Sunday, September 30, 2018

Dark Rides - Horse-Drawn Hearses

A collection of horse drawn hearses... the art and form of these vintage rigs is unbelievable.

The Haunted House 1908 - Segundo de Chomón

Humorously creepy stop motion silent film

The Halloween Elf - Tabb

The Halloween Elf
by J.B. Tabb (1845-1909)

There’s a funny little elf man,
In a funny peak-ed cap,
And he cuts such funny capers!
Such a merry little chap!
And he goes out on a frolic,
And he shakes his little wings,
When he thinks how very funny
Is the little song he sings!

“Halloween Night!
Halloween Night!
In the cold bright rays
Of the old moon’s light,
Elf men and brownies!
No time to be lost!
We will frolic around
Till we freeze up the ground,
And the children will think
It’s Jack Frost.”

Father John Banister Tabb 1845-1909
From The Haliburton Second Reader, 1912

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Crystal Ball - Grimm


By The Brothers Grimm
Jacob (1785-1863) Wilhelm (1786-1859)

There was once an enchantress, who had three sons who loved each other as brothers, but the old woman did not trust them, and thought they wanted to steal her power from her.

So she changed the eldest into an eagle, which was forced to dwell in the rocky mountains, and was often seen flying in great circles in the sky. The second, she changed into a whale, which lived in the deep sea, and all that was seen of it was that it sometimes spouted up a great jet of water in the air. Each of them bore his human form for only two hours daily. The third son, who was afraid she might change him into a raging wild beast - a bear perhaps, or a wolf, went secretly away.

He had heard that a king's daughter who was bewitched, was imprisoned in the castle of the golden sun, and was waiting to be set free. Those, however, who tried to free her risked their lives. Three-and-twenty youths had already died a miserable death, and now only one other might make the attempt, after which no more must come. And as his heart was without fear, he made up his mind to seek out the castle of the golden sun.

He had already traveled about for a long time without being able to find it, when he came by chance into a great forest, and did not know the way out of it. All at once he saw in the distance two giants, who made a sign to him with their hands, and when he came to them they said, "we are quarreling about a cap, and which of us it is to belong to, and as we are equally strong, neither of us can get the better of the other. The small men are cleverer than we are, so we will leave the decision to you."

"How can you dispute about an old cap," said the youth. "You do not know what properties it has."

"It is a wishing-cap, whosoever puts it on, can wish himself away wherever he likes, and in an instant he will be there."

"Give me the cap," said the youth, "I will go a short distance off, and when I call you, you must run a race, and the cap shall belong to the one who gets first to me."

He put it on and went away, and thought of the king's daughter, forgot the giants, and walked continually onward. At length he sighed from the very bottom of his heart, and cried, "ah, if I were but at the castle of the golden sun."

And hardly had the words passed his lips than he was standing on a high mountain before the gate of the castle. He entered and went through all the rooms, until in the last he found the king's daughter. But how shocked he was when he saw her. She had an ashen-gray face full of wrinkles, bleary eyes, and red hair.

"Are you the king's daughter, whose beauty the whole world praises," cried he.

"Ah," she answered, "this is not my form, human eyes can only see me in this state of ugliness, but that you may know what I am like, look in the mirror - it does not let itself be misled - it will show you my image as it is in truth."

She gave him the mirror in his hand, and he saw therein the likeness of the most beautiful maiden on earth, and saw, too, how the tears were rolling down her cheeks with grief.

Then said he, "how can you be set free. I fear no danger."

She said, "he who gets the crystal ball, and holds it before the enchanter, will destroy his power with it, and I shall resume my true shape."

"Ah," she added, "so many have already gone to meet death for this, and you are so young, I grieve that you should encounter such great danger."

"Nothing can keep me from doing it," said he, "but tell me what I must do."

"You shall know everything," said the king's daughter, "when you descend the mountain on which the castle stands, a wild bull will stand below by a spring, and you must fight with it, and if you have the luck to kill it, a fiery bird will spring out of it, which bears in its body a red-hot egg, and in the egg the crystal ball lies as its yolk. The bird, however, will not let the egg fall until forced to do so, and if it falls on the ground, it will flame up and burn everything that is near, and even the egg itself will melt, and with it the crystal ball, and then your trouble will have been in vain."

The youth went down to the spring, where the bull snorted and bellowed at him. After a long struggle he plunged his sword in the animal's body, and it fell down. Instantly a fiery bird arose from it and was about to fly away, but the young man's brother, the eagle, who was passing between the clouds, swooped down, hunted it away to the sea, and struck it with his beak until, in its extremity, it let the egg fall.

The egg, however, did not fall into the sea, but on a fisherman's hut which stood on the shore and the hut began at once to smoke and was about to break out in flames. Then arose in the sea waves as high as a house, which streamed over the hut, and subdued the fire. The other brother, the whale, had come swimming to them, and had driven the water up on high. When the fire was extinguished, the youth sought for the egg and happily found it, it was not yet melted, but the shell was broken by being so suddenly cooled with the water, and he could take out the crystal ball unhurt.

When the youth went to the enchanter and held it before him, the latter said, "my power is destroyed, and from this time forth you are the king of the castle of the golden sun. With this you can likewise give back to your brothers their human form."

Then the youth hastened to the king's daughter, and when he entered the room, she was standing there in the full splendor of her beauty, and joyfully they exchanged rings with each other.
© The Brothers Grimm

Sexy Saturday Pinup Witch

Friday, September 28, 2018

I Put a Spell on You 1993 - Midler

I Put a Spell on You Lyrics
Hocus Pocus (1993)

I put a spell on you
And now you're mine.
You can't stop the things I do.
I ain't lyyyyyin'.

It's been 300 years
Right down to the day,
Now the witch is back
And there's hell to pay.

I put a spell on you
And now you're miiiiiine!

Hello, Salem! My name's Winifred, what's yours?

I put a spell on you
And now you're gone.
(Gone, gone, gone, so long!)
My whammy fell on you
And it was strong.
(So strong, so strong, so strong)

Your wretched little lives
Have all been cursed,
'Cause of all the witches working
I'm the worst!

I put a spell on you
And now you're mine!

(Watch out! Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!)
(She ain't lyin')

If you don't believe,
You'd better get superstitious.

Ask my sisters!
"Ooh, she's vicious!"
I put a spell on you
A wicked spell!
I put a spell on you!

Ah say ento pi alpha mabi upendi
Ah say ento pi alpha mabi upendi
In comma coriyama
In comma coriyama
Ay, ay, aye, aye, say bye-byyyyyyyyyyye! bye bye!

Halloween 1903 - Bowman

By Rowland C. Bowman (1870-1903)

This is the night when buzzards buzz,
And the cuckoo coos—if he ever does—
And the lizzards lie round and liz,
And the bobolinks bob, if they’re on to their “biz,”
And the night is literally soused in ink,
As you silently wait and watch and think,
And blink and wink.

Now take the cud
Of a brindle cow, and wade in the mud
‘Way out in the marsh, and dig a hole
With the shoulder blade of some poor soul
That died a leper in Lim-Po-King.
You bury the cud at half-past two,
Lie flat on your back and take a chew
Of garlic and glycerin and cloves;
And close your eyes and wiggle your toes,
And wish and wish till you’re nearly dead.
Then you wade back home and you crawl into bed,

And you wink and blink and you think some more,
Of the leper who died on the far-off shore.
You taste the garlic and see the cud,
And fall asleep a-wading in the mud,—

From Freckles and Tan, 1900

Skeleton Dance

Skeleton Dance... an old Hallowe'en favorite. I've had this video clip for years - original source unknown. Every time I see it - it makes me laugh... so here's a BOO TO YOU...

Skeleton Dance 2009

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Is it haunted?

The Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (a retelling)


...and its humble beginnings as a turnip...
Or: The Devil & Ol’ Jack, A Folk Tale

In olden days… in a quaint, rural village lived a man of unwholesome and intemperate demeanor who went by the name of ol’ Jack. He was much despised and good folk would often cross to the other side of the road rather than cross paths with mean ol’ Jack. It was well known that ol’ Jack was prone to a bit of nastiness especially after a tankard or two or three of ale had crossed his gullet.

It is said the Devil himself roamed far and wide, in olden days searching for souls to steal. He was much feared by common folk – at least folk with good sense. Now, the Devil loves a challenge and it is ever his peculiar delight to make sport of those prone to wickedness and cunning and guile. When he happened upon the village, the Devil grinned at the tales of ol’ Jack's misdeeds. Here was an opportunity to seize a soul that surely needed stealing!

So it was, the Devil, being a crafty sort, laid a trap for ol’ Jack. He climbed a tree at the fork of the road ol’ Jack was sure to travel and he waited. Patient he was and so sure of his prize he took a short nap, finally rousing himself with a loud snort. Much refreshed and smiling slyly to himself he noted that the shadows grew long, signaling the approach of twilight. It would not be long before ol’ Jack would make his winding, stumbling, drunken way down the road from the village.

For certain, ol’ Jack was in a particularly sorry state that evening. But not so drunk that he didn't hear the whisper of his name among the dry leaves of that tree. “Jaaacccckkkk…" hissed the tree. Staggering across the road and hugging the trunk for support, ol’ Jack tried to focus on the gleaming eyes of the demon who chuckled at him from his perch, a misshapen beast with long arms and dangling legs glistening all dark and oily and darkly red in the deepening shadows... the only discernible feature - huge glowing eyes, flashing with sparks of yellow and green.

Ol' Jack shivered... "Be you a Devil?” slurred ol’ Jack.

"A devil?" the voice mocked, "Nooooooooo! THE DEVIL! Yes!" and fiendish laughter echoed through the dark night causing the common folk to bar the doors, shutter their windows and light the lamps. The innocent huddled together under their quilts, quaking in terror and listened to the howl of the wind and the growing grumble of thunder in the distance. A storm was coming.

Quick as lightning the Devil's long arm snaked out and he snatched ol’ Jack up by the hair of his head, sending his hat skittering down the street along with a thousand leaves from the tree. He lifted ol’ Jack and gave him a shake, holding him aloft so that they might look eyeball to eyeball. "Now Jaaacccckkkk…" it is close you be to meeting your maker, "hissed the Devil, "and it is closer still you be to spending eternity with me! What say you to that? Jaaacccckkkk…" The Devil smiled a most crooked grin.

But ol’ Jack, being craftier than most and becoming more sober by the minute summoned enough courage to beg the Devil, rather loudly it is said for one last favor. In fact, the request was uttered so loudly and in such a whining, slobbering, sniveling manner that it vexed the Devil much and he dropped ol’ Jack with a contemptuous snarl.

Jack landed in a messy tumble at the base of the tree. He groveled and squirmed and rolled in the dust crying all the time, "Have pity! Have mercy! I beg of you a final request!" over and over and over until the Devil pointed a long and crooked finger and yelled, "QUIET!" and at that moment a bolt of lightning struck the ground so close to ol’ Jack that his boots were smoking and his hair was singed black. The thunder was deafening.

There fell a dreadful silence... even the winds died and not a leaf rustled upon the tree. Ol’ Jack covered his head with his coat and quaked, stifling a moan of pure terror.

Well, the Devil was most pleased with himself for that audacious display of power and feeling mildly benevolent and slightly victorious decided to grant ol’ Jack at least a hearing of his last wish. Now the argument went on well into the night with ol’ Jack asking for this or that and the Devil saying no, and no, and no again and again and again... Finally, growing weary of the sport the Devil told ol’ Jack he would hear only one more request.

So, ol’ Jack (thinking the Devil would lose much of his power in sunlight) said, "Alas! I would see the sun rise one last time...."

And the Devil (knowing what ol’ Jack was thinking) said, "The dawn is all I will allow... the dawn and nothing more... so be it."

Just then, a rosy glow appeared on the horizon and ol’ Jack played his last card. He jumped to his feet quite suddenly disturbing the Devil in mid-yawn... "I must leave some token of my passing!" cried ol’ Jack. "I must carve my name into this tree!" The Devil lifted an eyebrow... and ol’ Jack hastily added, "And your name as well... so all that pass the fork in the road from this day forward will remember my sad fate and be ever mindful of how to live proper and decent in the world”, adding “and be truly fearful of thee!"

Now the Devil, secretly pleased with the idea of his name upon that tree, was tired from the long night and weary of ol’ Jack's wheedling tongue, so he forgot one very important thing... ol’ Jack was a liar and a first class cheat. He forgot ol’ Jack had never spent an honest day in his entire life. The Devil tiredly said, "Be done with it then and quickly..."

So, ol’ Jack drew his knife from a sheath in his charred boot and quickly carved a cross upon the trunk of the tree, and another and another - so that the tree was carved all the way around and up and down with crosses. "So it is done!" he cried jumping around the tree in a crazy jig. "I have won! I have bested the Devil himself!"

And the Devil swore and howled and screamed, tore at his ears and gnashed his teeth. His skin turned blood red in the breaking light. His eyes turned black and deadly until the yellow and green sparks narrowed into tiny little slits upon his grim and ghastly visage. All this time ol’ Jack jumped and did little whirling dervish jigs, hollering and hooting and laughing and finally daring the Devil to get down... "Get down if you can Devil-Maaaannnn!"

The Devil, after a while grew calm enough to consider his predicament. It seemed he was doomed to spend the rest of his days in that tree at the fork of the road. Right then and there, an old wives tale was put into circulation. It became known that very day that the Devil must never touch a cross or allow his shadow to touch one either.

It is said only the one who imprisons the Devil can release the Devil. Now the Devil knew the only solution to this dilemma was to strike a bargain. And ol’ Jack, it seems knew this as well. So, during the long, hot hours of the day ol’ Jack made the Devil swear and swear again a solemn oath that he would never bother ol’ Jack again nor seek to claim his soul ever again.

"I swear", said the Devil finally, "I will leave you be for the remainder of your miserable days in this life, if you help me get down from this tree."

But that wasn't good enough for ol’ Jack. He sought a harder bargain. "Not just this life, Devil! But for all eternity! You will leave me be and my soul will be free!"

Quietly; shaking his head, the Devil agreed, knowing as only the Devil can that in this battle there would be no winner – only a delayed comeuppance. Just after sunset and before the moon rose, in that time of day without shadows, ol’ Jack helped the Devil down from his tree. Mean ol’ Jack just could not stop laughing. He bent over double and slapped his knees... holding his sides, wiping his eyes... declaring he would dine and drink on this story the rest of his life - he would never have to buy another tankard of ale for the rest of his days.

"Laugh if you will, Jaaacccckkkk ", hissed the Devil in an ominous tone, as he set foot upon the ground, "Live long, my clever, conniving friend, if you cannot live well. The joke is all on you, I fear. For when you die your soul will find no home in Heaven or Hell." With that said, the Devil disappeared into the darkness, with never a look back at what came to be known as the Devil Tree.

But ol’ Jack paid the Devil's warning no heed and spent the rest of his miserable life drinking and brawling and bragging about the day he bested the Devil. He did not live well and he did not live long. Eventually he died a bitter and lonely excuse for a man, who was buried, as seemed fitting to the good folk, beneath the Devil Tree. And never, it is said did that tree bear leaf again.

Ol’ Jack's spirit drifted in the void of the unknown for a very long time. Finally, and quite by chance he arrived at the gates of Heaven only to be rejected there because of the unseemly and deceitful way he spent his life. Indeed; upon the completion of his heavenly review, it was concluded he had not a single, redeeming quality. "But I bested the Devil, himself!" he cried, "Beat him at his own game, I did!"

"Poor ol’ Jack! That remains to be seen," said the hosts of Heaven. And they banished him from the sight of Heaven for all time. "Be gone! And Back! From whence you came!"

And ol’ Jack fell down and down into the darkness, whipped about by terrible, howling winds and blinded by a fierce, cold, and slashing rain. Seeking warmth and shelter ol’ Jack sought the fiery gates of Hell and fell upon them in a sodden heap.

Alas! Poor ol’ Jack had run out of luck it seems. Knocking at the gates of Hell afforded him no better luck. Because of his solemn oath not to claim ol’ Jack's soul for all eternity, the Devil could not and would not allow him to enter his realm. "Ah! Ol’ Jack," said the Devil. "It was a hard bargain we struck that day so long ago at the fork of the road. But a bargain it was. I may be the Devil but I am demon of my word. No rest has your soul found in Heaven. No rest shall it find in Hell." And with a wave of his long arm, he sent ol’ Jack tumbling into the abyss. "Be gone with you! And Back! From whence you came!" roared the Devil.

But, from the darkness came a deafening racket. Ol’ Jack whined and complained the way was windy and cold and wet... He howled, "I am so very hungry!" The Devil pointed a crooked finger at a turnip growing by the wayside and said, "Eat and be filled. For such is all the sustenance you will ever have. "

Once again, he ordered, "Be gone!"

But ol’ Jack, crunching on the turnip added woefully, "I shall never find my way! It is so very dark! Have pity!"

The Devil, finally having lost all patience, picked a glowing ember right from the fire of hell and threw it straight at ol’ Jack who caught it and placed it inside the turnip to shield it from the fury of the winds and rains of hell. "Be Gone Ol’ Jack! Back! From whence you came!"

Thus it came to pass and rightfully so; ol’ Jack was doomed to wander the void between heaven and hell as a lost soul for all eternity. Some say, he carved a likeness of the Devil himself upon the face of the hollow turnip lantern. To this very day folks say they see ol’ Jack of the lantern or Jack-O-Lantern with his ghostly light wandering the realms of purgatory, ever seeking a place of final rest and never finding it.

The End
Adapted from an 18th Century Folk Myth by yours truly – Otoberwych
this version © 1998

The Forest Fairies’ Fount - Smith

The Forest Fairies’ Fount

Circa 1829
By Sarah Louisa P. Smith (1811-1832)


A fairy fount in the forest lay,
Where mortal footstep ne’er dared stray,
For with charm and sign and mystic spell
Was fraught each leaf of the lonely dell.
Sweet voices there were heard to sing,
But the eye met never a living thing,
Save on Halloween a shadowy form,
Like floating mist of the vanished storm.

On Halloween it was often seen
That fairy thing of the forest green;
That eve of ill to mortal men,
For every spirit is roving then,
And every bower of Scotland’s wood
Is peopled thick with an elfin brood;
And many a tale of witch and sprite,
Hold hearts in fear on that mystic night.

Wo for the wanderer then who met
That forest one ere the stars were set,
It told of death or trouble by,
Or the shrouded light of a beaming eye;
Never those mystic forms appeared
But a cherished hope of the heart lay seared.
And if there ventured footstep by
The fairy found, when the moon was high,
On Halloween, ‘twas said that ne’er
Might mortal more behold them here.

That eve there wander’d spirits there
On every breath of the lighted air,
And revels light and song went round
And mystic sounds thro’ the forest wound.

Light were the gambols, light and gay,
For all unruffled the green-sward lay,
When daylight came o’er the purple hill,
Her urn with night’s bright dews to fill.
‘Twas said the wild-bird never flew
To lave his wing in those waters blue,
But fled from the mystic fountain’s air
As he knew a spell lay lurking there.

‘Twas said that flowers there sprang and bloomed
And the forest air with sweets perfumed,
When snow thro’ many a long clear day
On Scotland’s rugged mountains lay;
And never chains of icy force
Fetter’d the fairy fountain’s course;

It brightly flowed in summer’s sun,
As bright when summer hours were done,
Sunshine was ever reigning there,
Like fancy’s regions still and fair;
A fancied region this may be,
But I tell the tale as they told it me.

Should you ever rove thro’ Scottish glades,
Go not to the fairy fountain’s shades,
Where the leafy trees are ever green,
And the spirits rove on Halloween.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Young Goodman Brown - Hawthorne


circa 1835
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown. "Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she's afeard of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year." "My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married?"

"Then God bless youe!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons; "and may you find all well when you come back."

"Amen!" cried Goodman Brown. "Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee."

So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; 't would kill her to think it. Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven."

With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

"There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree," said Goodman Brown to himself; and he glanced fearfully behind him as he added, "What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!"

His head being turned back, he passed a crook of the road, and, looking forward again, beheld the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree. He arose at Goodman Brown's approach and walked onward side by side with him.

"You are late, Goodman Brown," said he. "The clock of the Old South was striking as I came through Boston, and that is full fifteen minutes agone."

"Faith kept me back a while," replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.

It was now deep dusk in the forest, and deepest in that part of it where these two were journeying. As nearly as could be discerned, the second traveller was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more in expression than features. Still they might have been taken for father and son. And yet, though the elder person was as simply clad as the younger, and as simple in manner too, he had an indescribable air of one who knew the world, and who would not have felt abashed at the governor's dinner table or in King William's court, were it possible that his affairs should call him thither. But the only thing about him that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.

"Come, Goodman Brown," cried his fellow-traveller, "this is a dull pace for the beginning of a journey. Take my staff, if you are so soon weary."

"Friend," said the other, exchanging his slow pace for a full stop, "having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came. I have scruples touching the matter thou wot'st of."

"Sayest thou so?" replied he of the serpent, smiling apart. "Let us walk on, nevertheless, reasoning as we go; and if I convince thee not thou shalt turn back. We are but a little way in the forest yet."

"Too far! too far!" exclaimed the Goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs; and shall I be the first of the name of Brown that ever took this path and kept"

"Such company, thou wouldst say," observed the elder person, interpreting his pause. "Well said, Goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem; and it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's war. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you for their sake."

"If it be as thou sayest," replied Goodman Brown, "I marvel they never spoke of these matters; or, verily, I marvel not, seeing that the least rumor of the sort would have driven them from New England. We are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness."

"Wickedness or not," said the traveller with the twisted staff, "I have a very general acquaintance here in New England. The deacons of many a church have drunk the communion wine with me; the selectmen of divers towns make me their chairman; and a majority of the Great and General Court are firm supporters of my interest. The governor and I, too--But these are state secrets."

"Can this be so?" cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of amazement at his undisturbed companion. "Howbeit, I have nothing to do with the governor and council; they have their own ways, and are no rule for a simple husbandman like me. But, were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? Oh, his voice would make me tremble both Sabbath day and lecture day."

Thus far the elder traveller had listened with due gravity; but now burst into a fit of irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently that his snake-like staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy.

"Ha! ha! ha!" shouted he again and again; then composing himself, "Well, go on, Goodman Brown, go on; but, prithee, don't kill me with laughing."

"Well, then, to end the matter at once," said Goodman Brown, considerably nettled, "there is my wife, Faith. It would break her dear little heart; and I'd rather break my own."

"Nay, if that be the case," answered the other, "e'en go thy ways, Goodman Brown. I would not for twenty old women like the one hobbling before us that Faith should come to any harm."

As he spoke he pointed his staff at a female figure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught him his catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual adviser, jointly with the minister and Deacon Gookin. "A marvel, truly, that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness at nightfall," said he. "But with your leave, friend, I shall take a cut through the woods until we have left this Christian woman behind. Being a stranger to you, she might ask whom I was consorting with and whither I was going."

"Be it so," said his fellow-traveller. "Betake you to the woods, and let me keep the path."

Accordingly the young man turned aside, but took care to watch his companion, who advanced softly along the road until he had come within a staff's length of the old dame. She, meanwhile, was making the best of her way, with singular speed for so aged a woman, and mumbling some indistinct words--a prayer, doubtless--as she went. The traveller put forth his staff and touched her withered neck with what seemed the serpent's tail. "The devil!" screamed the pious old lady.

"Then Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?" observed the traveller, confronting her and leaning on his writhing stick.

"Ah, forsooth, and is it your worship indeed?" cried the good dame. "Yea, truly is it, and in the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown, the grandfather of the silly fellow that now is. But--would your worship believe it?--my broomstick hath strangely disappeared, stolen, as I suspect, by that unhanged witch, Goody Cory, and that, too, when I was all anointed with the juice of smallage, and cinquefoil, and wolf's bane" "Mingled with fine wheat and the fat of a new-born babe," said the shape of old Goodman Brown.

"Ah, your worship knows the recipe," cried the old lady, cackling aloud. "So, as I was saying, being all ready for the meeting, and no horse to ride on, I made up my mind to foot it; for they tell me there is a nice young man to be taken into communion to-night. But now your good worship will lend me your arm, and we shall be there in a twinkling." "That can hardly be," answered her friend. "I may not spare you my arm, Goody Cloyse; but here is my staff, if you will."

So saying, he threw it down at her feet, where, perhaps, it assumed life, being one of the rods which its owner had formerly lent to the Egyptian magi. Of this fact, however, Goodman Brown could not take cognizance. He had cast up his eyes in astonishment, and, looking down again, beheld neither Goody Cloyse nor the serpentine staff, but his fellow-traveller alone, who waited for him as calmly as if nothing had happened. "That old woman taught me my catechism," said the young man; and there was a world of meaning in this simple comment.

They continued to walk onward, while the elder traveller exhorted his companion to make good speed and persevere in the path, discoursing so aptly that his arguments seemed rather to spring up in the bosom of his auditor than to be suggested by himself. As they went, he plucked a branch of maple to serve for a walking stick, and began to strip it of the twigs and little boughs, which were wet with evening dew. The moment his fingers touched them they became strangely withered and dried up as with a week's sunshine. Thus the pair proceeded, at a good free pace, until suddenly, in a gloomy hollow of the road, Goodman Brown sat himself down on the stump of a tree and refused to go any farther. "Friend," said he, stubbornly, "my mind is made up. Not another step will I budge on this errand. What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil when I thought she was going to heaven: is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after her?" "You will think better of this by and by," said his acquaintance, composedly. "Sit here and rest yourself a while; and when you feel like moving again, there is my staff to help you along."

Without more words, he threw his companion the maple stick, and was as speedily out of sight as if he had vanished into the deepening gloom. The young man sat a few moments by the roadside, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister in his morning walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin. And what calm sleep would be his that very night, which was to have been spent so wickedly, but so purely and sweetly now, in the arms of Faith! Amidst these pleasant and praiseworthy meditations, Goodman Brown heard the tramp of horses along the road, and deemed it advisable to conceal himself within the verge of the forest, conscious of the guilty purpose that had brought him thither, though now so happily turned from it.

On came the hoof tramps and the voices of the riders, two grave old voices, conversing soberly as they drew near. These mingled sounds appeared to pass along the road, within a few yards of the young man's hiding-place; but, owing doubtless to the depth of the gloom at that particular spot, neither the travellers nor their steeds were visible. Though their figures brushed the small boughs by the wayside, it could not be seen that they intercepted, even for a moment, the faint gleam from the strip of bright sky athwart which they must have passed. Goodman Brown alternately crouched and stood on tiptoe, pulling aside the branches and thrusting forth his head as far as he durst without discerning so much as a shadow. It vexed him the more, because he could have sworn, were such a thing possible, that he recognized the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin, jogging along quietly, as they were wont to do, when bound to some ordination or ecclesiastical council. While yet within hearing, one of the riders stopped to pluck a switch.

"Of the two, reverend sir," said the voice like the deacon's, "I had rather miss an ordination dinner than to-night's meeting. They tell me that some of our community are to be here from Falmouth and beyond, and others from Connecticut and Rhode Island, besides several of the Indian powwows, who, after their fashion, know almost as much deviltry as the best of us. Moreover, there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion."

"Mighty well, Deacon Gookin!" replied the solemn old tones of the minister. "Spur up, or we shall be late. Nothing can be done, you know, until I get on the ground."

The hoofs clattered again; and the voices, talking so strangely in the empty air, passed on through the forest, where no church had ever been gathered or solitary Christian prayed. Whither, then, could these holy men be journeying so deep into the heathen wilderness? Young Goodman Brown caught hold of a tree for support, being ready to sink down on the ground, faint and overburdened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to the sky, doubting whether there really was a heaven above him. Yet there was the blue arch, and the stars brightening in it.

"With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" cried Goodman Brown.

While he still gazed upward into the deep arch of the firmament and had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith and hid the brightening stars. The blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead, where this black mass of cloud was sweeping swiftly northward. Aloft in the air, as if from the depths of the cloud, came a confused and doubtful sound of voices. Once the listener fancied that he could distinguish the accents of towns-people of his own, men and women, both pious and ungodly, many of whom he had met at the communion table, and had seen others rioting at the tavern. The next moment, so indistinct were the sounds, he doubted whether he had heard aught but the murmur of the old forest, whispering without a wind. Then came a stronger swell of those familiar tones, heard daily in the sunshine at Salem village, but never until now from a cloud of night There was one voice of a young woman, uttering lamentations, yet with an uncertain sorrow, and entreating for some favor, which, perhaps, it would grieve her to obtain; and all the unseen multitude, both saints and sinners, seemed to encourage her onward.

"Faith!" shouted Goodman Brown, in a voice of agony and desperation; and the echoes of the forest mocked him, crying, "Faith! Faith!" as if bewildered wretches were seeking her all through the wilderness.

The cry of grief, rage, and terror was yet piercing the night, when the unhappy husband held his breath for a response. There was a scream, drowned immediately in a louder murmur of voices, fading into far-off laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving the clear and silent sky above Goodman Brown. But something fluttered lightly down through the air and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon. "My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment. "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given."

And, maddened with despair, so that he laughed loud and long, did Goodman Brown grasp his staff and set forth again, at such a rate that he seemed to fly along the forest path rather than to walk or run. The road grew wilder and drearier and more faintly traced, and vanished at length, leaving him in the heart of the dark wilderness, still rushing onward with the instinct that guides mortal man to evil. The whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds--the creaking of the trees, the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians; while sometimes the wind tolled like a distant church bell, and sometimes gave a broad roar around the traveller, as if all Nature were laughing him to scorn. But he was himself the chief horror of the scene, and shrank not from its other horrors.

"Ha! ha! ha!" roared Goodman Brown when the wind laughed at him.

"Let us hear which will laugh loudest. Think not to frighten me with your deviltry. Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself, and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you."

In truth, all through the haunted forest there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown. On he flew among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man. Thus sped the demoniac on his course, until, quivering among the trees, he saw a red light before him, as when the felled trunks and branches of a clearing have been set on fire, and throw up their lurid blaze against the sky, at the hour of midnight. He paused, in a lull of the tempest that had driven him onward, and heard the swell of what seemed a hymn, rolling solemnly from a distance with the weight of many voices. He knew the tune; it was a familiar one in the choir of the village meeting-house. The verse died heavily away, and was lengthened by a chorus, not of human voices, but of all the sounds of the benighted wilderness pealing in awful harmony together. Goodman Brown cried out, and his cry was lost to his own ear by its unison with the cry of the desert.

In the interval of silence he stole forward until the light glared full upon his eyes. At one extremity of an open space, hemmed in by the dark wall of the forest, arose a rock, bearing some rude, natural resemblance either to an alter or a pulpit, and surrounded by four blazing pines, their tops aflame, their stems untouched, like candles at an evening meeting. The mass of foliage that had overgrown the summit of the rock was all on fire, blazing high into the night and fitfully illuminating the whole field. Each pendent twig and leafy festoon was in a blaze. As the red light arose and fell, a numerous congregation alternately shone forth, then disappeared in shadow, and again grew, as it were, out of the darkness, peopling the heart of the solitary woods at once.

"A grave and dark-clad company," quoth Goodman Brown.

In truth they were such. Among them, quivering to and fro between gloom and splendor, appeared faces that would be seen next day at the council board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward, and benignantly over the crowded pews, from the holiest pulpits in the land. Some affirm that the lady of the governor was there. At least there were high dames well known to her, and wives of honored husbands, and widows, a great multitude, and ancient maidens, all of excellent repute, and fair young girls, who trembled lest their mothers should espy them. Either the sudden gleams of light flashing over the obscure field bedazzled Goodman Brown, or he recognized a score of the church members of Salem village famous for their especial sanctity. Good old Deacon Gookin had arrived, and waited at the skirts of that venerable saint, his revered pastor. But, irreverently consorting with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these elders of the church, these chaste dames and dewy virgins, there were men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches given over to all mean and filthy vice, and suspected even of horrid crimes. It was strange to see that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints. Scattered also among their pale-faced enemies were the Indian priests, or powwows, who had often scared their native forest with more hideous incantations than any known to English witchcraft.

"But where is Faith?" thought Goodman Brown; and, as hope came into his heart, he trembled.

Another verse of the hymn arose, a slow and mournful strain, such as the pious love, but joined to words which expressed all that our nature can conceive of sin, and darkly hinted at far more. Unfathomable to mere mortals is the lore of fiends. Verse after verse was sung; and still the chorus of the desert swelled between like the deepest tone of a mighty organ; and with the final peal of that dreadful anthem there came a sound, as if the roaring wind, the rushing streams, the howling beasts, and every other voice of the unconcerted wilderness were mingling and according with the voice of guilty man in homage to the prince of all. The four blazing pines threw up a loftier flame, and obscurely discovered shapes and visages of horror on the smoke wreaths above the impious assembly. At the same moment the fire on the rock shot redly forth and formed a glowing arch above its base, where now appeared a figure. With reverence be it spoken, the figure bore no slight similitude, both in garb and manner, to some grave divine of the New England churches.

"Bring forth the converts!" cried a voice that echoed through the field and rolled into the forest.

At the word, Goodman Brown stepped forth from the shadow of the trees and approached the congregation, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart. He could have well-nigh sworn that the shape of his own dead father beckoned him to advance, looking downward from a smoke wreath, while a woman, with dim features of despair, threw out her hand to warn him back. Was it his mother? But he had no power to retreat one step, nor to resist, even in thought, when the minister and good old Deacon Gookin seized his arms and led him to the blazing rock. Thither came also the slender form of a veiled female, led between Goody Cloyse, that pious teacher of the catechism, and Martha Carrier, who had received the devil's promise to be queen of hell. A rampant hag was she. And there stood the proselytes beneath the canopy of fire.

"Welcome, my children," said the dark figure, "to the communion of your race. Ye have found thus young your nature and your destiny. My children, look behind you!"

They turned; and flashing forth, as it were, in a sheet of flame, the fiend worshippers were seen; the smile of welcome gleamed darkly on every visage.

"There," resumed the sable form, "are all whom ye have reverenced from youth. Ye deemed them holier than yourselves, and shrank from your own sin, contrasting it with their lives of righteousness and prayerful aspirations heavenward. Yet here are they all in my worshipping assembly. This night it shall be granted you to know their secret deeds: how hoary-bearded elders of the church have whispered wanton words to the young maids of their households; how many a woman, eager for widows' weeds, has given her husband a drink at bedtime and let him sleep his last sleep in her bosom; how beardless youths have made haste to inherit their fathers' wealth; and how fair damsels--blush not, sweet ones--have dug little graves in the garden, and bidden me, the sole guest to an infant's funeral. By the sympathy of your human hearts for sin ye shall scent out all the places--whether in church, bedchamber, street, field, or forest--where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood spot. Far more than this. It shall be yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of sin, the fountain of all wicked arts, and which inexhaustibly supplies more evil impulses than human power--than my power at its utmost--can make manifest in deeds. And now, my children, look upon each other."

They did so; and, by the blaze of the hell-kindled torches, the wretched man beheld his Faith, and the wife her husband, trembling before that unhallowed altar.

"Lo, there ye stand, my children," said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. "Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race."

"Welcome," repeated the fiend worshippers, in one cry of despair and triumph.

And there they stood, the only pair, as it seemed, who were yet hesitating on the verge of wickedness in this dark world. A basin was hollowed, naturally, in the rock. Did it contain water, reddened by the lurid light? or was it blood? or, perchance, a liquid flame? Herein did the shape of evil dip his hand and prepare to lay the mark of baptism upon their foreheads, that they might be partakers of the mystery of sin, more conscious of the secret guilt of others, both in deed and thought, than they could now be of their own. The husband cast one look at his pale wife, and Faith at him. What polluted wretches would the next glance show them to each other, shuddering alike at what they disclosed and what they saw!

"Faith! Faith!" cried the husband, "look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one."

Whether Faith obeyed he knew not. Hardly had he spoken when he found himself amid calm night and solitude, listening to a roar of the wind which died heavily away through the forest. He staggered against the rock, and felt it chill and damp; while a hanging twig, that had been all on fire, besprinkled his cheek with the coldest dew.

The next morning young Goodman Brown came slowly into the street of Salem village, staring around him like a bewildered man. The good old minister was taking a walk along the graveyard to get an appetite for breakfast and meditate his sermon, and bestowed a blessing, as he passed, on Goodman Brown. He shrank from the venerable saint as if to avoid an anathema. Old Deacon Gookin was at domestic worship, and the holy words of his prayer were heard through the open window. "What God doth the wizard pray to?" quoth Goodman Brown. Goody Cloyse, that excellent old Christian, stood in the early sunshine at her own lattice, catechizing a little girl who had brought her a pint of morning's milk. Goodman Brown snatched away the child as from the grasp of the fiend himself. Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him that she skipped along the street and almost kissed her husband before the whole village. But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.

Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?

Be it so if you will; but, alas! it was a dream of evil omen for young Goodman Brown. A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man did he become from the night of that fearful dream. On the Sabbath day, when the congregation were singing a holy psalm, he could not listen because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear and drowned all the blessed strain. When the minister spoke from the pulpit with power and fervid eloquence, and, with his hand on the open Bible, of the sacred truths of our religion, and of saint-like lives and triumphant deaths, and of future bliss or misery unutterable, then did Goodman Brown turn pale, dreading lest the roof should thunder down upon the gray blasphemer and his hearers. Often, waking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith; and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away. And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grandchildren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.

The New-England Magazine in 1835

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

John's Pumpkin - Archibald

by Mrs. Archibald (1800s-1900s)

Last spring I found a pumpkin seed,
And thought that I would go,
And plant it in a secret place,
That no one else would know,
And watch all summer long to see
It grow, and grow, and grow,
And maybe raise a pumpkin for
A Jack-a-lantern show.

I stuck a stick beside the seed,
And thought that I should shout,
One morning when I stooped and saw
The greenest little sprout!
I used to carry water there,
When no one was about,
And everyday I’d count to see
How many leaves were out.

Till, by and by there came a flower
The color of the sun,
Which withered up, and then I saw
The pumpkin was begun;
But oh! I knew I’d have to wait
So long to have my fun,
Before that small green ball could be
A great big yellow one.

At last, one day, when it had grown,
To be the proper size,
Said Aunt Matilda: “John, see here,
I’ll give you a surprise!”
She took me to a pantry shelf,
And there, before my eyes,
Was set a dreadful row of half
A dozen pumpkin pies.

Said Aunt Matilda: “John, I found
A pumpkin, high and dry,
Upon a pile of rubbish, down
Behind that worn-out sty!”
O, dear, I didn’t cry, because
I’m quite too big to cry,
But honestly, I couldn’t eat
A mouthful of the pie.

From Little People’s Speaker, 1889

Home is whatever we make of it...

In a hidden glen on a frosty morn...
another October Soul is born...

Monday, September 24, 2018

Witchy Full Moon Greetings

White in the moon the long road lies - Housman

White in the Moon the Long Road Lies

circa 1896
by A. E. Housman (1859–1936)

White in the moon the long road lies,
The moon stands blank above;
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.

Still hangs the hedge without a gust,
Still, still the shadows stay:
My feet upon the moonlit dust
Pursue the ceaseless way.

The world is round, so travellers tell,
And straight though reach the track,
Trudge on, trudge on, ’twill all be well,
The way will guide one back.

But ere the circle homeward hies
Far, far must it remove:
White in the moon the long road lies
That leads me from my love.
© A.E. Housman
Shine on Harvest Moon... the full Moon nearest the autumnal equinox is called the Harvest Moon.


A Song of Early Autumn - Gilder

A Song of Early Autumn
by Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909)

When late in summer the streams run yellow,
—Burst the bridges and spread into bays;
When berries are black and peaches are mellow,
—And hills are hidden by rainy haze;

When the goldenrod is golden still,
—But the heart of the sunflower is darker and sadder;
When the corn is in stacks on the slope of the hill,
—And slides o'er the path the stripèd adder;

When butterflies flutter from clover to thicket,
—Or wave their wings on the drooping leaf;
When the breeze comes shrill with the call of the cricket,
—Grasshopper's rasp, and rustle of sheaf;

When high in the field the fern-leaves wrinkle,
—And brown is the grass where the mowers have mown;
When low in the meadow the cow-bells tinkle,
—And small brooks crinkle o'er stock and stone;

When heavy and hollow the robin's whistle
—And shadows are deep in the heat of noon;
When the air is white with the down o' the thistle,
—And the sky is red with the harvest moon;

O, then be chary, young Robert and Mary,
—No time let slip, not a moment wait!
——If the fiddle would play it must stop its tuning;
——And they who would wed must be done with their mooning;
So let the churn rattle, see well to the cattle,
—And pile the wood by the barn-yard gate!

Season of the Witch 1966 - Donovan

Season Of The Witch
Song Lyrics by Donovan

When I looked out my window
Many sights to see
And when I looked in my window
So many different people to be
That is strange, so strange
You got to pick out every stitch
You got to pick out every stitch
You got to pick out every stitch

Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
When I looked over my shoulder
What do you think I see
Summer cat looking over
It shoulder at me
Any strange, sure is strange
You got to pick out every stitch
You got to pick out every stitch
Beat me its eye to make it rich oh no

Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
You got to pick out every stitch
The rabbit's running in the ditch
Beat me its eye to make it rich oh no

Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
When I go

When I looked out my window
What do you think I see
And when I looked in my window
So many different people to be
It's strange, sure is strange
You got to pick out every stitch
You got to pick out every stitch
The rabbit's running in the ditch oh no

Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
Must be the season of the witch
When I go, when I go

Vintage Postcard of the week...

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Suddenly it's Autumn

Remember when... vintage witch costumes

Out of all the vintage Halloween images I have collected through the years - the witch is my favorite. Here's a collection that spans several decades. 

Autumn Meditation - Gilder

An Autumn Meditation

circa 1885
by: Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909)

As the long day of cloud and storm and sun
Declines into the dark and silent night,
So past the old man's life from human gaze;
But not till sunset, full of lovely light
And color that the day might not reveal,
Bathed in soft gloom the landscape.

Thus, kind Heaven,

Let me, too, die when Autumn holds the year,
Serene, with tender hues and bracing airs,
And near me those I love; with no black thoughts,
Nor dread of what may come ! Yea, when I die
Let me not miss from nature the cool rush
Of northern winds; let Autumn sunset skies
Be golden; let the cold, clear blue of night
Whiten with stars as now! then shall I fade
From life to life pass on the year's full tide
Into the swell and vast of the outer sea
Beyond this narrow world.

For Autumn days
To me not melancholy are, but full
Of joy and hope, mysterious and high;
And with strange promise rife. Then it meseems
Not failing is the year, but gathering fire
Even as the cold increases.

Grows a weed

More richly here beside our mellow seas
That is the Autumn's harbinger and pride.
When fades the cardinal-flower, whose heart-red bloom
Glows like a living coal upon the green
Of the midsummer meadows, then how bright,
How deepening bright, like mounting flame doth burn
The goldenrod upon a thousand hills!
This is the Autumn's flower, and to my soul
A token fresh of beauty and of life,
And life's supreme delight.

The Century Magazine, January 1885

Autumn has arrived...