Aug 12, 2010
Ten years later, the Devil met Jack walking on a country road and told him that he was there to collect his soul. Jack, feigned compliance, but asked the Devil if he would first climb an apple tree and get him an apple. The Devil, having nothing to lose, climbed the tree, but as he reached for the apple, Jack pulled out his knife and carved the sign of the cross in the tree's trunk. The Devil was unable to come back down until he had agreed never to claim Jack's soul.
Some years later, Jack died and went to Heaven. But he was dismissed from St. Peter's gate because he was too much of an unsavory figure to allow in. He then went to Hades, but the Devil was bound never to claim his soul, and so would not allow him to enter. Instead, he sent him away with only a burning ember to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been doomed to roam the Earth in darkness ever since. The Irish began to refer to his damned soul and ghostly light as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O' Lantern."
In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the Jack O' Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect Jack O' Lanterns.
Apr 29, 2010
We always took "pumpkin carving" very seriously when I was a kid. It was done with a certain bravado and self as-sureness that only results it a pumpkin face that was the scariest or funniest in all of "Pumpkin-dom"! Well at least I thought it did? Our ideas of pumpkin faces is crude and plain in today's pumpkin carving market. Pumpkin carving is now an "ART"! Me, I still prefer the simple and nostalgic faces of years past instead of the reality and horror of the ones today. My father loved to help with the carving and his imagination was always a welcome addition to the event. He seemed to get what we, as young children, were trying to achieve and was able to captured it with a certain amount of whimsy and humor! Below I have a few tips to help with this necessary part of our Halloween tradition. I honestly believe that laughter is the most important element to any Halloween tradition and bringing family into the mix only creates a more potent potion for FUN! So here's to your family carving their own family tradition this Halloween!
• Draw your design on the pumpkin with a water-based marker beforehand. Mistakes are erased easily with a damp sponge.
• Cut the top and any large areas with a sharp, straight-edged knife. A dull blade is not a safer alternative.
• Serrated metal saws, now widely available in carving kits, are a safer alternative to knives and allow younger children to get in on the action.
• Carve away from yourself; kids should carve only under adult supervision.
• Never hold the knife in a stabbing position.
• When carving, keep a portion of the knife blade in the pumpkin and use slow, steady saw strokes.
• Cut the lid at an angle so the outside diameter is larger than the inside.This prevents the top from falling into the pumpkin when it shrinks.
• Scoop out seeds and stringy flesh with a large spoon or ice cream scooper.
• Carve the facial features closest to the center first and work outward. Cut out the larger features in sections.
• Use an X-Acto knife for details and the tip of a potato peeler to make small circles and curves.
• Remove carved portions by gently pushing them into or out of the pumpkin.
• Reattach a section that is accidentally removed by using a toothpick to pin it back in place.
• Make design holes large enough to provide adequate ventilation for the candle.
• Flatten a spot in the base of the pumpkin for the candle but avoid digging too deep because the pumpkin becomes prone to rot.
• Make sure the flame is not too close to the top of the pumpkin.
• To prolong the life of the jack-o'-lantern, seal in moisture by coating all cut surfaces with petroleum jelly or vegetable oil, or cover it with a damp towel when not on display.
• Consider giving smaller children stickers, tempera paint, or markers to decorate their own pumpkins.
Mar 26, 2010
The How-To’s of Pumpkin Growing….
When the spring rains have begun to lessen and temperatures stay in the low 70’s it is time to plant your pumpkin seeds! If you live in a colder climate then start your little fellas indoors and then transplant outside as it starts to warm up. Pumpkins will grow best in a sunny spot…5-6 hours of sunlight a day makes your pumpkins mighty happy! Our pumpkin friends like to have 110-140 frost-free days to grow and like all things this will depend on the type of pumpkin you plant. Pumpkin seeds like to be planted in the middle of small mounds that are about three feet in diameter. Surround each hill with a moat (about 4 inches wide and 4 inches deep) to help contain water around the roots. Plant 4 to 5 seeds in a circle in the middle of the hill, and space the seeds about 6 to 8 inches apart. If you are planting more than one mound of pumpkins, the mounds should be 10 feet apart. Thin the little sprouts out so the stronger ones can flourish….Nothing is better than a home grown “Jack-a-Lantern” for that most auspicious of holidays “Halloween”!
Feb 5, 2010
Often I am asked this question because I have such a love for witches….not witchcraft but witches. I did my thesis paper on witches when I was in college and it opened up a whole new world for me…one that had been shadowed with many mis-conceptions and superstitions created by our modern day media…..Here is a simple definition:
Witches believe that the God and Goddess energy is contained in all things manifest and non-manifest. Witches see themselves as part of the all encompasing energy that surrounds us.
A witch believes in one universal energy that is polar and balanced. This energy is a mix of masculine and feminine energy. It can be referred to as the God and the Goddess, and through the marriage of these two energies, the perfect whole is created. Everyone is a part of this energy and it is through tuning into it that the knowledge of others can be obtained.
This knowledge can be then passed on for the good of all, creating greater insight into life and its many mysteries. For a witch this energy is the cornerstone of their work. Many spells and rituals have been formed to work within this energy. I hope with this short definition it will help give everyone an idea about what lies in the heart of someone who claims to be a modern day witch. Peace is a HUGE part of their practice and being one with our earth. Holistic medicine is also a common practice with witches. With everything in life balance is necessary and there is always bad with the good….I like to look for the good!
Jan 26, 2010
Oct 31, 2009
Oct 26, 2009
Oct 20, 2009
Oct 12, 2009
I remember when I was young that it would take me months to figure out who I wanted to be for Halloween. My friends and I would start setting our claims to certain characters very early so not to copy one another. After all it was VERY important to be one of a kind! My favorite costume was always the one I (actually mom) would make from odds and ends around the house.
It felt like I had been given a special wish when my mom would let me go through her costume jewelry and closet. There was this one Halloween that I REALLY wanted to be a gypsy...Gypsies were very big in the '50's. My mom had the most perfect skirt and tons (well I thought tons) of beads. She also had this very sparkly scarf that was often used as a shawl that she would wrap around my head. I looked so good! Dad came home from the "Five and Dime" with a small tambourine which was "JUST PERFECT" and I was ready to flaunt my stuff and collect a ton of goodies in the process! My bestest friend Marsha came over and much to my dismay she too was dressed as a gypsy. She had thought about being a witch but her mom talked her into the gypsy cause she had more funny clothes to chose from....Oh well so I guess now I had a caravan instead of the "Lone Gypsy"! It was great to see all your friends imaginations come alive on this auspicious night! Many created their own costumes but quite a few bought theirs. Remember the boxed costumes. They had everything! My brother loved "Zorro" from the Zorro on Disney! I remember going to the "Five and Dime" with my mom and seeing stacks upon stacks of costume boxes. Remember "Ben Cooper" and "Collegeville"? Halloween always sparks the greatest memories for me. We NEVER had fear of trick or treating. My parents would set a time frame and off we would go....with our pillow cases! You would see all your buddies or think you knew who they were...some of the costumes were amazing! There was never fear of anyone getting hurt or poisoned...Halloween was magical! My own children got to enjoy some of that magic when they were young. We tried to keep it alive. I still remember the smells and sounds of my childhood, I wonder if they do too. What is your fondest memory of "Halloween?"
Sep 23, 2009
I can remember back in 1966 being dropped off at the small theater in Gresham, Oregon with my younger brother in tow to watch "The Ghost and Mister Chicken". Since I had already grown up with Don Knotts as my favorite deputy sheriff from Mayberry I was eagerly anticipating some serious laughter from this movie. Not only was it going to be a comedy but a "spooky" comedy!
What prompted this post was I was lucky enough to see the movie today on television. Of course it will never be the same as it was all those years ago eating "REALLY" good buttered popcorn and sitting in a wonderful old theater with my kid brother but it did tap into those memories and nostalgia took over. It sure does do the spirit good when such happy memories surface and a smile slowly creeps across your face and even stays for a while in reflection.....Thanks Don Knotts!
Aug 20, 2009
There is one movie that came out in 1988 that I thought was an exceptional "ghost" story. It is called "The Lady in White" with Lukas Haas. This movie is full of our childhood fantasies of what Halloween and spooky pranks can do to our imaginations. It is tense and sad but yet it gives you a sense of peace at the end. It mixes the scariness of an old ghost story with the horrors of a true life monster that lives around us. Fantastic movie! Share some of your own favorites here. We all need to add to our "ghostly" movie lists!
Jul 27, 2009
Halloween Is Fast Approaching......
Soon, our streets will be crawling with terrors. Shadows will stretch across the landscape, masking the approach of ghouls and vampires. Clouds will part to reveal the moon, and under its pale blue glow innocents will transform into werewolves. Science experiments gone awry will give birth to Frankenstein-like monstrosities.
Suddenly, the crisp autumn air will be split by a hideous cackle. Shivers of fear run down your spine. Dogs bare their teeth, their fur rising on its hackles. The queen of Halloween, the scheming witch, has arrived to ensnare you in her web of magic.But listen well, for it might save your life: the witch derives much of her power from the broom she carries; deprive her of it and you deprive her of her ability to terrorize.
In popular imagery, witches are often depicted silhouetted against the glow of a full moon, riding a broom across the sky with a black cat perched effortlessly on the end.This representation, or variations of it, has been a part of our culture since the 1440s. But why? How does the broom tie in with the myth of potion-brewing hags?The origins of the association go back much further than the 15th century, into the dark recesses of history, when pagans worshipped openly across Europe. In this early religion, brooms were powerful symbols of fertility. In addition, before important ceremonies brooms would have been used to sweep out an area of worship, both physically and mystically.
By the Middle Ages, the pagan belief system had been all-but eliminated in most of Europe and the last remnants, persecuted by the church and branded as devil-worshippers, were the witches of popular mythology. Folklore also held that witches avoided persecution by disguising wands, the focus of their infernal powers, as common and inconspicuous brooms. Brooms might also be used as a receptacle to harbor spirits. Obviously, brooms held no real power, but witches in fact used them as a symbol of their faith.
One pagan ceremony that remained in use through the Middle Ages, for example, saw individuals jumping up and down while straddling a broom in the belief that doing so would encourage crop growth. As well, since Halloween festivities were held during rainy seasons, brooms might be used to assist in vaulting over puddles and swollen streams.Of course, it has also become a symbol of Halloween. No doubt, many young hags will be armed with them come Halloween Eve, prepared to hex your home should you refuse them candy.
Jul 24, 2009
Pop over to my "Soft in the Head" blog and leave a comment to be entered for my little mouse "Celebrate". It is my "Customer Appreciation" month so I am giving two mice away! Without my friends, customers and followers "Soft in the Head" would still be an idea floating around in this eclectic brain of mine....
Jul 11, 2009
I honestly believe that anyone who has a thing for spooky and the spirit world has had to have used an "OUIjI" board at one time or another....While I was growing up they were a MAJOR taboooo and forbidden to ever cross the doorway into our home. My mother swore they were a direct link to Satan (who?)....now how would she know that unless....yea! My mom must have been caught using one by her mother and believe me when I tell you that my grandmother had a more powerful link to Satan than any Ouigi board ever could!!!! She was not a nice person! Any who, so have any of you ever used one. I have and they are a blast until you get some numb-skull that likes to push the little gizmo around instead of letting the"unknown" powers do it. My first experience with an Ouigi board was when I was at the ripe old age of 10 and I was at my friend Marsha's sleep over. Of course the board was actually her older sister Julie's but we borrowed it anyway. Now how many ten year old's do you know that really understand the happenings of such a device....not to darn many. All we manage to to do that night was scare each other into not sleeping and jumping at every little sound...Good Times!
I tried the Ouigi board a few more times during my uninformed youth with little or no result. It wasn't until I was 22 years old and at an honest to heaven seance that I was able to grasp the full impact of that silly little board. I left that seance with a new found respect for the Ouiji board and the "hereafter" from then on....I wonder if I should put an "Ouiji" board on my Christmas list and have a sleep over. After all my house is thoroughly and completely haunted! At least with their"invited" presence I wouldn't have to make extra snacks!
Jun 30, 2009
I think we all believe in a bit of the supernatural...Well I know I do! Heck my husband and I live in it! This old store that we call home is frequently visited by one spirit in particular, we call her Mary. Mary is of the singing variety of spirits, ghosts, spectres whatever....and we often are woken up to one of her strange melodies as she wanders around the old store in the middle of the night. I remember one time she came up behind me when I was doing laundry and started singing. Well I can honestly say that it took me awhile to peel my clothes off the ceiling! We've gotten use to her though and at times find her humorous. Our cats, not so much! They still avoid certain areas in this old place and spit and snarl at thin air...
I actually saw my first ghost when I was eleven. I remember lying in bed late at night, unable to sleep. I popped my bedside lamp on so I could read another "Nancy Drew Mystery". When my light came on I saw a woman standing at the foot of my bead. She was smiling and then disappeared. It happened so fast that I honestly didn't have time to re-act. That image has stayed with me for almost fifty years now.... Between Mary singing in my ear and that experience I had at eleven I guess you would say I am a HUGE believer in the nether-world and the supernatural. How about you?
Jun 20, 2009
I remember when my weekly allowance of 50 cents could take me into the pits of fear and imagination! I could hang out, for a couple of hours, with The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Mummy, Dracula and a cast of a hundred others. Haunted castles, houses and cemeteries became places of wonder and intrigue and of course the occasional death or body snatching. I grew up with a whole other concept of electricity, colored liquids and bubbling tubes and an ooze that could take over the world. High pitched screams, creaking doors and agonizing moans were not only expected but I sat in wait for them. Even organ music makes my head dance with the images of spirits spiraling through a vast decaying room in a dark and foreboding mansion or castle. Women were always the victims (boy how times have changed) and the prettier they were it seemed their IQ dropped. I miss the old tyme Actors that created these life long matinee friends. Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr. and BelaLugosi. It seems that they not only immortalized these monsters but they created pretty big shoes to fill. Thank God for the Steven Spielberg's of our generation who were able to capture some of that old tyme Saturday Matinee magic and create a world for our children to get lost in......I still look under my bed at night before hitting the sack, "how about you"?
Jun 7, 2009
Many tales can be told of witches flying the night skies or turning rejected suitors to toads.... but what are witches really? Some say they are healers and friends of nature...Many perceive them as wrinkled and old and full of wisdom. I see them as all knowing using their learned wisdom to help the mis-guided to find their way. Do you know a witch?
In my travels I have met a couple and actually have two very dear souls in the family that are self proclaimed witches. My two family members are very active in their community and admired by many. They offer their wisdom freely and sell their cherished herbs to devoted customers. The picture I have here reminds me of them working in their beloved garden. I love talking to them but I'm always leery about saying I'm not well or I have some bone that is giving me trouble cause before I know it I am receiving some horrid concoction in the mail. Trust me when I tell you the whiff that oozes from the package is rarely inviting! Kudos to that old crone that lives near us all and is a good hearted soul. Halloween is coming and I can see the brooms being refurbished and set in ready for that MIDNIGHT ride!
Jun 5, 2009
If you honestly think about it a persons laugh can say an awful lot about the person and what their personality is like....A robust and loud laugh tells you that this is a person who loves life and isn't afraid to show it. A snicker says, I'm a bit insecure and not sure if this is a good time to laugh but it's really funny! Now what about a cackle???? I think all of us associate a cackle with a witch, or that of a hen who has just laid an egg, right? Well I am here to tell you I CACKLE and I am neither a witch or a hen...I just cackle. I am proud of my cackle, I have worked years to perfect it. Now I might have borrowed some of my "cackle" nuances from the experts like "the Wicked Witch of the West" and Snow Whites Stepmother, but I would say that most of it comes from me. Sometimes when I hear myself I begin to ponder...is there a bit of the ol' witch residing inside me???? I mean after all, I do have six brooms in my house along with three neurotic cats??? Hm-m-m-mmm? Maybe there is more to me than I know? What about you...do you cackle?????
May 31, 2009
In the past, the word "jack-o-lantern" was used to describe the mysterious and inexplicable floating light seen at night, usually in swampy areas. In the US they were known as "will-o-the-wisp", "corpse light" in England, "witch fire" in Africa, and "fox fire" in Ireland.
According to folk legend, having been turned away from both, heaven and hell, the jack-o-lantern light is a soul that is forced to wander the earth forever. It's dangerous to see one, because they can force humans to blindly follow them to their deaths or disappearance.
There is an Irish folktale that provides a good background for the origin of the name. There was a man named Jack who was hated by most of the villagers for his drunkeness and terrible attitude. He was drinking one night when the devil came to claim his soul, however he was able to convince him to have one last drink with him before going to Hell. After they finished drinking, Jack explained to the devil that he did not have the money to pay for them and quite cunningly convinced the devil to change himself into a sixpence and then to change himself back after paying. The devil agreed, but Jack picked up the devil's coined self and placed him into his coin bag, which had the shape of the cross on it. The cross made the devil powerless and therefore could not escape. When Jack died, Heaven did not let him in because he was far too greedy during his life on Earth. Hell also denied him because of his trickery, which infuriated Satan. Jack was eating a turnip when the devil threw him a lit coal. He picked up the coal and placed it into the turnip, creating a lantern for him to use as he wandered the earth. Therefore, jack-o-lantern means "Jack of the Lantern."
The custom of carving a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern is a thousand year old custom from Ireland. People would hallow out turnips, carve simple and sometimes scary faces, and used them as lanterns to light the roads for Halloween travelers. They were also used to scare away evil ghosts.
May 25, 2009
If you have NEVER seen this I would definitely run out and buy it, rent it or netflix it.....Growing up with Disney
was like breathing for me and I can still remember
the first time I watched this
and listening to Bing Crosby's narration and song. This short little
animated flick resurfaces my childhood memories with such magic and laughter!
We brought our own kids up with a tradition of watching this on Halloween while we drank apple cider and munched ourselves into popcorn comas. I am now hoping that I can share the experience and story of "Icabod Crane" and the "Headless Horseman" with my own grandchildren.
Enjoy a few images and Bing Crosby's song and go out and pick this up....or I will send the "Headless Horseman" your way....BOO!
May 24, 2009
Trick'O'Treating, like Halloween, can be traced back to All Souls Day, a long time ago. All the poor people would go out at night to people's homes begging and the people would give them treats called soul cakes. After a while of this happening, times changed and the children became the beggars. As they went to different houses, they would be given fruit, bread, and maybe money. Now, when the custom came to America, the children would be given candy to prevent the people from being tricked. It was tradition that if a person did not give the child candy, the child would play a trick on them, such as egging their house.
What is your fondest memory of going out on that eerie night? Did you go to Halloween parties or carnivals? Did any of you have a real "Haunted House" in your neighborhood and all the local kids had their own story to tell about it? Was Halloween a family event with everyone dressing up including good ol' mom and dad? Did you decorate your own home and play scary music? What kind of treats were your favorite and what kind did your house give out? Did you you use a pillow case for collecting your treasures on that auspicious night? Oh yes and the most important question of all "What was your favorite costume"? Com'on and share....