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Friday, January 23, 2015

Dream Lake

In 1840, Martin Van Buren was President of the United States of America.  u-s-history.com states, "Martin Van Buren was re-nominated unenthusiastically by the Democrats in 1840; no candidate was nominated for the vice presidency. To many of those countrymen who had suffered through years of depression, he was "Martin Van Ruin."

During post war time, Vermont's economy experienced a very slow growth, but important legislative events were on the rise regarding Women's Rights, thanks to Clarina Howard Nichols.  She was a significant part of women's history in Vermont, who fought for the right of women to vote.

Also, after the Revolutionary War, Vermont had been stripped of it's forests and farmland was poor but people began to rebuild this state by claiming abandoned property such as vacant farms and lands, and slowly our state began to rebuild.

Around this same time, a lowly deserter of the British Army by the name of Eugene Clifford settled into the Fairfield, Vermont in the northern area near Fairfield Pond.  He plotted and married a widow by the name of Elizabeth Gilmore, who just happened to have owned a large farm which contained some 50 acres of land.

Being a British deserter among the tight-lipped, honest Vermonters, he was strongly disliked, but generally accepted among the population.  

But after the marriage, and birth of their first child, Clifford's eye wandered and fell upon another widow, with whom he fell in love.  She also owned land, but it was across the lake....Ah, but here in lies the rub...for he had married Elizabeth and now the scoundrel must figure out a way to have his cake and eat it, too.

Early in the Fall of 1842, he sat among the town's people and discussion arose that if Elizabeth were to perish, then he would inherit the farm and the land.  It was then that this miscreant deserter formed a plan to dispose of his wife and their infant. 

Clifford arrived home one cold October (16th) afternoon to greet Elizabeth and their child where he announced that it was a lovely day for a trip around the lake in the log canoe.  

This is not E. Gilmore 
Mrs. Gilmore was of Irish descent and owned a prized silk shawl, which she generally wore for special occasions.  On this day, she covered herself in her elegant wrap, and swaddled the babe in a shawl made of wool.   

Some of the townsfolk watched them board the canoe and witnessed the beautiful shawl over the shoulders of Elizabeth [Clifford] Gilmore.  They set off across the shimmering blue of the lake against a backdrop of native trees, ablaze with autumn glory.

A few hours passed, and Clifford returned alone.  He feigned tears, and wept.  

Where was Elizabeth and the babe?  The townspeople asked?

His shoulders humped forward to show the agony of his loss, as he shuddered and cried, telling that them that while Elizabeth moved to situate her shawl more comfortably, she rocked and upset the boat.  She and the babe fell into the cold, dark water.  He searched, but could not find them! 

But yet, it was not dark!  The town immediately began to search for the two and they continued into the darkness; yet, their search was in vain.  The next morning, they set out again to attempt to recover their loss and were increasingly suspicious of Clifford.  They found the drowned body of Elizabeth  almost 2 fathoms beneath the cold lake, and the poor dead infant was discovered some distance away on the shore.

What of her beautiful shawl?  And what of the babe's woolen blanket in which it was wrapped?  It should have been found with her!  

The townspeople inquired. 

Again, they searched and foraged but the shawls could not be found.  In fact, people came from miles away to look for the shawls.....they scoured and fished, but alas! nothing was found....and, suspicion grew.  

Elizabeth [Clifford] Gilmore left behind her dearest friend, by the name of Mrs. Abigail Marvin, wife of Steven Marvin.  Abigail profoundly suffered the loss of her friend, and one night commenced to dreaming.  In her dream, she looked for the missing shawls. 

When she awoke, she told her husband of the dream and he promptly dismissed it.  She went to a friend named Bailey, who believed her dream and followed Abigail Marvin to the shore where she had actually never been!  And from only her mind's eye, she followed the paths that were precisely from her dream with Bailey in tow.   

"...she crossed the road in front of her dwelling, got over a fence athwart which a large hemlock tree had fallen; that she got over this fence, walked a short distance on the prostrate tree, and into a patch of woods where trees had been overturned by the wind; thence passed to ground, near the shore of the pond, covered by thick growth of brush; and that there, in a shallow hole of sand, and partially covered, she found the shawls."  -From The History of St. Albans - googlebooks

Reportedly, the shawls were still wet and Eugene Clifford was arrested, tried and put into solitary confinement.   He had been sentenced to death. Eugene went stark raving mad, and died before the sentence could be carried out.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Familiars a.k.a. Animal Spirits

Do you have an animal spirit?

Today, we are able to boast about our beloved pets through social media, posting pictures and videos of our four-legged friends.  It is also not uncommon for people to post pictures of spirit animals, fantasy creatures and beasts.  You may believe that you have an animal as a spirit guide, or perhaps you may think that you have a  spiritual connection or a deep bond with your pet.  It is believed that a familiar can be corporeal (flesh and blood) or incorporeal (a spirit body).  

Your familiar can be your closest companion, offering emotional support, knowledge, or aid in physical healing.   It can be an insect, a mammal, a reptile, a bird, or anything else to which you find comfort (or fear).

Through Medieval times, (and before) the belief that familiars existed for good or bad reasons, were broken down into two categories: Those that served witches; and those that served "cunning folks".  

Witches were thought to produce evil forces, and their familiars were often classified as demons.  (Think of the quintessential witch with her black cat, or flying bats or pet wolf).  Every witch was believed to own an animal that served as some type of malevolent familiar.  The familiars were shape-shifters that could easily turn from human to a demonic-like creature at the witch's whim.  The witch's familiar was considered to be as threatening as the witch, perhaps even more so, with its ability to be a supernatural being who shift its form without notice.  They were natural spies or perceived as a danger because they could easily cause harm - or raise hell - when least expected.

Cunning folks were those who practiced what was called White Magic, were healers who concocted herbal healing potions, created charms and were served by benevolent creatures who conjured fairies to aid them.  They commonly were sought to expel evil spirits, and drive out black magic.   They were useful people who kept under the radar of authorities because they were known to be "good".  Their familiar was the otherworldly spirit helper who could shapeshift between human and animal form.  Cunning folk were also known as blessers, charmers, wisemen and wisewomen.

Kaaren Christ of Llewellyn Journal explains, "A “familiar” is simply a living creature having personal and spiritual meaning to you, and the experience is available to anyone who seeks it. No need for otherworldly experiences or altered states of consciousness."

Since the 20th Century, a revival of having a familiar or an animal spirit or guide has occurred, and the concept of having a pet or an invisible spirit is actually quite common.

Personally, I have only owned cats.  Sgt. Pepper (a.k.a. "Kitty") was a [mostly] black female that was rescued from a horse farm and our family had her for 17 years.  Sebastian, I bought at a local animal shelter.  I brought him home because his paw stuck out of the cage and touched me several times... there were over a dozen cats from which to choose, but I thought that his reaching for me meant something.  He was a 23 lb. cat, that was a true character, a real man of a cat, and I had him for 14 years.  Now, we have the stray "Puddy McGillicuddy Goodwin" and she's been here about 2 1/2 years.  I don't know her age or from where she came, but she is the most loving cat I've ever owned with the sweetest disposition and she is very social.   All of my cats have been black and white. 

In this respect, I have a handful of creatures to which I am drawn.
From his book, "The Once Unknown Familiar", Timothy Roderick breaks down the traits and characteristics of these animals.

CAT:  Mysterious, independent, intellectual, inventive

Influences:  Magical visions, independence, strengthens one's psychic potency, ability to move between the worlds with ease.

Personality - the cat personality carries over into the entire cat family - lions, tigers, cougars, etc.  So apply the powers and the personality traits listed here to the entire feline family.   The cat personality is highly independent.   Cats have ways of getting what they want, one way or another.  The won't often thin of how their actions affect others, but they generally don't intend malice.  Cats are born mysterious and can evoke spiritual aid without much trouble.  They are trickster-teachers who might just take a swipe at others in order to teach them a lesson. They can revert to being wild creatures without much notice.

BEAR: Nurturing, loving, maternal, strong willed.

Influences - Promotes healing, motherly love, guardian of emotional strength and mental stability

Personality - Bears can't help but intimidate others who may not know them,, but in truth is that they can be very nurturing, open-hearted and playful.  Bears are highly intelligent and their curiosity is easily piqued.  A bear always knows what everyone's weaknesses are and will strike in the soft underbelly if threatened. 

DRAGON:  Powerful, grand, wise

Influences:  Magical adeptness, mastery of self-control, reveals the hidden knowledge of ancient mysteries, evokes aid of salamanders, mastery of the element of Fire.

Personality - The dragon is a very wise being.  Usually the person with the dragon personality seems like an "old soul" capable of inspiring those who are seekers of higher truth.  The dragon guards it jewels of wisdom jealously, giving them only to those who prove themselves worldly.  

ELEPHANT:  Justice-oriented, people loving, dominant

Influences: Longevity, memory enhancement, restful sleep, impervious

Personality - Elephants are wonderful individuals.  They are just in their dealings and can't stand situations of imbalance.  They will go out of their way to correct an out of kilter situation.  They are take-charge individuals and frequently take positions of leadership either in their field of work or in their community.  

RAVEN:  Innocent, playful, joker

Influences: A prankster, begins new ventures, success, power to make the right choices, reveals future lives

Personality - Animal equivalent of the Tarot Trump card, The Fool. Ravens can be quite profound in their philosophical thinking, yet they present themselves in such an unassuming way that it is difficult for others to get the raven's message.  They are life-affirming and prefer simplicity in all matters. They are problem solvers and can handle even the most difficult people with success. 

Though, I don't recommend it, you can go online and take a quiz to find out who or what your animal spirit is.  I don't recommend it because everything I looked at was fluff and foolishness.  If you wish, you can find out what your animal spirit is, by thinking about to what creatures you are attracted.  

It is as simple as that.  Have you dreamed of a certain animal?  Are you frightened by it or do you love it?  What is it doing?  Is it your companion or a threat?

Just think about what animal you are drawn to, or perhaps dreamed of or love to look at, I personally do not believe that I have a "familiar" or an animal spirit that guides me, that I know of!  But, it is a very personal choice!

Friday, January 9, 2015


"'Opening Pandora's Box' is a metaphor for our time. It is a story about how one of two brothers, Epimetheus, is seduced by appearances and his own desires. He did not have the forethought to look into the true nature of what he saw, or to understand the implications of his actions beyond himself. The moral of the story is that once the Earth is opened, she cannot be closed, and what we spoil we spoil forever. Mining the last remaining wildernesses and the critical ecosystems of our Earth is irreversible. The other brother, Prometheus, in the story, warns us that hindsight is too late and hoping for the best is ignorant and impotent. What the story recommends is foresight: from this come the gifts of a true civilisation and right relation towards the Earth, our source of life.

Once upon a time in ancient Greece there were two brothers, grandsons of Gaia, Mother Earth: Prometheus (whose name means 'forethought' or 'foresight') and Epimetheus (whose name means 'afterthought' or hindsight').

Zeus, belonging to the next generation, who became king of the gods in Olympus, hid fire from human beings. Prometheus, closer to the source, stole that fire back from the gods, concealing it in a stalk of fennel, and gave it to humans. He also taught humans all the civilising arts, such as writing, mathematics, agriculture, medicine and science.

But Zeus, in revenge for the theft of the fire, played a cruel trick on humans. He ordered the gods - who did not dare refuse him - to create a beautiful woman in the image of a goddess. Hephaestus, the smith god from beneath the Earth, made her from Earth mixed with water; Athena, goddess of wisdom, taught her crafts and weaving; Aphrodite, goddess of love, gave her irresistible charm; Hermes, god of imagination, gave her a deceitful nature, and mischievously called her 'Pandora' ('pan' meaning 'all' and 'dora' meaning 'gifts'), because 'all her gifts' had been given her by the gods, showing her to be a parody of the only true Giver of All Gifts, who was Gaia, Mother Goddess Earth.

Now Prometheus, looking in advance into the nature of things, warned his brother not to accept any gift from Olympian Zeus, the new patriarch, who was reversing the order of life. But when Zeus tempted Epimetheus with Pandora, he forgot his brother's warning, and took the gift from Zeus with great delight. After all, she looked so promising: she was clothed in a silver robe and an embroidered veil; she wore on her head a crown of gold garlanded with flowers and new grown herbs and patterned with the many creatures of land and sea. Gods and mortals were seized with wonder. How could mere humans withstand such temptation?

There was an urn, a mighty jar (only later called a box), which had always been forbidden to be opened, for the sake of the whole world. It contained powers beyond human capacity to understand and control. These are 'all the gifts' of life and death, which Gaia alone can give, as 'Mother of All.' But Pandora, not knowing what she was doing, seeing it, opened it, and out came all the troubles known to mortals: sicknesses by day and by night, old age, harsh toil and death. Only Hope did not fly out, remaining under the lip of the jar, as Zeus had allowed Pandora to put the lid back just in time. Yet, before this, the people on Earth lived in peace, free from the suffering that now plagues them."  Source: gaiafoundation.org


Pandora by Alexandre Cabanel

Pandora by Patricia Watwood, oil on canvas

Pandora by Dante Charles Gabriel Rossetti
 By Steve DeLaMare
By Jean Cousin 1550

John William Waterhouse

Mac Slavo



John William Waterhouse

Paul Cesaire Gariot

Nicolas Régnier

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 
Thomas Benjamin Kennington 

The Temptation of Pandora, by Jeffrey Batchelor
Nach Charles Lenoir
Tom Bagshaw
Ernest Normand 
Catherine La Rose

Derek Brewster
Jules Joseph Lefebvre
Arthur Rackham

"An ancient and powerful magic item that came from the Greek God Zeus, as a gift to mankind. 

Given to Pandora to guard the box contains all the world's sorrows.  

Existing solely to tempt. 

Pandora's Box is part of the Grand Design.  

Should Demons manage to open it, Evil will spread and the world will be no more.  

Into every generation a Girl is born, descended from Pandora herself. 

This girl is destined to protect the box from Evil's hand. 

The Guardian's job is to shield the box from Evil.  

It's location has always been kept secret, even from the Elders who are ordered to protect it."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Frozen Charlotte

The Moral of the Story, before the story:

"Vanity is the quicksand of reason." 

"Vanity can easily overtake wisdom. It usually overtakes common sense." 

Diego Velasquez painted  this classic, entitled: “Venus at her Mirror” between 1647 and 1651. In this work, Venus lays comfortably in the nude while starring at her own reflection as a cherub holds the mirror.
The origin of the following story remains a bit controversial, as it was first credited as written by William Lorenzo Carter, a blind poet from Benson, Vermont, sometime around 1834.  Though blind, Carter was a traveling minstrel and sang "Young Charlotte" as a ballad where ever he roamed.  The song was wildly popular during that time.  Later, sometime around 1937, Phillips Barry discovered the poem had been published in 1834 in a Maine newspaper entitled "A Corpse Going to a Ball", (see below for the poem) written by Seba Smith.  Folklorists still remain confused about it's actual origin.

Please note: I have re-written the story from it's original text.

To learn about "Frozen Charlotte" dolls - please scroll the bottom of this post.
c. 1834:

This is the story of Fair Charlotte.  Daughter of a very wealthy business man, who doted on this beautiful young lady when ever possible, as he could afford to do so.  He bought her the prettiest dresses and loveliest jewels in the land, and she wanted it all.

Charlotte was indeed a beauty, who vainly knew it.  Never could she pass a mirror without longingly admiring her own image.   A narcissistic, self-centered beauty, she was.   She wore her golden hair in cascading curls, which framed her milky skin.  Her lips were ripened cherries, with eyes the color of the Caribbean Sea - oh, how they sparkled - against her blushing cheeks.

During this holiday season, Charlotte cast her web upon the town's most eligible bachelor - a striking lad named Charles; affectionately known as "Charlie" - and persuaded him to escort her to most sought after social event of the year, where a nearby prosperous farmer had planned a New Year's ball.  All the while, she was obsessed with the thought of how all would envy her, as she made her grand entrance.

The evening came when Charlotte paraded down the grand staircase to meet her escort, wearing the most stunning gossamer pale blue gown, made of silk and satin and lace.  She twinkled and glowed - positively radiated splendor - as she stepped into the light of the entry to greet Charles, who was standing with Charlotte's parents.  

Charles, dressed in a warm fashionable cape, with a scarf bundled around his neck, he removed his fur hat to receive the resplendent Charlotte.   

And the story goes.... 

"Please, my daughter, wear my warm wool coat and scarf," pleaded Charlotte's mother. "you will catch your death out in this bitter cold."

"Oh, Heavens No! Mother, such an ugly coat will ruin my gown," returned Charlotte. 

Charles and her parents begged Charlotte to be sensible and to wear a coat or take a blanket, she could not be convinced to cover her gown.  

Hesitantly, Charles helped Charlotte into the open sleigh that would be pulled by two fast horses.  The snow had begun to fall and the landscape was white with frost, against the light of the moon.  

As they headed into night with naught but the sound of the metal sleigh runners crunching against the frozen ground, Charlie asked, "Charlotte, Charlotte, are you cold?"

" 'Tis very cold," she replied, shivering.

"There is a blanket that I can wrap around you, under the seat right here.  It is a long, cold ride,"  said Charles.

"Do you want me to smell like a horse blanket when we reach the party? No!" snarled Charlotte. 

At this, Charles whipped the horses to hurry the horses, as he could see that Charlotte was very cold.  Her lips now grew blue with frost that matched her gown, and her hair was sprinkled with snow.

"Charlotte, dear Charlotte, are you cold?" asked Charles again. "The bearskin on which you are seated will warm you."

"What!" replied Charlotte her tone much gentler now,  "And wrinkle this beautiful gown? I have anticipation to keep me warm."

A bit further they traveled, and Charles glanced at the maiden in the light of the ethereal moon.  Her skin glowed with a surreal hue which made him shiver and she seemed to sweetly smile back at him.

 "Charlotte, Charlotte! Are you cold?" he pleaded "Come. Sit closer to me, and I will share my cloak! My body will warm you."

"That would not be proper. Besides, I am warmer now." 

Charles whipped the horses furiously to move as fast as they could, and in the distance he could see the soft glow of light from the farm's windows, and smoke from the chimney billowing softly into the sky.  Closer still, he could make out the roaring fire glowing in the hearth, within.

Charles reined in the horses as they drove through the wrought iron gates.  He jumped from the sleigh, taking her cold hand, he cried, "Charlotte!  Charlotte!  We are here!  Let us get inside and warm ourselves by the fire!"

But, Charlotte said not a word, nor did she stir, for her vanity was her demise.


"Frozen Charlotte"  by Natalie Merchant

Blue like the winter snow in this full moon
Black like the silhouettes of the trees
Late blooming flowers lye frozen underneath the stars
I want you to remember me that way 

Far away

I'll be gone
Will you wait for me here? 
How long? 
I don't know
But wait for me here 

Still as the river grows in December

Silent and perfect blinding ice
Spring keeps her promises
No cold can keep her back
I want you to remember me that way 

Far away

I'll be gone
Will you wait for me here? 
How long? 
I don't know
But wait for me here
Don't follow me to where I'll go 

Far away

I'll be gone
Will you wait for me here? 
How long? 
I don't know
But wait for me here
Don't follow me to where I've gone
Someday you'll take my place
And I'll wait for you here


ON A PERSONAL NOTE:  Interestingly enough, in Gloucester, MA, I lived at the end of an industrial plaza, known as "The Fort" (not to be confused with Stage Fort Park).  

The beach in front of the apartment building I lived in was the "Pavilion Beach", and people frequently (and some of us, daily) would populate the beach in search of sea-glass.  

As we searched, we would occasionally discover small, very antiquated china doll parts.  An arm, a hand, a partial head, a leg and so on.  (I still have some!) We always wondered why they were washing up on the beach, and it was the only beach that they were found, to my knowledge.  Now, after reading about the dolls, I can't help but wonder if there was a ship wreck whose cargo was Frozen Charlotte's or perhaps the dolls were used as ballast?

To forever immortalize this story, "Frozen Charlotte" is also a name used to describe a naked china doll that was manufactured, all in once piece, from approximately 1850 to around 1920. The name comes from the fore-mentioned folk ballad.  Wiki describes the dolls as "pillar dolls, solid chinas or bathing babies" ranging in size from under an inch all the way up to or over 18 inches!  

"The smallest dolls were sometimes used as charms in Christmas puddings. Smaller sizes were very popular for putting in doll's houses. Occasionally versions are seen with a glazed china front and an unglazed stoneware back. This enabled the doll to float on its back when placed in a bath.

Frozen Charlotte dolls were popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States. Smaller versions of the dolls were also known as penny dolls, because they were often sold for a cent.  Most were made in Germany.

They are also made in bisque, and can come in white, pink-tinted, or, more rarely, painted black. Some rare examples have molded chemises. Male dolls (identified by their boyish hairstyles) are called Frozen Charlies." - wiki

“A Corpse Going to a Ball.”

Young Charlotte lived by the mountainside,
In a lonely, dreary spot;
No other dwelling for three miles round,
Except her father’s cot.
And yet on many a winter’s eve,
Young swains would gather there,
For her father kept a social abode,
And she was very fair

Her father liked to see her dressed,
Just like some city belle;
She was the only child he had,
He loved his daughter well.
Her hair was black as raven’s wings,
Her skin was lily fair,
And her teeth were like the pearls of white,
None with her could compare

At a village just sixteen miles off,
There’s a merry ball tonight,
Although the air is freezing cold,
Her heart is warm and light.
And there she watched with an anxious look,
‘Til a well-known voice she heard,
And driving up to the cottage door,
Young Charles in his sleigh appeared.

The mother to her daughter said,
“These blankets round you fold;
For it is a dreadful night, you know,
You’ll catch your death of cold.”
“Oh, no! Oh, no!” the darling cried,
She laughed like a gypsy queen,
“For to ride in blankets muffled up,
I never could be seen.”

“My silken cloak, it’s quite enough –
You know it’s lined throughout.
Besides I have a silk mantle,
To tie my face about.”
The gloves and bonnet being on,
They jumped into the sleigh,
And away they did ride o’er the mountainside
And the hills so far away.

There is music in the sounds of bells,
As over the hills they go;
What a creaking wake the runners make,
As they bite the frozen snow.
And away they then go silently,
‘Til five cold miles were passed,
And Charles with these few frozen words,
The silence broke at last.

“Such a night as this I never knew,
My lines I scarce can hold.”
With a trembling voice young Charlotte cried,
“I am exceeding cold.”
He cracked the whip, he urged his steed
Much faster than before,
Until at last five other cold miles,
In silence they rode o’er.

“How very fast the freezing air
Is gathering on my brow.”
With a trembling voice young Charlotte cried,
“I’m growing warmer now.”
And away they did ride o’er the mountainside,
And through the pale star light,
Until the village inn they reached,
And the ballroom hove in sight.

When they reached the inn, young Charles jumped out,
And gave his hand to her,
“Why sit you there like a monument,
And have no power to stir?”
He called her once, he called her twice,
She answered not a word;
He called all for her hand again,
But still she never stirred.

He stripped the mantle off her brow,
And the pale stars on her shone,
And quickly into the lighted hall,
Her helpless form was born.
They tried all within their power,
Her life for to restore,
But Charlotte was a frozen corpse,
And is never to speak more.

He threw himself down by her side,
And the bitter tears did flow,
He said, “My dear and intended bride,
You never more shall know.”
He threw his arms around her neck,
He kissed her marble brow,
And his thoughts went back to the place where she said,
“I am growing warmer now.”

They bore her out into the sleigh,
And Charles with her rode home,
And when they reached the cottage door,
Oh, how her parents mourned!
They mourned the loss of their daughter dear,
And Charles mourned o’er her doom,
Until at last his heart did break,
Now they both slumber in one tomb.

A variation of the ending:

"Why you sit there like a monument
That has no power to stir?
He asked her once, he asked her twice,
But received no answer from her,
He asked her once, he asked her twice,
But she answered not a word,
He asked her again for her hand again, 

And still she never stirred."