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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Halloween Blog Day 1

Sharon, donned in a flowing black gown and pointed black hat, sits in the candle-lit parlor.

Oliver, looking devilishly handsome in black satin, sets a silver tray of stuffed mushrooms and a pitcher of Bloody Marys on the coffin coffee table. Casting his most wicked wink, he joins Sharon on the crimson settee. Standing candelabras gleam in the muted light. With a grinding squeak, Michael Jackson’s Thriller plays from the organ where no one sits. The candles flicker, thunder roars across the sky, rattling the chandelier with a menacing shake. Hand in hand, Sharon and Oliver stand and take a sweeping bow.

Hello and welcome to Day 1 of our Halloween blog. Please join us for an entire month of ghostly tales as we venture toward the spookiest night of the year and a killer drawing!

To set the stage, here are some Halloween superstitions said to be derived from English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh folklore.

If you ring a bell on Halloween, you will scare evil spirits away.

If a candle flame suddenly turns blue, a ghost is near.

If you are out and about on Halloween night and hear footsteps behind you, do not turn around. But if you do, beware! If you meet the gaze of your follower, you will soon be joining the spirits!

If you see a spider on Halloween, it could be the spirit of a loved one who is watching you.

All spirits in Purgatory are released and freed for forty-eight hours to roam the earth on Hallows Eve.

Walk around your house on Halloween three times backward to ward off evil spirits.

Some say if you capture a snail on Halloween and lock it in a flat dish, the following morning you will see the first letter of your sweetheart’s name in the slime.

Some believe if a hoot owl swoops down on you on Hallows Eve, it’s coming to eat your soul. According to Celtic legend, if you turn your pockets inside out, the myth will be broken.

In Britain, people believe the devil was a nut gatherer. At Halloween, nuts were used as magic charms.

If a girl puts the sprig of a rosemary herb and a silver sixpence beneath her pillow on Halloween night, she will see her future husband in a dream.

In North America, it’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your path and good luck if a white cat crosses your path. In Britain, Ireland and Japan, it’s just the opposite!

To prevent evil spirits from entering your house on Halloween, bury animal bones or the picture of an animal near the doorway.

A person born on Halloween can see and chat to spirits.

A rural American superstition states children born on Halloween will be protected from spirits for life and given the gift of second sight.

If you go to a crossroads on Halloween night and listen to the wind, you will learn all the things that will happen to you in the next twelve months.

Peel an apple from top to bottom. The person with the longest peel will be assured the longest life
If you toss the peel of an apple over your right shoulder, the initial it forms when landing will be the initial of your soulmate.

If a bat flies around your home three times, it is a death omen.

In England, you are warned to not go hunting on Halloween night as you will injure a wandering spirit

An English tale warns to not look at your shadow on the eve of Halloween or you will be the next to haunt the graveyard.

If bats come out before dark and fly around playfully, it is a sign of good weather to come.
If a bat flies into your house, it is a sign perhaps a ghost let the bat in!

Have a Halloween superstition? I would love to hear it! Leave a comment.

History of Halloween
Dating back to the ancient Celtic Druids, the festival of Samhain (Festival of the Dead) was celebrated on October 31. The festival was observed by England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to designate the end of the year.

As the sun went down an darkness set in, the preparation for Vigil of Samhain (Lord of Darkness) began. It was believed the veil separating the living and the dead was at its thinnest this eve. The Druids firmly believed the spirits of those who had died in the past year would cross over and walk the earth on this night. Magical powers were greatly enhanced and communication with the spirits reigned.

The villagers doused fires in their homes because they feared and believed the walking dead might find their way in and possess the living. Outside, the Druids built great bon fires (bone fires) and there is debate as to whether human or animal sacrifices were used. Some say only sick animals that would not survive the winter were sacrificed where others say criminals possessed by evil spirits were the sacrificial offerings. And once the embers had died down and cooled, the Druids would read the bones to determine the fate of the coming year.

One famous ritual practiced by the Druids was to light torches from the bonfire, march through the village and in turn, use these torches to light the wood in their hearths. This sacrificial fire was thought to ward off evil spirits and invite the spirits of their kin to enter the home. This was done while wearing furs and scary masks (a prelude to present day Halloween costumes). It was believed the evil spirits would mistake them for animals and not attempt to possess their bodies.

Another tradition was for peasants to go from door to door, begging for food. The food was then left outside to appease the spirits, feeding them before they returned to the spirit world. Those that gave food would be assured good fortune for the coming year while those that gave nothing had eggs and rocks thrown at their homes. This legend holds true today with the pranks of Devil’s Night.

Since Samhain marked the end of the year, the power to predict was at its strongest. Fortunes were told through the reading of bones, tea leaves and countless other rituals. In the seventh century, the Romans conquered England and brought many of their own traditions with them. One of these was the celebration of All Saints Day, originally celebrated in May. By the ninth century, All Saints Day was moved to November 1st and All Souls’ Day, a day to celebrate all dead souls was added to November 2nd.

The Catholics hoped that by combining the Pagan festival of Samhain with their own holiday, they could convert more people. At this point, Samhain became All Hallow’s Eve, the eve before hallowed days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Eventually, All Hallow’s Eve was shortened to Hallow E’en and then to Halloween and has claimed that title ever since.

The Witch of Halloween

What is it about the bewitching witch that makes it the favorite Halloween costume each year for girls and women alike? What is it about the pointed black hat and witch’s broom that females find so intriguing? Is it the notion to cast an evil spell? Turn a handsome prince into a toad? Turn a pumpkin into a horse-driven coach? To find her Glass Slipper and Prince Charming?

The word witch is derived from the old English word “Wicce” meaning wise one. The witch was thought of as a wise woman who lived in harmony with nature and the season. A witch had a vast knowledge of herbs and was often called upon to heal the sick. The witch associated with centuries ago was a homeopathic healer. Being a wise woman and a healer, the witch had a huge assortment of utensils. One such item was her Athame, a double edged witch’s knife with a black handle used in rituals.

We think of the witch’s broom as her mode of transportation, right? This is a myth. The purpose of a real witch’s broom is to cleanse the area where a ritual will be performed. So how did the legend that witches fly through the air on their broomsticks evolve? On All Hallow’s Eve, witches would often anoint themselves with magical oils. These oils would caused the witch’s skin to tingle, making the witch feel light-headed. A real witch would often use her broomstick to help her cross a brook or stream in the woods on her way to the festival, giving the illusion she was flying.

Halloween Myspace Animated GifsAnd in the movies, we’ve all seen our favorite witches standing over bubbling cauldrons and drinking out of large silver chalices. The cauldron was a pot used to concoct magical potions and for scrying (the ability to look into the future on the water’s surface). And the chalice was thought to be a reciprocal of magical spirits. These were all rooted from supernatural powers.

The witch’s wand, carved from hazel wood, crystal, ebony, ivory, silver or gold, were thought to be extensions of life forces of the witch. With all these powers that be bestowed on the witch, it didn’t take long for the general populace to stir up a few superstitions of their own. Witches can fly on broomsticks, turn themselves into black cats, and cause a big ugly wort to grow on the tip of the nose.

Halloween is one of the four most celebrated Pagan holidays and was thought to be the greatest of the four, thus earning its name of “The Great Sabbath.” On this day, the Halloween witch observes the supernatural powers of this world and other worlds and takes the time to ponder both. This night is for honoring ancestors, celebrating the harvest and ringing in the New Year.

Happy Halloween Pictures, Comments, Images, Graphics
The Halloween witch is magical, mystical and very powerful. Given all these facts and trivia, is it any wonder she is the most revered of women on Halloween?


Sharon Donovan said...

Good Evening! Please join us for a month of ghostly adventures. To enter a chance for the grand drawing on October 31st, leave a comment about a spooky Halloween adventure.

Mindy said...

Hi Sharon and Oliver :)
I LOVE the Halloween trivia, I'm an all souls day baby myself (a morning baby, sigh). Growing up I often wished I'd hurried a little more to be born as I would have loved to be a Halloween baby.
I can't say I ever had a spooky Halloween adventure other than going on hayrides at scarey parks (Jason's Woods, Shocktoberfest etc.) I did go to the Poe party at Manheim (PA Ren Faire) and enjoyed an evening of E.A. Poe tales.

Mindy :)

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Mindy, wow you really were born close to Halloween! That's really exciting. You know I'm a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, especially spooked by THE RAVEN. Who be knocking at my chamber door, could it be Lanore...
Thanks for sharing. Here comes Oliver with a Bloody Mary and goblin sugar cookies, wink.

Oliver said...

Mindy love, a chilling Bloody Mary and an entire platter of goblin sugar cookies, my sweet. We also have Chai tea with cinnamon sticks and spicy apple pie with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy

Witchy Woman said...

I like the apple superstitions. Every Halloween my sister has a Halloween party; it's a family tradition. We dress up; my kids go trick-or-treating in the area, come back and we read ghost stories in the dark with a flashlight (we also use props for the stories), and then...we eat. We always have so much fun!

Mindy said...

Thank you Oliver, the Chai tea and cookies are perfect (sizing you up & smiling ;) )

I usually have a party around Halloween, costumes please! and I love to collect superstitions (must be the PA Dutch in me ).
Mindy :)

Oliver said...

Chai tea it is Mindy my sweet, served with a wink and a smile.

Oliver said...

WW my favorite witch of such intriguing beauty. I'm totally bewitched bothered and oh so bewildered! Here's a nice Bloody Mary and a nice hunk of apple pie.

Sharon Donovan said...

I love superstitions too, Mindy, and legends. It's the Irish in me shining through. Wink

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi WW, tis your season, sparks fly from your fingertips! Welcome to an entire month of ghostly tales and gothic fun. I love Halloween parties and I remember reading scary stories in the dark with a flashlight, thanks for the memory!

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Sharon sweet soul sister - and Oliver you darling man - you may try to look all smouldering and sinister but you're far too charismatic to be scary! (Hugs Sharon and blows kisses to Oliver.)

What a wonderful setting for your first post, and I loved hearing about all the Halloween legends and traditions. We didn't celebrate Halloween as much in the UK when I was growing up, as you do over here, but it's caught on in a big way now and it's fun to enter into the 'spirit' of the season and dress up to greet the 'trick or treaters'.

Sharon Donovan said...

Lyn dear friend, hugs my dear and a bewitching Halloween. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for decorating my blog with such artistic talent. The Halloween gallery is oh so thrilling. Thank you!

We share our love of legends and superstitions so bring them on, tis the witching hour.

Oliver said...

Kisses Lyn my sweet petite and a bewitching Halloween. A large mead for your sweet lips, wink

katsrus said...

I love hearing about differant superstitions and halloween traditions. I love Hlloween. It's my favorite time of the year. You sure won't find me as a graveyard though. LOL.
Sue B

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