Friday, April 13, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Basket of Thirteens for You-Friday the 13th!

There’s nothing more invigorating on this day than a basket of 13 black cats. Right?

For many reasons, people feel Friday then 13th is a day of bad luck. Not so for me, 13 is my lucky number. Over the years, I've won prizes and money with this number. Heck, I own a black cat!

2018 has double the trouble as Friday the 13th happens again in July.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). The term is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a simple phobia (fear) of the number thirteen appearing in any case.

Both the number thirteen and Friday have been considered unlucky:
In numerology , the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve recognized signs of the zodiac, the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles of Jesus, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

Friday, as the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified, has been viewed both positively and negatively among Christians. The actual day of Crucifixion was the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew Lunar calendar which does not correspond to "Friday" in the solar calendar of Rome. The 15th day of Nissan (beginning at Sundown) is celebration of Passover.

In the 20th century, only did the superstition receive greater audience, as Friday the 13th doesn't even merit a mention in E. Cobham Brewer's voluminous 1898 edition of the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, though one does find entries for "Friday, an Unlucky Day" and "Thirteen Unlucky." When the date of ill fate finally does make an appearance in later editions of the text, it is without extravagant claims as to the superstition's historicity or longevity. Though the superstition developed relatively recently, much older origins are often claimed for it, most notably in the novel, The Da Vinci Code (and later the film), which traced the belief to the arrest of the Knights Templar on Friday October 13, 1307.

Friday the 13th has for years been considered a day to watch out for. A study done in 1993, by authors in the British Medical Journal have proven more car accidents are higher on the 13th than on normal Fridays.

Both the number 13 and the sixth day of the week have foreboding reputations since ancient times. Those who fear something bad will happen on the 13th, will not go to work, eat, etc...

The number 13 is also connected with a legend. It is said, that if thirteen people sit down to dinner, one of them will die within the year. Many cities do not have a 13th Street or Avenue. There are buildings without a thirteen floor. Having thirteen letters in your name means you will have the devil's luck. People with 13 letters include Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson, Theodore Bundy, Albert De Slavo, to name a few.

Turks have a dislike so much for the number that it is almost stricken from their vocabulary. And of course, everyone knows there are thirteen witches in a coven!

To give the argument from the other side: Chinese consider the number to be a sign of luck. Egyptians used this for spiritual ascension--twelve in their life and thirteenth beyond, meant to be eternal afterlife.

It is thought that western civilization reviled the number as it is considered feminine--used by prehistoric goddess-worshipping cultures. It corresponded to the lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year.

Millions of Americans have a fear of Friday the 13th in this day and age. It has been proven that the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays. Does it keep most of them from venturing out to work and more? No. Though I wouldn't be surprised if they carry a rabbit's foot in their purse or pocket, or something that they believe is lucky for them. 

What plans are you making to do today for the 13th--stay home safe and sound or go out as usual? Do you believe in the 13th being a unlucky day or not? Thirteen is just a number--right? It's just another day. 

OR IS IT?  💀💀

Friday, April 06, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Tale for Spring: The Blue Corn Maiden

It is spring and yet tomorrow, here in Virginia, we  will get sleet and snow even. But it looks like this may be the last winter fit for us. The Hopi have a story about the Blue Corn Maiden and the Winter Katsina, and how both are behind spring and winter. Enjoy.

Now it is said that the Hopi people loved the corn maidens. These are beautiful women who brought corn to their lands. Out of the sisters, the most beautiful and beloved was the Blue Corn Maiden. She brought delicious blue corn to the Hopi throughout the year. Not only gorgeous, they found her a kind and gentle woman too. 

One winter day, the Blue Corn Maiden went to gather firewood to warm her home when she came across the Winter Katsina. Common in all the tribes of the Pueblo area, katsinas were supernatural personifications of real world concepts. The Winter Katsina brought winter to the earth. 

Upon setting eyes on the Blue Corn Maiden, he fell in love with her, and invited her back to him home. Finding herself powerless to say no, Blue Corn Maiden soon became his prisoner when he blocked his door and windows with snow.

One day while the Winter Katsina was away, Blue Corn Maiden dug her way out through the snow and found materials to light a fire. Warmth flowed into the room, the snow melted, and the Summer Katsina arrived to save her. Angry that his bride had been saved, the Winter Katsina arrived to fight the Summer Katsina, only to realize that the two of them simply needed to talk it over.

Both made a deal. For one half of the year, the Blue Corn Maiden would live with the Winter Katsina, depriving the people of corn, but for the second half of the year she would live with the Summer Katsina, and the corn would grow again. The people began to look to the Blue Corn Maiden as a sign of springtime. Have you ever had those days in March, even maybe even snow appearing during April like will happen tomorrow on the East Coast, when it seems as though spring is on the way, only to have to put up with a snow storm the next day? That's because the Winter Katsina is not happy to have to give up the Blue Corn Maiden, and he's throwing a bit of a fit.

Winter Katsina, it’s time to let the woman go!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Easter, Ostra, All in a Name-Happy Easter!

Easter is a time of springtime festivals. In Christian countries, Easter is celebrated as the religious holiday, commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the son of God. But in actuality, Easter has many customs and legends that are pagan in origin and with nothing to do with Christianity.

The word, Easter is thought to come from the Scandinavian "Ostra" and the Teutonic "Ostern" or "Eastre." Both are goddesses of mythology that signify spring and fertility. Festivals for them were celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox. Like the Easter Bunny.  The rabbit is a symbol originating with the pagan festival of Eastre. The goddess, Eastre, was worshipped by the Anglo-Saxons through her earthly symbol, the hare or rabbit.

The date of Easter is determined by the moon—symbolism strongly tied to the hare. Ever since the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Easter has been celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after March 21st.

The Easter Bunny was introduced to American folklore by German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. "Oschter Haws" was considered "childhood's greatest pleasure," of course after a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. If children had been good, then the "Oschter Haws" would lay a nest of colored eggs. The children built their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys used their caps and girls, their bonnets, to make the nests . The use of elaborate Easter baskets came much later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread throughout the country.

Weird traditions connected to Easter:

I was shocked to find this custom in Czech Republic/Slovakia, on Easter Monday, Whipping Monday is very popular. Men lightly whip or spank women with special whips to show their affection. Some women even give the men colored eggs or money to thank them for the favor- according to legend, spanking a woman ensures that she will keep her health and beauty throughout the next year.

Poland has Dyngus Day, a variation on Whipping Monday. Boys will lightly whip girls with a pussy willow or dump water on them- but the girls get their revenge with whips and water the next day, on Easter Tuesday. The tradition of Dyngus Day is especially popular with the Polish community of Buffalo, New York.

If you’re looking to have a Big Fat Greek Easter, then you’ll need to stock up on fireworks and earthenware pots when you take a trip to Greece around Easter. As soon as Easter Mass ends, townspeople across Greece hurl pots out of their windows in order to ward off evil and bring prosperity. Another tradition, known as rouketopolemos, is celebrated in the town of Vrontados. Two rival church congregations celebrate by attempting to knock down each other’s bell towers using fireworks as ammo.

In England, a few places in the country where you can find still Pace egg plays, but they’re still going strong after hundreds of years in a few small towns like Heptonstall in West Yorkshire. The plays usually depict St. George locked in a monumentally epic struggle with evil. Not sure what Easter has to do with St. George.  Pace plays are often accompanied by Morris dancing, which is a bouncy, skip-like traditional dance.

The Christian celebration of Easter embodies a number of traditions particularly due to the relationship of Easter to the Jewish festival of Passover (Pesach). Pasch, another name used by Europeans for Easter, is derived from Pesach.

A Spanish festival commemorates the resurrection of Easter with colorful fireworks and booming cannons. Judas images often are shot at by the soldiers. Greeks would buy Easter candles and colored eggs for Good Friday, and on Easter, served the traditional lamb for dinner. They sometimes would do solemn processions wound through the streets, carrying lighted candles and holy pictures. A Bavarian custom concerned fashioning of little crosses and they would set those up in the fields. They also did Easter parades along with children rolling Easter eggs downhill for fun. In Tyrol, musicians would tour every valley and sing Easter hymns. The villagers of villages they did this would join in, and after dark, light the way with torches.

Other legends connected to Easter:

Easter Bells 
These were rung in France and Italy throughout the year, but never rung on the Thursday before Good Friday. The silence of the bells had to do as remembrance of the death of Jesus. On Easter, they were rung  as a way of telling people Jesus lived again.

The Cross 
A symbol of Christian religion as Jesus was put on a cross, then was brought back to life.

The Easter Lily 
The lily was a reminder to the Christians of how Jesus came back to life.

Easter Flowers 
These being daffodils, narcissus and tulips. Because bloomed late in spring, they became meshed with Easter as symbols.

Pussy Willows 
Especially picked at Easter in England and Russia, people tapped each other on the shoulders with a branch of it for good luck.

A symbol for Jesus as the Good Shepherd who would watch over them as they were lambs.

Rabbits are symbols of spring and new life (though I would consider lambs too, since born around this time), besides also the favorite animal of the spring goddess Eastre.

The Egg 
A sign of spring and Easter, they are a sign of new life. Interesting Fact: Back in the 19th century, families too far from town hall, took an egg and dye it, inscribing it with an infant's name and date of birth—making eggs into birth certificates. It was accepted as a legal document.

The chicks are born from eggs and are a reminder of spring and Easter.

Enjoy two tales that are legends to do with Easter, too. Unlike pagan ones, these are more Christian in relation.

Hot cross buns and other breads marked with an X symbolizing the cross are a tradition on many Easter tables. There are many kinds of sweet breads from all over the world, like Choreg (Armenia), Paska (Ukraine), Babka (Poland), Tsoureki (Greece). There is a traditional Italian Easter Bread that has eggs baked right in (talk about hiding the Easter eggs!). The breads are risen breads which may also show a desire for Easter traditions to be different from Passover which includes unleavened breads.

Legend of the Dogwood

An old and beautiful legend says at the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Its firmness and strength got it selected as the timber for the cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Crucified Jesus in his gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: "Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as a cross. You will remain slender, bent, and twisted, and your blossoms in the form of a cross—two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints—brown with rust and stained with red. There will be crown of thorns in the center of the flower, remembrance for all who see this."

The Easter Lily

One of the most famous biblical references to the lily is the Sermon on the Mount, when Christ told his listeners: "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies are said to have been found growing in the garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. It is said these beautiful white flowers sprang up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and distress. Christian churches at Easter by filling their altars and surrounding their crosses with masses of Easter lilies, commemorating the Resurrection and hope of life everlasting.

The pure white lily has also long been closely associated with the Virgin Mary. In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is seen holding out a branch of pure white lilies to her, announcing that she is to be the Mother of the Christ child. In other paintings, saints are pictured carrying vases full of white lilies that they give to Mary and the Infant Jesus.

Lilies had a significant presence in the paradise of Adam and Eve. Tradition says Eve left the Garden of Eden, shedding real tears of repentance, and from those remorseful tears sprang up lilies.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Do Ghosts Get Clean Sheets While Haunting a Hotel? (Haunted Biltmore Hotel in Providence, Rhode Island)

From February 28th through March 4th a couple of weeks ago, I got to stay in what is considered one of the most haunted hotels for a horror writers convention. That’s the Biltmore Hotel at 11 Dorrance Street in Providence, Rhode Island (Lovecraft Country). That I had a couple of experiences, paranormal activity wise, just added to my enjoyment.

The first one happened Wednesday night, I brought my flashlight that can change from white LED to green LED to red laser dot, I set it to the green light, and used it when I needed to go to the bathroom. This way, I wouldn’t bother my two roommates and wake them up, or trip in the dark if I didn’t turn on the light. While I was in the restroom, the green light flickered. I peered at it closer, and it began to grow smaller and small, ready to go out. I said, “Really? You’re going to suck the batteries’ life,” shook the flashlight, and it came back on, so I managed to get back to bed, thinking I might have to replace the batteries in it. But the rest of the weekend, it remained strong when switched on. The second thing that happened to me was Friday night. Dead tired after seeing the mini horror films and enjoying the reception afterwards, Dee and I decided to go to bed and not go to the Monster Mashup. Our other roomie, Cat, did go. Dee put her headshot connected to her radio and fell asleep. I didn’t. It was while I lay in bed in the very quiet room, between Dee’s and my bed in the bedroom a loud whistle like someone blowing from their lips sounded in the air. I turned on the light by me and asked Dee if that was her, but she just snored lightly only. The next day she said maybe her radio, but I did as best as I could an imitation pf the whistle and she said, “No, it doesn’t do that.” I wondered why the whistle, but again who knows why? I also admit earlier on Friday night, when Dee and Cat went down to outside for Dee to smoke, I was alone and suddenly felt I was not alone. I just kept my eyes closed and finally the roomies returned.

I do know my streaming laptop wouldn't come up, no matter how long I charged it up. Funny thing, back to normal once home. Was it paranormal. or maybe just the Internet which was sort of wonky (not paranormal) or even the electricity? I'd brought my ghost box which wouldn't come up at all, but it was okay once home. But my EMF meter came on. Who knows why for all that.  Our room was 830.

Strange, but with possible explanations were the elevators stopping and opening and no one on the floor (these were the floors with rooms only). Some people mentioning odd noises in the hallways and no one else out there, or in their rooms.

I did used my pendulum Saturday afternoon since my ghost box didn’t come on. It said yes to being female, there since the 20s, and causing my light to start dying, plus my laptop. Still rather have done my ghost box, but maybe it did answer me with the pendulum.  

It would have been interesting to find out of HP Lovecraft has ever stepped into the hotel, or if his spirit has been seen there. After all, Providence was his stomping grounds and he would have been alive when it first was built and people stayed there.

History of the Biltmore

The Providence Biltmore Hotel is a historic landmark built in 1922. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and is a member of Historic Hotels of America, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, there are about 300 rooms and 2 ballrooms. It has 18 floors.

"Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye" was all the rage when 12-hundred guests gathered at the hotel for an opening night ball on June 6, 1922. The brick edifice was brilliantly lit and decorated with sprays of roses and carnations, the Providence News reported. Guests gorged themselves on a ten-course meal that included two seafood and two meat dishes. Then-Providence Mayor Joseph Gainer said the lack of a modern hotel had been holding the city back.

The hotel went on to fulfill its promise, becoming a social gathering point for Rhode Islanders and a destination for a host of celebrities, including President John Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, actress Audrey Hepburn, boxer Rocky Marciano and a young senator named Joe Biden. Even the dance floor was once converted into a swimming pool for Esther Williams and a skating rink for Sonja Henie. In the early years, the chef grew vegetables and raised roosting hens on the roof of the hotel so that celebrities like Benny Goodman could have fresh eggs. (Ah, here are those ‘chickens’ people claimed raised for Satanists I will mention later in this post.).

The hotel has also had its share of hard times. During the 1938 hurricane water filled the first floor. Hurricane Carol inundated it again in 1954.

By 1975 the Biltmore closed after its owner was unable to make a gas payment. Of course, it reopened, otherwise, Stokercon 2018 wouldn’t have been held there earlier this month. There are articles online that it was sold in October 2017 and will be part of a hotel chain in 2019.

There’s the glass elevator tacked onto the front of the Biltmore in the 1970's. It hasn't worked in years. They even have a cute sign attached to it that I took a picture.

The Ghosts and the Legends

There is supposedly a local legend suggests that hotel ran as a satanic paradise complete with animal sacrifices, murders, and so much more. That chickens were raised on the roof to become sacrifices for these Satanic ceremonies.  Others say that the hotel housed vibrant parties run by the mob during prohibition (which Rhode Island rebelled against). During these parties it is believed that many murders occurred filling the hotel with ghosts of those slain inside. Now, these I take with a grain of salt, as didn’t find that on ghost books of Rhode Island, and the chapters on Biltmore do not mention this.

One of the main ghosts to occupy the hotel is a financier who lost all of his money in the Depression in 1929.  He was staying in a room on the 14th floor when he received the news that he was effectively broke and was so overwhelmed by it that he threw himself out of the window.  His ghost doesn’t just haunt the room in which he was staying but seems to enjoy wandering through all the rooms he passed during his fall.  Guests staying in these rooms have reported seeing someone fall past the window but never a body on the street when they rush over to look.

Other ghosts are believed to be the spirits of those murdered in the hotel during the 1920s and 1930s.  Raucous parties are heard as well as laughter and people are seen dancing – none of whom are present.

A former event planner at the Biltmore tells "intuitive medium" Pam Patalano who relays the story to NBC 10's R.J. Heim that she saw ghosts dancing in the empty ballroom during the middle of the night on numerous occasions.

The Director of Marketing at the Biltmore, Pamela Baldwin, says some guests have told her that they have seen, heard and felt things during their visits, although she hasn’t had any first-hand experiences.

If you search "paranormal activity at the Biltmore" online, you will find plenty of stories. Pam Patalano says, “25% would be accurate and real. The rest would be just fake, or you could debunk it, or chalk it up to something else.” But it's that 25% she finds fascinating.

Another story I found concerned a guest who stayed at this hotel. Her partner and she were asleep when the woman woke to something like a dog, walking back and forth on her pillow. She tried to wake her partner who was in a deep sleep. The next morning, the partner admitted to having the same thing that happened, but afraid to say anything. Another story is about the 3rd floor of the Biltmore Hotel that has claims by guests is that it is haunted by the sounds of children at play.

And after checking out the cool architecture of Providence, Rhode Island, check out the other ghostly hauntings and legends of this spooky state in New England.

Thirteen Spooky Rhode Island Hauntings and Legends

1) Drink At Your Own Risk: Legend has it if you drink from the fountain outside the Providence Athenaeum you may leave Rhode Island but are guaranteed to always return. Since the fountain is from 1873, it is not in the best condition and we recommend you don't test this legend out or you may never return to life itself. 
Also, look out for Edgar Allen Poe's ghost at the Athenaeum, as many locals claim he still visits there.
2) Rhody's Most Famous Vampire: Exeter resident, Mercy Brown who died of tuberculosis in the 1890s was said to be a vampire because her body (allegedly) never decomposed and her hair and nails (reputedly) never stopped growing.
3) A Bewitching Drive: The Witch Tree located in the middle of the intersection of Log and Mann School Roads is said to be named after a witch that lived down the road. Many residents claim if you drive around the tree three times and head in a certain direction you will be followed by a phantom; no chance it's a cop.
4) Campus Hauntings: With four major colleges in Providence, there is no doubt there are some eerie places around the campuses. Brown's University Hall, RISD's Homer Hall, Providence College's Aquinas Hall, Johnson & Wales' Xavier Hall and URI fraternity house Lambda Chi Alpha are all rumored to be haunted.
5) The Scariest House Ever: Harrisville is home to the real farmhouse that inspired the recent hit film The Conjuring. The Perron family experienced some unnerving events that resulted in them moving out. The home is now occupied by folks who claim they have experienced the spook but not to the same extent.
6) The Haunting of Sprague Mansion: After a chilling murder took place at the Sprague Mansion in Cranston, paranormal acitvitiy such as lights flickering, cold gusts and phantom foot-steps have been reported more than once.
7) The Old Abandoned Mental Hospital Trick: The Ladd School in Exeter, an abandoned mental rehabilitation hospital with a not so pleasant past has locals and curious trespassers claiming they have heard disembodied moaning, crying and whispering. Ghosts and glowing orbs have been reported to wander the grounds. It was torn down in 2013, leaving Rhode Island without the haunted abandoned mental hospital that is required by New England's by-laws.
8) Watch Out for Children: Tower Hill Road in Cumberland is said to be a paranormal hot spot. Total strangers have reported the same sightings of a ghost boy and his dog, a little girl who lingers in the same spot and a toddler ghost on a tricycle.
9) Hello, Dolly: Foster is where Dolly Cole, an alleged witch, vampire and murdered prostitute haunts the dense forests where she was killed. Those who say they have encountered her ghost can barely speak of the experience.
10) Uninvited Guests at the Biltmore: In 2000, the Biltmore in Providence was named "America's Most Haunted Hotel" for good reason. With stories of murders, ghost encounters and visitors disappearing forever, this place will definitely have you shaking in your boots. (Which I blogged about in this article.)
11) The Devil Went Down to South County: Devil's Foot Rock in North Kingstown is said to be a spot that Satan himself visited as he was leaping around New England. He met a bride in Little Rhody whom he tried to bring back to his fiery abyss. During this process his hot hooves were imprinted into the granite.
12) The Mysterious Rune: The legend of the Narragansett Rune Stone is that it has a medieval inscription on it that only appears for 20 minutes each day at low tide. Real or hoax?
13) Make Yourself (Un)Comfortable: In the woods of Narragansett you will find the Witches' Altar and Druids Chair, a mysterious circle of stones around an altar-like stone. The druids chair is a curved stone placed off to the side of the circle. Use your imagination to come up with what could go on there.
BONUS: Even though the Red Headed Hitch Hiker of Route 44 is a legend of nearby Rehoboth, MA, we thought he was worthy of mentioning. Creepy stories have been told of the hitch hiker having a distorted face, bugged out eyes and creepy giggles.