Hermits Rock

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The January issue of Harper’s, in “Readings,” includes an excerpt from Hannah Thomas’s interview with Gary Stevenson, who also goes by Kapal Nath, a Houston-born Aghori. Stevenson eats people. Following is an excerpt from her interview:

How did you first get interested in the Aghori sect and in cannibalism?

It was pretty natural, you know. I went to Varanasi in 1977—there were loads of sadhus, and I just started naturally. Slept in the ashes in the cremation grounds and chatted with the sadhus, you know. They accepted me, and that’s unusual. Normally they don’t let outsiders hang around with them, but they knew that I was serious, you know. The dons, the pandits—it’s like a family. They have to keep the sacred fire going—it’s where they burn the bodies. I changed my name when I met this one sadhu, really high up. He gave me my new name—Kapal means skull, Nath means great teacher.

Photo of Stevenson holding a horn made from a human femur. Image from Alligator Online, www.alligator.org

In Varanasi there are loads of Aghoris around, but it’s pretty secretive—some of them are cannibals and some aren’t, or they don’t do it regularly, but I loved it. We perform rituals using the human skull—drinking alcohol from it gives you power, enables you to speak with the spirit. It’s the sacred primordial ritual—you know, secret, really powerful. The spirit comes into you when you eat the flesh of a dead person—it kinda speaks to you, gives you power and so much energy. I do it as often as I can, every day if possible….

Did you not feel repulsed at the notion of eating another human?

No, not at all. I said before, it’s natural. I like the taste—it’s like pork. Younger flesh is better—babies taste really fresh. It’s the same with any kind of meat—old people have a stringy texture, like wood, but babies are like lamb. It’s like the way most people prefer lamb over mutton. Also babies are pure, so their spirit is clean. When I eat flesh from older humans, it’s like their tainted spirit comes into me. It can be draining if they have negative energy.

The best bit is the fingers, though. The police found this charred arm one day, and I wanted to eat the fingers—they’re the most tasty part of the body. It kinda smells like rawhide. It’s addictive, makes you want to eat it more and more.

Where do you get the corpse meat from?

I can get it from the dons, you know, the fire keepers, the untouchables. It’s not really illegal, and lots of them are Aghoris. It’s easy in Varanasi, as it’s the holy city where people come to die—plenty of bodies. I try to get it every day when I’m there….

Have you ever killed a human in order to eat their flesh?

Me, no, but you know, human sacrifice happens in Varanasi—it keeps the city holy. Human sacrifices please the gods, but people have to agree to be sacrificed. I’ve been asked to do a ritual killing before—what I’d do is make them fast for two weeks, to purify themselves, let them get weak and pray, then chop their head off like a goat. That way the soul would be freed. I mean, I would do it if someone really wanted me to, but I’m not really qualified.

Aside from the cannibalism itself, you know what I find most disturbing? That Stevenson was most eager to talk about how delectable babies are. If I were to join a radical religious sect, I think I’d learn fast to make the hardcore holy: What’s that you ask about snakes? They demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit. Do I like them? Of course not, but I trust God. That’s message management.

In other words, Mr. Stevenson, use some common sense. It’s “To eat babies is to meet Shiva,” not “Babies sure taste good.”



you know…

i was going to do a post on how well we’d eaten this weekend.

saturday night i made homemade french bread (alas, my kitchen aid is only white. i would’ve loved a pea green or an orange one, or something that would color our kitchen bright…but racy did the buying and the giving and who am i to insist on pink?)

we ate an entire loaf with swiss, gorgonzola, herb encrusted brie and manchego cheeses. it was accompanied by a simple salad and a nice spanish wine

a lot of good spanish wines are coming out, btw. a number from the murcia region, this being one and this one and if you like a tempranillo, ercavio is an outstanding one, it tastes like a tempranillo should. what is more, they’re not too expensive…all right around 10 bucks…but i’ve been finding a number of them on sale, for 5–7

then last night i made a butternut squash rissoto

this is a great recipe. the only thing that i would do differently is not make it with chicken stock. though we aren’t of the greg and kathy ilk (i just like meat, especially deer, too much to go without), we rarely eat meat in this house…and the chicken broth is just too strong a flavor for my buds. next time i make it, will definitely go with my favorite stock

has any of this been misspelt?

in other ponderings…how religious does it make you to filter into a secret religious society and then reveal its secrets, all the while sounding like you’d just come off a 10 year stint as a greatful dead groupie?

if you like all things cannibal check out this documentary

(the 1950’s television interviews with him are a little freaky)

on tobias schneebaum who, like kapal nath, thinks that the human heart, at least, tastes like pork

in which case, i recommend a pinot grigio or a good reisling or a gewurztraminer, if you like whites. or, shiraz, a pinot noir, or a zin, if you like reds

The cheese feast sounds yummy.
I used to make bread with my hands every week (no KitchenAid business), but then Rose came along. This fall we did the unthinkable and got a bread machine, which I swore I would never do, but now we do eat bread again…

we were given a bread machine when we got married, oh so many years ago, and we used it alot.

at first to make the bread in the machine…but soon we used it only to make dough.

now, we rarely use it…though, it does make a mean pizza dough

Man, we’re so clearly not cooks in our house. We talk about making a grand supper, then we stare at each other waiting for the spirit to move the other to the kitchen. Eventually, someone says, “What are we going to do for supper? I’m getting hungry!” By that time it’s too late to make a grand supper, so we go to El Ranchero, where we split a burrito.

But I also have some idle curiosities, along the lines of which wine do you drink with hearts. (Much less peniis, like the German who last year asked to watch himself be eaten alive.) be Do you think Aghoris use sauces? Would fingers be comparable to buffalo wings?

we used to be closer on the cooking spectrum to jeremy et al than g & k, but now pretty much experience good food vicariously through j’s posts. and hope that he will invite us to dinner should we be in atlanta.

i think we’re normally in the middle of the cooking spectrum between the jeremys of the world and the current version of us. strangely, i’ve found that like most activities, cooking, for me, isn’t as dependent on time as it is on contentedness. unfortunately for me, cooking, while i enjoy it, doesn’t increase my happiness necessarily, but rather only happens when i already feel good about life in general. which is to say, we’ve been splitting lots of restaurant burritos and tostadas lately, and not even washing them down with wine. sad, huh?

maybe i should just give up and offer myself to the cannibal as cuisine. i’ve got some mean thigh and glute meat on me, though my fingers are pretty gnarly and knuckly.

oh, yeah, i recently read Kitchen Confidential, by anthony bourdain. if you haven’t already read it, and you’re interested in the seedy world of restaurants and chefs & cooks, and if you have a really high threshold for narcissistic, megalomaniacal authors, i recommend it. i’ll probably read A Cook’s Tour soon, his more recent nonfiction book, but that’ll have to wait a while…

It would appear that, by Stevenson’s account, the state of one’s knuckles doesn’t make all that much difference for the taste; however, kl, I would prefer that yours not become his next tasty treat.

I, too, would rather see Kathy’s fingers remain intact (and I hope that’ll be soon—I shall be in IC next weekend—more details to come).

I am not sure, however, after reading all of this, if I’m really looking forward to dinner or if I’ve really lost my appetite.

no kidding! greg informed me just a little while ago that although my fingers may be a bit scrawny in terms of meat, the cannibal would probably enjoy just sucking the marrow out of the bones anyway. what would i do if i didn’t have him around to put me at ease?

I hear that fingers are a delicacy, much like chicken feet

for the recipe

Shoot, I thought you were going to link to a photo of chicken fries.
Chicken fries, available at Burger King
for a review, do a search for chicken