Tradition, Superstition & Fascination

31 10 2011

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? The origin of Halloween possibly lies in the traditions of the Celtic people.  In celebration of the recently completed harvest, Celts would give offerings of food to the Gods. They often went from door to door to collect food to donate to their deities. Also, young Celts would ask the townspeople for kindling and wood, and take it to top of the hill for the Samhain bonfire. These are two of the possible origins of present day “trick or treating.” The Celts believed that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year. Friends and relatives who had died would often return, with their souls inhabiting an animal – often a black cat. Black cats have remained a symbol of Halloween down to the present time. Samhain was a fire festival. Sacred bonfires were lit on the tops of hills in honor of the Gods. The townspeople would take an ember from the bonfire to their home and re-light the fire in their family hearth. The ember would usually be carried in a holder – often a turnip or gourd. They felt nervous about walking home in the dark; they were afraid of evil spirits. So they dressed up in costumes and carved scary faces in their ember holders. They hoped that the spirits would be frightened and not bother them. Today we see people dress in costume for celebration, and we see faces carved in pumpkins for festive decoration.

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve which means the evening before All Saints’ Day. “Hallow” is an Old English word for “saint”. This was shortened toHallowe’en and finally to Halloween.  All Saints’ Day was created by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th century CE. There were so many saints by this time that there were not enough days in the year to accommodate them. So, All Saints’ Day was to recognize the saints who were without their own day, and to celebrate saints that the Church had failed to recognize.  All Souls’ Day was created for NOV-2 to honor faithful Christians who had died but were not saints. The three days from OCT-31 to NOV-2 was given the name Hallow Tide. This may have been done in order to distract Christians from celebrating Samhain. ( For full definition of Samhain:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain . )

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. Halloween has since become a major folk holiday in the US and Canada. “Trick or Treaters” go from door to door and collect candies, apples and other goodies. Hallmark Cards reports that 65% of Americans will decorate their homes and offices for Halloween. This percentage is exceeded only by Christmas. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold; it is second only to Christmas in total sales. North Americans spend over $20 million on Halloween candies yearly. Halloween also is the third-largest party occasion next to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite “holiday,” the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celtic celebrations, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.

Most of us are familiar with common Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and dressing in costume but there are some ancient traditions I thought might be fun to explore that you may not be familiar with from around the world.

The first one I’d like to mention is one I remember reading about as a child and always wanting to attempt, but being too much of a skeptic or pessimist I’ve yet to try it.  This is the less famous “trick” where a woman is supposed to stand before a mirror at the stroke of midnight and bite into an apple.  The reflection of her future husband was supposed to appear in the mirror or the reflection of a skull, which would signify that she would die an old maid.  In writing this, I saw several versions of this “tradition” but this is the one I remember best from my mother’s tales as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it’s orgin.

Barmback is a custom with Irish roots as well.  Barmback is a type of raisin bread that can be served year round, but on Halloween certain objects are traditionally baked into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth and a ring.  Each object carries significance so if you got a piece of break holding one of these objects, you would know your fortune.  The pea means you will not be getting married in the next year while the ring, of course, means that you would.  The stick signifies an unhappy marriage, the cloth signifies bad finances and the coin signifies wealth is headed your way.

In Whales, families would practice the tradition of Coelcerth. For Coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding the fire.  If they woke in the morning to find that a person’s stone was missing, this meant the person would die in the next year!

Bonfires are very common on Halloween and derived from several traditions worldwide.  One tradition (with European roots) incorporated into the bonfire celebrations that I found interesting is once again used for the ladies to learn who their future husband would be.  The tradition has the ladies cut a lock of their hair and toss it into the fire, and that evening as they slept and their hair burned their future husband was to be revealed to them in their dreams.

Latin Americans commemorate the holiday with a 3-day celebration that begins on October 31.  The celebration is designed to honor the dead whom, they believe, return to their Earthly homes during this period.  Many families construct altars to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photos and samples of the deceased favorite foods, drinks and water.  Often a wash basin and towel are also left at the altar so the spirit can wash up before indulging in the feast.

Spell to attract a particular lover

You will need:

a lock of his/her hair, a personal belonging of his/hers or a clear photo of their face (though hair works best)

One pink rose,

Ground Vanilla pods

Dried Avocado

Ginger

Jasmine oil

One red or violet candle inscribed with the love Rune 3X’s

A few drops of (your) blood

Red cloth

Red paper

By the light of the candle, grind up the Avocado with the Vanilla pods and the Ginger… when it is a fine powder, add 5 drops of blood, and as you drop each drop say these words: *Note: face the appropriate direction.* ‘Spirit of the South, ancient one of fire and passion, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the West, ancient one of water and peace ,with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the North, ancient one of earth and fertility, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the east, ancient one of air and strength, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Akasha, the spirit element of all, with this drop of blood I call you to combine the powers called forth, and bind my lover’s spirit to mine.’ ‘So mote it be!’ Using the new paste, draw the love Rune 3X’s (3 times) on the piece of red paper and empower it, wait for it to dry, and then fold the paper in half. Take the rose and smear on any remaining paste. Place the rose in the red cloth and annoint with Jasmine oil. Now, using the red candle set fire to it, and put it in a bowl until it has gone out. Grind up any lumps left in the ash or remove any stubborn bits, then put the ash into the folded paper and put it in an envelope, seal the envelope with a blob of wax from the candle, and get it to the object of your affections however you can.

 

Spell for Luck

You will need:

Ground/fresh cinnamon

Green candle

Pennies (number in the amount of your birthdate, for instance if your birthday is October 31st you will need 31 pennies)

Burn the green candle surrounded by the pennies.  Chant as the candle burns “Let fortuned winds blow my way.  All that’s evil please allay.  All that’s good and all that’s bane give in turn but for my gain.”  Meditate, focusing on the pennies and repeating this chant until you feel the pennies are charged with positive energy.  On the first following Thursday, dispose of the pennies.  If you keep them, the spell will work opposite.  It is best to give the pennies away as a gift, but dispose of them however you can.

 

Well, I was also going to post a spell about revenge but after reading them they were all pretty scary and I started feeling guilty so I decided I’d leave you with just these two and one last one that I made up for you, but I’m pretty sure it will work.

 

Spell for fun on Halloween

You will need:

Your favorite adult beverages

Your favorite things to eat

Your favorite friends

Your favorite Horror movies

Your favorite music

Your house

Mix above ingredients beginning at dusk on Halloween.  Chant throughout the night “Let’s Party”.  Continue process until you run out of supplies.  Have fun & be safe!

 

 

 

 





karma in a brown paper bag

4 07 2011

I blog here & on myspace as many folks know.  I told myself I would use this new blog location for fun blogs, fiction, funny stories and such and try not to get political here or write my editorials here like I do over there.  Of course, recently, with this disasterous oil volcano spewing into the Gulf of Mexico I couldn’t help but write about it here, there and everywhere in an attempt to spread the word.  But, in these dark days even though I know it is important to spread the word I also know that sometimes we need a good laugh.  I certainly know I do because lately this situation has put my in a somewhat depressive state and I need a little escape.  That being said, most of my readers know I love to post funny stories from my past that usually poke fun at moi but are always good for a laugh.  This one is no exception, so please enjoy a tale that I call…

Karma in a brown paper bag

TJ & I were walking home from school one day in the fall of ‘87.  It was about a 3 mile walk for us and we lived a street apart.  We weren’t the best or worst of friends, just 2 kids who lived near each other and would sometimes walk together.  We were both sophomores, had a couple of classes together, no big deal.

All the cool kids were passing us by in their cars, playing loud music and being cooler than us.  We would shrug our shoulders and keep on truckin’.  Just another day in the life of the underclassmen (or women in my case).

For some weird reason, a brown paper bag in the ditch caught my eye.
“I wonder what’s in it?” I pointed it out to TJ.
“Who cares?” He replied.
But something drove me to it.  I don’t know why, but I just had to look inside.  Annoyed, TJ waited for me to check the bag.
“Holy shit!” I gasped when I looked inside.
“What is it?” Suddenly he was interested.
“You won’t believe it!” I exclaimed as he joined me to peer into the bag.
“Hooooollllllllly shit!” He smiled wide. “Hurry up, let’s get outta here!”

We quickly stuffed our treasure into his book bag and rushed to his house, beaming!

Fortunately, TJ was a latch-key-kid … for those of you who remember that old 80’s term.  A kid who’s parents were still at work when he’d get home from school.  So, there we sat, just the two of us, at his kitchen table … pouring the contents of the brown paper bag onto the table.

“Unbelievable!” He gasped.
There sat before us, a gallon sized ziplock bag stuffed with marijuana, rolling papers, 2 cassettes and a scale.  I jumped for the cassettes, one was Ratt’s “Invasion of your Privacy” and the other was AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. 
“Cool!” I exclaimed.  “I’ll take the Ratt!”
“That’s good, I wanted the AC/DC,” He said.  “But, what are we gonna do with the rest of it?”
“Let’s split it up!” I said, logically.
“And then?” He asked.
“And then we do whatever we want with it,” I said.  “But we don’t tell anyone where we found it.”

Yeah, I you had to think someone was looking for that shit! I mean, that was a hellova lot of pot, right???

“All right,” TJ said.  “Deal!”
So, we shook on it and began splitting it up.

Now, at this stage in our lives … TJ and I were not all that familiar with pot.  I mean, sure, as you know from my previously mentioned blog I’d tried it a lil’ bit … but I wasn’t the type of person who needed at least a half a’ pound of marijuana on hand, so there was no way I was interested in keeping my half.  I saw it as a career opportunity … but it was far more than that …

Nothing brings popularity faster than being the gal with all the killer weed.
Suddenly, hot senior boys were carrying my books to class for me, sitting with me at lunch and being my friends.  Yep, that’s right, dorky little Susan was suddenly the most popular chick in school … if only till it was sold out … at least, for a moment, everyone was abuzz about my fame among the famous.

So there I was, high rolling in the dough and being doted on by hot senior dudes … ahh, it was the life … at least for a couple of months anyway.

But, alas, in the end … all that was left was a Ratt tape and a few bucks once the well ran dry.  I still have no idea what TJ did with his half.  I still have no idea who was probably looking for that great, lost bag of weed, but I did often wonder … would they ever get back at me if they found out I sold all their goods and was rocking out to their Ratt? Hmmmm…

So, there we were, about one year later … my good friend Sherrie and I, once again walking home from school along the same ol’ path that TJ and I walked.  She knew the infamous story about the brown paper bag and the glory days it brought to me, so when we stumbled upon yet another brown paper bag in a ditch yet again she encouraged me to check it out.  It didn’t take much encouragement as I had been so lucky in the past, I couldn’t resist wondering if lightening would truly strike twice.

As I eagerly and hopefully opened the back, she watched to make sure no one was spying.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed and quickly threw the bag down and began to run.
She ran with me.
“My God!” She exclaimed.  “What the hell was in the bag??”
“It was a dead half rat!” I explained.
She stopped cold in her tracks. “Do what?”
“A dead half rat,” I said.  “A rat, bloody and cut in half.”
“Bullshit!” She argued.  “Who the hell would cut a rat in half and throw it in a bag on side of the road?”
“I have no idea!” I said.  “But it was the rear end, all bloody and with his tail and stuff… it was awful!”
“That doesn’t make sense!” She argued …

And we argued for about a half a mile when finally we bet on it and we had to turn around so she could see for herself.
“You’re going to be sorry,” I warned her as she opened the bag.
I closed my eyes, waiting for her shrill …
waiting…
waiting…
And suddenly, she burst into wild laughter.
I opened my eyes and peered over at her as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“A dead half rat, huh?” she choked between laughs.
“You think it’s funny?!?” I was stunned.
“It’s a used tampon, you dumb ass!” She replied … and continued to laugh all the way home…

And so there it was … my karma in a brown paper bag.  I guess lightening doesn’t strike twice, but the first strike was good while it lasted and the dead half rat became equally as famous around the school as I was picked on for ages about that little discovery.

Weird and interesting facts for your amusement

The current street value of what I found is estimated at around $800, back then it was probably valued at half that price.  Want to know the current street value of marijuana in your state? Visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Street_price_of_weed

The ancient Egyptians invented the first disposable tampons made from softened papyrus. The ancient Greeks created tampons made from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood, recorded in writing by Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C. (Ouch!!) Want to test your tampon knowledge? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon

Paper bags are eco-friendly, easy to recycle, and have many uses.

Want to make a piniata like this one? This pinata is made using a paper bag, tissue paper, glue, and a few other supplies you might already have laying around your house.  All you need to make this is; candy, small toys or whatever you want to stuff it with (even $800 worth of weed will work if you’re having that kinda party!), newspaper, colored tissue paper, string or yarn, glue, scissors and a hole puncher.  (See, I bet you already have all that lying around the house, don’t you?) Start out by opening your bag and setting it on your work surface. Put the candy and/or small toys into the bag. You do not want your bag to be more than half way full or it will be too heavy to hang! Now, fill the rest of the bag, stopping about 2-inches from the top, using scrunched up newspaper. Once you have your pinata filled, pinch the top of the bag together and roll it down 2 or 3 times. Staple it shut. Cover the bottom of your filled paper bag with a piece of tissue paper. Set your bag on a piece of tissue paper and cut the tissue paper so it is about 2-inches larger than the bottom of the paper bag all the way around. Glue the edges of the tissue paper up around the bottom of the paper bag. Handle the corners as if you’re wrapping a present. Now cut several strips of tissue paper long enough to completely fit around your bag and about 4- 6-inches wide depending on size of bag. You will need about 5 strips (this may vary by bag size). Use your scissors to cut fringe along a long edge of all of your tissue paper strips. The fringe should go about half way up your tissue paper strip. The fringe should be cut about 1-inch apart. Start near the bottom of the bag, just above the piece of tissue paper you glued onto the bottom of the bag, and place a bead of glue around the bag. Stick your first piece of fringed tissue paper, fringed edge down, onto the glue. This should hang over the bottom tissue paper and slightly overhang the bottom edge of the bag. Stick another strip onto the bag, hanging about halfway over the first strip. Continue this until your entire bag is covered by fringed tissue paper. Punch two holes along the top, folded edge of the paper bag. Cut a piece of yarn or string a few yeards long. Thread one end of the piece of yarn or string through one hole, pull it across the top edge of the bag, and then back through the other hole. Tie it using a few overhand knots so it will not come apart when you hang it. Cut several strips of tissue paper, about 1-inch thick and 6-inches long. Glue them to the bottom of the pinata. Voila! You’ve got a homemade pinata! For more crafty ideas using paper bags, visit http://familycrafts.about.com/od/paperbagcrafts/tp/PaperBagCrafts.htm