Although it’s always spooky on Notebook of Ghosts, I thought I might share some links on history specific to Halloween. I looked through my favorite websites and created a short list for Halloween Weekend reading. Enjoy!
“Halloween provides a cavalcade of whimsical scares for children and adults alike, but nothing chills the bones quite as much as the piles of candy corn left at the bottom of pumpkins and pillowcases across America.”
“Timothy wasn’t killed by a maniac getting children to unknowingly participate in a game of Russian Roulette with cyanide-tainted candy. He was killed by his father, Ronald, in an equally tragic and pathetic attempt at some good, old-fashioned insurance fraud.”
“We all know that Hallowe’en, as a festival, is not an invention of the trick-or-treating Americans but it is far older than many people realise. Its origin can be seen in the ancient festival of Samhain, a celebration which marked the end of summer and the beginning of winter.”
“Some call it Mischief Night, others Cabbage Night but the night before Halloween, with its long history of pranks escalating into chaos and destruction, is perhaps best known as Devil’s Night. Halloween tricks are nothing new, but Devil’s Night in Detroit has historically brought out some of the worst vandalism and arson.”
Halloween is the time of year when the veil between life and death becomes thinner, but so does the one between present and future. Many lost Halloween traditions involve girls and young women foretelling your future partner through unique rituals. You don’t need a crystal ball to see your future lover, just some autumn food, some household essentials, or maybe some comfortable walking shoes.
Want to see your future lover this Halloween? History suggests…
Playing with Food
Eat an apple and comb your hair in front of a mirror at midnight on Halloween. Your future husband’s image will appear over your left shoulder.
Have women mark apples and then place them in a tub of water. Then have men bob for apples to see future love matches.
Peel one long strand of an apple skin and throw it over your left shoulder. The first initial of your future partner’s name may be revealed.
Or take that apple peel, nail it above your front door, and the first person to walk under it will have the same initials of your future lover.
Make a fire and have all your unmarried friends tie apples to strings. The order in which the apples fall off the strings is the order everyone will get married. The owner of the last apple dropped will never marry.
Go to bed with an apple under your pillow and you may dream of your future spouse.
Grab some hazelnuts and assign a love interest to each one. Throw them into a fire. The hazelnut that burns to ash, instead of popping, is your future partner (Scottish tradition).
Eat some salted herring before bed. It will cause a thirst that will hopefully summon the sympathetic spirit of your future partner (with a glass of water of course).
Blindfold yourself and pull a cabbage out of the ground. Examine the root with your hands to collect clues for your future spouse.
Make Colcannon (a traditional Irish dish made with kale, mashed potatoes, and onions) and hide a ring in it. The person that finds the ring is getting married within the year.
Easy Household Divination
Sprinkle letters cut out of a newspaper into water to see your future lover’s name.
Get three bowls. Fill one with clean water, fill another with foul water, and leave the last one empty. Blindfold a friend and have them pick a bowl. If the bowl with clean water is picked: your future partner will be attractive. The foul water: your partner will already have been married before. Empty: You will die alone.
Hold a candle in front of a mirror in a dark room (sometimes after having walked up/down stairs backwards) and your future lover will appear.
Eat a sugary dessert made of walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg before bed. Your future lover will appear in your dreams (Scottish Tradition).
Find a stream at a point where properties belonging to three different people meet (easy right?). Stick your sleeve in the stream. Go home and hang your shirt/dress over the fire. That night your lover will appear and turn over the sleeve to allow the other side to dry.
Take your friends outside for a hazelnut hunt. The first person to find a burr is the first person to marry.
Each week, I walk many blocks to the used bookstore to explore its supernatural and horror section. It’s one of those book stores where shelves are filled and the floor is covered with stacks of books. You can usually find me sitting on the floor, turning the pages of some new find.
Now that I have my own room for my reading and writing, I have the space to build a substantial supernatural library. And, nothing could make me happier. I have always taken notes when reading, because I don’t want to forget what I’ve read. I also like something to reference when I return to a topic. This is why I’ve always kept a commonplace book. In fact, the first post of this blog was book notes from Herbert Thurston’s Ghost and Poltergeists.
Today’s notes are from a recent find, David Pickering’s Dictionary of Superstitions. This book contains superstitions about food, body parts, weather…really, a variety of subject areas. Below are notes I took the interesting supernatural entries. Enjoy!
Fariy (p. 100): “Great care should be taken to avoid dark green ‘fairy rings’ in the grass, which mark the place where the fairies have held a circular dance at midnight (the rings are actually made by a fungus). It is said that these may even indicate the whereabouts of a fairy village. It is throught very dangerous to sleep in one of these rings or even to stop into one after nightfall – especially on the even of May Day or Halloween – and livestock are also reputed to keep their distance from these phenomena.”
Ghost (p. 116): “Measures that may be taken against encountering ghosts include, according to Scottish tradition, wearing a cross of rowan wood fastened with red thread and concealed in the lining of one’s coat.”
Gremlin (p. 122): “The only way to foil the activities of gremlins, apparently, is to lay an empty bottle nearby – the mischievous creatures will crawl inside and stay there.”
Hallowee’en (p. 125-6):
“Hallowe’en is generally considered a time where extra care should be given not to linger in churchyards or do anything that might offend the fairies or other malicious spirits.”
“It is also risky to look at one’s own shadow in the moonlight and the most inadvisable to go on a hunting expedition on Hallowe’en, as one may accidently wound a wandering spirit.”
“Children born on Hallowe’en will, however, enjoy lifelong protection against evil spirits and will also be endowed with the gift of second sight.”
“In rural areas farmers may circle their fields with lighted torches in the belief that doing so will safeguard the following year’s harvest, or else drive their livestock between branches of rowan to keep them safe from evil influences.”
“According to Welsh tradition, anyone going to a crossroads on Hallowe’en and listening carefully to the wind may learn what the next year has in store and, when the church clock strikes midnight, will hear a list of the names of those who are to die in the locality over the next twelve months.”
“Several of the most widely known Hallowe’en divination rituals relate to apples. Superstition suggests that, if a girl stands before a mirror while eating an apple and combing her hair at midnight on Hallowe’en, her future husband’s image will be reflected in the glass over her left shoulder. A variant dictates that she must cut the apple into nine pieces, each of which must be struck on the point of the knife and held over the left shoulder. Moreover, if she peels an apple in one long piece, and then tosses the peel over the left shoulder or into a bowl of water, she will be able to read the first initial of her futures partner’s name in the shape assumed by the discarded peel. Alternatively the peel is hung on a nail by the front door and the initials of the first man to enter will be the same as those of the unknown lover.”
Nightmare (p. 189):
“Superstition maintains that nightmares are sent by the devil and his minions to trouble the dreams of sleepers. Such demons steal into bedrooms in the dead of night, often taking the form of spectral horses (hence ‘nightmare’).”
Remedies for nightmares
“These include pinning one’s socks in the shape of a cross to the end of the bed or else placing a knife or some other metal object nearby, on the grounds that the latent magic of the iron or steel will see off malevolent spirits.”
“Carefully placing one’s shoes under the bed so that the toes point outwards is also said to be effective.”
“Other precautions include sleeping with the hands crossed on the breast and fixing little straw crosses to the four corners of the bed.”
“Any lingering ill effects resulting from nightmares may be dismissed by spitting three times on waking up.