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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: September 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013

OWLS-THE MAGICAL BIRD, PART 1!!








    The owl has attracted the fascination and awe of many cults and cultures, down through the ages and many different and contradictory beliefs have survived to the present day. Many associations link the owl with witchcraft, medicine, the weather, birth and even death; thus, many superstitions and fears about the owl remain. In the past it was thought to have been wise yet foolish, feared but venerated and despised whilst being admired.
    The owl is a nocturnal, predatory bird distinguished by a large flat face, eyes surrounded by stiff, feathered disks, a short, hooked beak, feathered legs with sharp talons, and soft plumage which facilitates soundless flight. Its large eyes are encased in a capsule of bone called the "sclerotic ring" which directs the eyes forward allowing restricted movement. To enable a sideways look, the owl must turn its entire head. Its neck, being relatively long and flexible, allows the head to rotate through 270 degrees. As few owls hunt their prey in full daylight, their hearing is particularly important. Many owls have asymmetrical skulls with the ear openings at different levels, enabling them to pin-point the slightest sound made by the prey they are hunting.
    Owl nesting habits are highly variable. Some nest in holes in trees or rock croppings and their are even some that make burrows and next underground. Owls feed entirely on live prey or animals, such as insects, rodents, snakes, rabbits and even fish. Indigestible parts of their food such as bones, hair and feathers are compressed and regurgitated as compact pellets. Owls lay pure white eggs.
    In Greek Mythology, the owl was the preferred bird of the Goddess Athena, the daughter of Zeus. Her preferred species was the Little Owl, which often accompanied her perched on her shoulder. The owl had the ability to light up Athena's blind side revealing to her unseen truths and thus expanding her natural wisdom. Due to its association with Athena, the owl gained protected status in Athens. The owl became thought of as a protector, its symbol adopted by Greek armies as inspiration for their daily lives. Before a battle, if an owl flew over, it was taken as a sign that victory was immanent. It was also depicted on different Greek coins.




SOME OF THE WORLD'S OWL MYTHS

  • Abyssinia-The Hamites held the Owl sacred.

  • Afghanistan-The Owl gave Man flint and iron to make fire, and in exchange, Man gave the Owl his feathers.

  • Africa, Central-The Owl is the familiar of wizards to the Bantu.

  • Africa, East-The Swahili believe the Owl brings illness to children.

  • Africa, South-Zulus recognise the Owl as the Sorcerers' Bird.

  • Africa, West-Messenger of Wizards and Witches, the Owl's cry presages evil.

  • Algeria-Place the right eye of an Eagle Owl in the hand of a sleeping woman and she will tell all.

  • Arabia-The Owl is a bird of ill omen; the embodiment of evil spirits that carries off children at night. According to an ancient Arabic treatise, from each female Owl supposedly came two eggs, one held the power to cause hair to fall out; the other, the power to restore it.(the early men's hair club)

  • Arctic Circle-A little girl having been turned into a bird with a long beak by magick, but was so frightened she flapped about madly and flew into a wall, flattening her face and beak, thus creating the owl.

  • Australia-Aborigines believe bats represent the soul of men and Owls the souls of women. Owls are therefore sacred, because your sister is an Owl-and the Owl is your sister.

  • Aztecs-One of their evil gods wore a Screech Owl on his head.

  • Babylon-Owl amulets protected women during childbirth.

  • Belgium-Legend has it that a priest offered the Owl his church tower to live i if the bird would get rid of the rats and mice that plagued his church.

  • Bordeaux-Throw salt in the fire to avoid the Owl's curse.

  • Borneo-The Supreme Being turned his wife into a Owl as a punishment for telling secrets to mortals.

  • Burma-During a quarrel among the birds, the Owl was jumped upon and so his face was flattened.

  • Cameroon-Too evil to name, the Owl is known only as "the bird that makes you afraid".

  • Celtic-The Owl was a sign of the Underworld.

  • China-The Owl is associated with lightning because it brightens the night, and with the drum because it breaks the silence. Placing Owl effigies in each corner of the home protects it against lightning. The Owl is a symbol of Too much Yang....positive, masculine, bright, active energy.

  • Ethiopia-A condemned man was taken to a table on which an Owl was painted, and then expected to take his own life.

  • France-When a pregnant woman hears an Owl, it is an omen that her child will be a girl.

  • Germany-If an Owl hoots as a child is born, the infant will have an unhappy life.

  • Incas-The Incas venerated the Owl for its beautiful eyes and head.

  • India-Seizures in children could be treated with a broth made from Owl eyes. Rheumatism pain was treated with a gel made from Owl meat. Owl meat could also be eaten as a natural aphrodisiac. In northern India, if one ate the eyes of an Owl, they would be able to see in the dark. In southern India, the cries of an Owl were interpreted by number: One hoot was an omen of impending death; tow meant success in anything that would be started soon after; three represented a woman being married into the family; four indicated a disturbance; five denoted coming travel; six meant guests were on the way; seven was a sign of mental distress; eight foretold sudden death; and nine symbolized good fortune. In parts of the Indian sub-continent people believed that the Owl was married to the bat.

BAKED PUMPKIN DONUTS!

This recipe was found at www.culinarycory.com .   A little something to start off the fall season.



Baked Pumpkin Donuts




Baked Pumpkin Cake Donuts






I can’t help it. There are days when I’m just drawn to it. Those four big letters glistening in the yellow glow and sparkle of retail extravaganza. I don’t care if I have to wade through the text messaging hoards of 12 year olds just to find it. I see it there, hidden in the back corner of the store covered with red tags and crossed out retail pricing. Oh, glorious SALE.
While partaking in some retail therapy, I couldn’t resist exploring a kitchen store for yet another gadget to purchase. I thumbed through shelves of “miracle devices” guaranteed to perfectly cook anything in the microwave. I even glanced through the mountains of magic spices Paula Deen decided to slap her face on this week. Finally, I came across a set of mini donut pans for a cool 5 bucks in the clearance section. A crisp Lincoln was tossed at the cashier as I headed home to create these flavorful pumpkin donuts.












Baked Pumpkin Donuts
Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
2 Tbl. milk
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside. Cream together the brown sugar, canned pumpkin, eggs, milk, butter and vanilla extract until the butter is well incorporated. With your mixer on medium low speed, slowly add the dry sifted ingredients to the wet mixture. Mix until just barely combined. Be careful of over mixing.
Spray the donut pan with cooking spray and fill each donut mold halfway with the pumpkin batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 6 – 8 minutes or until the exterior springs back when touched. Allow to cool completely and top each donut with cinnamon glaze.

Cinnamon Glaze

½ cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl. milk
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Mix until smooth and creamy. The glaze should pour easily from a spoon. You may need to add additional milk or powder sugar to get the right consistency.
Authors Note:
  There is no need to fret if you do not own donut pans. This recipe can be easy converted into pumpkin muffins. You may need to adjust the baking time accordingly. When using paper liners, lightly spray the liners with cooking spray just before filling them with batter. It makes a world of difference.

CHRISTIANITY vs. HALLOWEEN, WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL!








   Around Halloween every year a fair number of Christians express disgust at the idea of celebrating a "satanic holiday." To some Christians the very idea of Halloween is repulsive. Halloween and everything involved in it seems to strike a chord deep in the hearts of the most adamant Christian believers. It appears to be contrary to everything a Christian believes is good and holy with all of the evil ghosts, devils and witches floating about. But is Halloween really the evil satanic holiday that some Christians think it is?
    The best place to begin is... at the beginning. There is a lot of literature available on the history of Halloween, including web sites and books. Some of it is even accurate! Most of it boils down to a few simple facts. Halloween appears to have started with the Celtic people. I say it "appears" to have started with them because they didn't write much down. They had a strong oral tradition much like American Indians. What we learn about Celts often comes from the writings of non-Celtic people (often their enemies). While there's a bit of truth to it, the writing obviously has to be taken with fair amount of skepticism.











    What we do know with certainty is that the early Celtic people were not Christians. The Celts believed that there was a natural world and a supernatural world. They had gods, spirits, elves and fairies controlling and influencing their lives. However, since they weren't Christians, there was no concept of Satan! This means that from the very beginning Halloween was never intended to be a satanic holiday.
   The earliest form of Halloween was a harvest festival, more like Thanksgiving than anything else. The Celts thanked their gods for the harvest and they consulted them for predictions about the next year. They believed that the natural and supernatural worlds were close enough to almost touch on Halloween so they did their best to use the










opportunity to get some helpful insight for the next year. Life was tough back then and they were trying to figure out how to make it through another grueling year in Ireland. Stories of worshiping the lord of the dead around this time are just that... stories.
    Fast forward a few hundred years and we have people dressing up like pirates, Batman, witches and Elvis while they go out drinking. Meanwhile masked children are roaming the streets in search of candy. There are also a few obscure cults and Satan worshipping religions that have attached special meaning to Halloween. The question any Christian should be asking is whether any of those things matter. Is it wrong to dress like a pirate and ask for candy? I'm sure if you ask the question "what would Jesus do" that's probably not the answer you'll get, but that doesn't make it necessarily wrong. You'll have to measure whether dressing like a giant M&M and asking for candy is right or wrong based on your own values.












    The cults and dark religions are a different issue. What if a group of people started sacrificing animals to Satan on Christmas? Would that make Christmas a satanic holiday? What about 500 years from now? Sadly, that is what has happened to Halloween. It has been hijacked over the years by different groups using it for their own purposes. Its meaning has been distorted over the years (purposely by some Christians) but the original intent was never to be anything other than a harvest celebration.
    Perhaps it's time to take Halloween back. The next time you hear a Christian saying they don't believe in Halloween or they think it's evil, take a few minutes to set them straight. Tell them to take this opportunity to thank God for the harvest and ask for His wisdom for the upcoming year. After all, that's what the holiday was intended for. If you go out and get a bunch of candy, well then it would be a good thing to thank God for that harvest as well (you might want to pray for good teeth too).










   This Halloween, instead of fighting against the holiday embrace the original meaning of it and use it as an opportunity to educate others. After all, it could be that the Celts had it partially right. Maybe on this one day, we're closer to the supernatural world. Maybe just maybe, if we use the opportunity to pray for wisdom we'll be able to get some of our own divine guidance for next year!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

ALBORADA FIESTA FROM MEXICO!







  San Miguel de Allende was founded in 1542 by Fray Juan de San Miguel when he built a mission to serve the many Indian groups in the area. It became known as San Miguel el Grande. The main church in town is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Naturally the town takes great pride in celebrating the Feast Day of San Miguel, the patron saint. San Miguel de Allende can put on some great Fiestas and for this one they go all out. The feast day of San Miguel is September 29 but the actual celebration can last a week or more. The modern custom is to have the major part of the Fiesta on the weekend following Sept. 29 but the actual day is also celebrated.











   San Miguel, or Saint Michael the Archangel as he is known to the English speaking world, is noted for his warrior role. When Lucifer revolted against the rule of God it was San Miguel Archangel who was sent to do battle with Lucifer and banish him to Hades. San Miguel is often invoked as a protector for troops going into battle. He is always represented with his sword and armor signifying his role in combating evil forces. San Miguel's combat with evil is acted out in the Explanada in front of the Parroquia in a grand fireworks battle that takes place just before dawn. This dawn battle gives the name to the town's celebration of its patron saint, Alborada means "dawn" in Spanish.











   While the dawn fireworks battle is the most spectacular event there is so much more to this Fiesta. The weekend is pretty much non-stop Fiesta what with the all night celebration followed the next day by all-day parades, dance performances, and processions honoring San Miguel. The evenings are full also with cultural presentations, music, and even more fireworks. The Feast of San Miguel really goes on for more than a week. Almost every day there are one or two processions carrying the image of San Miguel to various churches and shrines around the city so that san Miguel can confer his blessings on these locations. Often they are accompanied by music and dances. In the afternoons and evenings there are often dance or music shows providing first class entertainment. If you plan on taking in the Alborada Fiesta consider staying for the whole week beginning around Sept. 26. The main part of the Fiesta is on the weekend starting Friday afternoon until 6 AM Saturday, then parades and dance












performances all day Saturday until midnight. Sunday morning it starts back up then late into Sunday evening. There is really only one 8 hour rest period all weekend.
   The celebration of the Feast Day of San Miguel Arc?ngel is on 29 September but the celebration can last a week or more with the major part of the Fiesta on the weekend following September 29. The actual calendar of events can vary from year to year but it follows a general pattern. In 2008 the events of the Fiesta lasted from 26 Sept. to 5











October, a period of 10 days. The weekend is pretty much non-stop Fiesta. Friday evening it is music and dancing in the Jard?n which last until the traditional Alborada around 4 AM Saturday morning. Saturday it is a parade in the morning and various processions all day culminating in the offering of the flowers (x?chiles) in the afternoon. That evening there is a pyrotechnics show with burning Castillos and aerial fireworks.
   Sunday morning has another parade, then all day and into the evening Indian dance groups perform in the courtyard of the Parroquia and in the streets surrounding the Jard?n. That evening another pyrotechnic show caps the Fiesta.













   While the weekend is the most intense time of the Fiesta of San Miguel Arc Angel other events happen all week long. Mostly they are processions carrying the statue of San Miguel to various churches and shrines around town. There are also various presentations of dance and music. To see the entire Fiesta plan on spending a week in San Miguel de Allende - never a dull moment!

VAMPIRE TRUTHS AND MYTHS!





  1. A group of vampires has variously been call a clutch, brood, coven, pack or clan. (a clan if their Scottish!)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Mermaids can also be vampires--but instead of sucking blood, they suck out the breath of their victims.
  15. 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.

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE WITH A GINGER BOTTOM!





Ingredients for the base:


  • 250 grams of biscuits gingernut
  • 80 g of unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Process biscuits until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add butter and mixed spice, process until just combined. 
Line the bottom of the 23 cm tin with baking paper. Press crumb mixture evenly over the base and side of 23 cm baking tin. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until companies.
Wrap the tin with aluminum foil twice.


Ingredients for the cheesecake mixture:
  • 750 g curd cheese, minced 
  • 250 g mascarpone cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs potato flour (cornstarch)
  • 1 Tbs plain flour
  • 190 g caster sugar
  • 425 g pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
Should be all ingredients at room temperature.
Put all ingredients in a large bowl with electric mixer and beat until smooth.
Set oven to 170 º C. Pour cheesecake mixture into tin. Place the roasting tin in a trey and pour hot water wrapped around the tin to come about halfway up the sides of the springform. Set temperature to 150 ° C. Bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes or until set. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature then put into the fridge for 12 hours.
Additionally:
  • 120 ml whippnig cream, chilled
  • 2 tsp icing sugar

Beat the whipping cream in a mixer bowl until creamy in consistency. Add icing sugar and beat. Decorate just before serving.




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DURGA PUJA FROM INDIA!!






Tradition of Durga Puja
    Today's most authentic form of the Durga is that of a ten handed goddess modeled out of clay astride a lion. Each of those hands carry a separate weapon in them except two, which holds the spear which has been struck into the chest of the demon, Mahishasura. The four children of the Goddess had also been added to the iconography - Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, Kartik, the God of beauty as well as warfare and Ganesha, the 'Siddhidata' or the starter of everything in good sense.
    The drum-beats are an integral part of the Durga Puja. This special variety of the drum, known as 'Dhak,' enthralls the hearts of the Calcutta with its majestic rhythm right from the day of 'Sasthi.' This drum is held on the shoulder with the beating side in the bottom and is beaten with two sticks, one thick and another thin.
    The Durga Puja spans over a period of ten days in case of traditional and household Pujas, though the main part of it is restricted to four days only. The main Puja, however, starts on the evening of 'Sasthi', the sixth day after the new moon, generally from beneath a 'Bel' tree for the traditional ones. In the wee hours of 'Saptami,' the next day, the 'Pran' or life of the Devi is brought from a nearby pond or river in a banana tree and established inside the image. The main puja starts thereafter and the prime time is reached in the 'Sandhikshan,' the crossover time between Ashtami and Navami. Finally, on 'Dashami,' the tenth day from the new moon, the image is immersed in a pond or river.






Significance of Durga Puja
    During Durga Puja, God in the form of the Divine Mother is worshiped in Her various forms as Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati. Though the Goddess is one, She is represented and worshiped in three different aspects. On the first three nights of the festival, Durga is worshiped. On the following three, Lakshmi and then Saraswati Devi on the last three nights. The following tenth day is called Vijayadasami. Vijaya means "victory", the victory over one's own minds that can come only when these three: Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are worshiped.

Meaning Of Durga
    Durga is perhaps the most widely worshiped deity of Shakti. Maa Durga's divine characterization include entire Devibhagavatham is dedicated to her. Durga means one who is difficult to approach. However since she is the mother of universe she is the personification of tender love, wealth, power, beauty and all virtues.











Implications Of The Idol
    The complete image of Goddess Durga represent destruction of evil and protection of good and reflects the point that in order to become divine one should keep one's animal instincts under control. Thus, by worshiping Durga the idea of ruthless destruction is invoked to annihilate all the desires and unfold divinity.

Its Connotation
    ln Bengal, Goddess Durga is worshiped for nine days. In South India, an altar decorated with a stepped platform and filled with small images of gods, animals,birds,and other beings, animate and inanimate, is worshiped for nine days. This altar is known as the Kolu. People re-dedicate themselves to their profession. On this day, a child also begins to learn the alphabet in a ceremony known as aksarabhyasa. This day marks the beginning of any type of learning. One offers gifts to one's teachers, seeks their blessings,and prays for success in one's new endeavors.
The Rituals of Durga Puja
    The festival of Durga Puja starts with Mahalaya, the first phase of the waxing moon in Aswin. Thousands offer prayers to their ancestors at the city's river banks, a ritual called Tarpan. The inauguration of the Goddess idol starts on Mahashasthi. The main puja is for three days - Mahasaptami, Mahaastami, Mahanavami. The puja rituals are long and very detailed and complicated. Three days of Mantras and Shlokas and Arati and offerings - needs an expert priest to do this kind of Puja. Because of these facts, the number of Pujas held in the family has reduced and Durga Puja has mostly emerged as a community festival.










Mahashashthi
    On this day Goddess Durga arrives to the mortal world from her heavenly abode, accompanied by her children. She is welcomed with much fanfare amidst the beats of dhak. Unveiling the face of the idol is the main ritual on this day. Kalaparambho, the ritual performed before the commencement of the puja precedes Bodhon, Amontron and Adibas.

Mahasaptami
    Saptami is the first day of Durga puja. Kola Bow or Nabapatrika is given a pre-dawn bath. This is an ancient ritual of worshiping nine types of plants. They are together worshiped as a symbol of the goddess. The main Saptami Puja follows Kalparambho and Mahasnan.

Mahaastami
    The day began with a recital of Sanskrit hymns in community puja pandals as thousands of devotees offered anjali to the goddess. Kumari Puja or the worship of little girls as the mother goddess was a special part of the rituals observed in a number of traditional and household pujas. As the day wore on, it was time for the important Sandhi Puja, which marks the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami and Maha Navami.










Mahanavami
    This is the concluding day of Durga Puja. The main Navami puja begins after the end of Sandhi Puja. The Navami Bhog is offered to the goddess. This is later partaken as prasad by the devotees.

Dashami
    After the three days of Puja, in Dashami , in the last day, a tearful farewell is offered to the Goddess. Most of the community pujas postpone the farewell as long as possible and arrange a grand send-off. The images are carried in processions around the locality and finally is immersed in a nearby river or lake. Vijaya Dashami is an event celebrated all over the country.

Durga Puja Celebrations
    The celebration of Durga Puja goes very far back in history and there are abundant references to it in India literature from 12th century onwards. However, today Durga Puja is generally a community festival. The Puja celebration over the years has changed color often. Earlier, it was the most expensive of all festivals and could only be performed by the rich and the powerful like feudal lords, rajas and big businessmen. However, it always evoked great enthusiasm and popular support.












    But in today's ethos, The evolution of many clubs, associations and societies has made the Puja cosmopolitan in character. The social and ritualistic significance of the Puja has also been modified to a great degree. Today, this festival has become an occasion for pageantry and extravaganza. Age-old conch shells and drums have given way to loud film songs and sometimes the goddess is modeled on popular film actresses. On the flip side, animal sacrifices, a must earlier, have been dispensed with at many places and shrines.
    While earlier Durga was worshiped alone, now it is, more often than not, the goddess with her family. Durga is portrayed as the supreme head; and the presence of Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva etc marks a wholesome picture of divinity. In southern India celebrations constitute a display of images of God and toys at home for nine days. But despite the various ways in which this festival is celebrated the feature that is common is that of the worship of the mother goddess










The Story/ Legends of Durga Puja
   Creation Of Goddess Durga Goddess Durga represents a united front of all Divine forces against the negative forces of evil and wickedness. The gods in heaven decided to create an all-powerful being to kill the demon king Mahishasur who was ready to attack them. At that very moment a stream of lightning dazzled forth from the mouths of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh and it turned into a beautiful, magnificent woman with ten hands. Then all the gods furnished her with their special weapons. The image of Durga, the Eternal Mother destroying the demon, Mahishasur is symbolic of the final confrontation of the spiritual urge of man with his baser passions.

Pandavas
    As per our great epic Mahabharat, Pandavas after wandering in the forest for 12 years, hung their weapons on a Shami tree before entering the court of king Virat to spend the last one year in disguise. After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi the day of Dassera they brought down the weapons from the Shami tree and declared their true identity. Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dassera day became symbols of good, will and victory.










Lord Rama
    This festival has immense mythological significance. As per Ramayan, Ram did "chandi-puja and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana, the ten-headed king of Lanka who had abducted Seeta and had charmed life. Durga divulged the secret to Ram how he could kill Ravana. Then after vanquishing him, Ram with Seeta and Laxman returned victorious to his kingdom of Ayodhya on Diwali day.

Kautsa
    Kautsa, the young son of Devdatt, insisted on his guru Varatantu to accept "gurudakshina", after finishing his education. After lots of persistence his Guru, finally asked for 14 crore gold coins, one crore for each of the 14 sciences he taught Kautsa. Kautsa went to king Raghuraj, who was known for his genorisity and was an ancestor of Rama. But just at that time he had emptied all his coffers on the Brahmins, after performing the Vishvajit sacrifice. So, the king went to Lord Indra and asked for the gold coins. Indra summoned Kuber, the god of wealth. Indra told Kuber, "Make a rain of gold coins fall on the "shanu" and "apati" trees round Raghuraja's city of Ayodhya." The rain of coins began to fall. The king Raghu gave all the coins to Kautsa, who gave 14 crores gold coins to his guru. The remaining coins were lavishly distributed to the people of Ayodhya city. This happened on the day of Dussehra. In remembrance of this event the custom is kept of looting the leaves of the "apati" trees and people present each other these leaves as "sone" (gold).










Mythology of Durga Puja


    According to Hindu mythology a demon named Mahishasura, earned the favor of Lord Shiva after a long and hard penance. Lord Shiva, impressed with his devotion, blessed him that no man or deity would be able to kill him and that only a woman can kill him. Mahishasur was very pleased with this boon as he thought that a woman can never defeat him. Arrogant Mahishasura started his reign of terror over the Universe and people were killed mercilessly. He even attacked the abode of the gods and conquered the heavens and became their leader.

The Defeat Of Gods
    After their defeat and humiliation at the hands of Mahishasur, the gods took refuge under Lord Brahma, who took them to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. The only solution left was the creation of a woman who possess the ultimate power to fight and defeat Mahishasur. Pure energy blazed forth from Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - the trinity forming the pure energy of Godhood, all concentrating at one point that took the form of Goddess Durga.

Culmination Of Energies
    Her face reflected the light of Shiva, her ten arms were from Lord Vishnu, her feet were from Lord Brahma, the tresses were formed from the light of Yama, the god of death and the two breasts were formed from the light of Somanath, the Moon God, the waist from the light of Indra, the king of gods, the legs and thighs from the light of Varun, the god of oceans and hips from the light of Bhoodev (Earth), the toes from the light of Surya (Sun God), fingers of the hand from the light of the Vasus, the children of Goddess river Ganga and nose from the light of Kuber, the keeper of wealth for the Gods. The teeth were formed from the light of Prajapati, the lord of creatures, the Triad of her eyes was born from the light of Agni, the Fire God, the eyebrows from the two Sandhyas,ie, sunrise and sunset, the ears from the light of Vayu, the god of Wind. Thus from the energy of these gods, as well as from many other gods, was formed the goddess Durga.










Power Of Weapons
    The gods then gifted the goddess with their weapons and other divine objects to help her in her battle with the demon, Mahishasura. Lord Shiva gave her a trident while Lord Vishnu gave her a disc. Varuna, gave her a conch and noose, and Agni gave her a spear. From Vayu, she received arrows. Indra, gave her a thunderbolt, and the gift of his white-skinned elephant Airavata was a bell. From Yama, she received a sword and shield and from Vishwakarma (god of Architecture), an axe and armor. The god of mountains, Himavat gifted her with jewels and a lion to ride on. Durga was also given many other precious and magical gifts, new clothing, and a garland of immortal lotuses for her head and breasts.
    The beautiful Durga, bedecked in jewels and golden armor and equipped with the fearsome weaponry of the gods, was ready to engage in battle with the fierce and cruel Mahishasura. Mahishasura and his demon allies found their attention drawn from heaven to Earth, as Durga's power moved its way towards heaven. Though confident of their power and control in heaven, the demons could not help being awestruck.

The Battlefield
    As Mahishasura's armies were struck down effortlessly by Durga, it became obvious to him that he was not as secure in heaven as he had thought. No demon could fight her and win. Her breath would replenish her armies - bringing back to life all of her soldiers who fell. The demons were in chaos and were easily defeated and captured. Mahishasura was shocked and enraged by the disastrous events on the battlefield. He took on the form of a demonic buffalo, and charged at the divine soldiers of Durga, goring and killing many and lashing out with his whip-like tail. Durga's lion pounced on the demon-buffalo and engaged him in a battle. While he was thus engaged, Durga threw her noose around his neck.










    Mahishasura then assumed the form of a lion and when Durga beheaded the lion, Mahishasura escaped in the form of a man who was immediately face to face with a volley of arrows from Durga. The demon escaped yet again and then having assumed the form of a huge elephant, battered Durga's lion with a tusk. With her sword Durga hacked the tusk into pieces.

The Victory
    The demon reverted once more to the form of the wild buffalo. He hid himself in the mountains from where he hurled boulders at Durga with his horns. Durga drank the divine nectar, the gift of Kuber. She then pounced on Mahishasura, pushing him to the ground with her left leg. She grasped his head in one hand, pierced him with her sharp trident held in another, and with yet another of her ten hands she wielded her bright sword, beheading him. At last he fell dead, and the scattered surviving remnants of his once invincible army fled in terror.

DIY PARANORMAL PORTRAITS!

   This was found at www.countryliving.com .  I really like this idea.  Even having the eyes glowing or blinking on and off.


Paranormal Portraits

You'll never look at loved ones the same way after transforming their images into a ghostly display.






STEP 1: Make a black-and-white copy of a portrait on printer paper and cut out.


STEP 2: To "age" the picture, lightly brush it with a sponge dipped in a solution of a few drops of black craft paint mixed with water. Let the paper dry.


STEP 3: Cut a piece of card stock the same size as the photo, glue to the photo's back, and let dry. With an X-Acto knife, cut out the eyes of the picture's subject(s), piercing through the card stock and creating holes about 1/4 inch in diameter.


STEP 4: Open the frame's back, remove the glass, then fit the photo inside.


STEP 5: Insert red mini LED Christmas lights (try Superior Holiday Lighting's flattop version, $11.26 for a 25-foot string; 1000bulbs.com) through the back of the eyeholes. Plug in the lights, then replace the frame's backing — securing it with tape if necessary — and drape with fake cobwebs.


Steal this idea! Add a little extra bite to your photos with fangs: Cut small triangles from white paper and glue or tape them to the subject's mouth.

CANDY APPLES!


Candy apples



candy apples



Today will be about how to do it right, how marvelous to see and how to 'bite' ;-)
After inviting recipe .. after the match ;-)
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Candy apples - lovely red autumn associated with Christmas and Halloween. Their history dates back to the early twentieth century in the United States. 'Invented' it William W. Kolb, who worked on the holiday recipe for red cinnamon candies, dipped in the caramel apples and put on display at his shop .. Apples in a crispy coating of sugar and cinnamon became popular very quickly. Not wondered how they could eat? They are hard, but more crispy - hard-wearing than I break-teeth - hard ;-). Careful, they can be cut into pieces with a knife. 


Ingredients for 4 candy apples:
  • 4 green apples such as Granny Smith
  • 4 wooden sticks
  • 250 g of sugar
  • 50 ml of water
  • 1 tablespoon (20 grams) of honey or golden syrupu
  • half a teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • a little red dye

Wash apples, dry, tear tails. Insert the sticks in them.
The plate put baking paper and smear a thin layer of oil.
For a small pot pour sugar. Add the water, honey, vanilla extract, spices and dye. Stir everything together and bring to a boil. 
In a pot of boiling caramel put a thermometer and cook over medium burner, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 280 º F (137 º C), the so-called. soft crack stage (if you do not have a thermometer confectionery - watch the video ). Soak in the first apple caramel prepared and carefully in the coat, shaking off excess caramel. Set aside on paper. In the same way, proceed with the remaining apples.




candy apples

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WEREWOLVES, MADE UP CREATURE OR REALITY!!!






    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



  1. The modern day name may come from the Old English "wer-wolf" (where 'wer' means 'man).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Were-wolves eyebrows come together and there is no skin space between them.
  5. It is said by some that they have "bristles" under their tongue.
  6. 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.
  7. When they shift into wolf mode they are said to have super strength and extremely sensitive senses, such as sight and scent.
  8. It is reported in Europe in the 1700's that werewolves would dig up freshly buried corpses to eat.
  9. Scandinavian were-wolves were reported as being old women with poison claws that could paralyze children with their glaring eyes.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Religious holy water or icons (such as a crucifix) do not keep them away.
  14. Items that will protect you from a werewolf are garland of fresh rye, mistletoe and garlic cloves.
  15. 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.

DIY HALLOWEEN CLAY POT JACK O' LANTERNS!

   This great idea was found at www.shelterness.com .  Has that old retro look to it.  Very cool!







Those of us who love room plants probably already has plenty of different pots with them. Halloween is coming and it’s probably a good idea to decorate one of them or a new one in the manner that shows how you do like this holiday. Happy Pumpkin Pot is the project that you can done by yourself and it would make you happy every time you see it.



Here are materials you’ll need:
  • Acrylic paints of different colors
  • #1 liner brush
  • ½” flat brush
  • #4 round brush
  • 1¼” foam spouncer
  • 2 25mm wiggly eyes
  • Glue
  • Clay pot of your choice


The process of painting is quite easy, but if you need instructions, go to Plaid for them.

CREEPY WITCH FINGERS (ADD SOME GREEN FOOD COLORING FOR A LITTLE EXTRA GORE)!!


Witches Fingers


Witches Fingers






















Scary? For me, his face always elicit a smile ;). Halloween is fast approaching, and - although we do not celebrate, our children first go to the Halloween party. This ciasteczkowa trial before ;). Cookies produced quickly, because part in this whole family is and was a lot of laughter, remember - the scarier and scarier the better! Crackers are crunchy, buttery, delicious. 


Ingredients:
  • 225 g butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 and 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup peeled almonds


All the ingredients (except almonds) mix and knead. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the dough, forming fingers (it should be a little thinner than your fingers - the oven will grow), at the end of pressing almonds (can be cut in half, to nails were thinner) in place of the nail.
Bake for about 10 minutes at 200 ° C. Cool the on the grid.



Witches Fingers

Monday, September 23, 2013

GIOSTRA DEL SARACINO FROM ITALY!






    Tuscany draws you with an irresistible air to Arezzo transforming a land into a theater filled with a lifestyle of tradition, culture and cuisine. Arezzo which is about 80 kilometers from Florence hosts the Giostra del Saracino or the joust held at the Piazza Grande. This medieval festival displays facets of its old world charm, its famous history, tradition and its tasteful cuisine.










    Held on the first Sunday in September, the procession of La Giostra del Saracino winds its way right down to the Piazza Grande. Originating from the ancient Crusades, this Saracen joust began in the Middle Ages. The Christian Crusaders battled with the Islamic tribes or the Moors of the North African Arabs in an attempt to drive them out of Europe. This Baroque joust started between the 15th and the 16th centuries and gained popularity. But during the 18th century, the royal air that surrounded it declined and lost its notoriety. A brief spell of fame enveloped this game during the Romantic period. With a culture of tradition, the Giostra del Saracino was re-established as a historic event in 1931 with its original 14th century ambience. With the spirit of competition and joy, the joust also takes place when dignitaries and princes visit the city and during important functions, carnivals and weddings.










    Held twice a year, La Giostra del Saracino is also enacted on the third Saturday at San Donato as well as the first Sunday in September at Arezzo. Exciting and exhilarating, this medieval joust starts with an air of anticipation as the procession with eight knights clad in their chain armors canter past on their horses. The knights represent the four quarters of the old city. They are known as the Porta Crucifera in red and green, the











Porta del Foro in yellow and crimson, the Porta Sant’Andrea in green and white and the Porta Santo Spirito in yellow and blue. The parade follows with 311 people dressed in the 14th century apparel and 31 horses trotting along with their riders with multi-colored flags held by the flag bearers. The joust begins with a traditional ritual with the Bishop blessing the armies on the steps of the Cathedral. Then the ‘Araldo’ reads the ‘Disifida di Buratto’, which is a poetic recital, dating back to the 17th century. A greeting is extended to the knights and the authorities who are in charge. A musical chorus ‘Inno del Saracino’ is sung by the Gruppo Musici and a final ‘go ahead’ signal is given by the Magistrates to start La Giostra del Saracino.









    The aim of the joust is to hit the shield held by a wooden effigy of a Saracen. The Maestro del Campo or the Master of the Field gives the signal for the knights to race on their mounts towards the wooden effigy. If the knights miss the target, the Saracen effigy portraying the ‘Puppet King of the Indies’ swings a ball with spikes on it that hits the knight if he is not careful. The crowds cheer as the knight from their quarters finds











his mark, but lapse into silence when he does not and turn to distracting the knights from the other quarters when it is their turn. The knights of the joust who hit the shield of the effigy win the most number of points and go on to winning the prize of the Golden Lance. Arezzo takes you back into the past with its memorable traditions and a culture that traverses the ancient ages