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Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Feast of All Hallow's Eve

Across the fen and moors,

and far from the crashing shores;

The Witching Hour approacheth,

deep in the woodland forest.

And, as all of the land has numbly nodded,

Tall trees stand watch over a little stone cottage,

and, greet the grey smoke rising 

from a brick and mortar chimney.

Inside, from the ceiling's wooden rafters,

Herbs hang from gnarled hooks and antlers.

On the hearth is a bubbling cauldron,

that is black and tarnished with soot.

Suspended above a roaring flame,

is a gurgling, boiling toadstool soup;

to which the wise old woman, 

adds mermaid tears,

lizard teeth, and Eye of Newt.

The cat of black is silent and sleek,

and moves on padded feet,

 'round her ankles, 

though it never tangles,

as she works her sorcery.

While the cat is content and purring;

The creatures out of doors are roused and stirring.

She reaches for a key from an ancient cupboard drawer,

Then opening the creaking, arched wooden door,

She exclaims words of alerting;



Into the night, she cries,

to all the living beings who are now emerging.

The elves appear from under mushroom caps,

Fairies leave their beds from dragon-snaps;

And, a cluster of stars begin their tune.

They nudge and whisper to the sleepy moon,

to ignite its glow upon their dances.

The stars advise the moon, 

" 'Tis time to climb,

and levitate to the farthest reaches!

Come!  Convene with the forest creatures!"

Silently, a great white stag advances, 

stepping over mossy rocks and fallen branches.

From scaled eggs, baby dragons are hatched,

Splaying wings and breathing fire;

And, as the sirens begin their midnight choir,

a raven appears, landing on the roof of thatch.

They spy upon the wisp-o-willow,

pondering its reflection in a watery pillow,

and waking from its nap.

The wolf watches the raven, 

parlay with the owl;

so the wolf follows the siren's song, 

and begins to howl.

Fairy wings illuminate the air,

as they rise, like fireflies, 

flying far into the sky,

and shaking glitter from their hair.

They dance over ivy, myrtle and weeds;

like summer winds that blow dandelion seeds,

sprinkling light across the blackest night.

And as the clock strikes twelve,

so appears the elves,

who were busy gathering herbs and flowers;

to bring to the wise old wench, 

who is now aware of the hour.

She takes their goods to add to the soup;

and the other creatures decorate the Great forest table.

The feast has begun, as the goblins strike their drums,

and mischievous imps light an array of candles.

With a sudden commotion, arrived the Fairy Queen;

(Who stood much taller than others of her breed)

on the back of a horned beast with cloven feet.

They all gather 'round, to revel the night, 

and partake in the heady staple.

Though, no human has witnessed, 

or has ever seen,

celebrations or events such as these;

In my imagination,

this is a fabrication, 

of the All Hallow's Eve.

© Denise Goodwin, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Werewolf of Bedburg

In the massive online game, One Tamriel [The Elder Scrolls Online], my little wood-elf character can transform into a werewolf, after a certain amount of time has lapsed, with the touch of 2 buttons on my PS4 controller.  (So, now you know my guilty video game addiction pleasure).   She becomes afflicted with "Lycanthropy" or in simpler terms, turned into a werewolf.  Lycanthropy is the  is the imaginary ability of a human being to transform into an animal like state, most commonly, as a werewolf.   The metamorphosis or transformation is called shape-shifting.
I can't help but wonder.... how many of us, after watching the series Charmed or movies such as Van Helsing or X-Men, have secretly wished they could shape-shift to vanquish or escape their enemies?  I'll admit that I have....

The belief of werewolves' existence was at it's height during the late 16th century, in France, which resulted in frequent trials, and mass hysteria like the famous European witch trials.   

Image source: yovisto
The most notorious historical account is not of a werewolf, but a man named Peter Stumpp who was also French.  He was a Rhenish farmer who was a serial killer and a cannibal, who became known as the "Werewolf of Bedburg".  Stumpf (or Stumpp) is known as other aliases, which include these names: Ubel Griswold, Abal Griswold, and Abil Griswold.  

There is reference to his last name as Stumpp or Stumpf that it may have been given because his left hand had been cut off, hence, leaving only a stump.  It was later alleged that the "werewolf" (accused) had its left forepaw cut off, then the same injury proved the guilt of the man.

Image source: viralnova
The source of Peter Stumpf's reign of terror only survive in 2 pamphlets, published in London in 1590, which, today, can be located at the British Museum, and the other one in the Lamberth Library.  They were apparently translated from a German pamphlet, and no known copies of the original pamphlet are known to have survived.  In 1920, these pamphlets were discovered by an occultist by the name of Montague Summers.  Apparently, the contents of the pamphlet(s) fully describe Peter Stumpf's horrific rampage of serial killing, (as told by through many statements from the locals who witnessed his crimes. 

Summers must  have been quite fascinated with the information, as he went on to create a reproduction of the information which contained woodcuts, in his own version of the stories, entitled, The Werewolf.

Stumpf was a lucrative farmer, during  the 1580's who was believed to be a widower, left with a daughter, Beele (a.k.a. Sybil) and a son, whose name is unknown. 

Before his trial, it is reported that he had an "intimate relationship with a distant relative named Katharina Trump, or "Trumpen" or "Trompen" - her name is not entirely known, nor accurately recorded.

gif image: tumblr
"During 1589, Stumpf had one of the most lurid and famous werewolf trials of history. After being stretched on a rack, and before further torture commenced, he confessed to having practiced black magic since he was twelve years old. He claimed that the Devil had given him a magical belt or girdle, which enabled him to metamorphose into "the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws." Removing the belt, he said, made him transform back to his human form.

google images - hamsteadhealth
For twenty-five years, Stumpf had allegedly been an "insatiable bloodsucker" who gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Being threatened with torture he confessed to killing and eating fourteen children, two pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and "ate their hearts panting hot and raw," which he later described as "dainty morsels."  One of the fourteen children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured.

gif image - pinterest
Image source: tumblr
Not only was Stumpf accused of being a serial murderer and cannibal, but also of having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, who was sentenced to die with him, and that he had coupled with a distant relative, which was also considered to be incestuous according to the law. In addition to this he confessed to having had intercourse with a succubus sent to him by the Devil.

Image credit: wickedhorrorblog

The execution of Stumpf, on October 31, 1589, and of his daughter and mistress is one of the most brutal on record: he was put to a wheel, where "flesh was torn from his body", in ten places, with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with the blunt side of an ax-head to prevent him from returning from the grave, before he was beheaded and his body burned on a pyre. His daughter and mistress had already been flayed and strangled and were burned along with Stumpf's body. As a warning against similar behavior, local authorities erected a pole with the torture wheel and the figure of a wolf on it, and at the very top they placed Peter Stumpf's severed head." 
- Source: wikipedia

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Sandman

“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.”  
Edgar Allan Poe

Everyone craves a good night's sleep, and we practice many ways to achieve this.   Listening to music, playing a game on your cell phone, reading, watching television and so on.   When we fall asleep, we hope for dreamless or peaceful sleep; yet, many are awakened by nightmares.  It is estimated that 5 to 10% of adults suffer from nightmares, and 50% of toddlers or children (ages 3 to 6) suffer from regular bad dreams or nightmares.  

Some people choose to utilize medications and even therapy, but personally, I prefer white noise and use a fan 365 nights per year.   About a decade ago, I used a sea-scape CD, and used repeat, to help lull me to sleep. 

Enter The Sandman.  

Commonly regarded as a cheerful presence, (always a male) who creates a restful night for children by creating sweet dreams, through some sort of wizardry.  

He is called the Sandman because he is known to blow or sprinkle magical dust, or sand, from his hands onto the eyes of children.  

In this folklore, when one wakes in the morning with grit in their eyes, it was often told to children that the Sandman had visited them.   

Jennifer Anniston as Rachel, in this short video from the popular television show Friends really dislikes anything near her eyes.

This Sandman, is frequently depicted in vintage illustrations, as a childish or small elf-like creature, who appears quite cheerful while administering his night time duty.  This Sandman is benevolent and a creator of dreams, and even has the ability to create premonitions, so that one may be able to foretell their own future.  

In 1841, Hans Christian Anderson, gave the Sandman proverbial wings in his story called, "Ole Lukøje". 

The origin of The Sandman story is believed to be Norse or Northern Europe, and most likely an oral tradition passed on to help children fall asleep, and may have been were Anderson adopted the idea.  Anderson describes The Sandman's visits with a pleasant approach:

"In the evening, while the children are seated at the table or in their little chairs, he comes up the stairs very softly, for he walks in his socks, then he opens the doors without the slightest noise, and throws a small quantity of very fine dust in their eyes, just enough to prevent them from keeping them open, and so they do not see him. Then he creeps behind them, and blows softly upon their necks, till their heads begin to droop.... Under each arm he carries an umbrella; one of them, with pictures on the inside, he spreads over the good children, and then they dream the most beautiful stories the whole night. But the other umbrella has no pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children so that they sleep heavily, and wake in the morning without having dreams at all."

There is another Sandman, whose nocturnal visits are not surrounded by sugar plums and winged fairies dancing in one's head.  He is a wicked, fanged creature with long fingers and nails, who collects the skin of his dead victims, and wears them as a putrid and decaying cloak.  He lurks in the shadows of bedrooms, whispering "tick-tock, tick-tock" which induces sleep in his victim.  Once the individual has dozed off, the Sandman may devour the innocent dreamer, suffocate you with sand, or steal your eyes and eat them!  

"Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream...." 
– The Chordettes

This very disturbing story, "The Sandman", was translated from German as Der Sandmann, written in 1816 as a short story by Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann.  It was first introduced in 1817, in his book of stories entitled, "The Night Pieces".  Hoffman delivers a inverted, satirical critique of society at that time, and feeds fear into the minds of the reader.  The story is a narrative, and, according to the protagonist's nurse in one excerpt, describes the Sandman with horror-based detail:

"He is a wicked man, who comes to children when they won't go to bed, and throws a handful of sand into their eyes, so that they start out bleeding from their heads. He puts their eyes in a bag and carries them to the crescent moon to feed his own children, who sit in the nest up there. They have crooked beaks like owls so that they can pick up the eyes of naughty human children.  A most frightful picture of the cruel Sandman became impressed upon my mind; so that when in the evening I heard the noise on the stairs I trembled with agony and alarm, and my mother could get nothing out of me but the cry, 'The Sandman, the Sandman!' stuttered forth through my tears. I then ran into the bedroom, where the frightful apparition of the Sandman terrified me during the whole night."

In the modern-day supernatural thriller based on The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, our friend, The Sandman comes to life in Episode 3: 'For the Triumph of Evil'.  Apparently, sand emanates from his own eyes, which he gathers into his hand to cast into the eyes of his victim.  Let's face it:  He is really a disturbing creature!

^Metalica^ - Enter Sandman [Official music video]

Perhaps one of the most frightening variations of The Sandman is the character of Freddy Kruger, appearing in the 1984 movie "A Nightmare on Elm Street".   Wes Craven was Freddy's creator, who invented this seemingly invincible man to enter into the real world, via dreams.  Though this is a slasher movie, I still feel that a strong association can be drawn from The Sandman.  Freddy, and the film are a superb representation of a realized nightmare, the suffering children and the power of subconsciousness.  This flick scared me to my core, and I still have several fears resulting from watching this particular movie.  

"Wes Craven said his inspiration for the basis of Freddy Krueger's power stemmed from several stories in the Los Angeles Times about a series of mysterious deaths: All the victims had reported recurring nightmares and died in their sleep.   Additionally, Craven's original script characterized Freddy as a child molester, which Craven said was the "worst thing" he could think of. The decision was made to instead make him a child murderer in order to avoid being accused of exploiting the spate of highly publicized child molestation cases in California around the time A Nightmare on Elm Street went into production.  

Craven's inspirations for the character included a bully from his school during his youth, a disfigured homeless man who had frightened him when he was 11, and the 1970's pop song "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright. In an interview, he said, "When I looked down there was a man very much like Freddy walking along the sidewalk. He must have sensed that someone was looking at him and stopped and looked right into my face. He scared the living daylights out of me, so I jumped back into the shadows. I waited and waited to hear him walk away. Finally I thought he must have gone, so I stepped back to the window. The guy was not only still looking at me but he thrust his head forward as if to say, 'Yes, I'm still looking at you.' The man walked towards the apartment building's entrance. I ran through the apartment to our front door as he was walking into our building on the lower floor. I heard him starting up the stairs. My brother, who is ten years older than me, got a baseball bat and went out to the corridor but he was gone." - Source: wiki

Below, "The Sandman" - an (oral narrative) horror story, created by Tam Lin.  This short film is a bit different, as it appears to be an art project, of sorts. Still and gifs pictures are combined with the spoken word create this modern and unique tale of The Sandman. 

Image Credits:

Umbrella Illustration by Caroline Emilie Mundt - Pinterest
Sleepy Hollow Sandman - tumblr
The Sandman - Illustration by Brian Bolland
Midsummer Night's Dream, 1935 gif image
Other:  tumblr, Pinterest, Google Images under search words Sandman, sleep, sleep gif

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Crone

October is the month when we fully welcome the season of autumn, as this month is associated with vibrant colors such as red, yellow and orange which seem to remind us in some spectacular fashion, of  the beginning of the end.  Of finality, or the proverbial "calm before the storm".  The final cutting of hay in our local fields have been completed, and bales are tucked away in the farmer's barns.  The wonderful yield of our gardens have been canned and stored.  We begin to light the fires in the hearth, and spend less time out of doors.

As the last leaves fall from the trees, we realize that the cold months of  winter lie ahead.  Yet, before the month ends, our imagination is set on fire as we begin to plan for our costumes and parties for Halloween.  

Folklore and superstitions may be most popular in October, especially as Halloween nears; and, what could be more representative of this holiday, then the old witch, also known as the crone or crone goddess?  

The crone is frequently depicted as an old woman, whose reproductive years have passed, hence giving her a supernatural quality.  She is often venerated for having deep wisdom and knowledge.  She stands for dichotomy, as it is unclear whether her intentions are for good or ill, as her character can be both accommodating and obstructive.

She is the Dark Mother Goddess, and the last aspect of the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother, Crone; and as such, represents winter, the waning of the moon, the direction of north, death and ultimately, the promise of rebirth.   Some love and revere her, others fear her.  The Crone is frequently perverted into the quintessence of evil, the Underworld and the color black, as story-tellers often use this figure to portray a villain. 

Typically, she is illustrated as the old woman stirring a steamy cauldron, and wearing a tall or pointed hat. Common descriptions of a crone are frequently negative, and may include words such as ugly, ill-tempered old woman,  user of magic or sorcery, spiteful or one who casts spells.  The opposite descriptions may include words such as powerful, wisdom, wonderful, mystical, and astrologically important. 

Nothing is more apparent, then the crone's evil depiction than in fiction, movies and television.  The hag, or crone has many faces.  She is the old woman holding the big red apple before Snow White.   She is the Sea Hag in the old cartoon Popeye; or the Three Witches (or Weird Sisters or Wayward Sisters) are characters in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth.  The Crone is amusingly Grandmama of The Addams Family, Samantha of Bewitched and the Wicked Witch of the West....and no, I didn't forget you Harry Potter fans, she is also Bellatrix Lestrange.  And the list goes on and on.

In Somerset, England, local folklore describe "The Woman of the Mist" appears sometimes as a crone gathering sticks; and there were reports of sightings of her as late as the 1950s.  In Ireland, she is portrayed among stacks of bones, and now the crone associated with the Wiccan Samhain. 

"An aspect of the nocturnal activity of the hag is that they are reputed to ‘ride people’ at night. The term ‘hag ridden’ is derived from the belief that the hag visits at night and sits upon the victim’s chest to produce a sensation of distress and discomfort called a nightmare. The term ‘hag’ and Old Hag’ has come to mean, in both British and north American folklore, a nightmare spirit causing in modern terms a sleep paralysis. In Persia the hag called Bakhtak (which means nightmare) also sits on upon a sleeper’s chest making them waken unable to move or breathe.There exist many tales of hags being a type of nursery bogeyman. Reference to hags is used to frighten children into being well behaved and going to sleep on time." - Source: ericwedwards.wordpress.com

During the Elizabethan Era, and up to the Renaissance, Wise Women were separated by "Black" and "White".  White Witches were those women who had an understanding of the medicinal value of plants and herbs, and were known as healers.  "Black" Witches were thought to have practiced dark magic in an effort to cause physical harm to others. 

The Crone, also called "The Queen of the Night" is also associated with spiders and spider webs.  She may be affiliated with familiars such as [black] cats, owls, crows, vultures and ravens, and with divination such as clairvoyance and "scrying".   See Vermont Deadline post "Familiars and Animal Spirits":  

In the New Age circles, the word "crone" is said to have derived from the old word for "crown", which has been suggested that "wisdom that emanates from the head like a halo."  Wikipedia disputes this by indicating that the word "crone" entered "the English language around the year 1390, deriving from the Anglo-French word carogne (an insult), itself deriving from the Old North French charogne, caroigne, meaning a disagreeable woman (literally meaning "carrion"). "

Today, while there has been a resurgence of earth-based religions, such as Wicca and Paganism, (and one may add, the fact that women live longer) the Crone is revered for being a healer and a mid-wife, and is also referred to a a "Wise Woman".     New Age and other spiritual circles conduct ceremonies, referred to as "Cronings" or "Croning Rituals", as a means of acknowledging and celebrating a milestone birthday, (usually after one has gone through menopause).  

Denise Goodwin

Sunday, October 16, 2016


It is difficult to imagine that last year at this time, many of us were busy posting pictures of pumpkins and corn mazes on Facebook, and Tweeting comfortable news on Twitter.  I don't think any of us could have believed that our country would be in such a maelstrom of division, as it is today.  This election year has brought out the worst of all of us, and our emotions are deeply visceral.  Never before have I been more concerned about an election outcome, than this year.  I have found myself addicted to the news, and I anxiously wait for the next bomb to be dropped. 
I am an angry that the fundamental issues that we should normally expect to discuss and debate during an election year, have been squashed by what has been nothing less than a side show in a circus.  I want to hear how the candidates will help the homeless, feed our families, and heat our homes.  I want to hear about how they will answer to nations that threaten our freedoms.  I want to hear about their policies and their responses to American concerns; yet, here we are, feeling as if we must don chain-mail to deflect the insults and rhetoric of our opponent's views. 

I am a Democrat, always have been, and no one can take away my right to express myself, as I am an American and I'm sure many will not agree with my position, but that is between you and God.  I am female and I vote.  Today I am angry.... And, when I get angry, I write. 


Eminem, will you rap this?
The whole country is knee-deep in shit.
And, I want to live in a country where the definition of separation, 
means distance, and nothing else;
Because we love each other, despite of our hardships or wealth.
Where all men are created equal, includes women, too;
And that we have the right to do with our bodies what we choose.
Prosperity through hard work, is still the American Dream,
And, I believe that our country's ideology can be redeemed.
We should not tolerate power as a means to molest,
nor should women normalize or expect an unwanted caress.
We've come to far, to be reduced and ridiculed;
Our minds should not be dismissed, nor our bodies misused.
Shame on you, who turn a blind eye to repeated incidents,
For you are degrading the victims and mocking the innocent.
Many are defending the actions of one, as a common distraction;
But, if you're jumping on the wagon of this adverse reaction,
You're flaming our flag and disparaging our one nation.
Wake up!  These people are paid, that you see on the news,
To support him and his distorted point of views;
For anyone with one shred of decency,
Would never tolerate his racism, hatred and obscenities. 
Some of you must have turned the channel,
during that last, now famous, debate; 
Because the world was bombarded with irrelevant babble,
and, most of his answers were to topics that didn't relate.
Our world is changing, and not what it used to be, 
We live in real time, and are barraged with rapid technology;
Our country is riddled with problems, this much is true,
But don't we all stand under that flag of red, white and blue?
Because, above all, Democracy should be stressed:
The American Dream remains the same:
Through hard work, we can all reap the same benefits, 
But only if we work together, without bigotry or prejudice.
Civil Unions should not be regarded as sin, 
Because love is love, where ever one finds it!
And, one should never be judged by the color of their skin;
Old Jim Crow should be buried, gone and dead;
But stands to be resurrected, if he is elected -
and this we should dread!
We need to continue to develop laws that are reflect our times,
And our lives are endangered, if you think otherwise.
For our own safety, background checks for those who want guns,
Is plain common sense, and these we should conduct.
Your rights will still be preserved under the Second Amendment,
You can still hunt and have fun with your guns,
But let's protect each other, and our little ones.
I believe that one must educate themselves on political facts,
Before you make statements from contorted rhetoric.
A Presidential candidate should be experienced,
and should possess a grain of common sense.
Unlike him, she is calm, cool and collected;
She's traveled the world, and is well connected.
Imagine this churl having high tea with the Queen!
Truly, you're not that naive, 
to think he's capable of negotiating world peace?
America, now is the time to dig down deep,
Can you really trust a man with nukes, that you can bait with a tweet?
I am a female who votes, and I'm a U.S. veteran,
And, I take offense when our freedom is threatened.
Yet, many continue to praise him for his business brilliance;
And, I don't care if he's worth one cent or millions,
For, if all Americans are held to the same standard, 
That our intention is to pay our fair share of tax, 
Shouldn't he be held to the same expectation?
Are you excusing this behavior,
because he's famous for giving the axe?
(This guy can't even find Syria on a map).
Yet, weeks have passed, and he still has not provided this information.
A world leader should not represent power through intimidation
Nor, should our immigrants be threatened with relocation.
How many decades have we fought to tear down walls?
Yet, he wants to build another, twice as tall!
Her emails in question, are simply strategies of an election,
And for the record, 
there is nothing wrong with striving toward perfection.  
Maybe you could take a lesson!
The election draws near, so here's your last chance,
To stand with the woman with stamina and perseverance.
Who is ready to defend the down-trodden and the disabled,
For she has proven she's steady at the helm and more than able.
She has proven she'll fight for the voiceless, and the victims;
She will provide you with facts, and doesn't rely on fiction. 
Examine your conscience, and cast an anchor into the blue;
Our nation is bleeding, divided, and there is too much hate;
And it is because of this, I must advocate:
Never, ever believe that he can "make our country great".

 © Denise Goodwin, 10/16/16