Full Worm Moon

Full Worm Moon
-By Angelique Duncan

March 12th will be the Full Worm Moon. This will be the last full moon of Winter for 2017. The March full moon is known by many names, but is most commonly known as the Full Worm Moon. This full moon will occur a week before the Spring Equinox and will be visible from March 11th-the 13th and the moon peaks on March 12th. Although not a “super moon” this years moon it is thought will be particularly bright given it’s timing and placement in the night sky.

The March Full Moon became known as the Worm Moon because it coincides with the coming of the signs of Spring. As the ground begins to warm worms began to appear under shimmering light. Robins on their migration back north descend to feast upon the squirmy delicacies as a meal in the early morning. Many in North America believe that the coming of the robins signals the official end of winter. To the Native Americans it is the worms who are the true first signal that the ground has thawed and it is time for planting.

A full moon is not the only phenomenon in which worms glow. There are naturally occurring glowworms that are found in woodland caves all over the globe and a rare species found in wetlands in the North American south particularly in the Appalachian Mountains and the Cumberland Plateau. They are also one of few species that exist in the Arctic Circle. Caves in New Zealand and Australia are touted as quite the visual spectacle of hundreds of glowing worms hanging from cave walls.

The female of the species is usually the worm that actually has the glowing ability. They glow from bioluminescence luciferin and the reaction of fluorescent proteins reacting to minerals and oxygen that is emitted from the tail end of their bodies. The most common glow is that of a yellow or green, however those found in North America glow a stunning bright blue.

It is believed that glowworms have magical powers. Before electric light and battery operated light sources were collected and put along pathways to create light and safety for foot travel at night. The worms would also be placed in lanterns for their magical light. Sometimes the worms were distilled in water to create glowing liquid for illumination. Their magical powers were also sought after for medicinal purposes.

Folklore states that if one sees a glowworm on their path while traveling they will have good fortune. However one must never step on a glowworm, otherwise the joy and laughter will be removed from their household. It is also thought that if a glowworm crosses the threshold of a house the head of that household will perish.

Sadly, varieties of glowworms are increasingly becoming extinct and are being added to many nations list of eminently endangered species. Most glowworms are falling victim to urban expansion and invasions of humans in their natural habitats. Glowworms are sensitive to noise and particularly light pollution. They also are declining in their populations due to chemical and insecticidal pollutions that have been introduced into water sources. Some species populations are fading due to warming of their environments and extreme weather changes that are causing their natural mating and birth cycles to become off kilter.

This full Worm Moon get out and enjoy the first rights of Spring. While you are looking up to the skies to witness the full bright lunar occurrence, remember to look down and see if you can spy an emerging worm. Be grateful that Spring and warmer weather is on the way bringing with it birds and flowers. If you should see a glowworm count yourself lucky as you will be bestowed with magical good fortune.

Painting “Full Worm Moon” copyright Angelique Duncan -Twilight Faerie

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

Featured Artist Interview March 2017: Twilight Faerie

To find where Twilight Faerie sells her wares visit her on her artist page on HAB. 

Interview with Angelique Duncan of Twilight Faerie:

Which pieces of your artwork are you most proud of, currently for sale or sold? Share an image of it if you have one.

I am most proud of “The Great Pumpkin of Sincerity”. It is a 16×20 acrylic painting on Bristol board. This was the first piece I painted with the intent to put out in the public sphere to sell. I have been painting my entire life, however as a lot of artist do, had trepidation about selling my own paintings. I entered the piece in the Faces of the Great Pumpkin Art Contest 2013 held by Cult of the Great Pumpkin, figuring the best way to get over my hesitations to put my paintings up for public scrutiny was to put one in a contest judged by the public. It didn’t win, but I am grateful I entered the piece and still very proud of it. Since painting the Great Pumpkin of Sincerity I have continued to paint and have several paintings and prints for sale along side my vintage Halloween and floral work. I am never happier than when I am painting.

Name an artist(s) whose work you admire and what influence have they had on your art?

The influences on my art come from old storybook illustrations and the (now) vintage greeting cards I used to receive as a child. I love the imagery of animals and Halloween creatures living a parallel world to ours. The artists whose work I admire the most are Arthur Rackham and Beatrix Potter. In my opinion, they are the masters of children’s art, color and mood. I could only hope to be able to capture a tiny sliver of the imagery they have created.

The greatest influence on my work is the illustrators of Halloween greeting cards from the 1970’s. Unfortunately, given the temporary nature of art used for greeting cards as mere ephemera, many of these artists never received notoriety in the art world and their names are obscure. The imagery of those cards has always stayed with me; jovial scarecrows, prissy sweet faced black cats, wide-eyed ghost and grinning Jack o Lanterns. It was an era of Halloween imagery that was friendly, whimsical yet still had a tinge of spooky and I try to emulate that style in my Halloween art.

In the realm of modern Halloween art, I am tremendously grateful to Heather Gleason of My Eclectic Mind for having discovered Twilight Faerie way back in the day and encouraging me to sell online and to challenge myself to always strive to do greater things. Her work is magnificent and inspiring.

What would you consider the highest honor or greatest goal you would like to achieve with your art?

The greatest goal for my art is for some one I have never met to be so compelled to want to hang or sit my work in their home. If a person looks upon one of my pieces and feels as fondly and attached about my art as I do the art and decorations in my own collection, then I have contributed to some ones happiness and to me that is the highest honor one can achieve with art.

What Halloween costume that you got to wear in childhood was your favorite and has the fondest memory for you?

The fondest memories from childhood of a Halloween costume are of a witch’s hat I had when I was about five years old. To me it was the most beautiful magic hat there ever could have been. It came from TG&Y, a discount store that has long since closed its doors. The hat was made from a glossy black-coated cardstock with a ruffle on the edge that was made from black crepe paper with a silver foil trim. The hat had a large moon with a cat arching it’s back surrounded by stars painted on with shiny silver glitter. I loved that hat. I wore it proudly several Halloween nights years in a row, until one Halloween it was drizzly and damp and miserable for trick or treating. I wore my hat, not realizing paper and rain were not a good mix. The hat was destroyed.

Years later, when I was in my early 30’s, I found the exact same hat in a lot of vintage Halloween items at five and dime store in the Village in West University Place in Houston. (another cool store that has closed forever). At the time the original hat I had as a child was maybe $3.00 at most, I paid $25.00 for the new one but it was money well spent to have that hat again. It is now a part of my Halloween decorations that are displayed each year…and yes I have been known to wear the hat around the house gleefully as I decorate!

What is your favorite Halloween icon? Why do you identify with its imagery?

My favorite Halloween icon is the Jack o lantern. The Jack o lantern is the quintessential ambassador and embodiment of all things Halloween. I like to believe that every time a pumpkin is carved into a Jack o lantern and a lit candle is place inside its cavern, that pumpkin has fulfilled its Halloween destiny. Each grimacing, grinning silly or scared faced pumpkin lit by candlelight is keeping the spirit of Halloween alive through the ages.

If money and wherewithal were not an issue, what would be your dream way to spend Halloween?

I have had some very happy Halloweens in my lifetime. I have loved them all whether it was trick or treating as a child or throwing a huge Halloween bash in adulthood or just handing out candy to kids.

If money were no object my dream of the perfect Halloween would be to throw a huge Halloween extravaganza of a party surrounded by folks who share the same enthusiasm and reverence for the holiday. Everyone would have extravagant costumes and every corner would be decorated in orange and black and Halloween bric-a- brac. There would be a decadent Autumn feast with overflowing bowls of baked sweets and candy for desert and never ending pumpkin ales and honey mead. We would have a carved pumpkin contest, silly parlor games and fortune telling. While this party was happening there would be a constant stream of raucous kids Trick or Treating at the door. Outside there would be a fire pit where folks could sit around and tell ghost stories under full moonlight. In the woods would be a decorated haunted trail for folks to meander through with lanterns. To finish the celebration there would be a costumed Halloween parade through the street with all the neighborhood children. That would be a Halloween night for the ages!

Gargoyles and The Grotesque

Gargoyles and The Grotesque
-By Angelique Duncan

Have you ever been walking in an urban area at night and thought you saw something move in the shadows or felt that some one or something was following you? When you look, nothing was there. Or was some one there after all. There is the possibility that feeling of being watched was a Gargoyle or perhaps a Grotesque that indeed was watching you.

For centuries they have loomed above us on the tops of buildings ever watchful and present. They can take the form of animals and winged things, monsters and demons and even sometimes something human. To some they are frightening and to others comforting.

The original purposes of Gargoyles were to act as a waterspout to direct rainwaters from the roofs of buildings. Some appear with long necks with their mouth agape to release water; others appear intertwined in the architecture or buildings. The name Gargoyle became associated with all creatures found in the design of buildings or statues that were made of stone. The word Gargoyle literally translates to gullet or “throat” thus how the rainspout monsters arrived at their name. Ornamentals and stone statues that depicted winged creatures or animals were referred to as Grotesques. Eventually the term Gargoyle was used for all stonework depicting creatures.

Gargoyles originally took the shape of animals and appeared in ancient Egypt and in Greek and Roman architecture. These animal shapes were used to honor the ferocity of the creatures, to show strength of an empire and they acted as beloved protectors to the buildings. The ancient Greeks believed that the stone animals purified water that came from the heavens and protected their buildings from misfortune.

Many European Gargoyles took on the shape of long necked dragons. This practice came from a French legend of a monstrous dragon that was slain. The legend states that the dragon Gargouille was killed and captured and brought back to the village. Once there its body was set ablaze. However the head and neck would not burn as it was acclimated to high temperatures given it’s fire breathing properties. The remains were mounted to the church as a warning to other dragons and to ward off evil spirits.

In Europe as the Catholic Church grew dragons were replaced by anthropomorphized animal human figures to emulate Pagan imagery in an effort to convert Pagans to Christianity. The imagery was to make the Pagans more comfortable with Catholicism and show that only the Church could offer protection from evil.

As the Church became heavier handed the Gargoyles began to take on more frightening motifs depicted as demons and monsters. Their purpose was to remind sinners that only through the Church could one find salvation. The Gargoyles loomed above protecting the churches from evil and acting as a visual reminder to all of the horrors of hell that awaited those who sinned.

Gargoyles or Grotesques were erected in graveyards and gardens to protect against spirits and as a constant reminder to sinners. It became common practice to place a Gargoyle spout on ones personal home or garden. Some of these personal Gargoyles were to emulate the protections offered by the Church, however some were used to preserve Pagan imagery and themes. Many stone workers would carve the faces of deceased relatives or friends into the Gargoyles to honor them.

As time moved on and the Church had established it’s power the need for the horrific imagery of Gargoyles shifted. People began to feel that were too evil looking and the use of demonic imagery on the church was inappropriate. Many of the original Gargoyles were removed and replaced by decorative animal imagery. The custom of Grotesques in personal gardens followed suit, and the use of stone lions replaced Gargoyles as protectors. This eventually gave way to the use of the imagery of angels and cherubs on the side of buildings and personal statue use for protection. As the modern era of architecture took hold, the use of ornate stonework was abandoned and with it, the need for Gargoyles and Grotesques as protectors faded.

There were legends attached to these antiquated stone creatures history. Some say that they truly could see from within their stone exterior. It was customary for those who respected the beast to nod at them when passing. It is said that the Gargoyle would nod in turn out of respect.

Many believed that Gargoyles and Grotesques would come to life at night and would either fly or prowl over a village or city protecting against evil. They would return to their perches and turn back to stone when the sun rose. Some believed that rain could strengthen the stone creatures powers.

Folklore exist that the Gargoyles that were removed and abandoned from buildings were rewarded for their service of protection by the angels. It is said that they were gathered up by the angels and taken to safe places. The angels gave them the gift of mobility. It is thought that they would hide on the tops of buildings and dark places of cities during the day and would move freely at night. Belief was that they would only show themselves while animated to those they felt were true of heart and enduringly good. For those who were good could look a Gargoyle or Grotesque in the eye and recognize the nobility of the creature. From this a bond based on goodness would be formed.

The next time you are out at night walking your city keep watch of the shadows and up at the sky. You might be so fortunate to see a Gargoyle or roaming Grotesque spared by the angels. If you have confidence that you are good in intentions look them in the eye, say thank you and give them a nod. If they deem you worthy and pure of heart they will nod back.

Painting “Gargoyle” copyright Angelique Duncan -Twilight Faerie
Painting “Oakland Gargoyle”copyright Angela Ryer A. Ryer Studio and available for purchase from A. Ryer Studio on Etsy.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow
-By Angelique Duncan

The Scarecrow

One of the quintessential symbols of fall is the scarecrow. The simple humanoid made from straw and newspaper who wears old clothes and often a hat. His job is to guard the pumpkin patch or the cornfield and in urban environments he watches over the flowerbeds and potted plants. He is usually comical, sometimes jovial and often childlike in appearance. However the scarecrow was not always such a friendly figure. He once partook in great rituals and was a fearsome guardian who channeled the spirits of the seasons and was believed to kill those who threatened his crops or village.

Some of the earliest scarecrows appear in Greece and were carved from wood to represent the son of Aphrodite, Priapus who was noted as the protector of orchids and gardens. This practice was present in Roman culture as well. Scarecrows were also recorded as being present to scare away flocks of birds from the river Nile. In Thailand scarecrows were for used for protection of the home. They were set out to scare away ghost and unwanted sprits who would come to collect souls.

In Japan scarecrows were made from wooden stakes draped with rags and bells. These scarecrows were more abstract in their appearance than humanoid. Raw meat would be hung from the stakes giving them a rotten stench. They were as much to scare away trespassers and thieves, as they were to fend off birds. Later the Japanese scarecrows began to take on a more human look, wearing old raincoats, wide brim hats and boots. These guardians were given swords to make their appearance more intimidating. They were known as the Kuebiko, and were a representation of the Shinto deity of agriculture, who was a man who could not walk on his own but had vast knowledge and awareness of all things in the world.

The Vikings believed that scarecrows channeled nature spirits who would ward off evil that could otherwise spread disease, destroy crops and kill livestock or threaten the villages. However, it was also believed that the scarecrow could at times become possessed and grow too powerful and zealous in its protection, killing any animal or human it deemed as a threat. Ceremonies where held giving the scarecrows offerings of clothes and food and drink. There are legends that human sacrifices were given to appease the nature spirits at planting. It is said that the deceased sacrifice would be hung in the fields after a ritual in honor of the scarecrow and the nature spirits that dwelled in him. Although some believe that these bodies were actually that of thieves that were impaled and left as a warning to others not to trespass.

Some Europeans believed that former protectors who had passed away occupied scarecrow bodies. It was thought that the soul of farmers, law officers, or even loyal canines could be summoned to inhabit the scarecrow to protect the land. Others believed they were harvest Gods who were brought to life by hosting a ceremony at the scarecrows birth in the Spring. By showing the scarecrow respect once they were erected, the Gods would protect in return. The scarecrow might be moved to watch over different fields and shared by townsfolk. At the end of the harvest on or near October 31st the scarecrow would be paraded through town for a grand celebration thanking him for his service and burned in a bon fire to free his spirit until the next planting season.

In Germany early scarecrows were made from wood and carved to resemble witches that were set out in the early spring. It was believed that the wooden witches would draw any evil from the ground that may have entered the earth during the Winter months. The witches would stay in the field until harvest, at that time they were burned. Some German farmers would build humanoid scarecrows from old clothes and often depicted with red scarves that were considered the embodiment of bootzmon, the boogeyman of the fields. These boogeymen would move through the field frightening away trespassers.

In Scotland scarecrows were sometimes believed to house the spirit of the Tattie Bogle. Tattie Bogle was known as a potato monster who would hide in the potato fields and could cause potato blight and terrorize and assault humans.

Both the Dutch and the Germans would create a female companion for their scarecrows. She would be adorned in a long dress and often have a bonnet. At times the female would be posted at the opposite end of the field than her male counter part. At other times she might be moved to stand with him. It was believed that they would at times move together around the fields at night.

Scarecrows made their way to North America in the 1800’s traveling with the farming practices of immigrants. As America became a melting pot of traditions, scarecrow customs were melted together as well. And with theses scarecrow practices, the mythologies followed too. There are countless folklores of scarecrows having the ability to move around the fields they guard on their own. It was widely believed that on a full moon scarecrows could capture disembodied spirits and take on an animated life and move freely.

Some myths suggest that scarecrows have the ability to multiply. During a full moon; especially a full moon on Halloween, scarecrows would converge together and move as packs through entire villages making mischief, reaping destruction and scaring humans they felt were not respectful.

During the age of small farms and agriculture in the United States scarecrows were a common site through out the growing months of the Spring and Summer. They were eclectic in their appearance and often a spooky sight to see. However with modern farming technology, the scarecrows job has been replaced by mechanized means. Once mediums for spirits and Gods, they now they are relegated to a novelty set out during the fall as Halloween and Autumn decorations. As the old time religions and practices were abandoned, Scarecrow became more of a temporary art object and less of a protector; their appearance shifted to a kindler, gentler form.

Scarecrows are still celebrated today in scarecrow festivals. Usually large events held in rural and some urban communities in which residents are invited to construct scarecrows to put on public display, often with prizes awarded for different categories. Sometimes the displays are held in a central location, other festivals become community wide events where the public can tour the town spotting scarecrows.

Should you put out a scarecrow in your garden whether for protecting your plants during the growing season or as a decoration for fall, remember to treat him with respect. Give him an offering of dried food or his very own special flowerpot. Make sure he is shaded when it is sunny and offer him water when it is dry. When there are storms offer him shelter. Keep him company every now and then so he doesn’t get too lonely and knows he is appreciated.

If he is to be used for the following year, bring him in after midnight on October 31st so that he doesn’t hold over any evil spirits that might be released next season and thank him gratefully for his service of guardian. Keep him stored in a safe place. Other wise he might become unhappy and decide to wander off on his own and join a group of disgruntled scarecrows making their way down your street.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

The Crows and The Ravens

The Crows and The Ravens
-By Angelique Duncan

In mythology crows and ravens have become interchangeable. There are a multitude of legends across the globe surrounding these fine black birds. They are part of a family of birds that are referred to as corvus that has over 40 different species of proud black birds and even colored jays that are referred to commonly as crows. A common theme among crow legends is their high intelligence and use of tools. Depending on the culture they are deemed good or evil, wise sage or trickster or simply nuisance. For many today, they are a symbol of the spooky. This was not always their persona, once they were seen as Gods.

Crows and ravens are found making appearance in creation myths in several cultures around the world. In Native American tribes of North America the Raven brought light to the world. It is said, in varying tales, that in the beginning there was darkness created by a Great Chief who resided in in the heavens. He kept light hidden away in a locked box. Raven, not feeling it was fair to keep light from the rest of creation devised a plan and stole the box. Raven flew away with the box and dropped it to the earth where it split open spreading light creating the sun, moon and stars.

Another Native American creation myth tells that the Raven stole water, light and fire from a greedy grey eagle that despised humanity and kept the elements for himself. The Raven stole the elements and flew around the world carrying light, water and fire in his beak. He hung the moon and sun in the sky creating light. He dropped the water to create lakes and streams. Lastly he released the fire where it fell into rocks. The Raven, once a white bird, feathers had turned black from the smoke of the fire he carried. The Ravens feathers remained blacked as reminder of what he gave humanity.

In another folklore of Native Americans the Raven created the world and took care of humans, giving them vegetation, shelter, clothes and taught them how to take care of themselves. When a great flood occurred the Raven gathered animals by pairs to save them and humanity as well. After the floods reseeded, the Raven fell in love with a human and wanted to marry her. The family however refused to allow their daughter to marry a scavenger bird. As revenge for his broken heart the Raven created mosquitoes to punish all of the humans for their lack of gratitude for what he had done for them.

It is a reoccurring theme that the Crow as a spirit animal is to have great intelligence, creativity and the able to change with ones situation. In many Asian cultures and some South American and European cultures the Crow is a sign of change or birth, literal and metaphoric. The birds are seen as wise messengers and protectors.

However, many cultures have marked the black birds as an omen of death, misfortune and even war. The Crows are known for being scavengers and often will eat leavings of carrion that other animals and birds will not touch. This may attribute to their ill fortune of association with death and foreboding. Observation of their clever demeanor easily explains their prominent place in mythology. However they fell from the perch as creators of the world to more negative connotations.

In Norse mythology two Ravens were the companions of the God Odin. The pair would fly around the world listening and watching and return to give Odin intelligence of what they had seen and heard. Their names were Hugin and Munin, meaning, thought and mind prospectively. From this mythology Crows have gained the reputation as spies and not to be trusted if one is present while a secret is being shared.

In ancient lore, it was deemed bad luck to see Crows before battle. It was thought that they brought defeat and death. The Celtics believed that Goddesses would take the form of a Crow after battle and feast upon the dead.

In Christianity the Crows and Ravens are seen as bad omens and “unclean” and a “flawed creation of God”. In the tale of Noah and his arc, similar to the North American tale of a great flood, the Raven’s role is reversed from savior to selfish slacker. In the Bible tale, the Raven was a grand white bird. Noah sent the Raven to investigate if land had appeared after the rains ended. Instead of returning to let Noah know land was appearing, the Raven stayed on the dry shore and began scavenging and looking for his own food, forsaking Noah and the rest of the animals. Noah sent a dove instead who returned with an olive branch as a sign that all was good. God punished the Raven for his selfishness by turning him black.

Many Europeans believed that Crows were witches or faeries who had taken the shape of the bird to make mischief undetected or to steal shiny objects. The black birds are known for destruction of crops and were seen as sent as a curse by witches to bring financial ruin and misfortune to farmers who had angered a witch.

Early Christians believed that the Crow was a sign of evil for it’s black coloring. They believed that to cross one was bad luck. It was told that to see a flock of low flying Crows meant that illness was near. Also, it was believed that a Crow flying over a house and cawing three times meant a death would happen in that home. Another wives tale states that if a Crow caws before the other birds in the morning that dreary weather will come. Some cultures believed that Crows would eat and carry the souls of the dead. It was thought that they were sent by Satan and would only eat the eyes of sinners and therefore carried evil souls to be trapped in the underworld. Properly, the name for a flock of Crows is known as a “murder of crows”, helping to drive home the connotation of death with these birds.

Crows and Ravens have been featured through out fables, literature and popular culture as mysterious birds of intrigue. The Ravens became synonymous with spookiness after the chilling tale of “The Raven” by Edger Allen Poe. The Ravens and Crows secured their place in spooky imagery after being featured in famous motion pictures like “The Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock and the “Omen 2” by Don Taylor.

For many in the United States the presence of the black birds and their familiar caws are a rite of the seasons and a sign that the end of Summer is nearing. Autumn and harvest is close behind. The Crows and Ravens are part of the excitement and imagery that is Fall and for some they are a most welcome and comforting messenger that soon it will be October and Halloween.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

The Hounds of Hell and the Big Black Dogs

The Hounds of Hell and the Big Black Dogs
-By Angelique Duncan

Like black cats, big black dogs are surrounded by superstition and mystery and associated with a dark place in mythology. These legends can be found in the writings of many ancient cultures going as far back as the Greeks, Celts and Norse mythologies pre Christianity and persist into modern culture on nearly every continent. Although they have been given many different names; Phantom Dogs, Devil Dogs, Fairy Hounds, and Fire Hounds, most commonly they are known as Hellhounds.

The descriptions vary from culture and continent, however there are commonalities that tie the legends to the same sort of canine beast. They are unnaturally big and black. Often described as having razor sharp teeth, large feet with claws and glowing eyes of red or yellow. Their fur is said to be long, wild and unruly. Hellhounds are believed to have a loud, ferocious and frightening growl, emit a foul odor of death or smoke and breathe fire. They are said to have supernatural speed and strength and in some legends leave a trail of fire left where they have ran or burning embers where they have sat. Some say they have a ghostly specter appearance. In some regions they appear as a normal dog of unusual size but can shape shift or disappear at will. In some mythologies they are said to be three headed and in others headless.

Depending on the culture the belief in their purpose in this world varies. To some they are an omen of something bad to happen. To others they are sacred guardians. Many believed that they guard the gates to Hattie or the openings to the underworld of death. Known by some as the Bearers of Death, myths say that Hellhounds are sent by demons to retrieve souls that belong in hell or owe a debt to the devil. Others say they collect the undead who wander the earth aimless and take them to the world of the deceased. The Welsh, as well as other cultures, believed that they may only hunt for souls at designated times of year such as during the Wild Hunt. It is widely thought in Europe that the hounds may enter this world on the night of the Autumn Equinox and remain until the end of Winter at the Spring Equinox. Some believe they appear on Halloween and may roam freely to hunt until the night of the Winter Solstice. Some say they are allowed to enter this world such days as Good Friday, All Saints Day or Christmas Eve.

Superstition has it that if one looks into the eyes or hears the bark of a Hellhound it is an omen that great tragedy will come or that the individual or some one they love will die. Some legends say one must sight a hellhound three times to be taken by it.

Magical Fairy Hounds are thought to be protectors of the supernatural world. They guard the faeries and elves that pass through to the mortal world. Some say that they guard the treasure and sacred mystical grounds of the magic folk. They can be seen as a large dog wandering the woods, however if one gets too close to what they are guarding they will turn into a viscous attack creature.

Early Christians would bury a black dog alive on the grounds of a freshly built church believing the spirit of the dog would protect the building, grounds and congregation. In some European, Germanic and Nordic cultures it is believed the hellhounds are the returned spirits of dogs who where killed by this practice wandering the earth either to exact revenge for their ill fate or because their souls are now trapped and cannot go on to the afterlife.

In some legends the hellhounds are believed not to be evil, but benevolent in nature. It is said they can be summoned to protect a people. Once called upon they are fiercely loyal and will imprint on that individual their entire life. They are sometimes sent to watch over a good soul who is ill to prevent demons or the devil from stealing them to hell and ensure the soul has safe passage to heaven undisturbed. Another folklore tells that the hounds are sent as messengers to deliver the communication that a loved one has passed. Mysterious large dogs seen in graveyards are said to be protecting the resting place of their loved ones or have been summoned to protect a special grave.

Till this day, people all over the globe claim sightings of Hellhounds documented through photographs, videos and written testaments. They have claimed to be seen in forest, churches and graveyards and upon deserted roads. Whether these sightings are supernatural spirit dogs or wild lost dogs wandering without a home is not confirmed.

Not unlike the superstitions surrounding black cats, black dogs have suffered the discriminatory consequences of these legends and folklores. Today big black dogs are the least adopted of all dogs in shelters and are euthanized at greater rates than other colors of dogs. Surveys by shelters and animal rights groups show that people still connote black dogs with Hellhounds and some kind of evil. People will show fear when approached by a big black dog whereas they will not fear a yellow, white or brownish dog. The reality is big black dogs are wonderful, loyal and make great companions. If you are looking to add a canine to your family, consider adopting a big black dog. They may just be the greatest friend and guardian you will ever encounter.

In loving memory of Doss; loyal friend, fierce protector and beautiful soul.

*This article has not been written to perpetuate the fears of black dogs. Quite the opposite, it has been written to examine the history of why people fear black dogs and encourage folks to see them for what they are; majestic beautiful animals who need to be loved too and encourage folks to adopt big black dogs.

Black Dog Syndrome –Slate

To learn about Black Dog Syndrome and adoption visit Petfinder

Black Dog Syndrome

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

The Curse of the Mummy

The Curse of the Mummy-By Angelique Duncan

When one thinks of classic Halloween monsters, and costumes the mummy will certainly come to mind; gauze wrappings on decayed skin representing the preservation of the physical body, acting as a vessel holding the deceased until their passage to the afterlife. Petrified and mummified human bodies have been unearthed on nearly every continent. Often associated with Egypt, numerous mummies have been found in Asia, the Americas and even Europe. Mummies have always had a mystique surrounding them and evoke the fear of ancient curses, or the notion that the preserved corpse still holds life that once disturbed will return.

During the Middle Ages mummies were highly sought after for varied and unusual purposes. Many mummies were taken from tombs in Egypt and Africa for the pharmaceutical trade. Until the 16th century it was believed that ingesting powder made from mummies had grand healing powers. People believed that the rituals and rites of the Egyptian burial practices endowed the mummies with immortality that would transfer to the living when ingested. Another popular belief was that powdered mummy would stop bleeding and heal wounds. Some unscrupulous “Medicine Men” would sell the ground up corpses of suicides and criminals that were stolen from graves and sell the remains passing them off as authentic Egyptian mummy powder.

After the medicinal demand for mummies ended and despite early Arabic translations of warnings of curses surrounding disturbed mummies, the powder made from the bodies remained in demand until the early 19th century for paint pigment. The paints that were made from the remains created a brown tint that was called “mummia” or “deaths head”. Many of the great masterpieces that hang in museums today were painted using paints made from mummies. The practice was eventually ended and the color “mummia” was made from ground frankincense mixed with other elements.

Thousands of mummified cats were found throughout Egypt. It was common for these cat corpses to be taken and used for all kinds of purposes, one common use was as fertilizer. Rumors and myths exist that mummies were also used as fuel and the wrappings as paper, however these claims have never been substantiated. During the 19th century the practice of desecrating tombs for profit became frowned upon, as archaeology and the study of civilizations became a prominent science. This however, did not detour wealthy Victorians in England from purchasing mummies illegally for entertainment. The Victorians were fascinated by the romanticism of the occult and magic. Egyptology had become the rave and the stories of ancient curses had made their way into the mainstream. The wealthy would hold parties to observe the unwrapping of the mummies and hold séances with mediums in attempts to awaken the deceased they believed incased in the mummy corpses.

Curses were written or depicted on the walls of tombs in Egypt and were originally interpreted by the Arabs who seldom risked tampering with Egyptian magic. As archeologist studied the Egyptian language and imagery the warnings left in tombs were substantiated. A new study emerged from Egyptology, the history of the curses and their validity through documentation of those associated with the digs and their artifacts suffering from strange illnesses and even unexplained deaths.

Later the widespread belief in the reality of the curses was perpetuated as several famous instances of them coming to fruition were spread through news media. The most famous curse being the deaths surrounding the disruption of King Tut’s tomb when it was excavated. Six people died who were on location at the tombs opening. It was reported by the New York Times that the lead of the project, Howard Carter’s pet canary was found eaten by a cobra. This was pertinent in that it is the imagery of the crest of the Egyptian monarchy. Later six of the team all died from mysterious causes. Rumors at the time stated that the number of deaths was much greater, up to twenty-six deaths, which helped fuel the hysteria and fear surrounding mummy curses. When objects from King Tut’s tomb, including his coffin where exhibited around the world in the 1970’s, many refused to go see the exhibit for fear of the curse and deaths surrounding the discovery.

Another famous curse was documented when Walter Byran Emery took a small statue of Osiris from a tomb dig site. When Emery returned to his room his assistant found him paralyzed on the right side of his body, he was taken to the hospital and by the next day Emery was dead.

In another case when two mummies were removed from their resting place and transported over seas the ship encountered an unpredicted bad storm that tossed them over board. A year later on the anniversary of the excavation 3 family members of the head archeologist all died from mysterious causes.

A recent incident documenting an ancient curse involves an artifact of a ten-inch statue that has been housed in a glass case in Manchester England. It began gradually turning on its pedestal by itself in June of 2013. After staff realized that piece had been shifting direction significantly in a 180-degree turn without any visible assistance, the museum ordered that the case not be touched, the room closed and a camera set up to observe the piece. The footage proved that the piece was indeed moving. Some believe it was the spirit of the deceased whose tomb it was taken from living through the statue. Experts who were brought in to study the artifact say that the phenomenon was caused by vibrations of heavy foot traffic and vehicles on the road outside pivoting the statue on a bump found on the bottom. Some still do not believe the explanation is that simple and hold that the artifact is haunted and cursed.

Science offers that many of the deaths that have surrounded mummies and their artifacts can be explained. It is believed that those who have fallen ill or died were exposed to toxins commonly found in the caves and tunnels where the tombs were housed. Modern science can now identify the dangers of molds, bacteria’s and toxins that early archeologists were not aware of and claim exposure to these things is what caused the mysterious illness and deaths, not the curses left on walls by ancient relatives protecting their dead.

It may be true that there is a reasonable explanation for why so many who disturbed a mummies grave have died or how an artifact pivots on it’s own. However when one is dealing with the dead and curses from antiquity, it’s always best to err to the side of caution
and leave a resting mummy alone. If one shows up at your door on Halloween night be sure to throw in an extra piece of candy, lest you will suffer the curse of a mummy!

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

Rituals and Superstitions in the Garden

Rituals and Superstitions in the Garden-By Angelique Duncan

With the coming of Spring the time has come to tend to the garden. There are a lot of things to consider when gardening, soil types, compost and mulch, how much sun do you have in your garden area and what to plant in your planting zone. However there are some other things to consider when planting your garden. The old folklores and practices that often in our modern world are forgotten. For instance resist the temptation to say thank you if one is given cuttings, seeds or the gift of a plant; it is said that it will kill the plant. It is also said to bring good fortune if one steals herbs. The following is only a few words of advice of good practices to take into account when planning your garden.

The first step is deciding what to plant. Most plants have ancient meanings and symbolism that are brought into the garden with their plantings. Colors can be of importance too. Some plants are luckier than others and some could bring on out right death if one is not careful.

Some plants that bring good fortune are shamrocks and clovers, mistletoe, fennel, black-eyed peas and bamboo. Parsley can be a good luck plant if planted on a Good Friday however it is considered bad luck to bring parsley into the house. Wild garlic planted in a row is said to ward off hares and rabbits. Some say because the smell is offensive to them, others say the garlic will lessen their magical powers and there for they will not go near it. The same is said to be true of warding off revenants and vampires from ones garden. To attract faeries to the garden plant thyme and rosemary and scented herbs, they enjoy the scents and the plants offer shelter to the magical folk.

Plants of ill fortune if brought into ones home as cuttings are said to be primrose, lilacs, and daffodils. Folklore has it that if one passes the drooping head of a daffodil some one will die. To safeguard against daisies one must step on the first blooms of the daisy otherwise a family member will pass that year. Rosemary, if planted by ones entrance will ward off evil spirits, as will ivy growing on a wall. Snapdragons, chamomile and Angelica planted will give protection from curses and evil spells.

When, where and how to plant holds a great deal of importance too. It is widely believed that crops that grow above ground should be planted during the phase of the moon that creates light, new moon to the full moon. Crops that grow under the ground should be planted during moon darkness, from full moon to new moon. It is also considered back luck to plant anything on the 31st of any month. Some gardeners swear that plants and flowers planted at night during a full moon yield larger more abundant flowers and fruit.

It is said that all crops that are planted on the first day of spring will survive. Crops such as potatoes and beans should be planted on Good Friday. Many other plants are said to do well for the season if planted on the Friday before Easter. Spring bulbs that are planted in fall bring affirmation that tomorrow will come again and winter will have an end. Wildflower seeds should be sowed before Halloween to ensure an early spring. To gain fruit from tomato plants, only plant them on Memorial Day. Take heed as well that flowers and grass will not grow in dirt where human blood has been shed.

The method of planting can be key for garden success. Peppers will produce fruit with greater intensity of heat if planted while one is angry. Herbs like Parsley and Basil grow better if one curses them while planting. Folklore states that parsley seeds have to travel to Hell and back up seven times before taking in the garden. If it does produce then it is proof of ones honesty.

Quite the opposite, some plants must be spoken to softly to coax them into blooming. Many religions practice the rite of prayer or blessings given to plants and the gardens as part of ones gardening ritual. Catholics, Buddhist, Celts, Druids and Wiccans all have some form of planting incantation that gives blessing to the garden. In the Jewish faith a tree is planted at the time of a child’s birth and a prayer is said to give the tree and the child strength. Some believe that singing to ones plants will stimulate blooms. Others believe in stomping and dancing wildly on freshly planted trees to ensure growth. Others practice a single deliberate stomp or press with ones shoe after panting for good luck.

What is put in your garden can also have an affect on your yield and offer protection to ones flowers. One should be aware that gardens are not just vulnerable to insects’ critters and disease, but also to the supernatural and evil. A gnome statue should be present to stand watch over your garden to fight off pest and invaders. Gazing balls are also a good deterrent to evil spirits, as it will reflect the sun into their eyes as they approach, thus keeping them away. If some one is openly jealous of ones blooms it can put a hex upon the garden. Gazing balls can deflect the evil eye from envious passersby’s. Hanging colorful glass balls known as witches or faerie balls from trees is another way to keep evil spirits under control as they can be trapped inside them. Wind chimes and bells hung from trees are effective in keeping away critters and wandering sprits. However wind chimes and faerie balls have been known to attract faeries to the garden so one should be prepared. Offer plates of sweet bread or cakes and thimbles of milk to keep the faeries content and they will aid your garden, if offerings are not left they can reek havoc on a garden they pass. Place shiny objects around the garden offered as gifts to the Fae folk and a good relationship will be maintained.

Hanging a Green Man face can help your garden grow in that the carving or statue will channel the ancient spirit of the forest and nature to watch over your plants. As well, any sort of statue or plaque that has a face placed at the entry of a garden will help protect the garden from sprits. Equally so a face placed near the entry of the house acts as a guardian and will prevent any evil from coming in with the crops and cuttings. A scarecrow can offer superior protection to your garden from birds and predators if it is treated well and given respect. Folklore states that a scarecrow should not be put out before Easter and should be removed and burned before midnight on Halloween. The scarecrow always should be offered a hat to keep him cool and brought into the shade on the first day of Summer and should stand near a water source so he may drink if he gets parched. Once clothing has been given to a scarecrow they belong to the scarecrow, it would bring bad fortune if a human wears those clothes again.

If one is diligent and mindful their garden will bloom and crops will be bountiful. Remember to respect your plants and give them the support and attention they need to be healthy. If you find that your garden is in distress and you’ve followed all the proper growing techniques, it may be something other than bugs affecting your plants. It could be spirits or jealousy or even discontent faeries. Implement a few of the above mentioned practices and you will not only add a lovely aesthetic to your garden you’ll be offering your plants much needed protection.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.

The History of Hares

The History of Hares-By Angelique Duncan

Most folks are familiar with the magical bunny who delvers eggs on Easter morning. However, rabbits and hares have long history with enchantment and mystic symbolism outside of the annual spring holiday.

Depending on the culture the hare represented life itself and was the ambassador of sorts to Mother Earth. It was believed that hares were the companion of the White Goddess or the Earth Mother and thus held in high regard among the animals. The hare has been used symbolically to represent the cycles of the seasons, the moon cycles, rebirth and redemption as well as serving as a symbol of existence. In multiple cultures they represent love, fertility, abundance, growth and good fortune.

There are many connections between the hare as the chosen companion to different Goddesses. It was believed by the Celts that the Goddess Eostre animal spirit was a white hare and that on a full moon she would transform into a hare herself. The Norse Goddess of love and sensuality Freyia, traveled in a chariot drawn by cats and rode with a boar and a hare. The tradition of releasing a hare before battle comes from Boudicca, queen of the British Celtic Iceni who is recorded as doing so for good luck and to determine the battle plan by the hares’ movements. In ancient Germanic paganism the Earth and Sky Goddess Holda, leader of the Wild Hunt and creator of weather phenomenon; is said to have been followed by a procession of torch bearing hares.

It was thought to eat a rabbit would be to devour a Goddess. The female association with hares went further that many believed that wise women of their villages would shape shift into hares under moonlight. Some thought that when elder wise women passed away that their souls became hares that would represent and communicate with Mother Earth relaying messages to humans. Therefore consuming the meat of a sacred hare was the equivalent to eating someone that one might have known or perhaps ones own mother or grandmother.

The Celts and Teutonic peoples believed that rabbits and hares would keep borrows underground because they had the ability to commune with the Earth. Some beliefs stated that hares could communicate with dead and carry messages back and forth from both the human world to the dead world of the spirits and also to the magic faerie realm under the ground. It was thought that rabbits were impervious to evil and offered protection. They were often kept as a pet for that reason. From this mythology came the practice of *carrying a rabbit’s foot or part of a departed rabbits pelt to ward off evil spirits. To carry a rabbits foot would prevent kidnapping by faeries and prevent one from taken underground to the spirit world.

Hares were used in woodcuttings and religious art by the Christian church to persuade Pagans and followers of Goddess religions with familiarity of symbols. However the hare was seen as too virile and aggressive an animal by European Christians and was eventually phased into the less aggressive, meeker rabbit. Some historians believe this was a very intentional measure of symbolism in art to psychologically undermine the once powerful and magical creature to Pagans. The Rabbit became the symbol of springtime celebrations and associated with renewal given to the world by Christ. The White hare once companion with Ostara and the Goddess Eoster was replaced in imagery of the Madonna holding a white virginal bunny. It was believed that bunnies could become pregnant without conception from a male and hence became associated with the Virgin Mary.

As Pagan religions declined and Christianity spread rabbits and hares became associated with negative connotations and superstition. Like cats and foxes they were believed to be witches familiars. The belief that women could shape shift into hares under moonlight shifted to a myth that rabbits and hares were actually witches. The behaviors of hares helped to feed this notion. Hares can scream when in distress that sounds like a human wail. They also have the ability to stand on their hind legs for extended periods. Although they are mostly solidary and nocturnal; they will gather in a drove during daylight in the spring and dance and box upon their hind legs. This behavior was thought to be witches convening for an equinox meeting. The animal once associated with luck was feared as a bad omen if it crossed ones path. Fears of rabbits and hares were further fueled in North America for their heavy use in Hoo-Doo rituals and African American folk beliefs.

As spring approaches and fluffy bunnies and rabbits emerge take note their heritage that they were once the companions of Goddesses and messengers of the faeries and Mother Earth and quite possibly someone’s departed wise grandmother. Remember that the rabbits and bunnies represent the majestic and magical hare and bring you spring tidings and maybe a little good luck.

*In modern times with awareness of animal rights and protections of species please refrain from carrying the foot severed from an actual rabbit. Faux rabbits feet are available and carrying a talisman with the representation of a rabbit can also serve to bring you good fortune.

Illustration “White Rabbit-Spring Ostara Miniature Art – Pocket Charm” Copyright Intricate Knot. To more of Intricate Knots art and where to buy visit her artist page Art For A Gloomy Day.

Illustration “Jumping to Spring” Copyright Michelle Angelique Duncan. To see more of Twilight Faerie’s art and where to buy visit her artist page Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.


Foxes-By Angelique Duncan

After the rise of Christianity and the abandonment of animal spirits and totems, many animals once held in high regard for their enchanted qualities were reduced to suspicion and even thought of as evil. The fox has been a victim of this fate. In literature and fables they often take the role of trickster or antagonist, depicted as treacherous and dishonest creatures. At times they are synonymous with deception, cunning and manipulation. However the fox wasn’t always painted in such a negative light.

Once upon a time foxes were held in great reverence. The fox has its place in mythologies ranging from ancient Greece to numerous legends from Asian and the Orient. They are prominent in the folklores of Nordic, Gaelic, Celtic and European cultures. The Native Americans and Eskimos acknowledge foxes for their magical qualities in their story telling. Pre Christianity, they were considered Gods of the Forest, symbols of prosperous agriculture, protectors and punishers of wrongs and loyal companions held with respect.

Foxes in ancient tales were often helpers who used their high aptitudes to guide humans or assist other animals. They were associated with intelligence, adaptability and rationing skills. Often depicted as finding a clever way to assist in a dilemma or out smart an adversary. The term to be “sly like a fox” comes from these observations of fox behaviors.

It was thought that a fox could out wit opponents by anticipating and planning for their next moves well in advance. Foxes have been said to be one of the most strategic of animals in their ability to evade predators and hunters. Foxes will seek shelter when they smell or sense danger long before of a predators approach. Foxes will use their tales to cover and disperse their own tracks and will leap in zig -zags touching their paws to low and high places to throw off their scent. Foxes have been attributed with psychic powers for their ability to foresee inclement weather by baying and whimpering before signs of rains or snowstorms.

The term vixen is used for a female fox, and in modern times has become equated with women of trickery. It was believed Foxes were shape-shifters. Often taking the form of a beautiful woman. To be “foxy” comes from the Celtic folklores of sleek attractive women, often referring to red heads of high intelligence, who would change into foxes. In many of these romantic legends as well as friendship tales, the fox is loyal and often will either save or change their companions life to the better as a way of showing gratitude for a debt or righting a wrong.

Due to the belief Foxes were shape shifters with high intelligence and psychic ability it was thought that they were companions to witches; or perhaps themselves witches. Foxes have historically and in almost every culture been attributed to have magic powers. A Finnish belief is that an enchanted fox is responsible for the aurora borealis or foxfire. The legend is told that a magical artic fox runs each night so fast in the snow that as his tale swishes back and forth it creates sparks that are captured with snow crystals that fly up into the night sky creating the Northern Lights. Another legend says that the lights are caused by a fox who leaps and runs over the mountains tossing snowflakes into the air changing them to the lights in the sky.

Who knows if the foxes are actually Gods watching the forest, shape shifting witches or magical creatures? Only they truly know. Should you make the acquaintance of a fox, be kind and respectful for they may become your next loyal companion or they may even save your life. However, do not cross them it is likely you will not out wit a fox.

Illustration “Twilight in Fox Hollow” provided by and Copyright Art By Sarada. To see more of V.Sarada Holts art and where to buy, visit her artist page Art By Sarada.

Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.