for the past 3,500 years. You will find the largest population of Sámi in the Norwegian tundra. Nine out of ten people in that area are Sámi. They are now thought of as an Arctic people, but in the Middle Ages their territory extended far into southern Norway and Sweden.

Many of the Sámi people today practice the Lutheran religion. The Sámi were subjected to experiences similar to the Native Americas of North America. Christianity came to the Sámi with an influx of Scandinavians coming to the area. Many of Scandinavians viewed the Sámi as a backward people and believed their shamanic beliefs and practices to be a form of devil worship. Their traditional religious beliefs were suppressed as well as their language and culture. Holy sites and sacred drums were destroyed. Some Sámi living in Norway experienced forced sterilization. 

Reminiscent of what happened to the indigenous populations in America and Canada, Sámi children were removed against their will from their homes by the Norwegian government and sent to state-run missionary schools. Once there, they were only allowed to speak Norwegian and were often punished if they used the Sámi language to communicate. 

They suffered many other injustices brought about by laws and practices of the Norwegian government toward the Sámi, especially in the early decades of the 20th century. There was much plundering of the nature resources found in the areas where the Sámi lived — items such as timber, minerals, and oil. Their territory has been subjected to threats to the environment and their culture and it also affected their ability to continue in their traditional livelihood and long history of herding reindeer. There were some significant strides made in the later part of the 20th century to help protect the Sámi. In 1990, Norway recognized the Sámi as an indigenous people. This has helped with the efforts to protect Sámi land, their culture, livelihood, and traditions. And quite recently, in Norway, “a state-appointed truth and reconciliation commission investigated the discrimination perpetrated on minorities including the Sámi and Kven peoples.” (8)

As in the case of Native American religions, these outside influences and the efforts to suppress their traditional beliefs and convert the Sámi to Christianity engendered a loss of some knowledge of the traditional religious practices of the Sámi. But there is renewed interest in the traditional Sámi beliefs, and many come to visit the area where the Sámi live, called Sápmi, and it has a thriving tourist industry.  When making the film Frozen II, even Disney consulted with indigenous elders for knowledge and insight on the Sámi history and culture. 

I noticed many similarities between the traditional Sámi belief system and the indigenous religions covered in our textbook (Religions of the World, Hopfe et al.). Their beliefs encompassed a system of three interconnected elements: animism, shamanism, and polytheism. The Sámi animism showed itself in the belief that all significant objects, animals, trees, lakes, plants, rocks, etc., possess a soul. 

Sámi polytheistic beliefs manifest themselves in a multitude of spirits and deities that are seen as sacred. The most important of these are the Mother, Father, Son, and daughter called Radienacca, Radienacce, Radienkiedde, and Radienneida. There are also Horagalles, a god of thunder and fire, the sun-goddess Beive, and a moon goddess called Manno. And a powerful goddess of death named Jabemeahkka.

I noticed parallelism between the Native American religions and the traditional Sámi beliefs in many ways including of the venerating of one’s ancestors and their spirits. But the Sámi were also similar in one way to some of the indigenous African religious beliefs in that not only did they place great worth in their connection to their ancestors, but they also believed their ancestors took an active role in the affairs of the living. 

The Sámi have a shamanistic form of worship which includes drumming and traditional chanting called yoiking. They used this chant, the yoik (also spelled joik), as an expression of spirituality and to tell stories, and share legends. The Sámi shaman traditionally was a healer and protector and was called a noaide

You can really hear a similarity between this yoik of the Sámi in the video below and the chanting of some Native American tribes:

Mun Ja Mun by Adjágas

The musical group is called Adjágas and this yoik is called Mun ja Mun. As they show in their video, “This yoik, Mun Ja Mun, is from the southern area of Sápmi.”

I love this! After discovering it, I have listened to it countless times! I am listening to it right now as I type this. 😉

The group Adjágas is from Sápmi, Norway and are Sámi joikers, Lawra Somby and Sara Marielle Gaup with a band of musicians. The group formed in 2004. Sara Marielle Gaup and Lawra Somby, both are from a long line of Sámi ancestry. They combine traditional forms with contemporary instruments and styles. A yoiker is a singer or a chanter with a Sámi origin, and it represents a very historically important part of the musical history of Northern Europe. The group’s name Adjágas is a Sámi word describing the mental state experienced between waking and sleeping. (6 & 7) 

Although there are vast differences between the indigenous religious beliefs and the beliefs found in Christianity, I believe we can find links between all religions.  

In Christianity, if we are living our life Coram Deo — before the face of God, in the presence of God — in the spirit of the verses found below in Psalm 139:7-10, where the Lord is believed to be fully present everywhere, to me it is seeing and feeling God in everything in the world, in all his creation. 

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (NIV)

If God is omnipresent and ubiquitous (“found everywhere”) he, his Spirit, is everywhere. He is to be found everywhere in creation, in the heavens and beyond. Although not exactly the same as animism, I do see it as similar in some ways to the Christian God existing in all things in his creation. 

This idea that the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, is all around us is also found in Jeremiah 23:23-24 and the Book of Wisdom 11:25-12:1:

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” (ESV)

“How could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you? But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Ruler and Lover of souls, for your imperishable spirit is in all things!” (NAB)

Seeing God in nature is also found throughout the Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi. In the theology of St. Francis he often referred to animals as brothers and sisters.

Brother fire, sister water, Mother Earth. . .

This section calls Mother Earth our Sister. 

“Praised be You my Lord through our Sister,
Mother Earth
who sustains and governs us,
producing varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.” (1)

And with the teachings of St. Hildegard von Bingen including the concept of Veritas.

“O Holy Spirit, you are the mighty way in which everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.” (2 & 5)

Hildegard has God saying:

“I have created mirrors in which I consider all the wonders of my originality which will never cease.” [3 & 5]

For St. Hildegard nature was a mirror for the soul and a mirror for God. 

“If humankind could have known God without the world, God would never have created the world.”  – Meister Eckhart (4 & 5)

“Creation is not a mere scenic backdrop so humans can take over the stage. Creation is in fact a full participant in human transformation, since the outer world is absolutely needed to mirror the true inner world. There are not just two sacraments, or even seven; the whole world is a sacrament!” – Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM (5)

On a more personal note, I find God present in the world all around me, here in the high desert, and in the mountains near Flagstaff. I feel closer to my Creator when near the ocean. I find the Spirit of God is there (and everywhere), in the waves, the sand beneath my feet, the salty air, the seagulls flying above, the wind against my face, the sun, the moon, the sky, the clouds, I am ensconced in the Holy Spirit, the holy shades and hues of Her voice — weaving a sacred melody within the sound of the waves engulfing me, surrounding me. God is there and with me always, all around me, in brother fire, sister water, Mother Earth, in the Veritas. . . the greening, and the Spirit of the Lord is flowing in me.

On a side note, sadly, I see a linear line between the Aboriginals in Australia, Native Americans, First Nations of Canada, and the Sámi of Scandinavia and northern Russia in what the settlement of Europeans cost them all, literally and in their history, beliefs, language, religion, culture, and way of life.

In listening to videos of the music of the indigenous people of Australia — the Aboriginals and the Torres Strait Islanders — I came across this video and just had to share it. The Aboriginal singer is Gurrumul (born Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu) and he was an Indigenous Australian musician. He was born blind. Sadly he died in 2017 at the age of 46.

From Gurrumel’s The Gospel Album. It is a duet of ‘Amazing Grace’ with Paul Kelly.

This song is from Gurrumel’s The Gospel Album. It is a duet of ‘Amazing Grace’ with Paul Kelly. He is singing in his native language. Sometimes, despite the painful past and history, it is possible for the two worlds of the indigenous and Christian to come together beautifully filled with the Spirit of the Lord. This is one of those times, you can feel the presence of God listening to this song. the Holy Spirit is there working through them. The song brought tears to my eyes. 

☆ This blog entry is from one of the week one assignments in my World Religions course I am taking currently at Phillips Seminary. ☆


1. Catholic Online Prayers. Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon of St. Francis of Assisi.

2. Hildegard of Bingen, Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen, by Gabriele Uhlein (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1982), 41.

3. Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works, with Letters and Songs, ed. Matthew Fox (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1987), 128.

4. Meister Eckhart, The Complete Mystical Works of Meister Eckhart, ed. by Maurice O’Connell Walshe, revised by Bernard McGinn (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2009), 275. 

5. Rohr, OFM, Fr. Richard. Nature as a Mirror of God. Center for Action and Contemplation. 8 November 2016.

6. Ragazzi, Rossella. 2007. Firekeepers. Digital Beta, 57 minutes. Norway: Sonar Film

7. Romero, Angel. Artist Profiles: Adjagas. World Music 22 April 2016.

8. Fouche, Gwladys. Disney’s ‘Frozen 2’ thrills Sámi people in northern Europe. REUTERS. 29 November 2019.

Additional Sources Used:

Like most Arctic and Subarctic culture complexes, Sámi spirituality was traditionally natural and shamanic. MPM – Milwaukee Public Museum.

Holloway, Alan “Ivvár”. The Decline of the Sámi People’s Indigenous Religion. Sámi Culture. The University of Texas at Austin. College of Liberal Arts.

Wigington, Patti. Sámi People: Religion, Beliefs, and Deities. Learn Religions. Other Religions – Alternative Religions.

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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My ancestor Rev. Thomas Shepard, an English and American Puritan Minister and Significant Figure in Early Colonial New England.

Thomas Shepard.

In this month of August on the 25th will mark the 372nd anniversary of the death of my quite interesting and significant ancestor Rev. Thomas Shepard. He and his third wife Margaret Borodell are my 8th great-grandparents. She was the daughter of John Borodell. Two of Margaret Borodell‘s siblings are more well-known, Ann Borodell who married George Denison, and John Borodell, merchant of London.

Rev. Thomas Shepard was born in Towcester, Northamptonshire, England on 5 November 1605, the son of William Shepard and Anna Bland. “Towcester is a market town in Northamptonshire, England. It currently lies in West Northamptonshire but was the former administrative headquarters of the South Northamptonshire district council.

Towcester lays claim to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the country. It was the Roman town of Lactodorum, located on Watling Street, today’s A5. In Saxon times, this was the frontier between the kingdom of Wessex and the Danelaw. Towcester features in Charles Dickens’s novel The Pickwick Papers as one of Mr. Pickwick’s stopping places on his tour. The local racecourse has hosted many national horse racing events.” (12)

Born on the day that the gunpowder plot was discovered, at the very hour in which Parliament was to have been blown up, Thomas lost his devout mother when he was just four. “A godly woman, she had loved young Thomas and prayed earnestly for him. His stepmother disliked him and often incited his father to punish him, although Thomas admitted he may have deserved it. Thomas remembered his father, a grocer, as, on the whole, a wise and godly man, but he died when Thomas was just ten. His father died when he reached ten, at which point he lived with his grandparents, who neglected him. Later an older brother, whom he held in high and grateful regard provided him with a loving home. And he knew a measure of happiness, “for him God made to be both father and mother unto me.” (8)

A schoolmaster ignited in him a scholarly interest, which ultimately led to entry into Emmanuel College in Cambridge University at the age of fifteen. He accounts in his autobiography that he lived a dissatisfied and dissolute life. “Although he hungered for God, he hungered more for the things that fed his lust and pride; and he gambled, bowled and drank. After getting drunk one night he fled to a field and prayed. At the moment when he was worst, Christ was best to him, and Thomas “saw” the Lord’s sorrow for his sin. He vowed to spend part of each day in meditation. Resolutions did not change his heart. In fact, his character did not change until he heard a Puritan preach on Paul’s words “Be renewed in your mind.” (Romans 12.)” (8) which led him to pray out in a nearby field, at which point he underwent the beginnings of a conversion experience. (5 & 8)

In 1627, he became assistant schoolmaster at Earls Colne Grammar School in Earls Colne, Essex. He was graduated at Oxford in 1627, ordained in the established church. His sermons and Puritan ways drew the ire of Church of England Archbishop William Laud, and he was forbidden to preach. He was 1630 silenced for non-conformity. He was subsequently tutor and chaplain in the family of Sir Richard Darby, whose cousin he married. He was silenced again in 1633.

Following the death of his elder son, he left England in October 1635 with his wife, Margaret Touteville and younger son, Thomas Shepard, on a difficult voyage for Massachusetts in Colonial America where he became minister of one of the leading churches in the colonies, the First Church in Cambridge (Congregational, currently UCC), Massachusetts and also of Harvard University, then a very new school charged with training men for the Christian ministry in the Puritan colonies of New England. Along with John Allin and John Eliot, he was involved in preaching to the native peoples on New England. From the time he became minister First Church of Cambridge, succeeding Thomas Hooker, until his death, he remained pastor of this church.

Shepard House.

“He was active in founding Harvard, and instrumental in placing it at Cambridge. Nathaniel Morton, the historian, says of him: “By his death not only the church and people of Cambridge, but all New England, suffered a great loss.” (1)

His first wife Margaret Touteville died shortly after his arrival in New England, his second wife, Joanna Hooker, died in 1646, he also lost other children to death, though he framed these experiences, if not without difficulty, into the perspective of his theology.

From 1637 to 1638, during the Antinomian Controversy, he sat with the other colonial ministers during both the civil and church trials of Anne Hutchinson, and was a very vocal critic of hers during the latter.

Anne Hutchinson.

“The Antinomian Controversy, also known as the Free Grace Controversy, was a religious and political conflict in the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. It pitted most of the colony’s ministers and magistrates against some adherents of the Free Grace theology of Puritan minister John Cotton. The most notable Free Grace advocates, often called “Antinomians”, were Anne Hutchinson, her brother-in-law Reverend John Wheelwright, and Massachusetts Bay Governor Henry Vane. The controversy was a theological debate concerning the “covenant of grace” and “covenant of works”. “ (13)

“Anne Hutchinson has historically been placed at the center of the controversy, a strong-minded woman who had grown up under the religious guidance of her father Francis Marbury, an Anglican clergyman and school teacher. In England, she embraced the religious views of dynamic Puritan minister John Cotton, who became her mentor; Cotton was forced to leave England and Hutchinson followed him to New England.” (13)

“He was a vigorous and popular writer on theological subjects, and published New England’s Lamentations for Old England’s Errors (London, 1645) ; The Clear Sunshine of the Gospel Breaking out on the Indians of New England (1648; New York, 1865) ; Theses Sabbatica (1649) ; and left in manuscript numerous sermons that were subsequently printed in England. These include Subjection to Christ, with a memoir of him by Samuel Mather and William Greenhill (London, 1652), and The Parables of the Ten Virgins and other Sermons (1660; new ed., Aberdeen, 1638). His autobiography was published (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1832), and his collected works, with a memoir of him by Reverend Horatio Alger (3 vols., Boston, 1853). Cotton Mather also wrote his memoir in the Magnalia, and in his Lives of the Chief Fathers of New England.” (10)

A excerpt from the writings of Rev. Thomas Shepard:

“All men’s souls are naturally unfit and unprepared to enjoy communion with Christ; it is said, (Rev. xxi.) unclean “Nothing enters into the new Jerusalem on earth, which is unclean, and defileth;” and, (Heb. xii. 14,) “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Now, naturally all men are defiled, and unclean vessels, and under the power of their sins, loathing angels’ food, the grace of Christ, and weary of the fellowship of Christ; and, therefore, they must be prepared for the Lord first; this is one reason why preparation to every holy duty is needful, and so needful, that let men perform any holy duty, wherein they draw near to Christ without a heart prepared, (Ps. x. 17,) their performances are rejected, or not blessed; and hence Rehoboam, though he did maintain the worship of God at Jerusalem, “yet he prepared not his heart,” (2 Chron. xii. 14;) and hence Hezekiah mourns, and begs pardon for this, “that he is so purified according to the purification of the sanctuary.” Now, to a holy duty, and communion with Christ here, this is needful; sore eyes can not behold the sun without grief; sick bodies loathe the best food; if the Lord should let a carnal heart into heaven with that heart he hath, and not change his nature, he would not stay there if he could escape; but having his swinish nature, he would be in his mire again; and the government of Christ being a bondage to him, he would break bonds, and break his prison, if he knew where to fly from the presence of the Lord; and hence, no work so wearisome as Christ’s now, no time so uncomfortable and tedious as abiding under Christ’s wings in his ordinances now. 1 Cor. xv. 50, “If flesh and blood can not enter into the kingdom of heaven, much less corruption.”

Parable of the Ten Virgins (Works of Thomas Shepard): Shepard, Thomas: Books

“His written legacy includes an autobiography and numerous sermons, which in some measure of contrast with others of his day, tended to accent God as an accessible and welcoming figure in the individual life. Today a plaque at Harvard University, in the words of Cotton Mather, records that it was in consideration of the salutary effect of Shepard’s ministry that the college ultimately came to be placed in “Newtowne”, known today as Cambridge, Massachusetts.” (13)

Rev. Thomas Shepard married first to Margaret Touteville in 1632 in London, England. Margret Touteville was the daughter of Charles Touteville (Estouteville) and Ann Robertson. She is considered a gateway ancestor – an ancestor that is descended from royalty, the aristocracy, or landed gentry.

Children of Rev. Thomas Shepard and Margaret Touteville:

  1. Thomas Shepard born 1630 in London, England and died 1630 in London, England.
  2. Rev. Thomas Shepard born 5 April 1635 in London, England and died 22 December 1677 in Charlestown, Suffolk, Massachusetts. He married Anna Tyng.

Margaret Touteville died February 1636 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Rev. Thomas Shepard married second in early 1640 to Joanna Hooker the daughter of Rev. Thomas Hooker.

Children of Rev. Thomas Shepard and Joanna Hooker:

  1. Rev. Samuel Shepard born October 1641 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, and died 7 April 1668 in Rowley, Essex, Massachusetts. He married Dorothy Flint.
  2. John Shepard born 14 July 1644 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, and died 14 July 1644 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.
  3. John Shepard born 2 April 1646 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, and died 1719 in Kittery, York, Maine. He married Rebecca Putnam.

Joanna Hooker died on 28 April 1646 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Rev. Thomas Shepard married third to Margaret Borodell on 8 September 1647 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts.

Child born to Rev. Thomas Shepard and Margaret Borodell:

  1. Rev. Jeremiah Shepard born 11 August 1648 in Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, and died 2 June 1720 in Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts. He married Mary Wainwright, the daughter of Col. Francis Wainwright and Philippa Sewall (Sewell). Phillippa Sewall (Sewell) may be a gateway ancestor. She was the daughter of George Sewell and his second wife Sarah ____ (not Sarah Ward, who was his first wife). They are my direct ancestors. 

After the death of Rev. Thomas Shepard, his wife Margaret Borodell married second at Cambridge, Massachusetts on 19 November 1650 to Rev. Jonathan Mitchell.

Rev. Thomas Shepard died of quinsy, a Peritonsillar abscess, which is a complication of tonsillitis at the age of 44. “On his death-bed, he said to the young ministers around him, “That their work was great, and called for great seriousness;” and mentioned to them three things concerning himself: “That the study of every sermon cost him tears; That before he preached any Sermon he got good by it himself; and, That he always went into the pulpit, as if he were to give up his accounts to his Master.” (3)

Three of Shepard’s sons followed him into the ministry; Thomas Shepard II, Samuel Shepard, and Jeremiah Shepard.

Famous kin descended from Rev. Thomas Shepard and first wife Margaret Touteville:

Abigail (Smith) Adams, First Lady of the United states; U.S. President John Quincy Adams; U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt; Poet and Playwright T.S. Eliot; and 1952 Olympic Sailing Gold Medalist John Adams Morgan.

Famous and/or distinguished kin descended from Rev. Thomas Shepard and third wife Margaret Borodell:

TV actor and host David Hartman; and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (I love this one! She used to be my Senator when I lived in Illinois) and me! ​😘​❤️️​

Famous kin descended from Margaret Borodell and second husband Rev. Jonathan Mitchell:

U.S. President Grover Cleveland; Henry Lee Higginson, founder of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; actress Shirley Temple; and actor James Spader.

Meaning of surname Shepard: “Shepherd, as its name suggests, is an occupational name for someone employed to tend and watch over sheep.  Its origins are the Old English sceap meaning “sheep” and hierde meaning “herdsman.”  The German equivalent is Schaefer. Shepherd, Shephard, Sheppard, and Shepard are the main surname variants.” (14)

Meaning of the surname Borodell: “Borodell would appear to be a corruption or alternate spelling of Borrowdale, a small area in the English county of Cumberland, which does square with the supposed origin of [my ancestor] John Borodell before he appears in Ireland in the 1600s. Could he have been one of the people ‘planted’ by Queen Elizabeth I in Ireland, given land for their loyal service to the crown?” The surname Borrowdale is from Cumberland “where they derived their name from the village of Borrowdale, in the parish of Crosthwaite, often called often called Grange in Borrowdale. The village dates back to at least c. 1170 when it was listed as Borgordale and meant “valley of the fort river” derived from the Old Scandinavian word “berg” + “by.” (15)

Meaning of Bland surname: “Bland is a surname thought to derive from Old English (ge)bland ‘storm’, ‘commotion’. It is thought to have originated in an area in Yorkshire (where there is a place called Bland Hill). It predates the adjective ‘bland’ meaning “characterless or uninteresting” which arrived in England around 1660.” (16)

My direct ancestor is his son Rev. Jeremiah Shepard.

My direct line:

  1. Rev. Thomas Shepard and Margret Borodell (the daughter of  John Borodell).
  2. Rev. Jeremiah Shepard and Mary Wainwright (the daughter of Col. Francis Wainwright and Philippa Sewall (Sewell).
  3. Nathaniel Shepard (Shepherd) and Elizabeth Wade (the daughter of Col. Thomas Wade and Elizabeth Cogswell).
  4. Elizabeth Shepherd and William Armstrong (the son of John Armstrong, Jr. and Rebecca Hicks).
  5. Nathaniel Shepherd Armstrong and Hannah Norris (the daughter of Joseph Norris and Mary Talbot).
  6. John A. Armstrong and Sarah “Sally” Norris (the daughter of James Norris and Martha ____. She was kin to her mother-in-law Hannah Norris).
  7. Bradford Carroll Armstrong and his third wife Martha A. Knight Lyons (the daughter of James W. Lyons and Catherine Barton).
  8. George Pendleton Armstrong and Alice Elizabeth Nutick (the daughter of Elias “Eli” Nutick (Emick, Emich, Emig) and Margaret (Margarethe) Weiss). My great-grandparents.

Follow the link below to my blog entry to learn about the ancestry of Elias “Eli” Nutick and Margaret (Margarethe) Weiss:

My Weiss, Fried, Propheter, and Related Ancestors from Klingenmünster, Germany | Musings of Lady Anna Kasper (


  1. The History of Cambridge: Thomas Shepard. Years of Thomas Shepard. The History of Cambridge: Thomas Shepard | Harvard Square Library
  2. N. Adams (ed.), The Autobiography of Thomas Shepard, the celebrated minister of Cambridge, N.E., with additional notes of his life and character (Pierce and Parker, Boston 1832).
  3. Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) A sharp preacher and theologian who wrote in an extraordinarily power style and manner. APM. A Puritan’s Mind.
  4. “Sheppard, Thomas (SHPT619T)”. A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. Thomas Shepard | Digital Puritan Press, Veritatem verterem vulgare – To spread old truth far and wide.
  6. Battis, Emery (1962). Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 189–248.
  7. Hanson, Robert Brand (1976). Dedham, Massachusetts, 1635-1890. Dedham Historical Society. p. 63.
  8. Graves, MSL, Dan. Never Enough Done to Satisfy Thomas Shepard – 1601-1700 Church History Timeline ( 3 May 2010.
  9. In answer to the reverend servant of Christ, Mr. John Ball. By Thomas Shephard, sometimes fellow of Emanuel-Colledge in Cambridge, and late pastour of Cambridge in New-England (Printed by E. Cotes for Andrew Crooke, and are to be sold at the Green Dragon in Pauls Church-yard, London 1653).
  10. Thomas Shepard: American Puritan Minister. Christian Classic Ethereal Library – Bringing Christian Classic Books to Life. Author info: Thomas Shepard – Christian Classics Ethereal Library (
  11. Shepard Family Papers, c. 1636 – 1681 ( American Antiquarian Society – Manuscript Collections.
  12. Towcester – Wikipedia
  13. Thomas Shepard (minister) – Wikipedia
  14. Shepherd Surname Meaning, History & Origin
  15. Borrowdale Name Meaning, Family History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms (
  16. Bland (surname) Meaning – Wikipedia

🌟🌟🌟If you use any information from my blog posts as a reference or source please give credit and provide a link back to my work that you are referencing. Unless otherwise noted, my work is © Anna A. Kasper 2011-2021. All rights reserved. Thank you.🌟🌟🌟

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My Ancestor Johann Philip Kaes (John Philip Case) of Anhausen, Germany, and New Jersey, and his Interesting Relationship with Chief Tuccamirgan of the Delaware Tribe.

This is part of a mural found in the Union Hotel in Flemington, Hunterdon County, New Jersey and is of my ancestor Johann Philip Kaes (John Philip Case) and his friend Tuccamirgan, Chief of Delaware Native American tribe.

Johann Philip Kaes was born about 1679 in Anhausen, Neuwied, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, the son of Hans Henrich Kaes and Anna Veronica ____. He is found near Rückeroth at Anhausen in church records. Anhausen is 5 miles northeast of Neuwied.

He married first to Anna Elizabetha Jung, daughter of Frantz Henrich Jung and Veronika Remer, on 29 November 1703 in Anhausen, Germany. His first wife Anna Elizabetha Jung died 21 September 1721 in Anhausen, Germany, and Johann Philip Kaes immigrated to America. He was naturalized in New Jersey on 8 July 1730. He married second to Rachel Houser/Hauser in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

The village of Anhausen, Germany. (1)

“The village of Anhausen lies on the edge of the Westerwald on the hill of the Neuwieder Basin in the Rhine-Westerwald Nature Park. Anhausen includes the residential areas of Bergmannshof, Forsthaus, Forsthaus Braunsberg, Petershof and Rosenhof. Neighboring municipalities are Meinborn, Rüscheid and Thalhausen, the nearest towns are Dierdorf and Neuwied. Near the outskirts of Anhausen is the Limes. The regional hiking route Rheinhöhenweg leads along the Limes.” (1)

Kaes/Kase surname meaning: “The name is derived from the Middle High German word “kaeser and kæse” denoting a person who made and sold cheese – occupational name for a cheese maker or cheese merchant. Also from topographic name from Rhineland dialect Kas ‘thicket of young oak trees’.” (4 & 5)

Jung surname meaning: “The Jung surname means “young,” and was often used to distinguish the younger of two men with the same name, such as a son from a father or the younger of two cousins. It derives from the German word jung, from the Middle High German junc, meaning “young.”” (6)

Meaning of Remer surname: “North German and Dutch: occupational name for a maker of leather reins and similar articles, from Middle Low German remer ‘leather worker’.” (7)

“The site of the Case-Dvoor farmstead lies near the eastern end of a 5,000-acre tract that stretches along the northern edge of the Amwell Valley. Pennsylvania founder William Penn owned the land, and when he died in 1718, his three sons inherited it. Those sons — John, Thomas and Richard — subdivided the property, selling a 374-acre portion straddling Tuccaminjah Creek (later Mine Brook) to German immigrant Johan Philip Kaes (later Anglicized to Case) in March of 1738.

A rather peculiar story handed down in the Case family evokes the frontier conditions current throughout much of Hunterdon County well into the 18th century. One of Johan Philip’s sons used to tell about his mother getting lost in the woods. She went to hunt her cow and wandered around for several hours and finally saw a column of smoke curling above the tops of the trees. Going in that direction she came to a house, and, after knocking at the door, discovered it to be her own dwelling. . . The wolves would often howl around the Case house, and one of these animals came on the doorstep and attacked the dog, when Mrs. Case drove him off with a stick.

Johan Philip Case replaced his pioneer dwelling with a substantial stone house cemented with mud that stood on the east side of the creek (the land currently owned by St. Magdalen di Pazzi Roman Catholic Church). When Hugh Capner tore the house down around the 1850s, he found the walls solid and strong.

Philip Case (Johan Philip’s son) acquired the property on the west side of the creek encompassing the present farmstead, which had been sold out of the family some years earlier. He lived and farmed here throughout his life.

The land on the east side of the creek, including Johan Philip’s stone house, was sold to John Capner, whose family had recently emigrated from England. We know much about the Case family thanks to the Capners, who corresponded regularly with the relatives and arrived in America with a trunk full of letters from them. These letters now belong to the Hunterdon County Historical Society.” (2)

A Delaware Indian Chief named Tuccamirgan lived nearby and John Philip and the Indian became very close friends. John Philip would not have survived on his settlement without the help of Tuccamirgan. The Indian assisted John Philip with the building of his cabin and provided protection from the hostile nearby natives. “They protected the Cases from the dangers of the wilderness and showed them how to live off the land.

As time went on, the Delaware Chief and Case’s bond became stronger. The Cases had many young children, and the Delaware Chief and his wife, having none of their own, would frequently “borrow” some of the Case children. They would bring the children back to their wigwam up the creek, taking good care of them and spending the whole day together. They would then return the Case children to their father at the end of the day. 

It is also believed that Chief Tuccamirgan carved a crib out of a tree and gifted it to John Phillip Case to use for one of his babies. The Chief and his wife found great joy in the Case children, and they gladly spent their days babysitting and becoming second parents to the Case children. 

The friendship Tuccamirgan and Case shared was an unbreakable bond. The Chief referred to John as his “blue brother,” and together they would smoke “the pipe of peace” over the course of their friendship. The ancient pipe bowl that accompanied Tuccamirgan’s pipe, an artifact which was already hundreds of years old at the time, was gifted to John as a sign of their friendship. It was passed down in the Case family until it was donated to the Hunterdon County Historical Society in 1925.” (15 & 16)

As he was nearing his death, Chief Tuccamirgan requested that he be buried near his good friend so Case buried him on his land. This became the first grave in what was afterward known as the Case burial ground. The burial was attended with great ceremony (there was a wild dance about his grave, which was kept up all through the night). The grave was dug very deep, and the Chief was placed in a sitting position facing the East. His war and hunting implements were buried with him. Six years later John Philip Case joined his Indian friend in the little cemetery. The hallowed ground is less than a hundred feet wide. It is located in Flemington’s residential area on Bonnell Street surrounded by houses on all sides. In 1925 the Flemington Historical League restored the cemetery. The lot was regraded and re-seeded; stones were reset. A protective stone wall was erected at the front of the property and a monument to the Indian Chief who had befriended the first settler John Philip Case was raised. Seven hundred citizens attended the dedication of a marble obelisk in memory of Chief Tuccamirgan. On one face is written ‘In Memory of the Delaware Indian Chief Tuccamirgan 1750″; and on the other, “Erected by the Citizens of Flemington As a Tribute to this Friend of the White Man’.” (3)

Known eight children of Johann Philip Kaes and first wife Anna Elizabetha Jung:

1. Eva Maria Kaes was born in Anhausen, Germany. She was Christened, 27 July 1704 in Anhausen, Germany. She is mentioned in his father’s will. She married Johann Paul Kuhl (Cool), son of Leonard (Leonhard) Kuhl and Anna (Anna Veronica) Staats/Staadts, before 1728. She immigrated to America before 1730. Paul (Johann Paul) and Mary (Eva Maria) signed many land deeds in New Jersey. She and their children are mentioned by name in her husband’s will which is on file at the Hunterdon County Courthouse. She died circa 1783 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. (They are my direct ancestors).

2. Anna Maria Kaes was born 10 January 1709, in Anhausen, Germany. She is mentioned in his father’s will. She married Henrich Peter Dilts in 1759, Anna and Henry signed land deeds in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. She died 27 November 1754.

3. Maria Catharina Kaes was born 17 February 1711, in Anhausen, Germany. She died on 11 June 1722 at age 12 in Anhausen, Germany.

4. Johann Valentin Kaes was a twin born 12 July 1713, in Anhausen, Germany. He died on 21 July 1721 at age 8 in Anhausen, Germany.

5. Johann Wilhelm “William” Kaes was a twin to the above Johann Valentin. Johann William was born 12 July 1713, in Anshausen, Germany. William was naturalized in New Jersey on 8 July 1730. He married Elizabeth “Elsje” Berg. William’s will was dated 18 April 1769 and probated 5 May 1769 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

6. Veronika Frona Catherine Kaes was born on 7 January 1715, in Anhausen, Germany. She married Henrich Winter. She is mentioned in his father’s will as Frona “Veronica” Catharina, wife of Henrich Winter. She died 9 June 1781 in Greenwich, Warren County, New Jersey.

7. Anna Elizabetha Kaes was born 26 February 1718, in Anhausen, Germany. She married Peter Aller. She is mentioned in his father’s will. She died 1754 in Amwell Township in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

8. Johann Jacobus “Jacob” Kaes was born 10 April 1720, in Anhausen, Germany. He married Elizabeth Wyckoff, He died 1754 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

His first wife Anna Elisabetha Jung died 21 Septempter 1721 and he married second to Rachel Houser/Hauser.

Known four children of Johann Philip Kaes and second wife Rachel Houser/Hauser:

1. Henrich Kaes was born after 1725 and before 1748 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He is mentioned in his father’s will. He died 7 January 1780 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

2. Peter Kaes (Case) was born after 1725 and before 1752 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He is mentioned in his father’s will. He died 25 September 1796 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Administrators of will – Elizabeth Case, Charles Reading, and John LaTourrette.

3. Philip Kaes (Case) was born 15 June 1753 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. He is mentioned in his father’s will. He married Amy Ann Robbins, circa 1776. He died 5 May 1831 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

4. Catharina Kaes (Case) was born 1755 in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. She is mentioned in his father’s will. She married 12 June 1773 at Amwell, Hunterdon County, New Jersey to Andrew Mershon. She died 25 July 1823.

Meaning of surname Kuhl: It is a “topographic name for someone who lived by a hollow or depression, Middle High German kule, Middle Low German kule or habitational name from one of the numerous minor places in North Germany named with this word. The spelling Kühl results from a folk-etymological association with High German kühl ‘cool’ (Middle High German küel(e)) (see 2). (Kühl): nickname from Middle High German küel ‘cool’, ‘calm’. from a short form of a Germanic personal name formed with an element cognate with Old Norse kollir ‘helmet’.” (8)

Meaning of the surname Staats: North German and Dutch: patronymic from Staat. The meaning of the German word Staat translates into English as state (= Land), country.

Village of Zurbach. Photograph by Anthony Dezenzio. (9)

The Kuhl and Staats families were from Zürbach, Maxsain, Westerwaldkreis, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. “The community of Maxsain consists of the centres of Maxsain and Zürbach, which lies some 3 km [1.9 miles] to the east of the main centre and has about 60 inhabitants. The centre was amalgamated into the community of Maxsain with administrative reform in 1974. Worth seeing are the Evangelical church and the Backes community house in the village centre.” With only 60 inhabitants, it’s very small! Zürbach is 16 miles from Anhausen.

My direct line:

  1. Johann Philip Kaes (John Philip Case) and Anna Elizabeth Jung.
  2. Eva Maria Kaes (Case) and Johann Paul Kuhl.
  3. Wilhelm (William) Kuhl (Cool) and Ester Maria (Mary) Fries.
  4. Mary (Maria) Esther Kuhl (Cool) and Johannes Conrad Lindaberry (Linaberry/Linaburg).
  5. Mary (Anna Mary) Lindaberry and Pvt. Elijah E. Chambers.
  6. Esther Chambers and Robert Meteer (Mateer).
  7. Julia Ann Meteer (Mateer) and James Price.
  8. Mary Elizabeth Price and Abraham G. Kennedy (my great-grandparents).

I have not been able to discover the parentage of Ester Maria (Mary) Fries (wife of Wilhelm (William) Kuhl (Cool)). Her surname is a rare and interesting one. It is of German and Flemish (Dutch) origin and is an ethnic name for someone from Frisia (Friesland). “The name of this region is ancient and of uncertain origin; the most plausible speculation derives it from an Indo-European root prei- ‘to cut’, with reference to the dikes necessary for the cultivation of low-lying land. There is archaeological evidence of the construction of ditches and dams along the southern shores of the North Sea from at least the time of Christ. [It is an] occupational name for a builder of dams and dikes. The word was used in this sense in various parts of Germany during the Middle Ages, and is probably a transferred use of the ethnic term, dike building being a characteristic occupation of Frieslanders. diminutive of Friedrich.” (10) The variant spellings include Fryze, Freeze, Fries(e), Fryse, and Freese.

I will write future blog entries about my other ancestors discussed below, but I will give some general information here about them and the origins and meanings of their surnames.

Johannes Conrad Lindaberry (Linaberry/Linaburg) was the son of Jacob Leinenberg/ Linnenberg and Anna Catherina Geissler (Gießler). My Lindaberry (Linaberry/Linaburg) ancestors were from Westerwald, Schaumburg, Niedersachsen, Germany. Lindaberry, Linaberry, Linaburg, Lineberry, are all Americanized spellings of the German surname “Leinberg, a habitational name for someone from Leinburg in Bavaria, or a topographic name from Middle High German lin ‘flax’ + berg ‘mountain’.” (12)

Pvt. Elijah Chambers was the son of Stephen Chambers and Elizabeth _____. My Chambers line (I have two Chambers lines in my tree, but they are not related) was in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and Half Moon, Centre County, Pennsylvania. And goes back the next generation to either Ireland or England. “Chambers is a common surname of English origin. It usually denoted either a servant who worked in his master’s private chambers, or a camararius, a person in charge of an exchequer room.” (13)

Robert Meteer was the son of James Mateer (McTeer) and Elizabeth Nelson. My Meteer (Mateer/McTeer) line goes back to Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, and eventually to Kilkeel, Down, Northern Ireland. The Mateer name is Scottish and Irish (Ulster), and McTeer is Irish (Ulster), all are a shortened form of McAteer. “The surnames MacIntyre and McAteer are popular in Ireland, particularly in Ulster, but they actually originated in Scotland. There are a number of variations to the name including MacAteer, McInteer and McIntyre. History of the Irish name MacAteer is from the old Scottish Gaelic name Mac an t-Saoir. The ‘Mac’ prefix means ‘son of’, while Saoir comes from the word ‘Saor’ which meant ‘craftsman’ or ‘carpenter’. So the surname meant ‘son of the carpenter’. It is the Gaelic equivalent of the English surname ‘Wright’.” (14)

James Price was the son of John Price and Nancy Albert. My Price line as been a bit of a brick wall. I can only take it back a few generations with certainty. But DNA has given some clues, but it remains a line that is very much a work in progress. Meaning of the surname Price: “Price is a patronymic surname derived from the Welsh ap Rhys, meaning “son of Rhys.” The given name Rhys means “enthusiasm” in Welsh. Price is the 84th most popular surname in the United States. Price is also popular in England, coming in as the 47th most common surname.” (19) “The second origin for Price is job descriptive, and directly connected with the 1066 Norman French invasion. The derivation is from the Old French “pris”, meaning literally ‘price’, and as such the word describes an early Trading Standards Officer, one who set the local prices for goods.” (20)

I have been able to take the Albert line back. Nancy Albert was the daughter of Johann Peter Albert and Anna Walpurgis Hoerner. They were both born in Niklashausen, Webach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. “Niklashausen is a district in the German municipality of Werbach, located in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg at the border to Bavaria, Germany. The regional dialect spoken by people in Niklashausen is East Franconian.” (11)

Meaning of the surname Albert: “from the personal name Albert, composed of the Germanic elements adal ‘noble’ + berht ‘bright’, ‘famous’. The standard German form is Albrecht.” (17)

Meaning of the surname Hoerner: “Hoerner is derived from the German name Hörner. Hörner may mean “horn maker”. It could also mean “horn blower”, “at end of field”, or “dweller near mountain peak” . . . . Another source states that “Hörner = der Hornbearbeiter, bzw. der Hornbläser.” This was clarified as follows: “The name of Hoerner or Hornbläser (a Musician) descends from the occupation or the job title. In former times in the Middle Ages, the horns of cattle were converted to drinking cups or other tools. Musical instruments were also made from them, so-called horns = Hörner. Today there are still ‘horns’, (Hörner = music instrument) but these are out of sheet metal.” (18)

I have written a blog post about my Kennedy ancestors. For more information on them, go here: My Kennedy, Graham, and Murray Ancestors from Ballintoy, Antrim, Northern Ireland | Musings of Lady Anna Kasper (


  1. Anhausen | VG Rengsdorf-Waldbreitbach
  2. The Case Family: Pioneer Settlers of Flemington (1) – Hunterdon Land Trust
  3. Johann Phillip Kaes (
  4. Kees Name Meaning, Family History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms, German (
  5. Kase Name Meaning & Kase Family History at®
  6. JUNG Surname Meaning and Origin (
  7. Remer Name Meaning & Remer Family History at®
  8. Kuhl Name Meaning & Kuhl Family History at®
  9. Village of Zurbach Photograph by Anthony Dezenzio (
  10. Fries Name Meaning & Fries Family History at®
  11. Niklashausen – Wikipedia
  12. Lineberry Name Meaning & Lineberry Family History at®
  13. Chambers (surname) – Wikipedia
  14. History of the names McAteer and MacIntyre (
  15. Chief Tuccamirgan: a legacy of friendship – The Delphi (
  16. Tuccamirgan’s Pipe Rediscovered in HCHS Archives (
  17. Albert Name Meaning & Albert Family History at®
  18. Hoerner (Hörner) Family Tree (
  19. PRICE Surname Meaning and Family History (
  20. Surname Database: Price Last Name Origin (

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