Peace on Earth
With quietness of mind-
Teach us to be patient
And always to be kind.
Show us that in quietness
We can feel your presence near,
Filling us with joy and peace
Throughout the coming year.
Peace on Earth
Poems are often scary for Halloween, but some folks enjoy a chuckle or two. Here are a couple.
(Remember, all poems are best read out loud. These two are no exception.)
by Charles Causley
Colonel Fazackerley Butterworth-Toast
Bought an old castle complete with a ghost,
But someone or other forgot to declare
To Colonel Fazack that the specter was there.
On the very first evening, while waiting to dine,
The Colonel was taking a fine sherry wine,
When the ghost, with a furious flash and a flare,
Shot out of the chimney and shivered, "Beware!"
Colonel Fazackerley put down his glass
And said, "My dear fellow, that's really first class!
I just can't conceive how you do it at all.
I imagine you're going to a Fancy Dress Ball?"
At this, the dread ghost gave a withering cry.
Said the Colonel (his monocle firm in his eye),
"Now, just how you do it, I wish I could think.
Do sit down and tell me, and please have a drink."
The ghost in his phosphorous cloak gave a roar
And floated about between ceiling and floor.
He walked through a wall and returned through a pane
And backed up the chimney and came down again.
Said the Colonel, "With laughter, I'm feeling quite weak!"
(As trickles of merriment ran down his cheek).
"My housewarming party. I hope you won't spurn.
You must say you'll come and give us a turn!"
At this, the poor specter- quite out of his wits-
Proceeded to shake himself almost to bits.
He rattled his chains, and he clattered his bones
And he filled the whole castle with mumbles and moans.
but Colonel Fazackerley, just as before,
He was simply delighted and called out, "Encore!"
At which the ghost vanished, his efforts in vain,
And never was seen at the castle again.
"Oh dear, what a pity!" said Colonel Fazack.
"I don't know his name, so I can't call him back."
And then, with a smile that was hard to define,
Colonel Fazackerley went in to dine.
I included the following poem, which has an elf, part of Halloween lore.
The Elf and the Dormouse
by Oliver Herford
Crept a wee Elf,
Out of the rain
Under the toadstool,
Sat a big Dormouse
All in a heap.
Trembled the wee Elf,
Frightened, and yet
Fearing to fly away
Lest he get wet.
To the next shelter-
Maybe a mile!
Sudden the wee Elf
Smiled a wee smile,
Tugged till the toadstool
Toppled in two.
Holding it over him
Gaily he flew.
Soon, he was safe home
Dry as could be.
Soon woke the Dormouse-
"Good gracious me!"
Where is my toadstool?"
Loud he lamented.
__And that's how umbrellas
First were invented.
In a National Geographic article, William Shakespeare wrote about witches in Macbeth as King James I of England believed in witches and witchcraft. The King wrote Daemonologie in 1597 and presided over the persecution of witches in Scotland.
I hope you enjoyed my blogs on Halloween. I will close by posting my favorite poem by Harry Behn.
Tonight is the night
When dead leaves fly
Like witches on switches
Across the sky,
When Elf and sprite
Flit through the night
On a moony sheen.
Tonight is the night.
When leaves make a sound
Like a gnome in his home
Under the ground,
When spooks and trolls
Creep out of holes
Mossy and green.
Tonight is the night
When pumpkins stare
Through sheaves and leaves
Where ghouls and ghost
And goblin host
Dance round their queen.
I'm glad it is dead leaves that fly like witches and make a sound like a gnome, and it is the pumpkins who stare.
In my mind, it's great that "real" witches, ghouls, and ghosts don't exist. Still, I wish you all a Happy Halloween!
First, a little history of this cemetery in Minneapolis to put the story in context.
Minneapolis's first cemetery was established in 1857. The Maple Hill Cemetery had five thousand graves by the end of thirty years. It was located at Broadway and Fillmore. The graveyard was not cared for, the paperwork was shoddy, and some graves were only two feet deep. After a storm, some caskets could be seen. The people in the area complained of the health hazard, and efforts began to move the graves. But lack of funds halted the removal, so graves and markers were left.
In 1908, Minneapolis Park Board decided to acquire the property and make it into a children's park.
By 1916, the children's park was opened at one end of the land. But the cemetery section was still a mess.
Thirty men from the neighborhood went under cover of darkness and hitched up three teams of horses to clear the land of all the debris. They dumped the headstones and markers in a ravine.
Eight of the thirty men were implicated in the "vandalism." Two of the eight were charged but acquitted at the trial.
The Park Board decided they needed to do something, so they had the land cleaned up, and a skating rink, a warming house, and horseshoe pits were added. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts used the park and also a hockey team. In 1948, the park was renamed Beltrami Park.
Two small gravestones and a monument to forty-six Civil War veterans who were once buried there are still on the northwest side.
Now, On To The Ghost of Maple Hill Cemetery.
(Before it became Beltrami Park.)
Ida Olson slipped her arm through Ole Johnson's arm as they walked on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis. Despite the blackness of night surrounding them, they could see the smile on each other's faces.
Ole asked, "Will you go to the movies with me next Saturday night?"
Ida opened her lips to speak as she looked at Ole when she caught a movement in the cemetery they were walking past from the corner of her eyes. "What is that?" She pointed to a white shape that rose up from the ground.
"Run!" yelled Ole. "A ghost." His long legs went at full speed up the street.
Ida froze for a moment before she began running and screaming. She saw a man walking further up the street past the cemetery and ran toward him, shrieking, "Help! Help!"
"Calm down. What's the matter?"
Ida gasped and shook and could not speak coherently.
"My name is John Adams. I work at the Columbia Heights mills. Let's go into this drugstore, and you can tell me what has happened." He led her into the nearby lighted warm store with other customers.
"Please, everyone, listen to me," said Ia frantically. "There is a ghost in the cemetery. I saw it. It chased me. A ghost!"
One customer said, "I think she is a bit looney."
"I think she has had too much to drink, " said another. The customer stepped over to her and smelled her breath. "Nope. Don't smell any booze."
"Believe me. I saw a white figure rise from the graves. It had horns and a long white beard." After describing the ghost, Ida became hysterical.
Ole Johnson came into the drugstore. "Ida, are you all right? I've been looking for you."
"You ran off and left me. I'm never going to the movies with you."
"After I saw the ghost, I ran toward it to see what it was, but it disappeared. I thought you were right behind me. Believe me. I would never leave you alone."
"I don't believe you."
John Adams spoke up, "Mister, what's your name, and did you see this ghost she is raving about?"
"My name is Ole Johnson, and yes, I did see the ghost with my own eyes."
"I'm going to the cemetery to look for this ghost. Anyone want to come with me?" asked John Adams.
Several men from the drugstore, John, Ida, and Ole, walked to the cemetery. In the pitch darkness, they entered the graveyard carefully so they would not trip on gravestones.
Ida stopped. "This is where the ghost rose up."
The men could see the crushed dead leaves and the dried grass, indicating that a body had indeed lain there.
They whispered to each other and stayed together in small groups. After an extended search where nothing was found, they headed back to Central Avenue.
A gasp of horror from Ole Johnson as he sank to the ground caught everyone's attention.
A few yards away and hardly visible in the blackness, a white figure with horns and a long white beard loomed up from the ground. It made no sound.
Silence gripped everyone as they stared.
A group member drew his gun from his pants belt and said, "Speak, or I'll shoot."
The figure remained silent and did not move.
"Speak up, or I'll shoot."
The horned white shape moved a trifle and then broke the fearful black silence with "Ba-a-a-h!" It moved toward the men. "Ba-a-a-h," issued forth from a huge white goat with beautiful horns and long gray whiskers as it approached the men and began nosing around for food.
Tension broke like a dam, and laughter split the air until everyone had tears streaming down their faces.
Ole Johnson was nowhere to be seen after the 'ghost' had been spotted, and Ida was walked home by the brave-hearted men.
It was learned later that the goat's owner had pastured it in the graveyard for the summer and had not yet come to claim it.
This true story is taken from the book Minnesota Mysteries by Ben Welter. The story was published in the Minneapolis Tribune on November 6, 1899
What About That Black Cat?
A witch can have familiars, and cats are one of them. All the familiars have magic powers.
It may have started in Egypt, where they were first tamed to keep the grain storehouses free of mice. They soon worshiped a cat-head goddess named Pasht. They carved cat statues and made furniture and jewelry shaped like cats.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the goddess Hecate ruled over witches, wizards, and ghosts. The priestess was a cat they thought was once a woman.
Freya was a Norse goddess of beauty, love, marriage, and of the dead. After warriors were killed in battle, she was allowed to claim the souls of half of the slain by gathering them in a chariot drawn by cats.
The familiar cats in days of yore could be any color, but as time passed, it was decided the cats were black because, in the shadowy night, all cats were black. The cats were feared because they crept; their yellow eyes looked sinister, and they could see at night while humans couldn't.
Some people believed a witch could become a cat.
Some sayings developed, such as the following. Being honest as a cat when the cream is out of reach. Never let a cat into the same room with a corpse. It might be a demon and turn the dead soul into a vampire. A cat that sits with its back to the fire is raising a storm.
Cats could be a good omen, and these sayings developed: If a cat rubs against you, expect good luck. If it yawns, an opportunity awaits. A ship with a cat on board is never wrecked, for the cat acts as a countercharm.
In ancient Rome, owls were thought to bring evil, while in Greece, the owl was a familiar of the Creek goddess of wisdom and, therefore, was sacred.
The Screech owls nest in hollow trees during the day and only come out at night and make a weird, trembling call and hollow whistle, frightening travelers.
I have never read this tale by the Brothers Grimm, and you may not have read it either, so I will post part of it here.
Jorinda and Joringel
Jorinda is the sister of Joringel, who is a boy. They walked too close to a witch's castle. An owl circles overhead, screeching. The boy, Joringel, is struck motionless and speechless. His sister Jorinda turns into a nightingale. The owl disappears into a thicket, and a bent old woman emerges. When she takes the nightingale away in a basket, the boy, Joringel, realizes that the old woman is a witch. To read the whole story, go to Grimm's Fairy Tales online.
Still, some people believe the owl's screech means death or disaster.
Bats are creatures of the night, which in itself makes them scary. Their heads are oddly shaped. Some bats's heads are shaped like tiny bulldogs. Other bats's heads are like miniature bears with long, pointed teeth. Their bodies can be two inches long, but their wingspan can be over one foot. They live in scary places such as caves, abandoned homes, empty barns, and deep in a forest. By day, they hang upside down with their wings wrapped around them like a witch's cloak. They fly quickly in the deepest dark of night. To the ancients, that meant they were evil.
During the witch hunts in Europe, most people lived on farms. There were toads in their gardens, under their porches, in the fields, and along the road.
Rocks were thrown at the toads as they were thought to be poisonous. If a dog or a human caught a toad, the catcher soon regretted it. Their eyes, nose, and mouth would burn or itch.
And a toad can change its size from minor to larger by absorbing water through its skin.
William Shakespeare wrote:
"Round about the cauldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.
Toad that under the cold stone,
Days and nights hast thirty-one
Swelter's venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!"
Much of the above information is from Edna Barth's book Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts.
My next blog will be about sighting a "ghost" in the Maple Hill Cemetery in northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota. Stay tuned.
Way back in time, people lived in dread of devils, cackling witches, goblins, and demons.
More than two thousand years ago, the Celtic people in France and the British Isles feared October 31 more than any other day. It was the eve of the Festival of Samhain, Lord of the Dead, and evil spirits were everywhere. The Celtic priests known as Druids cast spells and made charms and predictions. October 31 was the Day of the Dead, but also a joyous time because of the harvest festival, and it was the death of the old year and the beginning of the new year. It was a day to pay honor to the sun god Baal.
A century before Christ, the Romans conquered Britain and Gaul ( the original name of France.). They had a festival in late October for the dead, and in November, they honored Pomona, the goddess of orchards. After a while, the festivals merged with the Druid Samhain. Soon, there were Druid converts in Rome. This frightened the emperors of Rome, and they banned the Druid religion in all areas they had control. Many Druids were killed, but some went into hiding. The Celtics continued in the Druid belief. The Celtic Druids built bonfires to welcome the spirits.
In the fourth century after Christ, Emperor Constantine said the Christian religion was lawful. The Christian priests tried to stamp out anything pagan. The Druids would not give up their faith, so the Christian Church gave the celebrations new meanings and names.
The fires built on October 31 for the Lord of the Dead now would protect the people from the Devil.
In the seventh century, the church started All Saints Day as a celebration in May, but by 900, the date was changed to November 1. The festival for the Lord of the Dead became a festival of Christian dead.
The Scotch, Irish, and English Celtics continued to expect ghosts on October 31. The name of All Saints' Day soon became All Hallows Day, and October 31 was All Hallows' Even, which was shortened to Halloween.
November 2 was All Souls' Day to honor all the dead in the tenth century.
But as the days were close, they merged.
All Souls' Day is a religious day for some people in France, southern Europe, and Latin America.
Some Christians in the United States observe All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, or both. They are religious days.
Halloween came to America in the nineteenth century by the Scotch and Irish. So, the witches, cats, devils, demons, goblins, and ghouls arrived.
The Halloween Witch
Witch is a Saxon word wica, meaning wise one. Witchcraft began with magic. It was to understand the forces of nature and control it.
To control, a spell would be cast. If the witch painted a picture of something happening, it would happen. So, if the witch or sorcerer painted rain, it would rain.
If the witch wanted to kill an enemy, she or he would steal a hank of hair or a bit of fingernail. When the person found out, he would be sick with fear and could die, therefore scared to death. When I served in New Guinea, this was a real possibility. Many people believed in evil spirits inhabiting everything around them, such as trees, rocks, etc. Sometimes, the witch would burn or stick pins into a tiny model of the person. One man would not eat because he believed an evil spirit had been cast on him. He died. King Saul of the Bible consulted the Witch of Endor. The witch said he would die in the coming battle, and he did. The power of the mind and one's belief.
To keep the magic hidden from others, it became occult.
In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII said witches were the Devil's agents.
In the nineteenth century, most people no longer believed in witches. But there were still some believers. The Scottish farmers carried blazing torches from west to east across their fields. Farmers of the Pennsylvania Dutch painted hex signs on their barns to ward off witches. (I'm noticing very lovely designs on buildings today in small towns and fields.)When cracking a boiled egg, believers would crack it at the bottom, or a witch could use the shell as a boat. ( I guess the witches were tiny.).
Next blog, I will carry on with the Halloween theme. What about the cat, bat, and owls as witch familiars?
Peace on Earth With war waging in many parts of our world, I wanted to share this poem by Helen Steiner R...