Last week's episode of Vice featured Senegalese Laamb wrestling, a cool mix of sorcery and machismo:
I've watched the segment like... four times. This is an extended segment where Vice's correspondant, Thomas Morton (?!), is cleansing and preparing himself against 'black magic' to help him win (which, he subsequently did).
I was super-impressed and interested in what I saw.
Also, Sannion over at the House of Vines has a post up on Tarantism. To quote:
"The first instances of tarantism are recorded in the Apulian region in the middle of the fourteenth century — its name coming from Taranto, once among the most important cities of Magna Graecia and an early center of the cult of Dionysos. Originally it appeared largely indistinguishable from a variety of collective forms of madness characterized by compulsive dancing and ecstasy that swept through Europe in the wake of the Black Death. In various places this phenomenon was associated with different saints such as Vitus, Rocco, Domenico, John the Baptist, etc. but in this region it was a small, unassuming spider that was behind it. Only later did the venerable Saint Paul get dragged into the mix, according to De Martino as an effort to legitimize the cult when the ecclesiastical authorities proved incapable of suppressing it.That's fucking cool, man. I had no idea such a thing even existed!
The bite of the spider is what initiates one into tarantism, but only certain sensitive souls were susceptible to the malady. Spider bites, after all, were a common occurrence in the rural South where the majority of the population labored in the fields during the height of summer when the creatures were most active. Most people suffered the painful symptoms of the bite such as swelling, infection, necrosis of the flesh, dizziness, paralysis, etc. and upon recovery resumed their normal lives. But for others life would never be normal again."