Archive for category Harvest and Halloween Traditions

Comic Epitaphs from the Very Best Old Graveyards

This is a sweet, old slim volume from Peter Pauper Press.  Here are a few selections:

For a dentist:

Stranger tread

This ground with gravity

Dentist Brown is filling

His last cavity

On a music teacher:

Stephen and Time

Are both now even

Stephen beat time

Now Time beat Stephen

A Bedford Tombstone

Here lies my wife

In earthy mould

Who when she lived

Did naught but scold

Good friends go softly

In your walking

Lest she should wake

And rise up talking

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Harvest Moon Tonight – time to get a moon cake!

Tonight is the full moon for October.  This moon is known as the Harvest Moon.  Traditions across many cultures are associated with the rise of this large and beautiful moon.

In this area, you can purchase moon cakes in celebration of the mid-Autumn festival, which is celebrated by some Chinese and Vietnamese communities.  The Chinese moon cakes tend to be round and the Vietnamese ones tend to be square.  They are often decorated with lotus motifs and come in a variety of flavors.

Locally, you can purchase moon cakes at Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia, where I purchased the one in the picture.

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Free Halloween Carnival in Falls Church this Saturday

Saturday, October 30

Halloween Carnival: Falls Church City

6 p.m. – 8: 30 p.m.

Admission: FREE

Falls Church City Community Center, 223 Little Falls Street, Falls Church, VA

For babies and children through the grade 6.  Carnival games, moon bounce, face painting, crafts, haunted house, movies, candy, and a live creature show featuring the spookiest reptiles in nature.

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The History of Halloween (VIDEO)

The History Channel explores Halloween’s ancient origins and how they took their modern form in the United States.

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The October moon is full tonight!

Arroooo!

I hope you saw the full moon on September 22nd and 23rd.  It was a full harvest moon (the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox is considered the harvest moon) and it also marked the first day of autumn.

However, October is usually no slouch when it comes to spectacular full moons.  In fact, this full moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon.  Hopefully, the sky will be clear tonight, and you’ll be treated to the full moon in all its glory.  Check it out around 8:30 p.m.

There are some interesting — and spooky — associations with the full moon.  The word lunacy is derived from the Latin word for Luna, the Roman moon goddess, as well as the Late Latin word for “moonstruck” lunaticus. For centuries, people believed the moon phases could induce madness.  A popular notion is that there is a statistical increase in crime (such as murder) and severity of psychosis during full moons, but many studies find there is no correlation (while others find that there is).  For more discussion on the questionable validity of the lunar lunacy effect, read this February 2009 Scientific American article.

Of course, you are familiar with the werewolf legend — the afflicted were supposed to transform into a werewolf under the influence of the full moon. You may remember this recitation from The Wolfman (1941)

Many a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night.

May become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms, and the autumn moon shines bright.

Did you know that the idea of wolves howling at the moon is actually a myth?  Wolves howl at night, because they are nocturnal, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the moon.  It is just one of their ways of communicating — from territorial signals to mating calls.

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A little practical magic…cast your spells now while the moon is waxing

Cover of "THE GOOD SPELL BOOK: LOVE CHARM...

Cover via Amazon

I’m not a witch, but I’m friends with one.  I was pretty surprised when she told me.   She’s a conventional person, a school teacher, but she also happens to be a witch.  If you met her, you would never suspect this.

I’m not sure exactly what a witch is, but I know what she’s not: she’s not a devil-worshipper, and she doesn’t cast spells against people.  I don’t think she believes in magic per se.  She meets up regularly with other people who believe what she does, just as other people go to church.  There is pagan ceremony and ritual involved but most of it seems to revolve around celebrating natural cycles, such as the vernal and autumnal equinoxes (I haven’t been but she has told me about them).  She also has a rather uncanny gift with Tarot cards.

Anyway, I’m a huge skeptic about almost anything I cannot actually observe, but I think all positive and life-affirming rituals are interesting.  She gifted me with a few books of magic spells and a kit.  One night, about four years ago, I did a spell, following the instructions in the book.  Darned if it didn’t work! Or at least, the outcome was positive.  Probably just a coincidence.  Anyway, she was aghast when I told her.  “Mary!”  She said, “You’re not ready to do cast spells!  That could have gone all wrong!” “Then why didn’t you tell me that before you gave me the kit?” I asked.  Looking back, I laugh that two grown people actually had this discussion 🙂

I don’t like superstitions, but if you think of it as just focusing or channeling a little positive energy toward a positive goal — kind of like meditation with the condiments of a few simple rituals — and you do it with a sense of humor, I don’t see any harm in it.

Candle Magic

We all do candle magic when we put birthday candles on a cake and make a wish.  It’s as simple and harmless as that.

My friend told me that candles of certain colors are burned for different needs.  A black candle, for example, she says will remove negativity.  I bought a beautiful, wonderful smelling black candle in Old Town.  Just the ritual of lighting it and inhaling that beautiful perfume is often enough to snap me out of a funk.

Often now, if I want to get in touch with my creative side or remove a little writer’s block, I light a candle and just pause for a moment.  I really find that this harmless bit of “magic” works for me.

Burning Sage

Another simple trick is to cleanse a room of bad vibes by burning sage.  Believe it or not, they sell these sage bundles at Whole Foods, just for this purpose.  Native Americans have been doing this for who knows how long.  Anyway, she came over and burned some sage in the room of an ex.  I told her it just seemed like that room always smelled like him (in a bad way).  Darned if that room didn’t smell a lot better after she burned the sage, and of course, I did feel like we removed all of his nastiness and bad humor.  A simple ritual, but it made me feel a lot better.

Salt Spells

So you know about the superstition when you throw salt over your left shoulder to undo the bad luck of spilling salt.  Salt is also supposed to have magical properties.  You can rinse something in salt water to purify it of negative energy, or get it ready for a spell — coins and keys are rinsed in this way.  Or you can sprinkle some salt in the corners to purify a room (for example, if you had an argument in that room, or a bad dream), or around your house and walk ways  to protect yourself from toxic people.  Throw a handful out the door after a person leaves so they can’t come back and bother you.  I’m laughing as I write this as I imagine some of you sprinkling salt in the corners of your cubicles and offices!  But, seriously, try it.  It feels really empowering, just this simple act.  It’s as if you are committing to yourself that you’re not going to let people mess with you.

Divination Spells

There are many divination spells — that is, spells that foretell the outcome, or provide a yes or no answer to a posed question.  I’m not a big fan of divination spells, because I think there is such a thing as self-fulfilling prophecy, and I think we should all feel in control of our fates, to the extent possible.  The apple and nut divination spells around Halloween are harmless enough.  But I’m amused by readings and good spells.

Some Spells to Try

So, if you’re ready to embrace your inner enchantress, now is the perfect time to try.  According to the Gypsies, (who have been casting spells for centuries), when the moon is waxing until the moon becomes full is the best time to have your spells turn out well. The Gypsies, also known as Romanies, believe that our bodies are affected by the phases of the moon, and that psychic energy is highest at this time.

There are a number of spells in Gillian Kemp’s book, The Good Spell Book.  Here are a couple of spells you can cast tonight and through Friday

For money: light a green candle.  Let it burn for five minutes, then snuff it out.  Rub your hands in the smoke and imagine money coming to you.

To find your lucky word: light a white candle, take a dictionary, and face south.  Close your eyes and turn the book around several times.  Keeping your eyes closed, fan the pages until you feel ready to stop.  Let your finger explore the page until you feel ready to stop.  The word under your finger is your magic word.  Whenever you need a boost of luck or energy, say this magic word.  Snuff out the candle.

For love: on Friday night (dedicated to Venus, Goddess of Love) take a new, never used pink candle.  With a pen in your favorite color and white piece of paper, clear your mind of distractions and write your name and your loved one’s name.  Draw a circle around both names. Close your eyes and visualize the two of you, happy together.  Then watch over your candle for a short while. Snuff it out.

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Fortune-Telling Games for Halloween

Since the time of the Druids, Halloween has been a time for divination, or forecasting future events with magic.  Many of these fortune-telling games have been traditionally played at Halloween parties, and most involve apples.

Apple Peel: Try to peel an apple without breaking the peel.  Take the curly strip of peel and throw it over your shoulder, incanting Peel, peel, please reveal the first initial of my true love. Or Paring, paring, long and green, tell my fate for Halloween.  Or you could also say, By this paring let me discover the initial letter of my true lover. Then look back to see what letter the peel has formed.

Here’s another: take five apple seeds, name them, and press them to the forehead.  The one that remains is the one you will marry.  A variation: if you are torn between two loves, name two seeds and place one on each eyelid.  The one that falls off first is the one you should let go.

You know the game, bobbing for apples?  When we were children, we always ate our captured apples.  But tradition holds that if you place it under your pillow that night, you will dream of your intended.

All kinds of games revolve around nuts, such as roasting a hazelnut by the fire.  A roasting nut that explodes generally foretells a negative outcome or unhappy relationship; while an evenly burning nut (or pair of nuts) predicts marital bliss.

Various superstitions surround Halloween customs.  One is that if an unmarried woman looks in the mirror at midnight on Halloween, she will see the face of her future husband.

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Halloween, according to Disney (VIDEO)

(1984) With the help of Goofy, students learn about the origins of this fun filled holiday. A discussion on superstitions and traditions are also covered.

Features the pumpkin host from “Disney’s Halloween Treat,” and many of the cartoon clips featured in that production.

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The origins of Halloween

By Joy C. Harrison

Halloween is a very popular holiday for young and old alike. It is second to only Christmas! It is a holiday that is steeped in a truly fascinating history and folklore. So, where did this holiday come from? What is the origin of Halloween?

All Hallows Eve was originally a pagan holiday to honor the dead and has been in existence in some form or another for over 2,000 years. It can be traced back to the Druids, a Celtic culture in England and Ireland.

Halloween takes place on October 31, which is the last day of the Celtic calendar. The roots of the holiday lay in the feast of Samhain. Samhain would signify the end of the summer and the beginning of the new Celtic year. It was a large harvest festival that had many ceremonial rites that were mostly steeped in superstition.

The Celtics thought that the souls of the dead would roam the streets of the villages at night. Knowing that not all of these spirits were friendly, they started leaving out gifts and treats to pacify the evil spirits. They felt that if the spirits were appeased then the following years crops would be plentiful. This is the custom that evolved into today’s trick or treating.

Halloween, as we know it today, is derived from mostly Old English era traditions. This includes the carving of jack ‘o lanterns and bobbing for apples. Regardless of your traditions, Halloween can be great fun to be shared with family and friends.

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Celebrate Autumn Days at the Skyland Resort Saturday

Saturday, October 2, 2010

11:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Skyland Resort, Mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Virginia 22835

Skyland Resort in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia is hosting Autumn Days, with entertainment, children’s activities and local crafters throughout the day.

If you go, please note that your GPS may not work, and bring directions.  The location is about 95 miles (or a 2 hour drive) from Falls Church, Virginia. See the website for accommodations.  Directions to Shenandoah National Park.

Seasonal fare includes

  • Corn Chowder
  • Chili
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Bratwurst
  • Cornbread
  • Sweet Potato Pie
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Pumpkin Fritters.
  • Sam Adams Otoberfest Beer
  • Hot Apple Cider

11:00am to12:45pm: Hollowbound Bluegrass Band

Violin, guitar, bass, dobro, upright bass, mandolin, and banjo.

1:00pm to 3:00pm: SunnySide / Classic Country & Old Time Mountain Music

3:15pm to 5:00pm: Possum Ridge String Band

Old time string music from the southern Appalachian mountains, as well as Irish and Scottish music.  Core instruments include fiddle, banjo, guitar, hammered dulcimer, bass, whistles and a didjeridoo. Anglo concertina, mandolin, bodhran and autoharp round out the mix of instruments played.

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