Lancaster Castle

Since 1093, Lancaster Castle has protected the north of England from a Scottish invasion.  Built on the site of an old Roman fort, it was confiscated by the Crown following an unsuccessful rebellion against King Henry I.  Today it belongs to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

Lancaster Castle has a long history of dealing with criminals.  The first Assizes (law courts for serious cases) began in 1166 and were held twice each year.  And although the castle is still used as a Crown Court today, it recently stopped serving as a prison in March, 2011.

CastleThe trials of the Lancashire Witches took place within these walls on two days of August, 1612.  According to local legend the prisoners endured horrific conditions while imprisoned in the dungeons of the Well Tower.  One of the matriarchs – Old Demdike – did not survive her incarceration.  It is also estimated that around 200 official executions took place here over the centuries.

Lancaster Castle is a fascinating tourist attraction for anyone interested in medieval history, crime and punishment, witch hunts, religious persecutions, and British heraldry.  Yet children growing up in the area were told, No one comes out of that place the same way they went in – most of the prisoners supposedly turned mad.

Today, the gray, daunting castle still dominates the quaint city of Lancaster from its perch on the top of the hill.

And within its chilly walls lie many dark, unspoken wonders.

 

Source Material:

Champness, John.  Lancaster Castle: A Brief History (Lancashire: Lancashire County Books, 1993)

Kit’s Crit: Waking the Witch (Pam Grossman)

Waking the Witch

 

Waking the Witch is a well-researched and entertaining history of witches, from ancient times to the present day. Author Pam Grossman hosts the podcast The Witch Wave, and in this mix of scholarship and memoir she examines the enduring connections between female power and patriarchal persecution.

Grossman also explores the myth and martyr, sister and scary monster, feminine and feminist, interpreting what it means to both practice magic, and to be accused of practicing magic in less tolerant societies. She also highlights how the word craft is used for “both making art and doing magic . . . . Artists use the power of imagination to create pieces that shift consciousness, thereby changing both the maker and the viewer,” as do potent spells [188]. She suggests that creative people have sprinkled their own individual magic in the world all throughout history.

This book is beautifully written and accessible to a wide audience on many different levels. Very informative, witty, and enjoyable!

Existential Ether (Aether)

Ether Magic

The Greeks believed Ether filled up the region of space above the Earth and was the pure essence breathed by the gods.

They also called this fifth element: Quintessence.

It appears to the human eye as a bluish-white miasma or fog.

Ether is the force or celestial energy behind all magic – the universal spirit.

It is often symbolized as a spiral.

Do You Believe In Ghosts?

The Ghost Club

sceance

The Ghost Club is the oldest organization dedicated to psychical research.

It was started in 1862 and is still in existence today.

Past members include: Charles Dickins, W.B. Yates, Siegfried Sassoon, Peter Cushing, and many other famous enquiring minds.

Want to join? Check out this link for details: http://www.ghostclub.org.uk/

Happy hunting!

Queens of the Stone Age’s Burn the Witch

Burning

Burn the Witch

(John Homme, Troy van Leeuwen)

Holding hands,
Skipping like a stone,
On our way
To see what we have done.
The first to speak
Is the first to lie,
The children cross
Their hearts and hope to die.

Bite your tongue!
Swear to keep your mouth shut!

Ask yourself,
“Will I burn in Hell?”
Then write it down
and cast it in the well.
There they are –
The mob, it cries for blood!
To twist and tale
Into fire wood!
Fan the flames
With a little lie,
Then turn your cheek
Until the fire dies.
The skin it peels
Like the truth, away –
What it was
I will never say.

Bite your tongue!                                                                                                                                                             Swear to keep your mouth shut!

Make up something –
Make up something good.
Holding hands,
Skipping like a stone,
Burn the witch,
Burn to ash and bone!

Rose

 

You gave me a rose

in the bandaged wraps

of winter.  Plucked of

the heart.  Pulsating,

dripping with love and

valued more than blood

rubies.

Just a small

gesture.  Rich spiral

of life,  juxtaposed

on frosted snow sheets –

but oh! so poignant.

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos)

Dia de los Muertos

  • The Latin American Day of the Dead is a two-day celebration taking place on November 1st and 2nd.
  • This tradition originated in Mexico.
  • Several ancient Aztec death rituals were combined with new Catholic beliefs brought to the New World by the Spanish Conquistadores.
  • Instead of mourning the souls of the departed, Dia de los Muertos commemorates their lives with the food, activities, drink, and clothing that were most enjoyed during their time on earth.
  • During these two special days the dead are invited back to celebrate with their remaining loved ones.
  • The souls of children rejoin their families on November 1st.
  • Adult spirits return on November 2nd.
  • Feliz dia de los Muertos!

Photo: Eneas de Troya

Sources:

National Geographic Society, “Dia de los Muertos,” https://www.nationalgeographic.org/media/dia-de-los-muertos/

History.com Editors, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/day-of-the-dead

Visit to Mexico, 2011

Season of the Dead

Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Souls Night

Call it what you will, but the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest on October 31st.

Samhain means Summer’s End. Wise Women used to celebrate on the nearest full moon before November, after the harvest was gathered, halfway between Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This date represented the end of summer and the start of the spiritual New Year. Samhain came from the Celtic Fire Festival when the Druids remembered their dead. Bonfires were built to cleanse and protect, and sacrifices were offered to the gods. It was a night of divination, mummers, feasting, guising, and young lads following the Hobby Horse about the village.

The Church of Rome turned this feast into All Hallows’ Eve, the start of All Saints’ Day to honor the Christian saints and martyrs. Soul Cakes got eaten instead of meat. Candles were lit for the dear departed and there were vigils, feasts, and the ringing of church bells everywhere.

Youngsters, in particular, enjoyed celebrating Halloween, short for Hallowed or Holy Evening. They remembered the frailty of life with skeletons, ghouls, cobwebs, tombstones, and demons, hoping to chase evil and death away by honoring the darkness. Some carved turnips into Jack o’ Lanterns for those lost souls who’ve been denied both Heaven and Hell, while others partook in pranks to imitate mischievous spirits, costume feasts, processions, and mummers’ plays.

When the Puritans colonized America they introduced the concept of Halloween in the United States. Private costume parties were held to celebrate and protect the harvest. Over time, pumpkins replaced turnips; Irish immigrants introduced “trick-or-treating”; and candy, costume, and greeting card companies began actively promoting this festival as a national holiday to increase their sales. Halloween has now become one of the most popular celebrations on both sides of the Atlantic.

It’s a powerful time – so be careful and guard your own soul!