I think I've stated this before on this very blog, but it bears repeating: there are only a scant handful of horror books that have actually succeeded in terrifying me. Dan Simmons "Song Of Kali" is probably the most powerful, which is why I've saved it for last.
"Song of Kali" is the story of Robert, an American journalist, who is sent to Calcutta, India to investigate a deceased poet, who might not be dead after all. His descent into the dark world of Kali-worshippers and the living dead lead up to one of the biggest and most brutal punches to the gut I've ever experienced with a book. It's truly horrifying.
As the days grew short and winds began to blow the fallen leaves about, an invitation to a Halloween party was a delightful surprise. Often delivered in secret after dark mysteriously appearing on the doorstep. Here are some examples of verses from such invites circa 1920 and earlier.
Dr. Hans Holzer PhD,(January 26, 1920 – April 26, 2009) Often called "the original Ghost Hunter," investigated thousands of ghost and haunting cases, and wrote more than 145 books on the supernatural. Having earned his PhD from the London College of Applied Science, he spent over five decades traveling the world to obtain first hand accounts of paranormal experiences, interviewing expert researchers, and developing para-psychological protocols and terminology such as 'sensitive' and 'beings of light.' Holzer's influence on today's researchers is far-reaching; many of the theories we have today about ghost phenomena are due to or heavily influenced by his work.
"Ghosts: True Encounters with the World Beyond is a gigantic volume, documenting almost 200 cases of haunted houses, ships, castles, and just about any place imaginable! The cases are far more complex than just your average white-sheeted ghoul in the attic. Holzer examines the differences between "real ghosts," who reveal themselves to living people, and psychic impressions, which occur to many witnesses, always at the same time and place. There is also solid advice for interpreting paranormal signals--and even photographs of ghostly apparitions."
I've pretty much read the entire thing, Awesome book! I recommend it.
21 year old Maria Elena Milagro "Helen" de Hoyos was a celebrated Cuban beauty in 1920s Key West. But when she fell ill, her mother took her to see Dr. Carl Tanzler who diagnosed the young lady with terminal tuberculosis.
Tanzler, despite being old enough to have been Helen's grandfather, fell in love with the exotic beauty and refused to accept her death in 1931. In 1933, after two years of mourning beside her mausoleum had proved insufficient, Tanzler stole Helen's body from its grave and took it to his home, where he went to great lengths to reconstruct the rotting remains. He dressed the corpse, gave her new eyes of glass and replaced her decomposed skin with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. He had also inserted a paper tube into the corpse's vagina so that he could commit necrophilia.
Tanzler's crime was not discovered until 1940, when Helen's sister Florinda heard unsavory rumors concerning the doctor and confronted him. Helen's carefully tended remains were put on display for a short time at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home before being interred once more in an unmarked grave at a secret location to prevent further desecration.
Criminal charges against Carl Tanzler were eventually dismissed, and he died in July of 1952. A life-sized waxen effigy of Helen was found in his home, her beautiful face recreated using the deceased's actual death mask.
This is one of the first candies I associate with Trick or Treat. We used to get little decorated paper bags filled with it. Now it is pre- packaged in individual servings for safety. Here is a little wikihistory on candy corn.
Candy corn is a confection popular in the United States, particularly around Halloween. Created in the 1880s by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company, the three colors of the candy are meant to mimic corn. Each piece is approximately the size of a whole kernel of corn, as if it fell off a ripe or dried ear of corn. The candy is usually tri-colored with a yellow base, orange center, and white tip, although the color combinations may vary. The yellow, broader part is the top, while the white point is the bottom. The most common alternative color scheme, called "Indian corn", is white, orange, and brown, and is sometimes associated with the Thanksgiving holiday. The National Confectioners Association estimate 20 million pounds of candy corn are sold each year. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day. Although regular candy corn is most popular at Halloween, it is available year-round. According to Brach's Confections, Inc., the top branded retailer of candy corn, each year Americans eat enough Brach's candy corn that if the kernels were laid end to end, they would circle the Earth 4.5 times.
Candy corn is made primarily from sugar, corn syrup and honey. Originally, candy corn was made by hand. Manufacturers first combined sugar, corn syrup, and water and cooked them into a slurry. Fondant was added for texture and marshmallows provided a soft bite. The final mixture was then heated and poured into shaped molds. Three passes were required during the pouring process, one for each colored section. Few changes were made to the process or recipe, and machines were quickly invented to perform the tasks formerly done by people.
When I first saw this tarot deck some years back, I just had to own a copy. Now, I am not exactly a domestic diva ( my adult daughters make fun of me if I actually grocery shop) but this deck is a must have for the art work and humor alone! It is a very 50's/60's sort of deck with plates as pentacles and even martini glasses as cups. The deck comes in a neat little gingham recipe box. A great gift for your favorite house- witch!
La Llorona is the legend of a woman who has lost her children and who can be heard (and sometimes seen) weeping in the night. La Llorona (the weeping lady) is in most stories said to be Mexican, although sometimes she is a woman who lived in the American Southwest. As with most urban legends, there are many variations of La Llorona, but the central plot remains intact: The woman has lost her children, usually because she herself has killed them because she wants to marry a man who doesn’t want any children. She is so anguished over the depressing circumstances that she kills herself as well and is thus doomed forever to roam her native land, weeping and wringing her hands.
Sometimes she is said to be searching for her children, and sometimes she is said to appear only as a warning to those who see her. Here is a typical version of the La Llorona legend :
“Sightings abound throughout the Southwest. Supposedly she drowned her children in the acequia (irrigation ditch,) and now she roams the ditches looking for her (or any) children. Usually the story is told with the intentions of keeping kiddies away from the ditches so they won’t drown.”
"The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits" by Rosemary Guiley tells a more traditional Mexican version, which occurs in Mexico City around 1550. According to legend, an indian princess fell in love with a Mexican nobleman. The nobleman promised to marry her, but betrayed her and married someone else instead. The ultimate result of this bit of treachery is that the princess murdered her children in a fit of rage, with a knife given to her by the nobleman. Afterwards, she wandered the streets crying for her children, and was eventually hanged for her sins.
Another interesting feature of the La Llorona legend is that it appears to have merged with the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend. La Llorona is reported by some to hitch a ride on a road near to the place where she drowned her children.
Based on an anonymous 17th century Irish poem entitled Táim shínte ar do h'uaigh, "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" has been recorded by such artists as Sinead O'Connor, Kate Rusby and - perhaps most famously - Dead Can Dance.
The song chronicles the sad tale of a man's morbid devotion to his deceased love,
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