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Vintage New Year’s Greetings

Pierrot clowns, dwarves, pigs and cherubs helped ring in New Years past.

May the New Year come crashing in…in the most adorable way

May the New Year come crashing in…in the most adorable way

The new year is a time to let go of our bad habits and make some sort of effort to improve ourselves. It’s a time of optimism, when the new year spreads out before us as a blank slate. Any unpleasantness from the past year can be left behind.

newyearsresolutions.jpg

So it’s not surprising that people used to send New Year’s greetings that were filled with symbols of good luck and promise. On these vintage cards, you’ll see kids enjoying bottles of champagne (that effervescent boozy beverage is still the tipple of choice on New Year’s Eve).

For some reason, Germans viewed pigs as signs of prosperity, so you can see porkers cavorting all over these old-time cards.

There are also quite a few depictions of bearded humanoids. The cards with dwarves were typically created for Scandinavians, particularly the Swedish. These magical diminutive creatures are symbols of luck. Indeed, you can see them holding bags of coins.

Other European countries incorporated their magical creatures (elves, gnomes and the like) into their New Year’s cards.

Another character making an appearance on vintage New Year’s cards is the clown with poofy balls on his costume known as Pierrot. While clowns are often sources of mirth (even though plenty of people think they’re creepy as hell), Pierrot is a sad clown, desperately in love with a woman named Columbine, who breaks his heart and takes up with the dapper Harlequin. I’m not sure why they became associated with the holiday, but it’s a depressing way to kick off the new year.

Good luck symbols are found all over these cards, including horseshoes, mushrooms and four-leaf clovers, which have migrated from New Year’s iconography to St. Patrick’s Day.

For some reason, Germans viewed pigs as signs of prosperity, so you can see porkers cavorting all over these old-time cards.

And of course there are the most popular New Year’s characters: “The symbols for the New Year are Father Time, hoary with age, being replaced by the newborn child,” writes Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell in her book Postmarked Yesteryear: Art of the Holiday Card. “It is the retelling of the King who dies only to be replaced by a younger and stronger ruler. It is the story of the Phoenix shedding its beautiful feathers and then bursting into flames only to be reborn from the ashes on his self-induced pyre. It is senility and decay replaced by virility.”

Take a spin through these sometimes strange but often sweet vintage New Year’s cards, most of which come from the early 1900s. May your New Year be filled with mushrooms, pigs and small bearded men. –Wally

Christmas Around the World

Learn strange Christmas traditions from other countries.

Why are these people in blackface? It’s just one of the quirky Dutch Christmas traditions!

Why are these people in blackface? It’s just one of the quirky Dutch Christmas traditions!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes. But in many parts of the world, it’s one of the strangest times of the year as well.

Americans have their share of kooky Christmas traditions, including the belief that a misfit reindeer with a glowing red nose named Rudolph flies through the sky, helping pull a fat man’s sleigh. Not to mention that said fat man somehow fits all the presents for every kid onto this sleigh and makes it around the world, slipping down chimneys, all in a single night.
But that’s nothing compared to some of the holiday traditions in other parts of the world.

People in the Netherlands dress as Black Peter, a Moor, by putting on blackface.

For example, Christmas takes on a strangely scatalogical bent in Catalonia, a region of Spain. People place the figurine of a guy in the act of deficating in their nativity scenes as well as beat a log until it poops out treats for kids.

And in Austria and other parts of Europe, if you’re a naughty child, a devil named Krampus will kidnap you, beat you savagely with a stick and drag you to Hell.

Here are some of the more bizarre ways to celebrate the holidays in other parts of the world.

The Dutch version of Santa Claus has a helper named Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter

The Dutch version of Santa Claus has a helper named Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter

Go in blackface as Santa’s helper in the Netherlands.

Sinterklaas, as Santa Claus is known to the Dutch people, travels with his servant. But instead of diminutive elves, Sinterklaas is accompanied by Zwarte Piet, or Black Peter. Today people dress as Black Peter, a Moor, by putting on blackface. Not very PC — it’s amazing this tradition still exists. It wouldn’t in the United States, I’ll tell ya that.

Someone’s been naughty and needs to get stuffed into a sack and sent off to Spain!

Someone’s been naughty and needs to get stuffed into a sack and sent off to Spain!

It’s these fellows who keep tabs on who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. The good kids get presents, while the bad ones are shoved into a sack and taken off to Spain for a year of reform school.

Spiderweb decorations are common in Ukraine and Poland

Spiderweb decorations are common in Ukraine and Poland

Decorate the tree with spiderweb ornaments in Ukraine and Poland.

Spiderweb ornaments might sound more Halloween than Christmas, but there’s a story behind them. A poor Ukrainian widow lived with her children in a hut. The kids saw a majestic evergreen outside and wanted it to be their Christmas tree. Trouble was, they didn’t have any ornaments and couldn’t afford them.

So the woman cried herself to sleep that night. The hut’s spiders heard her sobs and decorated the tree in intricate webs overnight. In the morning, the sunrise caught the webs and made them glisten like metal. And everyone lived happily ever after, as they tend to do in these fairy tales.

In Poland, they also decorate Christmas trees with spiderwebs, but there’s a different tale behind this tradition. They believe a spider wove a blanket for baby Jesus. I’m sure it wasn’t warm and was annoyingly sticky, but I suppose they appreciated the sentiment.  

If a witch can’t find a broom in your house, Norwegians think she’ll leave you alone

If a witch can’t find a broom in your house, Norwegians think she’ll leave you alone

Hide brooms from the witches in Norway.

Apparently witches and evil spirits like to come out to play on Christmas Eve. So Norwegians, to keep them at bay, hide their brooms, which we all know is a witch’s favorite means of travel. To thwart the witches and evil spirits, men will also fire three shots from their rifles into the air.

These nuns in Venezuela were off to celebrate Christmas mass on roller skates

These nuns in Venezuela were off to celebrate Christmas mass on roller skates

Roller skate to church in Venezuela.

Amid the explosions of firecrackers, entire Venezuelan families in Caracas don roller skates and head off to Catholic mass. As tradition has it, children go to bed with a piece of string tied around their toe with the other end dangling out the window. As the skaters roll past, they give the string a tug, and children know that it’s time to put their own skates on. It’s such a popular tradition that the government took to closing entire streets to traffic so families could skate together in safety. This has gotta be the only time church feels like a disco club. All that’s missing is the mirror ball.

Grab your horse skull! It’s time to go wassailing in Wales!

Grab your horse skull! It’s time to go wassailing in Wales!

Carol (and beg for booze) with a dead horse in Wales.

Perhaps you’ve heard the song that begins, “Here we come a-wassailing.” This is the Welsh version of caroling. Wassail is an old England word for “cheers” and can also refer to the boozy beverages the carolers are begging for: ale or mulled wine.

The old Mari Lwyd just ain’t what she used to be

The old Mari Lwyd just ain’t what she used to be

The tradition, known as Mari Lwyd, translates to the Gray Mare, involves people going from house to house, singing and challenging the families inside to a battle of rhyming insults until they get a boozy beverage. What makes this creepy is that one person dresses up like a horse, donning a white sheet topped with an actual horse skull adorned with ears and eyes.

Take me to church

Take me to church

Bring a rooster to mass in Bolivia.

Bolivians celebrate Misa del Gallo (Mass of the Rooster), the midnight service on Christmas Eve, by bringing along a rooster. It must get quite boisterous. But what’s with all the cocks? It’s to honor the creature that is believed to be the first to have announced the birth of baby Jesus.

Dark-haired men, come on in! Blonde and red-haired women, stay the heck away!

Dark-haired men, come on in! Blonde and red-haired women, stay the heck away!

Hope for a dark-haired man to visit you on Christmas in Estonia and Ireland.

Your first Christmas visitor (the first-footer) can determine if your household will have a good year or not — at least that’s what the Estonians believe. If you’re a woman, blonde or red-haired, just stay home, though, please. It’s really only dark-haired gents who bring good luck.

Ireland has the same tradition, though they light a candle and, at the last stroke of midnight, throw open their front doors to welcome in the New Year. Women will beat the door with a loaf of bread, while hoping for a dark-haired gentleman to darken their doorway.

People in Finland buy small tin horseshoes to melt on New Year’s Eve as part of a fortune-telling ritual

People in Finland buy small tin horseshoes to melt on New Year’s Eve as part of a fortune-telling ritual

Melt tin and predict the future in Finland.

You might need a book of symbols and their meanings for this tradition. On New Year’s Eve, Finns purchase small tin horseshoes to melt and ladles. The molten tin is dropped  into a bucket of snow or ice-cold water. Once it hardens, they hold the blob up to the light to see what shape its shadow casts. If it looks like a hill, for example, there will be obstacles ahead. If it looks like a coin, you’ll be coming into some money.

Pesky Greek goblins called the kallikantzari take a break from trying to cut down the World Tree to cause mischief on the 12 days of Christmas

Pesky Greek goblins called the kallikantzari take a break from trying to cut down the World Tree to cause mischief on the 12 days of Christmas

Kallikantzari like to scare humans — and poop in their food

Kallikantzari like to scare humans — and poop in their food

Watch out for goblins in Greece.

According to Greek legend, the hobgoblins called kallikantzari come up from their underground homes on Christmas Day to play tricks on humans until Ephiphany, January 6. They’re particularly fond of sneaking down the chimney like Santa to hide in your home and jump out and scare you. The kallikantzari also rearrange the furniture and, shudder, take dumps in any open containers of food they find.

Grab a colander — it’s one of the best ways to get rid of these Greek goblins

Grab a colander — it’s one of the best ways to get rid of these Greek goblins

If you want to avoid goblin crap on your cookies, burn logs or old shoes, or hang sausages or sweetmeats in the chimney. In addition, many Greeks put a colander on their doorsteps because the goblins will be compelled to count the holes. They don’t make much headway, though, according to A Scary Little Christmas, because the dim-witted creatures can only count to two.

They’re burning Mickey Mouse?! What did  he  ever do to hurt anyone?

They’re burning Mickey Mouse?! What did he ever do to hurt anyone?

Burn effigies in Ecuador.

In their own version of Guy Fawkes Day, Ecuadorians celebrate La Quema de los Años Viejos, the Burning of the Old Years. They make life-size dolls that resemble someone they dislike — maybe a local politician or the ever-popular Osama bin Laden. (I’m going to guess that Trump is a new fave.) People write notes explaining why the dolls should be burned and what changes they’d like to see in the coming year.

The effigies are proudly displayed on balconies or in windows until New Year's Eve, when they’re burned in a bonfire in the street. People jump over the fires for good luck.

Don’t be late on the winter solstice — you’ll be the Thomas Donkey and will end up the butt of jokes all day

Don’t be late on the winter solstice — you’ll be the Thomas Donkey and will end up the butt of jokes all day

Try not to become a donkey in Germany.

Don’t be an ass! In Germany, the Winter Solstice is also known as St. Thomas Day. It’s not a good day to be tardy. In parts of the Sauerland region, if you sleep in or get to work late, you’re given a cardboard donkey. called the Thomas Donkey and you’ll be the butt of jokes all day.

At least you’re rewarded at the end of the day with Thomasplitzchen, iced currant buns.

The Greek goblins known as the kallikantzari like to take dumps in any open containers of food they find.

Put on your skates and grab your cock before hitting midnight mass! Maybe you can incorporate some of these traditions into your Yuletide celebrations! –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 2, Episodes 4-6

A zombie attack, hypnosis and H.H. Holmes all make appearances. Learn how to talk to the dead and prevent corpses from becoming revenants.

Not all zombies want to eat brains. Some go right for the guts

Not all zombies want to eat brains. Some go right for the guts

S2E4: “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”

Monster: Zombie

Where it’s from: This type hails from Greece

Description: While there are zombie traditions from around the world, this episode deals with the Greek version. Sometimes called revenants, they’re people who have returned from the dead. They still inhabit their old bodies, so they’re often subject to decay.

What it does: The idea of Greek zombies might relate back to the Keres, female spirits of violent death. Their mother is Nyx, the goddess of darkness, and they’re aligned with the Fates, a trio of goddesses who determine people’s destinies (indeed, the Keres are sometimes referred to as the Death Fates).

“Murder Castle,” a massive boarding house, had labyrinthine hallways and secret rooms — including a gas chamber and a large kiln convenient for disposing of bodies.
Zombies are corpses come back from the dead — and they’re not the brightest of the undead

Zombies are corpses come back from the dead — and they’re not the brightest of the undead

This graphic description of a battlefield from Hesiod shows their mad fury for blood and gore, a key part of our modern takes on zombies (such as The Walking Dead, Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later):

The black Keres, clashing their white teeth, grim-faced, shaggy, blood-bespattered, dread, kept struggling for the fallen. They all wanted to drink black blood whom first they caught, lying or fallen newly wounded. Around him they threw their mighty talons, and the shade to Hades went, in icy Tartarus. Their hearts were glutted with human blood: They threw away the corpse, and back to the tumult and fighting rushed, in new desire.

You can tell a person has returned from the dead from the unholy ground around their grave, revealed by a circle of dead grass.

How to defeat it: Dean: We’ve got a full-on zombie running around. We have to figure out how to kill it.

Sam: Our lives are weird.

There are many reports on how to kill the walking dead — set them on fire, or Sam’s personal favorite: cut out the heart and feed it to a wild dog — but the Winchester Bros. decide to go with silver bullets. Trouble is, this hardly slowed her down: “Damn, that dead chick can run,” Dean says.

In the end, they go with nailing the undead creature back into its grave bed. This means of stopping zombies has been practiced for centuries.

“Ancient Greeks on the island of Sicily had a fear of revenants so dire they weighed bodies down with rocks and amphora pieces to keep them from rising from their graves to haunt the living,” Ancient Origins reports.

On Supernatural, a divination ritual brings the corpse back to life, but divination is really a way to predict the future.

Who hasn’t wanted to speak with the dead? Well, we’ve got just the ritual for you!

Who hasn’t wanted to speak with the dead? Well, we’ve got just the ritual for you!

Necromancy Divination Ritual to Speak With the Dead

Make a figure out of dough to represent the person you want to talk to. Dress it with a few bay leaves and some fennel.

Dig a ditch deep enough to stand in and surround it with incense. Pour in a mixture of wine, honey and milk. Then nick your finger and squeeze a few drops of blood into the mixture.

Work yourself into an ecstatic state (“a few cans of Red Bull will probably do the trick,” jokes the blog’s author) before finally speaking to the dead.

Source: Creating Weirdness on a Daily Basis…

 

Ever done something you regret? Blame it on mesmerism!

Ever done something you regret? Blame it on mesmerism!

S2E5: “Simon Said”

Monster: Mind control

Where it’s from: Germany

Description: This episode focuses on a young man with a strong power of suggestion (think about the famous Jedi line, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”). In fact, he doesn’t even have to speak — he can make you do something just by thinking it. Yikes. That’s quite a power, and would be easy to use for evil.

What it does: Mesmerism, the idea that a person could be healed via thought while they were in a trance, became all the rage in the late 1700s.

Franz Mesmer, for whom the practice is named, was a German physician who devoted his life to the study of energy transfers (or “artificial tides”) he called animal magnetism. It wasn’t until later that mesmerism focused on hypnosis.

Hypnotism is a powerful tool — just imagine getting people to do whatever you want!

Hypnotism is a powerful tool — just imagine getting people to do whatever you want!

How to defeat it: Perhaps the best way to steel your mind to hypnosis is to know how it works. Learn how to put people under your hypnotic spell from the Hypnosis Training Academy.

 

S2E6: “No Exit”

This charming gent is H.H. Holmes, one of the worst serial killers in history

This charming gent is H.H. Holmes, one of the worst serial killers in history

Monster: Spirit of H.H. Holmes, America’s first (and potentially most prolific) serial killer

Where’s it’s from: Holmes lived in Chicago in the late 1800s, during the World’s Columbian Exposition.

Description: This man was truly a monster. Born Herman Webster Mudgett, he went by numerous aliases. He’s infamous for having created what became known as “Murder Castle,” a massive boarding house with labyrinthine hallways and secret rooms — including a gas chamber and a large kiln convenient for disposing of bodies. He admitted to 27 murders, but the death toll could actually be in the hundreds. His gruesome tale is told in Devil in the White City, which is pretty much required reading for Chicagoans.

Holmes’ spirit leaves ectoplasm, which the Winchesters say is only generated by extremely angry spirits.

What it does: Why let death stop you from killing? Holmes’ murderous spirit captures and murders innocent victims.

A rare image of Holmes’ Murder Castle, a boarding house for single women on Chicago’s South Side — quite close to the Columbian Exhibition

A rare image of Holmes’ Murder Castle, a boarding house for single women on Chicago’s South Side — quite close to the Columbian Exhibition

How to defeat it: Stab him with a pure iron dagger to make his pervy hand disappear. And trap him in a circle of salt. It might be a good idea to entomb the spirit in concrete as well, even if that means “borrowing” a cement truck like Dean does. –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 1, Episodes 10-12

Learn witchcraft spells to protect yourself from ghosts, pagan gods demanding human sacrifice and Death itself.

It really is kind of effed-up what English teachers sic upon impressionable young minds. I read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” when I was 15, and it has stuck with me ever since. I was intrigued by the idea of a modern town ritually sacrificing one of its members, based on a pagan tradition so far in the past they’ve simply ceased to question it. And the final scene, where even the poor woman’s own son is given pebbles to help stone his mother to death, shook me to the core.

There’s a similar type situation in this roundup of Supernatural monsters. And we’ll also meet Death himself.

Symptoms of ghostly possession can include oily skin, rashes, feeling like your eyes are being pulled inside, migraines, the sensation of being strangled, loss of appetite (or increased appetite), tics and miscarriages.

There were only two people posing for this pic!

Apparently, ghostly possession is way more common than we think

S1 E10: “Asylum”

Monster: Ghost

Where it’s from: All over the world. About 30% of the world’s population is possessed by ghosts, according to the Spiritual Science Research Foundation, which I’m sure is totally legit.

Description: This particular spirit possesses people and feeds off their rage.

Encountering a ghost? Don’t panic — we’ve got you covered

What it does: Symptoms of ghostly possession can include oily skin, rashes, feeling like your eyes are being pulled inside, migraines, the sensation of being strangled, loss of appetite (or increased appetite), tics and miscarriages. In this particular case, those possessed turn murderous and then suicidal.

How to defeat it: A rifle loaded with rock salt can repel the ghost. Salt has a long history of protective properties.

To fully destroy the ghost and restore those who are possessed to themselves, Dean and Sam Winchester have to find the original corpse and burn it.

 

That scarecrow could come to life with the murderous spirit of a pagan god

That scarecrow could come to life with the murderous spirit of a pagan god

S1 E11: “Scarecrow”

Monster: Vanir, a pagan Norse god

Where it’s from: Northern Germany and Scandinavia

Freya is the goddess of beauty (and a bit of a slut, turns out)

Freya is also the goddess of war and death

Description: This branch of the Norse gods holds in its ranks Freya, goddess of love, beauty, sex, gold, war and death (busy gal), accused by Loki of having slept with all the elves and gods, including her brothers.

Pagans would offer sacrifices to Freyr, the Norse god of fertility

Freyr’s power over fertility is symbolized by his giant phallus, as depicted in this idol

Speaking of which, her brother Freyr, god of fertility, was a popular guy. People’s well-being and prosperity depended upon him, including bountiful harvests. This was apparently symbolized by his “enormous, erect phallus.”

What it does: Freyr was a frequent recipient of sacrifices, including the celebration of a harvest. Instead of offering up the traditional sacrifice of his favored animal, the boar, the townsfolk in the episode lured one male and one female to their deaths. With the sacrifice, the town assures a good harvest and general happiness.

The personification of this Vanir takes on the form of a living scarecrow, which actually has more of a connection to the Celts and their wicker man.

Julius Caesar wrote about the Gallic practice of burning humans alive in a giant wicker man

This sick ritual was described by none other than Julius Caesar in Book Six of The Gallic War:

“The whole Gallic race is addicted to religious ritual; consequently those suffering from serious maladies or subject to the perils of battle sacrifice human victims. … Some weave huge figures of wicker and fill their limbs with humans, who are then burned to death when the figures are set afire. They suppose that the gods prefer this execution to be applied to thieves, robbers and other malefactors taken in the act, but in default of such they resort to the execution of the innocent.”

How to defeat it: In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is the mythical tree that connects the nine worlds, which include Asgard, where Thor and his relations live, and Midgard, their term for Earth.

In Norse mythology, the sacred tree Yggdrasil connects the nine worlds

In this episode, there’s a sacred tree that’s tied to the Vanir. Once the Winchester Brothers chopped it down, the god — and his blessings — abandon the village.

Our personification of death as the Grim Reaper began in Ancient Greece


S1 E12: "Faith"

Monster: Reaper

Where it’s from: All over the world, especially the United States and Europe

An old tarot Death card from Germany depicts a reaper

An old tarot Death card from Germany depicts a reaper

The reaper uses its scythe to chop up bodies

Description: The Grim Reaper is the personification of death. He’s most often depicted as a skeletal figure wearing a black hooded robe and carrying a large scythe. In some parts of Europe, his robe is white.

Ancient Greeks worshiped Thanatos, or Death, who was portrayed as an attractive, bearded man with wings and an extinguished flame (what vivid symbolism!). Departed souls had to pay the ferryman Charon to get across the River Styx into the underworld. Some sources described Charon as a skeletal figure much like today’s Grim Reaper.

What it does: On the show, reapers can stop time — and only their victims can see them coming for them.

How to defeat it: As the altar Sam discovers attests, you can gain control over a reaper with a binding spell.

 

Poppet Binding Spell

This spell is best worked on a waning or dark moon.

Cut two layers of black cloth in the rough shape of the person or creature you wish to bind and sew together to create a small poppet. Leave part of the head unstitched.

Fill the poppet with earth, a smoky quartz and an amethyst. Also include hair or nail clippings, or a photograph or sample of handwriting of the person you wish to bind.

Create a sacred circle, then take an altar candle and a black candle. Hold the poppet out in front of you and say:

Creature of cloth thou art,

Now creature of flesh and blood you be.

I name you [name of the person or creature you are binding].

No more shall you do me harm,

No more shall you spread false tales,

No more shall you interfere in my life,

Nor in the lives of my loved ones.

By the power of the gods and by my will,

So mote it be.

Draw an invoking pentagram over the poppet.

Now take some black ribbon or wool and begin to wrap the poppet like a mummy, leaving no space unwrapped and say:

I bind your feet from bringing you to harm me.

I bind your hands from reaching out to harm me.

I bind your mouth from spreading tales to harm me.

I bind your mind from sending energy to harm me.

If you continue to do so, let all negative energy be cast directly back at you!

Tie off the ribbon and hold the poppet in front of you. Visualize all the negative energy this person has sent you being cast back at them.

Wrap the poppet in a piece of black cloth and tie with a black ribbon. Say:

Great Mother, I have bound this person

From harming me and my loved ones.

By the powers of three times three,

By Earth and Fire, Air and Sea,

I fix this spell, then set it free,

’Twill give no harm to return on me,

As I will, so mote it be!

Let the candle burn out while the poppet sits at its base.

Then take the poppet and the remains of the candle and bury them in the ground or toss them in the ocean. Walk away without looking back.

 

Now, it’s not always possible to get nail clippings and the like from your enemy (does Death even have fingernails?!), so this spell from Free Witchcraft Spells might work better. It takes some time; so hopefully you can avoid the reaper in the meantime!

 

Black Candle Binding Spell

Anoint a black candle with sandalwood oil while you concentrate on the person or creature you want to get out of your life.

Wrap a piece of black thread around the candle until you use the whole length, then tie it tightly.

Repeat this, with a piece of black yarn. Then, on top of that, wind around a piece of rough twine of the same length. The exact lengths of the cords don’t matter — just use the same for all three. About 18 inches works well.

Light the candle, and let it burn out completely. Try to do this spell in the evening, letting the candle burn down overnight. Keep it somewhere safe and flameproof because the strings might catch fire as the candle burns down. I’ll burn candles in a small cauldron for my peace of mind.

You can try, but there really is no escaping death


Give it a go, but let’s face it: If your time has come, Death will find you. Have the Final Destination movies taught us nothing? –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 1, Episodes 7-9

What’s a poltergeist, what are the urban legends about the Hook Man, and how do you break Indian curses?

Get away from the TV, Carol Anne! The poltergeist is gonna get you!

The movie Poltergeist scared (and scarred) countless kids of my generation. The image of doomed little Carol Anne putting her hands on the static-buzzing TV and creepily uttering, “They’re heeeeerrrre” is ingrained in our brains. It cemented our fear of clowns. And we’ll never forgive that strange little lady falsely proclaiming, “The house is clean.”

My family saw the movie on vacation at our time share on Lake Chelan, Washington. At the time, I had a stuffed monkey that I hid in the downstairs closet ’cause I was sure he’d try to strangle me with his tail while I slept.

The Hook Man acts as a sort of morality police, punishing (and killing) young couples who naughtily engage in sex.

Now a new generation has made acquaintance with a poltergeist in the form of Peeves, the ghostly prankster roaming Hogwarts Castle in the Harry Potter novels. Peeves has his dark side, though he’s more mischievous than menacing.

 

S1E7: “HOOK MAN”

The killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer plays upon our collective fear of the Hook Man

Monster: The Hook Man of urban legend

Where it’s from: The United States

Description: A teenage couple pulls into a lover’s lane and starts to make out. But upon hearing an announcer on the radio warning that a convicted murderer with a hook for a hand has escaped the local insane asylum, the girl insists on leaving. The boy keeps trying to score, but the girl rebuffs his advances. Frustrated, the boy guns the engine and drives her home in a huff. As the girl gets out of the car, she starts screaming. The boy runs over and sees what she’s freaking out about: Hanging from the car door is a bloody hook.

What it does: The Hook Man acts as a sort of morality police, punishing (and killing) young couples who naughtily engage in sex.

How to defeat it: There’s a powerful spirit deterrent you’ve already got in your kitchen cabinet: salt. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, salt was used to consecrate items and to seal covenants. Buddhists believe salt repels evil spirits. Even sumo wrestlers cleanse their matches by throwing a handful of salt into the center of the ring — a Shinto practice.


S1E8: “Bugs”

Is this a natural swarm of insects — or the result of a Native American curse?

Monster: Murderous insects

Where it’s from: The United States

Description: The bugs are driven to kill because of a Native American curse upon the land, proclaiming that nature will rise up against the white man. There are numerous places around the country that are said to suffer Indian curses.

It’s never a good idea to build your home on Indian burial grounds

What it does: Native American tribes didn’t tend to be very fond of insects, seeing them as swarming, biting and crop-destroying harbingers of disease, black magic and bad luck. So it’s not surprising that in this case, bugs burrow into a construction worker’s brain and spiders bite a realtor to death.

How to defeat it: Dean and Sam don’t break the curse; they just survive the plague of insects. But a helpful fellow on Facebook recommends the following prayer to cleanse the land from curses:

“Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of His shed blood, by that name and by that authority, I remit the sins that have been committed here as many generations back as needs be: to the very first thoughts, words, deeds or gestures.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I break the covenant of death. I command that it be finished from this time forth: no more death, no more rape and no more murder in this place.
We dedicate this land back to the Lord Jesus Christ, that every person entering this place from this time forth to do any kind of oath, covenant, curse, fetish or agreement with the unfruitful works of darkness will come face-to-face with the power of the shed blood, and they will have no alternative but to fall down and repent of their wickedness, or they will turn and flee from here, never to return to come back again for this purpose, in Jesus’ name.”

Let us know how it works out!

 

S1E9: “Home”

Looks like this woman has a serious poltergeist on her hands

Monster: Poltergeist

Where it’s from: While its name is derived from the German for “knocking spirit” (often translated as “noisy ghost”), poltergeists can be found all over the world.

Description: They’re incorporeal and cannot be seen. They’re not considered spirits but rather psychic manifestations brought about by anxiety or stress.

What it does: Poltergeist activity can start out with strange odors, electrical disturbances or objects moving by themselves but often escalates to more violent physical attacks upon those in the home (a coffee pot might fly at your head, for instance).

How to defeat it: Try this:

 

House Purification Ritual

Make a mixture of:

  • Angelica root (a member of the parsley family used as protection from evil spirits and to break hexes)
  • Van Van oil (a lemongrass-based hoodoo formula popular in New Orleans to drive away evil and provide protection)
  • Crossroads dirt

Put this mixture in the north, south, east and west corners of the home on every floor — and the house should be clean.

 

But be warned: That’s what the psychic in Poltergeist promised, too. –Wally

What Is Krampus, the Anti-Santa?

Everything you wanted to know about Krampus the Christmas Devil but were afraid to ask.

This frightening monster is called Krampus — and he's actually part of Christmas celebrations in Austria and other countries in Central Europe

A demonic goat man with massive fangs, twisted horns and a frighteningly long tongue. It’s a creature that’s almost too horrifying to even be associated with Halloween — and yet, in some parts of Europe, this ghastly beast is actually Santa’s sidekick.

Not surprisingly, Krampus became the subject of a horror movie last year.

Misbehaving kids in the United States should count their blessings. They only get coal in their stockings. Krampus beats bad children with a bundle of birch sticks — and then drags them down to his lair in Hell.

How the heck did this nightmarish demon, known as the “Christmas Devil,” come about?

 

Don't look, but I think there’s a Krampus behind you!

This little girl looks like she doesn’t have anything to worry about. But that bad little boy is being packed off to Hell!

What does Krampus look like?

The stuff of nightmares. Think of a satyr or faun on acid. A fur-covered half-goat, half-man, all-demon monstrosity.

The Los Angeles Times describes him as “a hairy, horned, chain-toting biped that resembles a Wookiee on a bender.”

He shambles along, dragging chains and the shackles he has broken free of. (It begs the question who locked him up in the first place?)

Vintage holiday cards from Austria feature the Christmas Devil, and read, “Greetings from Krampus!”

Like Santa Claus, he, too, has a large sack he carries over his shoulder (sometimes depicted as a large basket). Except Krampus’ isn’t filled with presents — it’s stuffed with kidnapped children.

 

When did Krampus first appear?

“Vague written accounts mentioning pelts and horns date back to the 17th century,” Atlas Obscura reports.

But his devil-like form didn’t really get solidified until holiday postcards trumpeting, “Gruß vom Krampus!” (Greetings from Krampus!) became all the rage in Austria.

“Another factor that likely influenced the character’s satyr-like appearance was the fin de siècle obsession with Pan,” the Greek god of nature, according to Atlas Obscura.

 

What’s he do to naughty children?

Misbehaving kids in the United States should count their blessings. They only get coal in their stockings. Krampus is much more of a disciplinarian: He beats bad children with a bundle of birch sticks — and then drags them down to his lair in Hell, National Geographic reports.

 

What kind of freak gave birth to this monster?

Not surprisingly, Krampus’ mother is said to be Hel, the Norse goddess of the dead. She in turn is the daughter of the mischief-maker Loki. Hel is half-dead, looking like a living, if gloomy, woman — aside from her legs (and, one would assume, her lady bits), which are those of a rotting corpse. Variously, she’s depicted as her living and dead halves literally split down the middle, revealing half a skeletal face and body, usually on her left side.

 

How’d Krampus get his name?

His name derives from the German word krampen, meaning claw.

Kind St. Nicholas became the Santa Claus we know today, while the evil Krampus punishes naughty children

They know if you’ve been bad or good — so be good for goodness’ sake

What sick fucks came up with this creature?

The Germans, apparently. Krampus is seen as the yin to St. Nicholas’ yang. The devilish figure raids towns the night of December 5, known as Krampusnacht, or Krampus Night. The next day is St. Nicholas Day, when German children find one of two items in the shoes or boots they’ve left out on their doorsteps: presents if they’ve been good or a rod if they’ve been bad (to beat them with, presumably).

A man dressed in his horrific finery takes part in a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run

What other countries have incorporated Krampus into their Yuletide traditions?

Austria, in particular, caught Krampus fever. There, as well as in Hungary, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, men dress up as devils, get wasted and chase people through the streets for a Krampuslauf, or Krampus Run.

Where the wild things are: What do you call a collection of Krampuses?

“For these runners, Krampus is the dark counterpart to the gemütlichkeit Christmas evokes,” Fest300 writes. “Gemütlichkeit is a hard word to translate, but it encompasses both coziness and conviviality, whereas Krampus is the other half of the winter solstice: darkness, cold and snowy fir forests where branches snap and things go bump in the frozen night.”

Apparently not everyone is terrified of Krampus. This little girl feeds her Krampus dolly

Seriously, though, what’s up with a demon being St. Nick’s cohort?

The Alps must have a dark mystery to them. Krampus embodies “the season of autumn and early winter — the twilight, the slowing down and the mystical feeling that foreshadows these traditional events, the tales of mythical creatures, the forests of the mountains where they lurk and the presence of the unknown,” a person who dresses as Krampus told the L.A. Times.

 

As the Christmas carol goes, “You better watch out” indeed! –Wally

The Monsters of “Supernatural,” Season 1, Episodes 4-6

The origins of — and how to defeat — demons, doppelgängers and the ghost of urban legend, Bloody Mary.

 

I went through a ghost phase during junior high. My best friend, Kevin, had a little sister, Michelle, and the two of us would sneak out in the middle of the night to try various techniques to summon ghosts. One of those spells shows up in this roundup of Supernatural baddies: Bloody Mary.

For the record, while we sure freaked ourselves out, sneaking into the bathroom at midnight with a candle, chanting, “Bloody Mary,” we never did end up summoning a freaky wraith, alas.

She’s said to scratch out your eyes upon appearing. Or she might just scream at you, strangle you or steal your soul.

S1E4: “Phantom Traveler”

Monster: Demon

Where it’s from: All over the world

Description: Demons come in all sorts of shapes and sizes — but they’re almost always horrifying distortions of nature. Beelzebub, for instance, is depicted as a giant fly, while another demon, Asmodeus, has the torso of a man, the leg of a rooster, the tail of a serpent and three heads (those of a sheep, a bull and a man spewing fire).

What it does: A demon’s favorite pastime seems to be possession. They like to take control of unsuspecting humans, causing them to act bizarrely. This can mean everything from being more aggressive, laughing maniacally or speaking in tongues to having supernatural knowledge or strength.

How to defeat it: In the Bible, Jesus spent a lot of time casting demons out of people. Since that’s not an option nowadays, it’s time to call in the exorcist. Entering a church or coming into contact with holy water really seem to piss off demons. Matthew 17: 21 says, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting,” so that might be a good idea for spiritual preparation. You really just have to be forceful with the suckers and be persistent in commanding them to leave. It’s a battle of willpower.

 

Chant “Bloody Mary” into a bathroom mirror, and the ghost of Queen Mary I just might appear

S1E5: “Bloody Mary”

Monster: Bloody Mary

Where it’s from: United States

Description: Light a candle, enter a bathroom, stare into the mirror and chant her name three (or 13) times. Legend has it, Bloody Mary will appear, but don’t expect a delicious brunch beverage. A ghostly woman is said to materialize, sometimes reported to be covered in blood. Some say she’s Queen Mary I, known as Bloody Mary for her propensity to burn Protestants at the stake. Others insist she’s a woman named Mary Worth, who died in a car crash.

If you really want to stir the pot, add this chant: “I killed your baby!” This is probably an allusion to Queen Mary’s “ghost baby.” She supposedly exhibited all the signs of pregnancy — she stopped menstruating, gained weight in her belly and felt nauseous in the mornings. But she never gave birth, and eventually her stomach shrank. (Historians think her intense desire for an heir resulted in a bizarre medical phenomenon called a “false pregnancy.”)

What it does: I’m not sure why anyone would summon Bloody Mary, except as a way to prove your bravery at slumber parties, as she’s said to scratch out your eyes upon appearing. Or she might just scream at you, strangle you or steal your soul.

How to defeat it: There doesn’t seem to be much about killing Mary once you’ve summoned her, but Dean and Sam wisely decide to destroy her connection to this world: the mirror she traveled through. Sounds like it’s probably worth risking seven years of bad luck.

 

How They Met Themselves, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, c. 1860-1864. A couple comes upon their doppelgängers glowing in the woods. The woman faints, while the man draws his sword

S1E6: “Skin”

Monster: Shapeshifter / Doppelgänger

Where it’s from: Doppelgänger is a German word literally meaning “double walker.”

Description: Shapeshifters show up in legends from all around the world, the most common being werewolves. The baddie in “Skin” is the ultimate evil twin and only shifts into other human forms.

What it does: Seeing a dopplegänger is an omen of severe illness or death. The doppelgänger morphs into an exact replica of another human being, which it then kills and assumes its place. One clue that’s it’s not who you think it is: These creatures supposedly don’t cast a shadow.

How to defeat it: Kill it…before it kills you. –Wally

What the World Thinks of a President Trump

Spoiler alert: From Europe to Asia to Latin America, the outlook isn’t very optimistic.

All hail, President Trump! What does the rest of the world think of our controversial choice for the Leader of the Free World?

Full disclosure: Duke and I fall into the half of America that was absolutely shocked, mortified and despondent that our next president will be a man who openly lies and regularly spouts sexist and racist remarks.

As we try to come to terms with the idea of a President Trump, we wanted to find out how the rest of the world felt. So we reached out to friends who live abroad or who have family there.

The French are scared like we are.
They keep asking why the overqualified candidate lost to someone with no experience. I can’t answer them.
— Michael, an American living in France

Not surprisingly, the rest of the world seems to be as freaked out as we are. –Wally


Brent, an American living in Taiwan

What a sad day, not only for the U.S. but for the whole world. I think America regressed 50 years today.

Walking down the streets of Taipei, I have always stuck out like a sore thumb: “Mommy, look, waiguoren [a foreigner].” As an American living in Taiwan, you get used to it, but walking the streets today I actually felt ashamed to be American. I felt the stares and whispers more than usual.

Taiwanese very rarely ever talk about politics outside of the home. It’s a bit taboo. Today was different. Many Taiwanese spoke to me, all in utter disbelief about our new president-elect: “How could Americans vote for such an evil person?” “Was there a mistake with the election?” “Can this be overturned?” They are all very scared, and rightfully so I believe.

Taiwanese have always respected and appreciated Americans in Taiwan (the U.S. has done a lot for Taiwan). I think that changed for the worse today, and I imagine that Trump’s crassness will only exacerbate that here in Taiwan and within the international community.

I’m still in shock that America chose this bigot. I’m hoping that I wake up in the morning and it’s all a joke. It is such a joke.


Malcolm, a Welshman living in the United States

On Guy Fawkes Night, Malcolm and his friends burned an effigy of Trump

Actually, we had a little Guy Fawkes Night bonfire for a few Chicago-based Welsh folks on November 5. It’s a tradition to burn an effigy of Guy Fawkes — ours might have borne a passing resemblance to a certain president-elect.

A news crew from Wales stopped by to film it and do a few interviews. Though I don’t think the effigy burning made it past the editors, and just the interviews (in Welsh) aired back in Wales.

For the Lewes Bonfire Night, they burned an enormous Trump effigy.

And here are a few more from around the country.

My cousin in the U.K. did say, “I can’t believe how many Americans voted for this.”

On the bright side, at least we’re (the U.K.) no longer the dumbest country of 2016.

 

RELATED: Guy Fawkes Day / Bonfire Night: A Bizarre British Holiday


Kent, an American living in France
Europeans are all concerned that democracy in America has completely died. Anti-American sentiment is already being regurgitated from the Bush years.

My boyfriend Michael, my friend Chris and I already had a share of verbal mockery when we were speaking English in the streets of Paris. Some guys were shouting, “Donald Trump” at us. Whether you voted for him or not, America as a whole is seen as responsible.

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel depicts Trump hurtling toward Earth like a giant meteor with the text, “The End of the World (As We Know It)”

The controversial satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo recently featured a cover that addresses Obama leaving office and the problem of police violence against blacks

Germans are shocked and appalled; they recognize this is the rise of America’s neo-national socialist movement.

Street interviews express disgust, awe and fear. People prefer saying they have zero opinion on Trump because he is not even worth commenting on.

My colleagues and even direct reports are inquiring how the ban on Muslims will impact future travel and training in the U.S. next year: “Will we be excused from our annual meeting in Florida next year?”

France is in a state of panic, as their presidential elections take place next year. The current socialist president, Hollande, has been weak and ineffective, leaving the door wide open for the opposing right, including the Front National, France’s most radical and very real neo-Nazi party. Trump’s win has emboldened and legitimized their campaign going into 2017 so much so that key experts are even predicting a potential win.

Unlike the U.S., any supporter in Europe of Trump’s ascension to power can only be a fellow nationalist and fascist. No middle ground on that.

Europe doesn’t even know how to engage the new American administration. Hollande didn’t even prepare a congratulations communiqué for Trump, as it seemed so unlikely — unfortunately the radical right beat him to the punch.

Europe is essentially as overwhelmed as the U.S. and plunged in an even deeper sense of uncertainty about the future. Germany fears a risk of a relationship breakdown, as they cannot support or work with any government that could cross over into the gray area of human rights violations.

By adding Trump’s win to the Brexit also spells an even more fragile situation for the stability of the European Union. Anti-globalization sentiment is further justified and confirmed now than it has ever been before.

American expats are reconsidering any plans to move back to the U.S. now.

While it’d be wonderful to feel Europe is so disconnected from the U.S., we’re here in our own, protected little island, but the realistic truth is that we’re tied and bolted to the U.S. in so many ways.

The media here is not timid or holding back on opinion. Trump is portrayed exactly as if the U.S. just voted in a fascist to government. Faith in democracy and our future is bleak.
 

RELATED: American Expats Tell What It’s Really Like to Live in Paris


Andrea, a Puerto Rican living in the United States

With P.R., it gets a bit tricky because my mom’s generation (and older) and my generation have a very different reaction to this whole Trump situation. The simplest way of explaining it is as follows:

For some idiotic reason, millennials don’t want to be part of the U.S. — they want P.R. to become independent (even though we’ve been supported by the U.S. for so long that becoming independent would probably transform P.R. into a third world country like the Dominican Republic). But anyway, my generation’s reaction to Trump winning the presidency is, “Suck it, U.S.! You get what you deserve! You’ve become the circus of the world!”

My mom’s generation (and most of P.R.) on the other hand are very concerned. They are terrified that Trump will take away our citizenship. They are angry that the entire island is obligated to follow the U.S.’s laws and regulations, when they are not even allowed to vote for the U.S. president.

The island’s election happened the same day as the U.S. elections, and the PNP (Partido Nuevo Progresista) won. This party is the one that wants to do everything in their power to make the island a state. But now that Trump won, they’re not sure it’s the best time to request this, considering Trump is a racist and is threatening to take away our citizenship.

It’s a very complex situation.


Aneta, an American with family in Switzerland and Serbia

My Swiss family and I have had a lot of discussions about U.S. politics over the years. They are not fans of the U.S. political system and even refused to visit D.C. when they’ve come here. They seem to believe that our choice reflects the heart of the majority of Americans.

My family in Serbia are also not fans of the U.S. due to the bombings and intervention in the Yugoslav civil war in the ’90s and recently in Kosovo. They hold us responsible for the instability in the Middle East. They relish a bit in the election of Trump, who is seen as a caricature of American arrogance. I don’t think they like Hillary any better because Clinton was president during the civil war in Yugo and they see him responsible for the bombing of civilian schools, restaurants, bridges, etc.

I think their views are not different from most of the world, which is taking some delight in our dirty laundry being televised. But Europeans see our behavior now, with the protests, as American entitlement and temper tantrums. At the end of the day, we are one of the oldest democracies in the world and they respect that. If we believe in the process, we have to accept the results with dignity, even when it doesn’t go our way.


Morgan, an American living in the Netherlands

There are so many feelings and emotions about the recent election of Trump happening here in the Netherlands.

First of all, the entire presidential race was covered by almost every newspaper in the Netherlands. There were at least two articles a day giving the most recent gossip and news. This I found kind of shocking considering that it’s not their country and their election, but it just confirms the fact that the fate of the United States holds the fate of so much of the rest of the world.

Next, lots of people talked to me about the election before the big day. People from all walks of life knew all about it and wanted to tell me how they felt.

I volunteer at a homeless shelter, and one of the main points of conversation lots of the nights was about Trump and how crazy he is and how terrible and scary it would be if he were elected.

One of my other Dutch friends told me that to her Hillary was just the lesser of the two evils. We argued about how she thought Hillary needed to lighten up a bit and her worry that Bill would be involved in the presidency somehow.

The night of the election, we had another American couple over to watch the results. They showed up at 2 a.m. and we started out watching the bad news roll in. It wasn’t until 9 a.m. here that we watched Trump speak and announce his phone call with Clinton. At this point, the entire world lost its mind.

So many of my Dutch friends started texting with their condolences. Screenshots of Dutch Twitter accounts were sent to me by a few people, saying that the Netherlands is very scared for the results and worried about what this means for the future. Many others simply told us that we are always welcome to stay here.

Many people here have told me about their concern for the climate. Others have told me that they’re worried that something like this may happen with the Netherlands in March 2017. Geert Wilders, a very notorious conservative political figure, may now win the general elections. The fact that this has already happened in the U.S. doesn’t help.

This is the government news site for the Netherlands and what they say about Trump. It’s pretty direct and to the point — but it’s clear that they think this was a big mistake and a big step backwards. Newspapers from all over the world have had Trump's face on the front page for days.
 

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