Monday, August 30, 2010
Another documented account is known as the New England witches and dates back to 1692. Two selfprofessed witches including a Mary Osgood, confessed to riding on a pole and being carried through the air to five-mile pond and back again. Wonder where to? Why, pray, a witches meeting of course.
Other stories reveal even juicier details. There's even one detailing a flight accident. Not only did the two of the witches named in this documented story independently of each other confess to being carried through the air by the Devil, but both confirmed that they experienced a crash because one of their broomsticks broke. One witch apparently hung about her fellow colegue's neck for a while and then dragged both of them down. They were injured and one of them was bed ridden for months afterwards.
If the possibly quite strange body position that broomstick flying was likely to have required would have been viewed with utmost suspicion at the time, the punishment of witches might have mimicked such bizarre bodily positioning. Many accounts reveal that the preferred punishment for suspicion of witchcraft (which often ended in death) was a water ordeal in which a person was tied with his right thumb to the left big toe and the left thumb to the right big toe and then thrown in the water. If the person sank, they were considered innocent, but if they somehow kept floating, they could end up being killed. The test would be conducted not by the masses (something that happened in many other circumstances, when hoards of people would turn against a person suspected of being a witch, usually after an incident) but by a few high placed people, in England usually the minister of the parish and other highly regarded persons.
There are some scientific explanations for the act of flying on a broomstick or "tree riding" as the activity is known in historic records too. Witches were said to fly through the window or up a chimney. Murray's study documents that one of the earliest cases on record of stick-riding does not definitely state that the witch flew through the air they way you still read about in fairy tales or Harry Potter stories. She cites the case of Lady Alice Kyteler. Historic texts reveal that a pipe with ointment was found in this lady's closet, apparently for the use of greasing a stick "upon the which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin, when and in what manner she listed". Similar accounts are found elsewhere in the U.K. and the wording is also quite close to the way the stick-riding of Arab witches is described.
The potion stories are most believable and scientifically correct. Historic records of confessions of witches also include other means of flying, including simple sticks, pitchforks, poles, faggots, shovels, flying goats, heads of strange animals, cats, bats and humans transformed into animals.
Scientists say that the recipes for potions or unguents that had been given to the witches by no one less than the Devil himself, are sufficient proof to explain the phenomenon. Apparently, there are the natural herbs mixed together to form the secret ingredients for the "flying" ointments that were said to be applied to the broomsticks, which are really rather phallic, include parsley, water of aconite, poplar leaves, and soot, sweet flag, cinquefoil, bat's blood, deadly night shade, and oil and baby's fat.
Scientist say that its the mixing together of these ingredients and their effect that likely created the flying stories. Because if you mix up these goodies, you are sure to end up with a pretty hefty poison. "These prescriptions show that the society of witches had a very creditable knowledge of the art of poisoning: aconite and deadly nightshade or belladonna are two of the three most poisonous plants growing freely in Europe", say Murray.
To bee continued.....part three!!!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Myths and legends are a part of virtually every culture. One of the most interesting legends of Russian culture is that of Baba Yaga. She is, however, not unique to Russia. There are similar stories about her, under other names, in Poland as well as in the Czech Republic.
The figure of Baba Yaga is most often pictured as that of an old hag on a broomstick, reminiscent of the kitchen witches we often see today. Some believe that she might have been the precursor for the ugly, old crones that most often represent witches at Halloween.
In truth, however, Baba Yaga is a complicated creature associated as much with fertility and fate as she is with death. Some believed that she also had the gift of prophecy and great wisdom. However, for reasons never understood, she seldom chose to use those skills without exacting a gruesome payment. Anyone wishing to partake of Baba Yaga's wisdom had to take on a challenge, which began with a trip to her home hidden deep within a treacherous forest. Those arriving there would often decide to turn back without confronting the hag because of the gruesome look of the house itself. As legends have it, Baba Yaga's home sat atop four chicken legs that allowed her to move it from place to place at will. Surrounded by a black picket fence adorned with flaming human skulls, those arriving on her property were no doubt scared about what they were about to encounter.
Inside the house, it was said that the crone sat at a spinning wheel, spinning with thread made from the tendons and muscles of human beings. Not prone to help anyone out of a sense of kindness, Baba Yaga would put those who sought her assistance through a series of tests before agreeing to help them.
Few ever completed them and even some of those who did were never seen again because they dared to anger the old woman in the process. She then turned on them with her sharp teeth. It was said that she could rip apart an animal or a human in less that 30 seconds.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Being that Halloween is just around the corner. I felt it my job to give out some helpful hints in case we get overrun with monsters. It probably should be noted that I am not a monster expert (though I did play one on t.v.), nor have I ever had any run-ins with one (lately!). Add to that the fact that I have missed my last 15 years of Kung Fu lessons, and suddenly my credibility may come into question.
Van Helsing, I am not (even though I have watched it a handful of times), but I have watched quite a few horror movies over the years. I have also had countless dreams in which I battled some sort of monster into submission. Lastly, you would not believe how frequently I stage monster vs. monster battles in my head during my lunch time (what else am I supposed to do during lunch? eat?).
Remember, in no way am I implying that these ideas will work or save your life. Rather, I think they will make the last few moments of your life more enjoyable. So, in the event of any of these creatures taking over the world (or your neighborhood), I urge you to give my suggestions a try ( they may save your life in case of a great monster migration).
- Mummies-Hands down, this is the least scary monster out there, lending them to the most potential case of ridicule. Their wrappings are obviously a weakness that begs to be exploited. And what better way to exploit them than to make money off them? I would gather 10-12 mummies (would that be considered a flock of mummies) and tie their bandages to a sturdy object such as a building. Then I would fire a gun and have them race on some kind of course, and whomever unravels last, wins (winner, winner chicken dinner). A little gas and some matches would take care of any mummy problem in a short period of time also. With those bandages being so old they would go up like a Christmas tree without water (poof!!!)
- Frankenstein-Based on the monster's inability to concentrate or speak, I believe that this is another opportunity to take advantage of a possibly scary situation. He can't walk fast and what's he supposed to do to catch someone when he walks with his arms straight out. You could run down to the supermarket and back 3 or 4 times until he catches up with you. Once you turn a corner, how's he going to know where you've disappeared to. He would be great for hide and seek (the only problem is the game would last too long, and everyone would get board, except for Frankenstein, he would probably search for a missing sock in the dryer if you let him). The easiest way to get rid of him is to trip him and when he's down have a friend in his truck run him over a few times.
- Swamp Creatures-This is one for the senior-citizens. In the event of some kind of water monster taking over the world. I would suggest loading a helicopter with some of the senior citizens (mainly ones from New York) and a load of bricks and fly over different bodies of water where these creatures were reported to be lurking. Everytime one pops up out of the water they take turns throwing the bricks at them and sinking them (almost like plunking gophers with a mallet). The one who sinks the most gets a prize. (lifetime supply of denture grip)
- Zombies-They are another of the slow moving monster kind (what's up with all of these slow moving monsters these days!). Zombies would be perfect for a shooting gallery. You plink them going in one direction and they turn around and go the other way and you plink them again and again. They have the attention span of a 5 year old. You could always call one of the local little league teams in your area and they could take batting and thowing practice (one!two!three strikes he's down in the ole Zombie bashing game!!)
- Vampires-If vampires took over the world, a lot of things would probably change. Blood banks would be franchised as drive-thrus. Dentists would be a vampires best friend (want to keep those canine teeth sharp). The night life would go way up (it would suck if you were a human though!). If you're still human and you think a vampire is stalking you, just carry some high powered ultraviolet lights (don't forget fresh batteries). You may also want to start taking those Kung Fu lessons again and learn how to use Chinese fighting sticks (sharpened at both ends mind you). If you get along with them and lets say you're a hairdresser and they come in to have their hair permed, how are they going to tell if you did it right or not if they can't see their reflection in a mirror?(that's when they bring a vampire buddy with them)
- Werewolves-Werewolves may be the hardest to take down because they usually travel in packs. This is another case of taking up Kung Fu again and learn the art of throwing silver plated throwing stars. Having an axe would come in handy also, but they are usually a little bulky. I have seen some late night infomercials on about a new folding axe made of space age materials that can chop down a tree and saw through an aluminum can and still cut a tomato (plus you get 2 for the price of one, just pay extra shipping and handling charges).My suggestion would be on full moon nights would be to stay at home and watch a couple movies on HBO or Showtime.
I hope that my ideas and suggestions have sparked some thoughts into your mind about what to do during a monster battle royal. As much as I do not want to see creatures invading our planet, I would hate to squander such promising opportunities for you and I to have some fun at their expense. Good luck and happy hunting!!! BoooYaaahhhh!!!!!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
It's unbelievable at the number of names witches are called from different countries and at different centuries in our history. Plus let me not forget the types of "witchcraft" each one may practice compared to another one. Good or bad witch, male or female and even what kind of heritage you come from. So here's a list of the different ones, all in alphabetical order.
- Alexandrian- This tradition was begun in the 1960's by Alex Sanders. Alex Sanders lived in England. He used what are known to be slightly changed Gardnarian traditions and calls himself the "King of Witches." Covens involve both men and women.
- British Traditional-This is, according to Silver RavenWolf a "mix of Celtic and Gardnarian beliefs." Covens involve both men and women. One can study a course and receive a degree in British Traditional Witchcraft.
- Celtic Wicca-Celtic Wicca focuses mainly on Celtic and Druidic gods and goddesses (along with a few other Anglo-Saxon pantheon). The rituals are formed after Gardenerian traditions with a stronger emphasis on nature. Celtic Wicca also put much emphasis on working with elementals and nature spirits such as fairies and gnomes. Gods and Goddesses are usually called "The Ancient Ones."
- Caledonil-This was once know as the Hecatina Tradition. Traditional Scottish Witchcraft.
- Ceremonial Witchcraft- This tradition is very exacting in its ritual. All rituals are usually followed by the book, to the letter and with much ceremony. Little emphasis is put on nature. This tradition may incorporate some Egyptian magic. Quabbalistic magic is often used in ceremonial witchcraft
- Dianic-Dianic can incorporate nearly any magical traditions, but emphasis is placed on the Goddess only with little or no mention of the God. Known as the "feminist" types of witchcraft
- Druidic- Neo-Druids are polytheistic worshipers of Mother Earth. Very little is known today about ancient Druidism and there are many gaps in the writings that have been found. Modern Druids practice their religion in areas where nature has been preserved-usually wooded areas. Druidic rituals often employ sacrifices to the Mother Goddess. These sacrifices often include grain, sometimes meat. These ritual sacrifices are often accompanied by a verse not unlike the following. "Earth Mother, giver of life we return to you a measure of the bounty you have provided, may you be enriched and your wild things be preserved."
- Eclectic-An eclectic witch mixes many different traditions together to suit their tastes and will not follow any one particular tradition. Whatever seems to work best for them is what is used, regardless of which magical practice it comes from. This one of the most popular types of witches found today.
- Gardnerian- Gardnerian witchcraft was begun in England and is Wiccan in nature. It was formed by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's. Gerald Gardner was the first to publicize witchcraft in an effort to preserve the "old ways."
- Hereditary Witch-A heraditary witch is a witch who is born into a witch family and brought up learning about witchcraft. Many witches claim to be hereditary witches when in fact, they are not. You must be brought up in a family of witches to be a hereditary witch.
- Kitchen Witch-A kitchen witch is one who practices magic having to deal with the home and practical life. Kitchen witches use many spells involving cooking, herbs, and creating magic through crafts. A kitchen witch is very much like a hedge witch.
- Pictish-Pictish witchcraft is nature-based with little emphasis on religion, Gods, or Goddesses. It is much like Celtic witchcraft, only the traditions are Scottish. Pictish witches perform solitary and rarely, if ever work in groups or covens.
- Pow-Wow-This is a rare term when referring to witchcraft. This tradition is based on old German magic. Today, it is considered a system of faith healing and can be applied to most any religion.
- Seax-Wicca-This tradition was begun in 1973 by Raymond Buckland. Buckland and works on Saxon principles of religion and magic.
- Shaman-It is arguable as to whether shamanism is or is not witchcraft. It is included because shamanism is a form of Paganism. Shamanism puts no emphasis on religion or on pantheon. Shamans work completely with nature: rocks, trees, animals, rivers, etc. Shamans know the Earth and their bodies and minds well and train many long years to become adept at astral travel and healing.
- Solitary-Solitary witches can be practitioners of nearly any magical system. A solitary works alone and does not join a group or coven. Often, solitaries choose to mix different systems, much like an eclectic witch. Solitaries can also form their own religious beliefs as they are not bound by the rules of a coven.
- Strega-This type of witchcraft is said to have been started by a woman named Aradia in Italy in 1353. Aradia is known in some traditions as the "Goddess of Witches."
- Teutonic-A Nordic tradition of witchcraft that includes beliefs and practices from many cultures including Swedish, Dutch, and Icelandic.
- Wicca-Probably the most popular form of witchcraft. Wicca is highly religious in nature and has a good balance between religion/ceremonial magic and nature. Wiccans believe in a God and Goddess who are equal in all things, although some may lean more toward the Dianic form of Wicca, worshipping only the Goddess or lowering the God to an "assistant" status. Wiccans commonly form covens and rarely work alone.
Monday, August 23, 2010
The most common question that comes from a paranormal investigator or homeowner faced with a ghost is " Why haven't they moved on to someplace better?"
While there is no certain answer, I can tell you that there are a few theories that are circulating around the paranormal community. To be exact, there are basically three main reasons that paranormal investigators have come up with as to why these spirits stick around.
First are those spirits who have some unfinished business to attend to. These spirits may feel that they did not get to do everything that they wanted or needed to do while on this earth so therefore they want to stick around to try and finish what they started. They may also feel the need to watch over their loved ones such as family members or close friends. Or they could have had a fight with someone special right before they passed and feel they must pass a message onto that person before they can move on.
The second reason that paranormal investigators have thought of is that they are simply afraid to let go and to die. This would be because they may not have had any certain faith and may be in fear of what is around the next corner for them. The spirits simply are too afraid to move on and leave this world. While they may realize that they are dead, they are not willing to fully accept that they must leave this earth and go wherever it is that they must go.
And then last but not least, we have those spirits who really do not know or understand that they are dead. This most often happens when the death is one that occurs out of tragedy or one that happens very sudden. These spirits would be ones that would not interact with those of the living because their mind has not come to terms with the fact that they have died. So in a sense, they are living in their own fantasy world and do not see the world as we see it.
So when speaking of spirits in your home or that you have encountered somewhere, know that they more than likely fall into one of these categories. But no matter the reason, it is the job of the paranormal investigators to help prove the haunting, or in some cases disprove it, and to help find out what the spirit wants, if anything. By doing this, paranormal investigtors may very well help that spirit cross over.
Saturday, August 21, 2010
The Jolly Old Man In The Big Red Suit!
Santa's history is long and varied but for many decades the American Santa has been a universal figure in English speaking countries. With the 20th century revival of globalization and the advent of the internet, Santa Claus has become a prime Christmas figure in every corner of the globe.
Although other countries have long had different gift-giver characters, Santa is now number one in much of the world. So with that in mind let's take a brief trip around the world and find out about Santa Claus in other countries.
- In Brazil Santa is known as Papai Noel and in Rio he arrives by helicopter to kick off Christmas celebrations on December 20th.
- In Austria and Switzerland Santa Claus has all but replaced Austria's traditional gift giver, Christkind or the "Christ child." Many Austrians are attempting to overthrow Santa and bring Christkind back in preeminence.
- In Germany the traditional Santa is known as Weihnachtsman or "Christmas man" but as in Austria, the red suitedanta Santa Claus is making himself widely known.
- Russia's Christmas figure was St. NIcholas until the rise of communism. Under Stalin St. Nick was replaced by Ded Moroz (Dead Moron) or Grandfather Frost who dressed in green or blue rode in a sleigh pulled by three horses. Grandfather Frost wasn't as kindly a gentleman as Santa. Today Santa Claus is back in full force and Grandfather Frost takes a back seat.
- In Asia people of many counries have adopted Santa Claus, is it any wonder? Every year fleets of ships are filled with American Christmas gifts that are made in Asia.
- Iceland's gift giver legends include 13 Santa figures, known as the Jolasveinar. But beware; a pair of mischievous ogres go on a 14 day trickster spree prior to Christmas.
- In France and other countries around the world with French legacies the traditional Santa is known as Pere Noel (Father Christmas). Old Pere loves giving gifts to good boys and girls but like every superhero, he's accompanied by a sidekick, a ghoulish character named Le Pere Fouettard (Father Spanking). It's Pere Pouettard's job to whip bad boys and girls with switches he carries with him. Don't be a naughty boy or girl in France!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
When the moon is full it is said that the canine shape shifters prowl the night seeking new prey! Gypsies around the world tell folktales that warn about the anthropomorphic wolf-men cursed to endure a life of transmutation when the moon is full, becoming a predatory killer until the sun rises.
Are these half-human, half-wolf "monsters" real, or are they a figment of our imagination, that people ages ago created to explain shadows in the night? Could these shape shifters actually exist? Perhaps Hollywood has instilled a false memory and predisposition for beings of the night, like vampires, zombies and werewolves. Maybe latent fear of the unknown drives the human mind to justify their fear of the dark by creating and believing in strange and bizarre creatures.
Then it may also be true-werewolves may be more than mythical creatures in stories told by many people with roots that run deep in the old country of their origin. The gypsies may tell tales embellished by years of remembering, but based upon a truth shrouded in mystery and intrigue.
Common Beliefs About Werewolves
- The modern day name may come from the Old English "wer-wolf" (where 'wer' means 'man).
- Then again the name could come from the Norse legends about the 'berserkers'. who were crazed warriors that dressed as wolves when they savagely raided and pillaged villages in the northern land or Europe.
- One more good possibility could be it came from the word "warg-wolf". another name of Norse origin which denotes a rogue or lone wolf type of character prone to stalk their prey before dealing the death blow.
- Were-wolves eyebrows come together and there is no skin space between them.
- It is said by some that they have "bristles" under their tongue.
- When they are in the wolf form they have no tail, keep their human eyes and can speak in human language,not just canine woofs and howls.
- When they shift into wolf mode they are said to have super strength and extremely sensitive senses, such as sight and scent.
- It is reported in Europe in the 1700's that werewolves would dig up freshly buried corpses to eat.
- Scandinavian were-wolves were reported as being old women with poison claws that could paralyze children with their glaring eyes.
- The curse which transforms a person into a werewolf is often seen as occurring from a evil allegiance or by being bit or scratched by one who is a werewolf. It has also been deemed by many cultures as being a "divine punishment". During the dark era of the Middle Ages the Catholic Church investigated excommunicated priests who were accused of becoming werewolves.
- Taking an oath with Satan or powers of evil is usually the reported path to becoming a werewolf and transformation from bites is rarely a recorded occurrence in historical writings.
- The fact that they can be killed by silver bullets is a modern movie generated folk factoid. All tales about werewolves prior to the late 1800's do not talk about silver as a protector from the creatures.
- Religious holy water or icons (such as a crucifix) do not keep them away.
- Items that will protect you from a werewolf are garland of fresh rye, mistletoe and garlic cloves.
- Some modern day researchers believe that werewolves were real people afflicted with a medical condition called hypertrichosis. This is a hereditary disease that caused extreme hair growth all over the body, especially on the face and hands.
Monday, August 16, 2010
- Mummification was not limited to Egyptians. Greeks and Romans who resided in Egypt were also mummified in Egyptian fashion.
- The process of mummification continued in Egypt as late as the fifth century C.E., then slowly tapered off when Christianity took hold.
- From 400 to 1400 C.E. there was a common belief that mummia was a potent medicine with curative powers. This mummia was obtained by grinding up actual mummies.
- Many travelers who visited Egypt from Europe in the 1600s and 1700s took mummies home and displayed them as centerpieces or in curio cabinets.
- The study of Egyptian antiquities, known as Egyptology, became a popular academic discipline in the 1800s. The event of "unwrapping a mummy" became a popular attraction and draw to European museums.
- In 1896, British archaelogist William Flinders Petrie began using X-ray techniques to examine mummies without unwrapping them.
- In the early 1970s, scientists began using computed tomography, or CAT scans, to create images of the insides of mummies. This aided them in determining information about the embalming and wrapping processes the Egyptians used.
- During the 1980s and 1990s, scientists extracted DNA from mummies in hopes of gathering information about ancient Egyptian patterns of settlement and migration, as well as information on diseases, and genetic characteristics.
- Recent approaches to studying mummies involve the interdisciplinary cooperation of Egyptologists, physicians, radiologists, physical anthropologists, and specialists in ancient languages.
- Recent discoveries of mummies in the Sinai Peninsula, the desert oases, and the eastern delta of the Nile River are providing abundant information about the regional mummification styles.
I was watching HDNET concerts a couple of weeks ago and came across this band-HERE COME THE MUMMIES. They are a cross between jazz, funk and rock. They don't sound half bad. They were mummy outfits and have a full compliment of band members and a horn section also. Here is a link to their web site, I think you'll like their music. Some of their videos are a little tongue and cheek riskay, but it's all in fun, nothing bad. Heres the address: www.herecomethemummies.com, let me know what you think. There are about 3 or 4 videos of them performing on the Bob and Tom show and a couple musica festivals.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
WATCH OUT LADIES!!!!HE'S COMING TO GET YOU!!!!
How to tell if the person you're with is a werewolf
Just because a man is hairy does not mean he's a werewolf. There are a number of things to look for to help you find if the man stalking you is a werewolf or not. According to Warren Zevon song, The Werewolves of London, a werewolf likes Chinese food, especially the beef lo mein. They also love pina colada's (and getting caught in the rain). The biggest trait that will stand out the most, is that a werewolf has perfect hair (especially for the ladies!!!). They tend to mutilate little old ladies, too. (probably for their social security checks, because a good lookin' werewolf doesn't want to hold a job and work the graveyard shift because that's when all the action happens!)
So if you're old and some hairy guy with a perfect mullet flirts with you and offers you some of his Chinese take-out on the bus, don't get off with him, tell him this isn't your stop and just keep on riding the bus. (wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, etc!!!)
Change the werewolf back to a man
It is often said that you can't change the man only his clothes. (only to clean ones mind you!) However, if the man is trying to rip you open, its not going to hurt to try. Physical abuse is rampant and every woman or man should carry one important thing with them (I'm not talking about what's found in every mans wallet either) to always feels safe: Wolfsbane.
Wolfsbane is a highly poisonous plant that will automatically change a werewolf back to his normal form. However, the downside to wolfsbane is that it is very dangerous to grow. The plant itself will cause rashes when touched, and if the sap gets into a cut, you are in trouble. Swallowing just one small piece of it will kill you. But, despite that, if you plant some outside your house you will not have to worry about a werewolf (or cats) stopping by to try and take a bite out of you.
Remember, that even if you change the werewolf back to his normal form ( like a plumber, electrician or one of the guys from the computer geek squad) that does not mean he will stay that way. When the next full moon comes up he'll be back at your door as a werewolf again (those no soliciting signs won't work either).
Time to get out grandma's good silver
Sometimes it takes real extreme measures to protect yourself and your loved ones. When a werewolf just will not stop and you're in fear for your life, then it's time to pull out the good silverware.
Silver will kill a werewolf. A silver bullet will put him out for the count if it hits him in the right spot. Sometimes it pays off to wear the tons of jewelry you got from your last trip to Mexico. Self-defense makes it perfectly legal for you to take him down! So keep that in mind when a werewolf attacks and you don't have any wolfsbane, because you forgot to water it.
Avoid the werewolf altogether
If you remember to water and take care of the wolfsbane outside the front door, then you will probably not have to worry about a werewolf showing up with take-out and a comb. Also, don't go outside during a full moon. ( unless you're going ice skating or out making snow angels in the snow). Stay at home and put in the movie you got from Netflicks, or throw a party and invite the people from the Chinese take-out restaurant over to play charades. When you go out clubbin, avoid hairy men ( especially the ones with the gold chains and rings). Carry one of grandmas silver butter knives in your purse just in case to. AAAAHHHOOO!!! WEREWOLVES OF LONDON!!!AAAAHHHOOOO!!!!!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
SORRY TO BREAK UP THE HALLOWEEN PARTY!! BUT HERE'S ARE A FEW CHRISTMAS FACTS AND FOLKLORE FOR ALL OF YOU'S BA! HUMBUGGERS!!!!!
I know that Halloween is closer than Christmas is but I think it's time for a little change up (It's my favorite, right next to Halloween). Let us not forget about Thanksgiving, the holiday that gets hardly any praise at all by most people. Here's a list of some Christmas trivia and folklore for all of us to enjoy!
Let's take a look back at the origins of Christmas and some of the lesser known facts involving one of my favorite holiday's.
- While the Pilgrims may have been responsible for beginning the tradition of Thanksgiving, they did not celebrate Christmas--it was against their Puritan belief and in fact, it was illegal.
- It was once believed that whoever (husband or wife) first brings holly into the house will rule the home all year. (wishful thinking on the mans part these days.)
- Young men of the 1700's believe that if they saw a redheaded girl at Christmastime, he would be pursued by flame-haired vixens throughout the coming year. (MORE wishful thinking on the mans part again!!)
- A meowing cat on Christmas Day used to portend bad luck. Consequently, their owners would leave a full saucer of milk out that night to pacify the feline. (or throw a size ten shoe at it!)
- Women stayed indoors on Christmas Day because they believed their neighbors would experience bad luck if the first person they saw was a woman. Or else their first visitor afterward would be a harlot.
- Abraham Lincoln one received the city of Savannah, Georgia as a Christmas gift from General Sherman.
- Dolly Madison introduced eggnog at a Christmas party at the White House in 1811.(at least it wasn't fruit cake!!)
- It was not until 1836 that Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas. Oklahoma was the last, in 1890.
- Neiman Marcus started their "Gift of the Year" promotion in 1960 featuring his and hers airplanes. In 1967 the most coveted gift was his and hears camels flown from California to anywhere in the U.S.
- On Christmas morning, 1876, millionaire publisher James Gordon Bennett gave his waiter at Delmonico's a tip of $6,000.(and a W-2 form to claim it on his taxes.)
- The first Christmas stocking referenced in print was by Washington Irving in 1809. When A New Year's Verse was published in 1821, it referenced the hanging of stocking the tradition began for children everywhere in earnest.
- St. Nicholas is also the patron saint of pawnbrokers.
- Our current vision of Santa Claus came from an illustration by Thomas Nast in 1863 made for Dr. Clement Moore's tale A Visit from St. Nicholas.
- In medieval times, evergreen trees were hung with red apples on December 24th, celebrated as Adam and Eve Day, and may be the first instance of tree decorating for the holidays.
- Icicles for the Christmas tree were first made and sold in Nuremberg, Germany in 1878; actually thin strips of silver foil that tarnished quickly were used.
- New York was the first city to claim an electrically lighted Christmas tree, at the home of Edward Johnson, colleague to Thomas Edison at the Edison Electric Company. The year was 1882.(until he got the first electrical bill and then he never lit them again!)
- In medieval times it was customary to light a candle on Christmas Day that would be carefully tended and last until the Twelfth Night.
- Mistletoe as a symbol of peace between enemies and love between friends, dates back to a Norse legend involving Freyja, goddess of love.
- The poem Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer was put in song form by Johnny Marks in 1946 and first recorded by Gene Autry. It became the greatest hit Gene Autry ever made and Columbia Records' biggest seller ever, although Marks had to form his own recording company to get it on the air.
Monday, August 9, 2010
- A group of vampires has variously been call a clutch, brood, coven, pack or clan. (a clan if their Scottish!)
- The Muppet vampire, Count von Count from Sesame Street, is based on actual vampire myth. One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds ( usually mustard) outside a door or place fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds on the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.
- A rare disease called porphyria vampire like symptoms, such as an extreme sensitivity to sunlight and sometimes hairiness. In extreme cases, teeth might be stained reddish brown, and eventually the patient may go mad.
- One of the most famous "true vampires" was Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) who was accused of biting the flesh of girls while torturing them and bathing in their blood to retain her youthful beauty. She was by all accounts a very attractive woman.
- Vampire legends may have been based on Vlad of Walachia, also known as Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476). He had a habit of nailing hats to people's heads, skinning them alive, and impaling them on upright stakes. He also liked to dip bread into the blood of his enemies and eat it. His name, Vlad, means son of the dragon or Dracula, who has been identified as the historical Dracula. Though Vlad the Impaler was murdered in 1476, his tomb is reported empty.
- One of the earliest accounts of vampires is found in an ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth dating to 4.000 B.C. which describes ekimmu or edimmu (one who is snatched away). The ekimmu is a type of uruku or utukku (a spirit or demon) who was not buried properly and has returned as a vengeful spirit to suck the life out of the living.
- Prehistoric stone monuments called "dolmens" have been found over the graves of the dead in northwest Europe. Anthropologists speculate they have been placed over graves to keep vampires from rising.
- Chinese vampires were call a ch'iang shih (corpse-hopper) and had red eyes and crooked claws. They were said to have a strong sexual drive that led them to attack women. As they grew stronger, the ch'iang shih gained the ability to fly, grew long white hair, and could also change into a wolf.
- In 2009, a sixteenth-century female skull with a rock wedged in its mouth was found near the remains of plague victims. It was not unusual during that century to shove a rock or brick in the mouth of a suspected vampire to prevent it from feeding on the bodies of other plague victims or attacking the living. Female vampires were also often blamed for spreading the bubonic plague throughout Europe.
- According to several legends. If someone was bitten by a suspected vampire, he or she should drink the ashes of a burned vampire. To prevent an attack, a person should make bread with the blood of vampire and eat it.
- The legend that vampires must sleep in coffins probably arose from reports of gravediggers and morticians who described corpses suddenly sitting up in their graves or coffins. This eerie phenomenon could be caused by the decomposing process.
- According to some legends, a vampire may engage in sex with his former wife, which often led to pregnancy. In fact, this belief may have provided a convenient explanation as to why a widow, who was supposed to be celibate, became pregnant. The resulting child was called a gloglave in Bulgarian or vampirdzii in Turkish. Rather than being ostracized, the child was considered a hero who had powers to slay a vampire.
- Folklore vampires can become vampires not only through a bite, but also if they were once a werewolf, practiced sorcery, were excommunicated, committed suicide, were an illegitimate child of parents who were illegitimate, or were still born or died before baptism, in addition, anyone who has eaten the flesh of a sheep killed by a wolf, was a seventh son, was the child of a pregnant woman who was looked upon by a vampire, was a nun who stepped over an unburied body, had teeth when they were born, or had a cat jump on their corpse before being buried could also turn into vampires.
- Mermaids can also be vampires--but instead of sucking blood, they suck out the breath of their victims.
- In some vampire folktales, vampires can marry and move to another city where they take up jobs suitable for vampires, such as butchers, barbers, and tailors. That they become butchers may be based on the analogy that butchers are descendants of the sacrificer.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Here's Yor Candy, Now Leave Me Alone!
Nestlies Crunch bars and Hershey kisses,
I'll hand each child with my best wishes.
Want some Lollipops or Tootsie Rolls?
Filling up you bag is one of my goals.
Kit-Kats, Licorice Whips, Dots and more,
I'll give you money, whatever it takes.
If you want junk food I'll deliver,
You're the taker and I'm the giver.
Hedre's some Candy Corn and Popcorn Balls,
Please don't throw eggs at my walls.
Don't TP my beautiful trees,
I'm begging you, Pretty please.
This candy costs lots of money don't you know,
So here's your loot, now put it in your bag and go!
This Halloween Day is coming to a close,
It's not my most favorite holiday as everyone now knows!
The streets are empty and the kids have gone home,
It's just me and the leftover candy all alone.
I'll eat each and every piece that's in the big dish,
Then offer you all just one more wish-
I got a purple toothbrush from the lady down the street
And several doors down from her, got stickers for a treat.
Someone gave my goodie bag a pencil with a ghost
But chocolate bars and candy treats are those I love the most.
I got a plastic spider ring from a house some blocks away.
My bag is really heavy, but there's something I must say.
Erasers, rubber bats and rings are really fun and dandy.
But after all these houses see, please tell me where's the candy?
An Empty Treat Bag
After mom checked all my loot, she looked at me and sighed.
"Just one piece tonight, my dear. Your teeth will thank you."
I took the teats into my room and sorted them inside.
First I arranged them all by size and then when I was through,
I said, "Hey wait, there's a piece that is too small. That just won't do!"
And so I ate it quickly. After all, it did not fit.
The candy was too small to sort. It didn't hurt a bit.
I thought to myself, it is time to sort by types today.
I had 31 bubblegums, and that kind of sparked lament.
The next month only has 30 days, if I had one a day
There would be one left over. It needed to be spent.
And so I chewed it quickly. After all, it did not fit.
The gum lost flavor quickly, but it didn't hurt a bit.
One candy bar was a different type, a lollipop stick bent.
No matter what the candy> I found reasons to reduce.
Once or twice. I tried to stop but that is how it went.
Even when I resolved to stop, my craving would refuse.
And so I ate it quickly, finding reasons not to fit.
I ate the candy so fast my stomach took a hit.
My mother made me something to make the ache disperse.
Now that I'm out of candy, tomorrow I'll feel worse.
A Good Night For A Halloween Poem
Fangs, facepaint, princess wands and swords.
Scary and cute carved pumpkins and gourds.
Eerily decorated houses up and down the street.
Little ones cheering at ear door, "trick or treat."
Undoubtedly it must be that creepy time of year.
When haunted houses instill in us heart racing fear.
When horror flick marathons have us checking under beds.
And from overflowing candy bowls, ghost and goblins are fed.
Throughout the neighborhood you hear giggles and screaming.
Black cats with arched backs and their eyes gleeming.
Tombstones, skeletons and foggy smoke all about.
For young and old alike, its an exciting fun night out.
Children tugging on parents as they race from door to door.
And teenagers dressed in unusual garb and bloody gore.
Partents showing off costumes on their toddler or baby.
Entering contests and hoping to win....maybe, just maybe.
Even the household pet isn't safe from dress up madness.
And at the end of the night, not a heart filled with sadness.
But rather happily eating their goods back at their home.
And with that, I'm inspired to writed this Halloween poem.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Since Halloween is just a few months away, and ghoulies and ghosties are on everyone's mind. It might be a good time to explore how various cultures handle paranormal beliefs. I will write about the basic beliefs of the Japanese, Jewish and Native Americans.
We Americans are quite open minded about the paranormal, especially lately with the many different shows about ghosts and other paranormal activity. More than 30 percent of all Americans believe in ghosts. I have never seen one personally, but the town I live in, in California has 2 expected places that are known for being haunted. One I have stayed the night in (one of them is a hotel and the other used to be a boys prison).
Let's put our beliefs aside for a moment and take a look into the basic beliefs of three other cultures regarding ghosts and spirits.
The Japanese culture, which is rich in superstition and the paranormal, is also very open to the belief of a spirit world. In fact, many individual cultures of Japan believe that the living are always surrounded by spirits.
Some among the ancient Japanese believed that spirits were the cause of disease and hunger. They thought that evil spirits who were seeking retribution even brought on natural disasters like tidal waves, hurricanes, and floods.
Another popular belief had spirits caught between the land of the living and the world of shadows. These beliefs said that an unpurified human soul would return to the land of the living as a ghost. Oftentimes, these spirits were believed to have returned because of certain unpardonable sins like envy, jealousy, or anger. It was those unforgivable sins that spurred them on to seek revenge.
Today, many Japanese still believe that spirits who are not delivered through prayer by those who love them, can be caught in limbo between the land of the living and the land of the dead. For this reason, many Japanese death rituals are very specific and highly honored.
THE JEWISH FAITH
According to some Jewish folklore, a spirit could attach itself to a living person for the purposes of controlling their behavior. However, unlike possession as typically identified, this spirit, called a "dybuk", would stay only long enough to complete a particular task. It was not believed that the spirit's intent was to overtake a living creature for an extended period of time.
Such spirits were not necessarily bad either. Some, in fact were believed to have been sent to assist the living. For example, a person who was struggling with the same kind of issue might respond by latching onto the individual just long enough to help him or her through the problem. Some referred to these ghosts as "spirit guides."
Some Jewish people also believe that spirits were created in the twilight of creation, after man but before creation ceased. As such, they are caught in limbo that is not of this world nor of the heavens. Some call these entities angels while still others call them demons.
The Native American culture has long embraced the idea of the spirit world. However, the great spirits of Native America bore no resemblance to the ghosts or demons that we typically think of today. Instead, these were considered to be the very spirits of nature herself-the sun and moon, the sky, the earth, the sea, trees, animals, and of course mankind.
Native American spirits were to be sought and prized for the gifts that they bring and the lessons that they teach. Some tribes believed that the best of their people, maidens and warriors alike, went on to become spirit guides. These guides were supposedly capable of keeping their individual charges from going astray as well as for keeping their people, as a whole, on the right path.
Other tribes embraced animal spirits as an important source of knowledge, strength, and character. Still others put their beliefs in the Creator and the vast number of spirits that he would send to his people.
As it turns out most cultures embrace the concept of phosts or spirits in some way. Even heavily Communistic countries like China, still have stories and myths about ghosts, spirits, and demons.
One last few words in closing. This year as Halloween rolls around, don't worry about ghosts and ghouls and just have fun! TRICK-OR-TREEEAAT!!!!!
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
- When it comes to candy sales, Halloween makes stores jump for joy (especially in their pocket books). According to the National Confectioners Association, giving and eating candy during major holidays accounts for about a third of all confections sold annually.
- Candy is keeping retailers and dentists happy. In 2002, each person in the U.S. consumed approximately 24 pounds of candy.
- Census researchers report that 1,040 manufacturers in 2001 produced $12 billion dollars worth of chocolate and cocoa.
- Another 616 candy manufacturers made non-chocolate candy that year.
- Candy corn is a big portion of those treats made annually. (I don't know why it must be like giving people fruit cake at Christmastime) In fact, October 30th is National Candy Corn Day.
- There are 106 million potential houses for the kids to go trick-or-treating to.
- Older kids prefer chocolate more so than younger ones. ( Also throwing eggs, t.p. ing, and kicking over your pumpkin that you slaved all night to carve!)
- The first milk chocolate was created in Switzerland in the 1800's.
- The melting point of cocoa butter is below the body temperature, explaining why it mouth.
- A 1.5 ounce chocolate bar has 15 percent of the daily value for riboflavin.
- According to Bankrate, you should gauge your candy needs by counting the number of 5 to 14 year olds in your neighborhood. ( I can't in mine because most of them seem to get bussed from out of my area!) The article says you should also get some things for the older kids. (So they don't t.p., egg or kick your pumpkin in!!!)
- Halloween, Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day are the biggest candy seller days of the year. (All of them heavily commercialized by big business.)
- Pop rock were introduced by General Foods in 1974.
- The first jack-o-lanterns were made of turnips.
- Pumpkins can come in white, blue and green also.
- Pumpkins are fruits, not vegetables despite what you might think, and 99 percent of pumpkins sold in the U.S. are used to make jack-o-lanterns.
- Trick-or-treating is an Irish tradition where the wealthy would give food to the poor on Halloween night.
- Costume sales are estimated at over $1.5 billion dollars and Americans spend about $50 million on Halloween cards.
- In the north of England, Halloween was called "nut-crack" and "snap-apple night.(Those sure make it sound like some painful trick-or-treating, especially for boys and men.)
Monday, August 2, 2010
Take some dead body parts. Stitch them together. Add one mad scientist,
and toss in a lightning bolt for good measure. What do you get? The Frankenstein
monster! Alternately portrayed as both mindless killer and a misunderstood gentle giant, the Frankenstein monster is a classic Halloween creep. Learn more about him with these 13 freaky facts. .
- The young Mary Godwin, later wed to poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote Frankenstein at the age of nineteen.
- As a house guest of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley was invited to participate in a challenge. Byron, Shelley, and the other guests set about writing the most frightening story they could. Shelley won, she claimed that her inspiration came from a vision she'd had, wherein a pale student of science knelt over a body which he had just imbued with artificial life.
- Doctor Victor Frankenstein is the name of the mad scientist character who created the monster and gave it life.
- Frankenstein is a German name meaning, "stone of the Franks."
- Victor Frankenstein was based on a real person. Johann Konrad Dippel, who was a physician and mad scientist obsessed with creating life through scientific means. His birthplace? Castle Frankenstein, near Darmstadt, Germany.
- The name Frankenstein is commonly, but incorrectly used to describe the monster itself. Throughout the novel, Dr. Frankenstein refers to his creation as "devil", "fiend", and other venomous epithets-but the creature is never given a proper name.
- Frankenstein was released anonymously in 1818, and was originally sub-titles: The Modern Prometheus. Both Frankenstein and the Prometheus tale serve as warning against too-high aspirations.
- The Frankenstein monster first appeared on film in Edison Studios' Frankenstein of 1910.
- Universal Studios' Frankenstein was released in 1931. Actor Boris Karloff played the role of the creature. Bela Logosi was initially offered the role, but refused.
- The Frankenstein movies paves the way for many sequels, including Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, and Ghost of Frankenstein. Some notable Frankenstein parodies include Young Frankenstein, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which features Doctor Frank N. Furter.
- The Frankenstein monster makes a modern screen appearance in 1994's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, where he is portrayed by Robert De Niro. The monster is also featured in 2004's Van Helsing.
- Herman Munster, cosmetically based on Frankenstein's monster, was the father of a nice, if creepy, family in the television series The Munsters.
- In 2006, horror writer Dean Kootz penned a series of novels that reimagine the Frankenstein story in present-day New Orleans.