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!