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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 08/29/10

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WITCHES AND THEIR FLYING MACHINES





Stories about air born witches have intrigued the world for a long time.  Even
though there is little evidence that broomstick flying ever took place, the eery consistency of the stories of broomstick flying is too persistent to ignore it.  So what was it with broomsticks?
   In many cases, historic records-mostly of courtcases, leave us a quite precise description of the way witches were perceived to be operating their wicked or evil magic on the rest of society in the Middle Ages.
   In England, witchcraft was outlawed in legal act in 1542 and 1736, but the laws did not forid flying.  Probably because the legal profession did not believe it a possibility.  But there are still many accounts of witches having been seen leaving one place only to turn up several miles away without passing by on the road.
   A linked belief was that witches knew far too much about other people's business, reporting secrets they could not have known or overhearing conversations from far off, says Shantell Powell, who runs a research site on the issue call shanmonster.com.
    Often the accounts of witches' ability to conduct supernatural acts were made by the people in their immediate environment.  Historians say that the persons telling the court what they believed they'd witnessed in very many cases shows that they clearly misunderstood some happenings and that in as many cases gross exaggeration was employed to make stories fit.
   Yet the many misgivings revealed by the old historic records do not necessarily mean that the actual accusation themselves were never based on any truth whatsoever.
    "The broomstick flying can be accounted for when the form of early mound-dwellings is taken into consideration", says Margaret Alic Murray, author of "The Witch Cult in Western Europe", an extensive work not only of witch trials but also a well documented study of the beliefs of ancient witch organisations.
   Murray believes that savage European tribes tended to maintain elaborate taboos connected with the door that can be linked to witches' preferred means of departure through windows and chimneys.  She also says that the broom was connected to fertility rites, an issue that of course creates the necessary hype in that it is intricately mysterious easily explaining any links with older women.
   For their extent to which broomstick flying stories are part of may European, North American, Asian, African and Middle Eastern countries' folklore, the number of direct confessions or testimonial account of broomstick flying is very small, Murray writes in her research.  One eye witness account historically recorded is made by a certain Julian Cox, a woman who in 1664 testified that one evening about a mile from her house, she saw riding towards her three persons on as many "broom-staves."  The three were flying at a height of one and a half yards from the ground, she said.

   To be countinued..........

  


BABA YAGA THE RUSSIAN FOLKLORE WITCH



   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.