Weird people are greatly overrepresented in the ranks of the creative types who shaped and greatly influenced the world we live in. Take the math giant who believed we lose a bit of our soul every time we fart. Or the general who thought he was pregnant with a baby elephant. Or the great poet who liked to keep snippets of his lovers’ private hair (if you catch our drift) in carefully sorted envelopes. Below are thirty things about those and other historic figures who were plenty weird.
30. The Pythagoras You Probably Did Not Know
Today, Pythagoras (circa 570 BC – circa 495 BC) is famous for his mathematical theorems. Most notably the “A squared plus B squared equals C squared” bit from grade school about right angled triangles. To the ancient Greeks, however, he was better known along the lines of “that weird and murderous philosopher who founded a religious cult“. Indeed, “weird” barely scratches the surface when it comes to Pythagoras. To his contemporaries, he was a mystic, as well as a murderer who believed in reincarnation and claimed the abilities to divine the future and talk to animals. Pythagoras liked math so much that he got his followers to worship numbers. However, the theorems and equations competed with his other weird notions.
For example, he was a vegetarian who loathed meat, but there was one plant he would not touch: beans. He equated their consumption to cannibalism, and thought that to eat beans was morally equivalent to devouring one’s parents. Speaking of which, he was born in the island of Samos around 570 BC, to a woman named Pythais and, as his followers would have it, the god Apollo. He was a tall and handsome fellow with plenty of charisma, and when he turned eighteen, he left Samos to travel and expand his education. As seen below, by the time his travels were over, Pythagoras had established a religious sect whose adherents viewed him as a god.
Pythagoreans were not just folk who liked math, but adherents of a weird faith that revolved around numbers. Pythagoras preached that the world was based on numbers, and taught his followers that reality and the entire universe were controlled by mathematical harmonies. He also preached that math was holy, and that numbers were sacred and godlike. The number seven, for example, was associated with wisdom, and eight was associated with justice. Ten was the universe’s holiest number, and the Pythagoreans worshipped it with a prayer that began: “Bless us divine number, who created gods and men“. Their most sacred symbol was the Tetractys, a triangle with ten points across four rows.
Pythagoras took math so seriously that supposedly murdered his most famous acolyte, Hippasus, because of it. Pythagoras’ math religion revolved around the belief that numbers explain life. Central to that was a belief that the universe could be explained by rational numbers that can be expressed as fractions. Then Hippasus demonstrated the existence of irrational numbers. Such numbers challenged and threatened to upend the worldview of Pythagoras and his followers. Unfortunately for Hippasus, although a genius, he was not very smart. He demonstrated his irrational numbers while on a boat that contained only him, Pythagoras, and a bunch of other Pythagoreans. Pythagoras wrestled Hippasus to the side of the boat, and dunked his head underwater until he drowned. He then tossed the corpse overboard, and warned his other followers to never mention what they had seen or heard.
Pythagoras’ adherents worshipped him as a demigod, and referred to him as “the divine Pythagoras“. They thought he possessed supernatural powers that allowed him to write words on the face of the moon. They also thought his strokes could tame the wild animals of the earth and the birds of the sky, and that his voice could control them. Pythagoras’ followers claimed that he was the son of the god Apollo, or as other accounts have it, that he was fathered by the god Hermes. As a sign of his divinity, they claimed that he had a golden thigh, whose shimmering sight turned doubters into believers. Pythagoras encouraged such beliefs, and claimed that the gods had blessed him with the ability to return to life after death via a divine rebirth.
The weird mathematician had a weird stance on beans, especially fava beans. He believed that humans lost a bit of their soul whenever they farted, which exited along with the expelled gasses. He also believed that beans contained dead people’s souls. He got there after a “scientific” experiment to prove that humans and beans were spawned from the same source. Pythagoras buried beans in mud, and left them for a few weeks. When he dug them up, he saw a resemblance to human fetuses. So he convinced himself of an intimate relationship between beans and humans, and reasoned that to eat beans was akin to eating human flesh. Thus, Pythagoras equated bean consumption with cannibalism. Not just as any cannibalism, but cannibalism of one’s father and mother. As he explained it to his followers: “Eating fava beans and gnawing on the heads of one’s parents are one and the same“.
27. Beans Eventually Did in This Weird Mathematician
Pythagoras and his followers set up shop in Croton, whose people were forced to deal with the weird new arrivals. They crossed the line, however, when they tried to force ordinary citizens to follow Pythagoras’ beliefs. Specifically, they tried to ban beans and meat. Croton’s citizens were not about to put up with that, got violent, and engaged in a full on persecution of the Pythagoreans. By the time the dust had settled, many of the weird cultists had been exterminated, while the rest were forced to flee. The survivors tried to regroup and carry on elsewhere. However, they never achieved as much prominence or power as they had secured in Croton, and the cult soon faded away. As to their weird leader, he was killed in the backlash against his cult, and various accounts depict his demise.
In one of them, Pythagoras fled for his life with angry pursuers hot on his heels, and his flight took him to a field of beans. Since beans were sacred to him, Pythagoras stated that he would rather die than step on a single bean. And die he did, when his pursuers caught up with him at the edge of the bean field and cut his throat. In another account, the people of Croton attacked a house in which Pythagoras and his followers were conducting a meeting, and set it on fire. Pythagoras escaped with a small group of followers, and eventually took shelter in a temple. There, he was besieged, and eventually starved to death. In this version, he refused to eat the only food available: beans. As things turned out, Pythagoras was not divine, and contrary to his and his followers’ prediction, he did not return from the dead.
The Napoleonic Wars came to a climactic end at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, in which the Duke of Wellington conducted a tenacious defense against attacks by Napoleon’s forces. As the day wore on, the pressure steadily mounted on Wellington’s army, as the intensity of French onslaughts increased. By that day’s afternoon, despite the stoicism and courage of his men, Wellington knew that his enemy was about to secure a victory. He was saved from possible defeat by the arrival of an allied Prussian army in the nick of time.
The French right flank was shattered by a Prussian attack, which turned the tide of the battle and forced a French retreat. A vigorous Prussian pursuit then turned the French retreat into a rout, and spiked Napoleon’s career for good. The timely Prussian intervention was commanded by Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher. Nicknamed Marshal Vorwarts (German for “Forward”) for his aggressive style, Blucher was a capable battlefield general even though he was an extremely weird character, with plenty of delusions. Among them was the then-72-year-old Blucher’s belief that he had been impregnated by a Frenchman, and that he was about to give birth to a baby elephant.
The hero of Waterloo, Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742 – 1819), was born in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin in northern Germany. He came from a noble family whose aristocratic roots went back to the thirteenth century. He left home to become a soldier at age sixteen, and became a hussar in the Swedish Army. Sweden fought against Prussia in the Seven Years War (1756 – 1763), and in a 1760 skirmish, Blucher was captured by the Prussians. Luckily for him, the colonel of the Prussian regiment that took him prisoner was a distant relative. Impressed by Blucher, he invited the young man to join his regiment. Blucher accepted the offer, switched sides, and fought the rest of the war on the Prussian side.
With the exception of one long spell of forced retirement caused by his being a nutjob, Blucher remained in Prussian service for the rest of his life. He gained significant experience as a cavalry officer in the Seven Years War. He had an abundance of wild courage and an aggressive way about him. On the one hand, that made him a great combat officer. However, while that kind of high strung and aggressive temperament was an asset in wartime, it was a serious liability in peacetime. As seen below, that became clear in 1772, when then-Captain Blucher subjected an unruly priest to a mock execution.
24. That Time When Blucher Ticked Off Frederick the Great
Even by eighteenth century standards, mock executions of priests were frowned upon. It was seen as the behavior of a barbarian, not that of a professional officer in the army of a civilized state. As a result, Blucher was passed over for promotion to major in 1773. He was never able to keep his temper in check, so he submitted an angry letter of resignation from the Prussian Army. An incensed King Frederick the Great responded: “Captain Blucher can take himself to the devil!” Blucher retired to the countryside to become a farmer. He was good enough at it to gain financial independence.
However, after the heated passion of the moment that led him to resign from the Prussian Army had passed, Blucher had second thoughts about what he had done. He pined for his days as a soldier, and sought to rejoin his regiment. Unfortunately for him, Frederick the Great had a long memory, and knew how to hold a grudge. The Prussian monarch did not forget Blucher’s rude resignation, and did not forgive. He blocked Blucher’s return to the Prussian military – a ban that remained in place for the next fifteen years. It was only a year after Frederick the Great’s death in 1786, that Blucher was allowed to rejoin his regiment, the Red Hussars, as a major.
23. The General Who Thought He Was Pregnant With a Baby Elephant
Blucher was a head case, and everybody knew it. However, he was still a great combat leader for all that, so his superiors put up with the crazy and continued to steadily promote him up the ranks. He fought in the Netherlands in 1787, and a year later, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The year after that, he was awarded the Pour le Merite, Prussia’s then-highest military award. In the early 1790s, he distinguished himself as a cavalry officer when Prussia went to war against Revolutionary France.
By 1794, Blucher had been promoted to colonel of his regiment, the Red Hussars. That same year he made another jump up the ranks to major general, and in 1801, he was promoted to lieutenant general. This, despite his extremely weird and bizarre behavior and beliefs. Among his nuttier delusions, which came and went over the years, was his belief that a Frenchman had impregnated him. As a result, for some time, Blucher was convinced that he was about to give birth to a baby elephant at any moment.
Another of Blucher’s crazy convictions was his paranoia that his servants, bribed by the French, had heated the floor of his room to lava levels, in order to scorch his feet. So when he sat in a chair, Blucher kept his feet raised from the floor. If he had to get up, he would skip around swiftly, and hop gingerly on tiptoe. Another of Blucher’s strange episodes occurred when the house he was in was roused by the sounds of a ferocious struggle in the general’s bedroom. When servants and aides rushed in, they discovered that Blucher was fighting thin air.
The general claimed that he was in a life and death struggle with the vindictive ghost of a dead officer, whom Blucher had dismissed from the Prussian Army. To his credit, Blucher realized in those times when he was lucid that there was something wrong with his head. However, the problem as he saw it was that his head was made of stone. He did not mean that as a figure of speech: he literally thought that his cranium was made of stone, and routinely asked people to hit him in the head with a hammer.
Instead of retreat, Blucher led his defeated but still game army on a forced march to link up with Wellington at Waterloo. He arrived two days later, on the 18th, in the nick of time to fall upon Napoleon’s flank and crush him. That aggressiveness and determination are why the Prussians hung on to Blucher, despite all his weird, crazy, and manic moments. As his chief of staff, Scharnhorst, wrote him on one occasion: “You are our leader and our hero“, and insisted that he head the Prussian Army “even if you have to be carried before or behind us on a litter“. On another occasion, he put it even more succinctly: “He must lead even if he has a hundred elephants inside him“.
Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 – 475 BC) was another weird Ancient Greek philosopher. He advanced the notion that the essence of the universe is constant change. To that end, he coined the phrase “no man ever steps into the same river twice“. It referred to the notion that everything, like droplets of water in a river, is in constant flux, even if the motion is not readily perceptible. He also propagated the notion of a “unity of opposites”, whereby the universe is a system of balanced exchanges in which all things are paired in a relationship with those things exhibiting contrary properties.
Heraclitus did not come by his philosophy through learning at the hands of another philosopher, but was self-taught. Critical of other philosophers, he had a dim view of humanity. He loathed mobs and democracy, and preferred rule by a few wise men – a concept that Plato later distilled into the notion that the ideal ruler would be a philosopher-king. He thought wealth was a form of punishment, and wished upon his fellow Ephesians, whom he hated, that they become wealthy as punishment for their sins.
19. The Philosopher Who Encased Himself in Dried Cow Poo
In short, Heraclitus was a misanthrope, and his misanthropy led him to avoid contact with other people for long stretches. In those times, he wandered alone through mountains and wilderness, and survived on plants and what he could scavenge. As Diogenes summed him up: “finally, [Heraclitus] became a hater of his kind, and roamed the mountains, surviving on grass and herbs“. He came to a weird end as a result of his affliction with dropsy, or edema – a painful accumulation of fluids beneath the skin and in the body’s cavities.
Doctors could offer neither cure nor relief, so Heraclitus, the self-taught philosopher, sought to apply his self-teaching skills to medicine and heal himself. Heraclitus tried an innovative cure: he covered himself in cow dung. He reasoned that the warmth of the manure would dry and draw out of him the “noxious damp humor”, or the fluids accumulated beneath his skin. Covered in cow dung, Heraclitus lay out in the sun to dry, only to become immobilized when the manure dried around him into a body cast. He was thus unable to shoo off a pack of dogs which came upon him and ate him alive.
18. England’s Most Infamous Poet and His Icky Weird Relationship With His Sister
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (1788 – 1824), was a key figure in the Romantic Movement. A poet, satirist, politician and peer, his poems and personality captured Europe’s imagination. Among his best known poetic works are the short love poem She Walks in Beauty, the gloomy Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and the satiric Don Juan. Byron is widely regarded as one of Britain’s best poets, known and acclaimed for his brilliant use of the English language. However, he gained further fame, or infamy, and became even better known for his flamboyance and amorous lifestyle.
Byron gained even more infamous because of the notoriety of his escapades with both men and women. His most infamous escapade was a years-long weird incestuous relationship with his sister. Lord Byron’s most problematic affair was an incestuous one with his own sister, Augusta Leigh, of whom Byron had seen little in childhood. He made up for it – and how – as an adult, when he formed an extremely close relationship with her. In 1814, the poet fathered a daughter upon his sister, which made Byron the child’s uncle, as well as father.
17. This Poet Liked to Keep Mementos of His Lovers, But Went About It in a Very Weird Way
As befits a key figure of the Romantic Movement, Lord Byron was a sentimentalist. As such, he liked to keep mementos of his lovers. In those days, the norm for mementos was a lock of hair from one’s object of affection, perhaps tied with a ribbon. But he was Byron, Britain’s most flamboyant poet, eccentric aristocrat, and all around pervert. A simple lock of hair would not do for him. Instead, Byron liked to snip clumps of hair from his lovers’ crotches, and kept them, catalogued and labeled, in envelopes.
Byron’s most infamous affair was with his sister, but his most famous one was with the married Lady Caroline Lamb. She rejected him at first, and described him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know“. Lady Lamb changed her mind, however, and had a torrid affair with the poet that scandalized Britain. When Byron dumped her, a besotted Lady Lamb turned stalker, and pursued him relentlessly. She stopped at his house one time too many, and scribbled in a book on his desk “Remember me“. As seen below, the exasperated Byron responded with a poem entitled Remember Thee! Remember Thee!
So the Romantic poet hit the road, and roamed Europe for years at a stretch. That included a seven year stint in Italy. Restlessness eventually led him to join the Greeks in their war of independence from the Ottoman Turks. However, he was disappointed with the Greeks of his day, because they differed greatly from the heroic Hellenes described by Homer. As he moped about that discrepancy, Byron caught a fever and died in a Greek backwater at the age of thirty six.
Japanese restaurateur and businessman Kichizo Ishida (1894 – 1936) started off as an apprentice in a restaurant that specialized in eel dishes. At age twenty four, he opened what would become a highly successful restaurant, the Yoshidaya, in the Nakano neighborhood of Tokyo. He had a reputation as a ladies’ man, and by 1936, he seems to have left the management of his other business affairs to his wife, and dedicated himself to the pursuit of women. Early in 1936, he began a torrid love affair with a recently hired employee, Sada Abe, that ended badly. Sada Abe (1905 – 1971) had been a Geisha and former prostitute before she got a job as an apprentice at Ishida’s restaurant. It did not take long after she started work before her boss made advances, which she eagerly welcomed.
The duo became infatuated with each other, and spent days engaged in intercourse marathon sessions at hotels. They did not pause even when maids came in to clean the rooms. Sada’s infatuation however grew into obsession. She grew jealous whenever Ishida returned to his wife, and began to toy with the idea of murder as a means to keep him forever to herself. She bought a knife and threatened him with it at their next marathon nooky session. Ishida assumed it was role play, and was turned on rather than concerned. That threw Sada off. Later in the marathon session, she again steeled herself to kill him. This time, she tried to strangle him with a Geisha belt as they did the deed. That only turned him on even more, and he begged her to continue, which again threw her off.
14. A Weird – and Painful – End to a Passionate Affair
Finally, Kichizo Ishida fell asleep, at which point Sada Abe gathered her nerve one more time. She strangled her sleeping lover to death with a Geisha scarf. Then she took out the knife and castrated him, carved her name on his arm, and with his blood wrote “Sada and Kichizo together” on the bed sheets before she fled. Ishida’s body was discovered the next day, and when news of the murder and mutilation broke, pandemonium ensued. Word that a “sexually and criminally dangerous woman was on the loose” plunged Japan into what became known as “Sada Abe panic”.
Police eventually caught up with and arrested Sada, at which point they discovered Ishida’s genitals in her purse. When questioned why she was running around with Ishida’s private appendages, Sada replied “Because I couldn’t take his head or body with me. I wanted to take the part of him that brought back to me the most vivid memories“. Sada Abe was tried and convicted, and served five years in prison before she was released. She went on to write an autobiography, and lived until 1971. The Ishida-Abe love affair and its painfully weird conclusion became a sensation in Japan, embedded in its popular culture to this day.
The reign of French King Charles VI (1368 – 1422) started off great, and he was known as “Charles the Well-Loved”. However, that had more to do with the fact that he ascended the throne at age eleven, and his kingdom was governed by regents who were good at their job. That all changed after he came of age and took personal charge of France at age twenty one. By the time he died over four decades later, he had earned the nickname by which he is best known to history: “Charles the Mad”. His first bout of insanity struck in 1392, when the twenty-four-year-old king set out on a military expedition to punish a vassal who had attempted to assassinate a royal friend.
Charles acted weird from the campaign’s start. He was in such a fever to get at the offender, that his speech often became incoherent while he urged preparations sped up. Once on the road, the army’s slow progress drove him into a frenzy. En route, a crazy leper by the roadside yelled at the king to halt and turn back because he had been betrayed. He was shooed away, but continued to follow the king and shout his warnings. In the midst of that craziness, a drowsy page dropped a lance, which clanged off somebody’s helmet. The noise triggered Charles and made him snap. He drew his sword, charged his retinue, and proceeded to maniacally hack and stab them. By the time he was restrained, he had killed at least four knights and men at arms.
12. A Crazy King’s Weird Conviction That He Was Made of Glass
A year after he went crazy on his retinue and slaughtered four of them, King Charles VI got amnesia. He forgot his own name and that he was king, and failed to recognize his wife. Between 1395-1396, he went full on crazy, and imagined that he was Saint George. He recognized his companions and officials, but for some reason could not recognize his wife and children. Then again, at least as far as his wife, he might have simply tired of her, and was crazy like a fox when he pretended not to recognize her.
Another manifestation of the king’s behavior and beliefs was his conviction that he was made of glass. He grew extremely frightened of shattering if he fell or was jostled, and in an attempt to avert the danger, he inserted iron rods in his clothes. At other times, he would run wildly at top speed, on the streets or in the halls of his palace. It got so bad, that to keep him inside his Parisian residence, its entrances were bricked up. The unfortunate monarch continued to slip in and out of insanity until his death in 1422.
Ancient Rome’s Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (12 – 41 AD) is better known to history by his nickname Caligula (“Little Boots”). He got the nickname because of the miniature legionary outfits he wore as a child when he accompanied his father on military campaigns. Little Boots grew to become emperor of Rome from 37 to 41 AD, and is probably the gold standard for weird and crazy rulers. He was raised by his uncle, the Emperor Tiberius, who might have been the most paranoid odd fish to have ever ruled the Roman Empire.
Tiberius spent much of his reign as a recluse in a pedophilic pleasure palace in Capri. He only surfaced on occasion to order the execution of relatives accused of treason. Tiberius’ victims included Caligula’s mother and two brothers, and he probably poisoned Caligula’s father as well. A great natural actor, Caligula hid any resentment felt towards his uncle. He thus survived the bitter Tiberius, who named him heir, and quipped as he did so: “I am rearing a viper for the Roman people“. As seen below, those repressed years left their mark on Caligula.
When Tiberius finally died and Caligula was freed of the ever-present threat of execution by his paranoid uncle, he cut loose. He dove head first into an orgy of hedonism and a lavish lifestyle, as the combination of sudden freedom and sudden unlimited power went to his head. He kicked off the weird behavior early. He wanted to demonstrate his contempt for a soothsayer’s prediction that he had no more chance of becoming emperor than riding a horse across the Bay of Baiae. So he ordered a two-mile bridge built across the bay, then rode his horse across it, clad in the armor of Alexander the Great.
On another occasion, Caligula started to cackle uncontrollably at a party. When asked what was so funny, he replied that he found it hilarious that with a mere gesture of his finger, he could have anybody present executed. On one occasion, Caligula was displeased by an unruly crowd at the Circus Maximus. So he pointed out a section of the stands to his guards, and ordered them to execute everybody “from baldhead to baldhead“. On another occasion, bored at an arena when told that there were no more criminals to throw to the beasts, he ordered a section of the crowd thrown to the wild animals.
9. Too Late, Caligula Learned That It Was Unwise to Troll His Bodyguards
Caligula’s depravities included incest with his sisters. At dinner parties, he frequently ordered guests’ wives to his bedroom, then returned to the party to rate the quality of their performance. He berated the cuckolded husbands if he thought their wives were not good in bed. He also turned the imperial palace into a whorehouse, staffed with the wives of senators and other high-ranking dignitaries. To further demonstrate his contempt for the senatorial class and the Roman Republic for which they pined, Caligula had his beloved horse made consul – the Republic’s highest magistracy. Caligula’s weird behavior included the time when he declared war on the sea god Neptune. He marched his legions to the sea, and had them collect seashells to show the deity who was boss.
Caligula eventually declared himself a god, removed the heads from various deities’ statues, and replaced them with his own. However, it was not the craziness that doomed Caligula, but the insults he visited upon his bodyguards. His security detail’s commander, Chaerea, had a high pitched voice, and Caligula liked to mock him as effeminate. He thought it hilarious to come up with derogatory daily passwords that had to do with homosexuality. Whenever Chaerea was due to kiss the imperial ring, Caligula made sure it was on his middle finger, and waggled it obscenely. Chaerea finally had enough, and in 41 AD, he hatched an assassination plot with other Praetorian Guards. One day, they suddenly fell upon Caligula, and hacked him to death.
Charlie Chaplin (1889 – 1977) was the silent film era’s most famous star and one of the silver screen’s all-time greats. Less known is that in addition to a pioneer who revolutionized acting and comedy, Chaplin was also a pervert who liked ’em young. So young as to cause scandal, derail his career, and get him de facto deported from the US. Chaplin also seems to have been Harvey Weinstein before there was a Harvey Weinstein. He supposedly pioneered the “casting couch”, whereby powerful Hollywood figures extracted explicit favors from actresses as they auditioned for roles.
Reportedly, Chaplin used caption cards in auditions to prompt actresses into increasingly suggestive acts and poses, until they finally stood before him naked or nearly so. However, his kinks went beyond run of the mill quid pro quo harassment, and into the realm of the weird. Chaplain had a thing for pies, and not just as comedic props and gags. After he got actresses to disrobe at auditions, Chaplin would grope them in exaggerated ways on the couch. Then, after he worked himself up by getting them to do a strip tease on demand, followed by a groping session on the couch, he would stand them naked against a wall and throw pies at them.
7. When The Lovable Tramp Ended Up in the Crosshairs of J. Edgar Hoover
In addition to his weird pie kink, Charlie Chaplin had a penchant for explicit group activities. He liked to organize them with his friend and fellow comedic film star, Fatty Arbuckle. Those explicit events came to an abrupt end in the aftermath of a scandal that rocked the country in 1921, when Fatty Arbuckle was accused of assaulting an actress at a wild party, and tried for murder. Although acquitted, the Chaplin-Arbuckle orgy parties never resumed. Chaplin’s greatest scandals however arose from his propensity for cradle robbing: he liked much younger women. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a pervert himself if ever there was one, had long disliked Chaplin’s political leanings, and used his scandals to launch a smear campaign against him.
In 1944, Hoover had Chaplin prosecuted for violations of the Mann Act, which prohibits the transportation of women across state lines for immoral purposes. The Lovable Tramp was acquitted, but his reputation was severely damaged. In 1952, while Chaplin was in London for a film premiere, the US Department of Justice revoked the British actor’s reentry visa. It stated that he would have to submit to an interview about his politics and morality before he was allowed reentry into the United States. Chaplain decided not to bother, cut his ties with the US, and settled in Switzerland.
English occultist and writer Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947) claimed to be a magician. Not the stage tricks kind of magician, but the warlock, spells and sorcery type. An L. Ron Hubbard type before there was an L. Ron Hubbard, Crowley also founded a religion in the early twentieth century, Thelema. He named himself its prophet, and declared that the faith’s goal was to guide mankind to a new age. A fundamental principal of Thelema was that the twentieth century would usher in the “Aeon of Horus”, which would overthrow all current codes of morality and ethics. In the new age, people’s “True Will”, which they would discover via magic, would be all that matters. Crowley summarized the Horus era’s ethics as: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law“. Crowley’s magic religion included lots of nooky with his followers.
He called it “Sexual Magic”, whereby orgasms and bodily secretions were used as components of magic spells. A main precept of such magic was that all adherents should be completely open and uninhibited about intercourse, without social limitations or restraints. Followers should also expose their children to intercourse from infancy, and accustom them to witness all kinds of explicit activity. In 1920, Crowley and his followers established a religious commune in Sicily, the Abbey of Thelema. It was not long before the perverse and weird goings-on there led to controversy, scandals, and denunciations, that became regular fodder for the British and Italian press. In response to the outcry, the Italian government finally shut down the commune and evicted everybody in 1923. Crowley then hit the road, and split the final two decades of his life in travels between Britain, France, and Germany, to promote his religion.
Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud is widely acknowledged as the father of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. We have him to thank for the psychiatrist couch. We also have him to thank for paying somebody hundreds of dollars an hour to nod his head while he doodles in a notepad as he listens to us drone on about our lives, before he prescribes us happy pills. Freud basically said that we are all perverts, and that deep down, all guys want to murder their fathers as a prelude to getting it on with their own mothers.
Ironically, the figure he chose to name that complex after was probably the least Oedipal person ever. In Greek mythology, Oedipus went to extreme lengths to avoid a prophecy that predicted he would murder his father and marry his mother. He only ended up doing so unwittingly, after a series of extraordinary flukes. Freud, by contrast, was pretty Oedipal himself, and openly acknowledged that he had the hots for his own mother. That paled in comparison to Freud’s theory that the root cause of child molestation was not adults who preyed upon children, but children who lusted after their parents.
The Fatimid Caliph Abu Ali Mansur (985 – 1021) is better known by his regnal title, Al Hakim bi Amr Allah (“Ruler by God’s Command”). He is even better known by the nickname “The Mad Caliph”, which he earned through a whole lot of crazy and weird behavior that made him one of the Middle Ages’ oddest rulers. Among other things, he was a megalomaniac who declared himself an incarnation of God. While other rulers who declared their divinity ended up with universal scorn – see, the Caligula entry, above – the Mad Caliph actually ended up with some adherents. And not just ones who adhered out of fear, but sincere believers who continued to revere Al Hakim long after his death. To this day, he is still viewed as a divine incarnation by the Druze sect in the Middle East, and is a religiously important figure to some Shia Muslims.
The son of the Fatimid Caliph Abu Mansur and a consort named Al Azizah, Al Hakim became Caliph at age eleven after his father’s death. The Mad Caliph’s mother was a Christian, which opened him to allegations that he was an insufficiently zealous Muslim, and that he was soft on Christianity. It seems those accusations got to him, so he went out of his to prove his Muslim chops, and demonstrate that he was no Christian puppet. As in way, way, out of his way: he launched an unprecedented wave of persecutions against Christians in his empire, and ordered the destruction of Christian churches and monuments.
3. This Caliph Had Some Pretty Weird Consumer Protection Policies
Al Hakim wanted to demonstrate that the fact that he had a Christian mother did not make him a soft Muslim. So he departed from the tolerance hitherto displayed by Muslim rulers to Christians and Jews. He went on a religious persecution bender, in which he destroyed synagogues and churches. That included the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem – the one with the cave where Jesus is thought to have lain before his resurrection. The Mad Caliph also banned pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In addition, he ordered Christians and Jews to wear distinguishing clothing to identify them. Jews were further singled out by Al Hakim, who required them to wear bells as well, so they could be identified by sound as well as sight.
Al Hakim’s weird conduct went beyond his religious persecutions, and included one of history’s most bizarre consumer protection practices, ever. The Mad Caliph reportedly used to walk through the markets of Cairo in search of deceptive merchants, while accompanied by a giant African slave named Masoud. Whenever he came across a merchant who cheated his customers, Al Hakim would order Masoud to sodomize the crook publicly, right then and there. To this day, people in Cairo threaten to “bring Masoud” when they suspect that a merchant is trying to cheat them.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875) was a Danish author who penned plays, poems, novels, travel books, and autobiographies. His specialty however was literary fairy tales. His works in that genre include The Little Mermaid and The Ugly Duckling. They are among the most widely translated writings in the world, and have been a staple of childhood for generations of children across the planet. This, despite the fact that Anderson’s own childhood was an unhappy one. Born to impoverished parents, he grew up in dire want, and as a child, his mother sent him to work in a local mill to help make ends meet.
The childhood penury was compounded by a childhood homeliness, or ugliness, if you will. As a result, the young Andersen was teased, mocked, and bullied by his peers. The Ugly Duckling was actually based on his own miserable tender years. He overcame the sad childhood and dire poverty, and harnessed those experiences into stories that impacted many. However, when he was not busy writing stories that would go on to feature prominently in the childhood of billions around the world, Andersen liked to masturbate compulsively. And while not engaged in that, he liked to talk with prostitutes – and then rush back home to masturbate compulsively.
1. A Children’s Books Author Who Got Carried Away With Self Pleasure
A celibate (which perhaps sheds some light on things), Hans Christian Andersen’s weird kinks went beyond his propensity to masturbate a lot. He also liked to keep meticulous records of his masturbation sessions. He described and listed them in his diary with a pair of plus signs (++). A sample descriptive entry reads: “When they left, I had a doubly sensuous ++“. In Paris, he liked to visit prostitutes and talk with them, then rush back to his hotel to put more ++ sign entries in his diary.
He also had a maudlin and needy streak, and frequently fell in love with people – both men and women – who did not reciprocate his feelings. He often wrote cloyingly mawkish love letters to the objects of his affection, and frequently penned long tracts, in which he gushed about his feelings to women whom he knew were uninterested and would turn him down. In a way, Andersen throve on rejection. Then he would rush back home and earn more ++ entries for his diary.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading