Paranormal Tales from the Tower

The Golem of Prague

July 23, 2019 Season 3 Episode 1
Paranormal Tales from the Tower
The Golem of Prague
Chapters
Paranormal Tales from the Tower
The Golem of Prague
Jul 23, 2019 Season 3 Episode 1
Kathy Kelly
The famous Golem of the city of Prague. The creature of magick and Judaic lore.
Show Notes Transcript

The famous Golem of the city of Prague.  The creature of magick and Judaic lore.

Speaker 1:
0:01
I'm Kathy Kelly and you are listening to paranormal tales from the tower from paranormal tower and as we parks historic downtown district, the Gollum of Prague, nothing has inspired me to explore the world the way that reading has books and stories have pointed me in every one of the directions that I travel. It isn't necessarily the places that I seek initially, but the feelings of the characters that people them, and that's tricky because there's some fluid interaction between the emotions of people in the places that they exist in the world that surrounds them and forms who they are. The threat of disappointment and visiting these places is high because the location cannot possibly inspire the same emotions of me because I'm not that person. The time is not that time. The circumstances are not the same and yet I still seek it out and I've never been disappointed. I've never been successful in finding what I seek, but I've discovered treasures much more significant than that.
Speaker 1:
1:04
When I travel, my interests are unexpectedly obscure or cane and even weird to some to others, they're merely silly, but to me they are the crack through which the light of personality and intimacy is seen. I go to the darker places, the places of death and misery and ghosts that goes to the living that goes to the dead. I go to the haunted places and I've seen my fair share of ghosts in these places. Not the literal kind always, but still the real kind. The memory that stands at attention in front of you awaiting its due, the breath that gets held unconsciously waiting for a footstep that never landed. You see, I'm a tourist and I'm happy to be a tourist.
Speaker 1:
1:57
Prague is an interesting city. If you listen to my earlier podcasts, you no doubt heard me wax poetic about its ancient nature. I very much like Prague and I really enjoyed its beauty and its history. While there I met an old band named Mika. He was everything you could want in a guide. He was charming and funny and he seemed to be entirely from another time. He was almost a stereotype, but he was real me had lived in Prague his whole life. He was 75 years old and remembered the years after World War II. He grew up with the stories of the Nazis and how good they had treated Prague. He had lived through the years of communism. Mika had a certain circumspection about him, a wait and see. This too shall pass five and at the later stages of his life he had seen much and he was content to see much more.
Speaker 1:
2:51
Mika walked us through the usual parts of Prague, the hotspots, and discerning an interest in me for the more arcane. He asked me what my greater was and I quickly responded the Gollum, c Prague is famous for its column and at least I thought so, and Prague is proud of its column a Gollum for those of you who are unfamiliar with the term as a creature of Jewish law, it's a creature formed of clay and granted a sort of life through magic and incantations. Man was made of clay in many religions and cultures, but man was granted intellect and voice. The Gollum on the other hand was not. It was activated and deactivated using a powerful word written on a scroll and placed in the case of the Gollum of Prague and its mouth. A rabbi would then control the Gollum. Prague is home to one of the oldest continuously operating synagogues in all of Europe and alongside it is the oldest Jewish cemetery I highly recommend to visit.
Speaker 1:
3:54
Buried beneath the medieval stones in a small plot of land in the city proper are over 100,000 people. Jewish custom demands that graves are kept sacred and so the bodies can't be moved to satisfy this requirement and to allow for new burials. Earth was brought in, placed a top, the old graves and then new graves were dug afresh. The result is that the cemetery today is several feet above street level, having layers upon layers of the dead, lifting the earth like tide lifts a boat. The cemetery escaped the Nazis simply because it was so old, so ancient, and because the local Jewish museum was so well run, fully expecting that their work would lead to the eradication of all the Jews, the museum, the cemetery, and the synagogue were allowed to survive as relics to a lost race. They were intended to be the last remaining evidence that Jews had ever existed.
Speaker 1:
4:54
And instead, today, there are monuments to the incredible bravery and will to survive of the Jewish people. The cemetery was an operation from the 14th century to about the 18th century, and the gates are still strong. The stones beaten by storms of centuries, tilt in the slant, but they still stand. It's a remarkable sight and it's worth a walk through the Jewish quarter. Buried in the cemetery. Deep within its bosom is Rabbi Judah. Lo Bin does allow, he is essential to our story because according to the legend, he created the Golem of Prague. Christians built the synagogue in the 14th century. Jews at the time were prohibited from building, so they had to hire Christian workers to make their homes and places of worship. The imposing gothic structure is the centerpiece to Jewish town and Prague tourists today flock there. It's ancient and incredibly well preserved. The Jewish Museum houses hundreds of artifacts, including a carved tombstone that is still just about readable and that dates back to the fifth century.
Speaker 1:
6:04
The cemetery is a huge part of the culture of Prague, a huge part of the foundation of the city. Whether people know it or not, the Nazis took old tombstones from the cemetery and use them as slabs for roadways and sidewalks, and to this day they remain there. It was an intentional slight. The Nazis used the disrespect of the dead to humiliate and threatened the Jewish population in Prague. The Nazis were careful to keep the Christian public unaware of what was happening in other German occupied places. The factories of Prague were necessary and the resources mind imperative to the Nazi plan. My parents never believed the stories they heard of the Holocaust. Mika told me the Nazis were always so polite and careful to the workers of Prague. He said, it's a testament to how different the world can be for people occupying the same space.
Speaker 1:
6:55
Jews persevered in Prague, but it was never an easy process. Around the corner from the synagogue is a restaurant called the Gollum and out front is a giant seven foot roughly anthropomorphic shaped creature. It's head sits a top broad shoulders with no discernible neck. It's thick and wide and vaguely menacing. The Gollum is a character fully embraced by the people of Prague today. There are charming stories told about them and children's books published with the tale. The Gollum itself was terrifying. The idea of the gown is even more so, and finally, the purpose of the Gollum is even more terrifying than that. The golem of Prague was created according to legend in local history by Rabbi Lowe in the late 16th century to protect the local community from the blood libel that occurred from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Christian communities would accuse their Jewish counterparts of burner for the sake of collecting Christian blood for use in Jewish magical ritual, particularly during Passover.
Speaker 1:
8:02
These accusations were taken very seriously and often resulted in horrific violence, including pogroms and attacks on the whole population. According to the legend, a Jewish man was accused of murdering a gentile child to use its blood. Rabbi Lo desperate to protect his people resorted to ancient and powerful magic. Creating a Gollum required an extremely learned, knowledgeable practitioner of Kabbalah. Robert Zucker writes in how to create a Gollum was the Gollum human according to rabbis, as creature had the same life force of any animal or living being, but it did not possess the same level of intelligence as humans. Stories about the Golems life described the creature as being dumb, unable to speak, but capable of understanding basic instructions. There are many discussions among the rabbis over the centuries about the attributes of this man made creature. He writes, Rabbi Lowe created him to be large and imposing. He had eyes and facial features but would not be confused for a man.
Speaker 1:
9:13
He was eight to nine feet tall and as wide abroad as two men. He would walk the streets at night protecting the inhabitants of Jewish town from potential marauders and attackers like all great powerful weapons. However, the column was dangerous too as he could and did deviate from his expected actions. Much like the famous trope of the West Frankenstein's monster. Some believed that the Gollum was amongst the German ghost. Stories entails that the Shelly's and Lord Byron read along with Claire and Paula. Dory of course, on Lake Geneva. Those storming and interminable nights brought the world Frankenstein's monster and the often copied gentlemen and profligate vampire Lord roughen, and there were certain commonalities with the Gollum. The Gollum, an early German silent film is one of the first to address the antisemitism and persecution of Jews. It uses the story of Prague in the 16th century to illuminate the historic and growing resentment and intimidation of the Jewish people.
Speaker 1:
10:22
Joseph, the Golem of Prague had been created using powerful cabalistic magic. His strengths and powers were different in different tellings to some he could become invisible or some of that goes to the dead, to a system. According to legend, the Gulen was created to protect the Jewish citizenry and we'd walk through the streets at night. His primary function was to be vigilant, protecting the citizens of Jewish town from unfair and vicious attacks by frightened and angry Christians. He was imbued with life by powerful incantations and rituals in other stories of other columns, they could be directed to do things that Jews were not permitted to do because of the sabbath restriction. However, Joseph rested on the Sabbath. Rabbi Lowe deactivated him by taking the pom from his mouth on Friday evenings. In some versions of the story, Joseph was so lifelike that he fell in love and suffered rejection in others.
Speaker 1:
11:18
He became angry at the world he saw and became violent. At one point in each version of the tale, the rabbi neglected to remove the incantation, leaving Joseph to Rome on the sabbath, and with this, the control of the rabbi was weakened and it was only with great exertion that the rabbi was able to finally contain the Gollum and forced the scroll from him. Joseph strength and power were terrifying to the congregation. When finally the rabbi was able to rest the scroll from him and deactivate him, he was placed in the attic of the synagogue. Joseph was a weapon whose power the congregants fear to unleash in the world. Once again, they were wary.
Speaker 2:
12:01
Yeah,
Speaker 1:
12:01
they were wary of losing control of him and so he remains in that attic today awaiting a time when the Jewish people need this kind of power. To this day, develop believers say that this is no story of folklore but of historical fact. There's a door about 25 feet from the ground on the synagogue. No staircase or ladder reaches it, but it is said that this door is the entryway to the room of the Gollum, the children of Prague. Now they just know that he rest there awaiting a powerful rabbi to bring him back to life. Some say the Gollum was stolen and placed in a cemetery on the outskirts of town during World War II that he was hidden. Another election has that a Nazi agent was sent to the synagogue to destroy the Gollum, only to disappear on his mission and never be seen again.
Speaker 1:
13:03
These may seem silly to us, but there's a modicum of belief and even the most secular of person, a caretaker of the synagogue says even now that he does not know if the Gollum is in the attic despite having access to the attic, he has never ventured into it in his 25 years there. The creature he says has been there for 400 years and he sees no reason to disturb it. Now, is it so strange that a people so hounded by outside forces, so persecuted and so violated with seek a powerful if unpredictable ally, the idea of a stalwart defender inanimate and controlled by man is not unique. Did you date Galore? Yet there's something incredibly attractive about the Gollum tied up with the mysticism of creation and the awesome responsibility of creating a being with power, but no soul, so to speak. No moral direction seems irreligious to the outsider.
Speaker 1:
14:06
Counter intuitive. You have to go home as like a robot. Granted only the morality and ethical direction of its controller. Imagine that creature today lying in the dust of four centuries, a creature made of clay with mines, but no intellect with breath, but no soul waiting simply for the right words we placed inside its mouth, a creature devoid of legacy or heritage or loyalty. Is it a monster or a savior? What desperation that people must feel and what desperation the people must have felt. What trust the people who followed rabbi Lowe must have had in him, and it makes you wonder who would we trust with that power today? In fact, who do we trust with that power tag?
Speaker 3:
15:09
[inaudible]
Speaker 1:
15:09
once again, you have been listening to paranormal tails from the tower. My name is Cathy Kelly, and I'm coming to you from Asbury Park, New Jersey. If you'd like to follow us, please click the follow button. You can also reach us on social media at paranormal, NJ, or if you'd like to become a member of the team and show a little bit of support, please visit us@patreon.com forward slash paranormal and Jay have a great day.
Speaker 3:
16:15
[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible].