Thursday, November 29, 2012

Better Watch Out; Krampus is Coming to Drag You to Hell!

Christmas is not just a time of joy, gifts, and goodwill, it’s also a season of dark myths and legends. 
In the olden days gone by in Finland, they believed in Joulupukki. That word means Yule buck.

In December, pagan people had big festivals to ward off the Joulupukki. These spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. It was an ugly creature and frightened children. It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. The process was probably a continuous amalgamation of many old folk customs and beliefs from varied sources. One can speak of a Christmas pageant tradition consisting of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, and house gnomes. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus. While most gift givers around the world deliver their presents in the middle of the night while everyone is sleeping, children in Finland get to see Joulupukki in the act of delivering the presents.

This reminds me of Black Peter and the Krampus, both being Santa’s “evil twin.” In many areas of the world, it is said that St. Nicholas has a companion. This companion is Krampus, though another version is Black Peter, or Zarte Piet or Zwarte Piet. Black Peter is associated with the Netherlands and has dark skin. Krampus isn't a man though. He has horns, goat hair, hooves, and claws. Just like a demon. His job is to accompany St. Nicholas and to warn and punish bad children. He is said to carry a basket on his back where he will place the bad children and take them to Hell to be tossed into the pit. It puts a frightening twist on “have you been naughty or nice!”

Krampus originates from Krampen--meaning claw. Krampus is the dark companion of St. Nicholas, the traditional European winter gift-bringer. This fiendish being is usually seen as a classic devil with horns, cloven hooves and monstrous tongue. Unlike American children who get coal if they’re bad, instead the Krampus beats them savagely for their misdeeds and then drag them down to hell. Born of a pre-Christian, Alpine Pagan tradition, he is identified by matted-black hair, along tongue that snakes out of his maw, and cloven hooves. He also sports a large wicker basket on his back, filled to the brim with thorny, unbreakable birch sticks for those beatings he delivers. He always comes with St. Nick who brings presents, but before the gifts are handed out, those who are bad is given what they "deserve" by him. Also, taking part in this Krampus legend, are young men that dress up in goat skins and masks they spent two weeks making and on December 5th, head out to scare all, and carry out "birching," mainly on young girls. Krampus makes the Grinch before his heart went several sizes bigger look good!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Legend of the White Deer

White deer figured in many Native American legends.  Many Native American cultures have consistently regarded the White Deer to be a spirit, typically that of an ancestor or benevolent soul transfigured from human form.   

The Senecas of Northwestern New York State have their White Deer legend.
The Indian legend of Mona-sha-sha lends an air of tragedy to the beautiful glen with the famous waterfalls. The hunter, Joninedah, brought his wife and child to a temporary home there as the hunting was good. Instead though, days of hunting brought no success. Mona-sha-sha tried to cheer him up. She fished and gathered berries while he was away. After a long hard day, he came home in despair that the evil eye was upon him. He failed to respond to the smiles of Mona-sha-sha. Feeling that he no longer loved her, she waited until he fell asleep, then strapping her babe upon her back, slipped away into the night. Far above the falls she found her canoe, and as she rowed downstream, was dashed over the waterfall bark.
Joninedah awoke and found her gone.  He hurried outside. Following her trail to the water's edge, he found canoe gone. A white doe and fawn darted by just then.  The grief-stricken brave said the spirit had spoke of the dead. Plunging his knife into his breast, he joined his wife and child in death.

First European settlers of the lost colony of Roanoke Island in North Carolina were involved in a Croatan Indian legend. The first white child born in America was Virginia Dare. Some time before she became three years old, she and her parents and everybody in the settlement disappeared. What happened to them? Nobody knows, and they are called the "Lost Colony".
The legend of the white deer offers an explanation about Virginia Dare and why there’s a big, big grape vine called the "Mother Vine" in North Carolina.
The legend mentioned that the Lost Colony joined the Croatan Indians. When Virginia became a young woman, two Indians fell in love with her. Their names were Chico, an old Indian magician, and Okisko, a young man.
Chico said, "I am too old and she will not marry me. But she will not marry Chico, either. I will make some magic."
So Chico took magically spotted pearls from some mussels. He made a magic potion and then, sang to all the spotted beads. With the magic, he made a necklace. Chico asked Virginia, "Winono-ska, will you ride in my canoe to Roanoke Island?"
Virginia Dare agreed. Chico gave her the magic beads and when she put them on she changed into a white deer.

For a long time the people on Roanoke Island saw this white deer. The young Indian man Wanchese decided he would kill the white deer. Upset, Chico knew he had to save her. So he went to the spirit of the water. The spirit told him how to make a magic arrow from a hammerhead shark's tooth and three mussel pearls. He fixed them on a wood stick shaft and wrapped a heron feather.
Chico went to Roanoke, but Wanchese went too. They looked for the white deer. Both Indians shot arrows at the same time. Chico's arrow hit first, and the white deer changed into Virginia Dare. But Wanchese's arrow hit her just a second later, killing her.
Upset, Chico took his magic arrow and stuck it in the magic water. From the wood grew a grape vine, becoming the great Mother Vine of North Carolina.
And there are people who still say you can still see the ghost of the white deer on Roanoke Island. 

And the Chickasaw of Oklahoma tell their version:
There was one brave, young warrior called Blue Jay for the Chickasaw Nation, and he fell in love with the daughter of a chief. The chief did not like the young man. So the chief invented a price for the bride that he was sure that Blue Jay couldn’t pay.
The hide of the White Deer was his price. The Chickasaws believed that animals that were all white were magical.  The chief knew that an all white deer, an albino, was very rare and would be very hard to find. White deerskin was the best material to use in a wedding dress, and the best white deer skin came from the albino deer.
Blue Jay went to his beloved, Bright Moon. "I will return with your bride price in one moon, and we will be married. I promise you." After he grabbed his best bow and his sharpest arrows, Blue Jay went hunting.
Three weeks went by, and Blue Jay was often hungry, lonely, and scratched by briars. But one night during a full moon, Blue Jay saw a white deer that seemed to drift through the moonlight. When the deer drew close to where Blue Jay hid, he shot his sharpest arrow at the buck. The arrow sank deep into the deer's heart. Instead of sinking to its knees to die, the deer bolted. It didn’t run away, but rushed toward Blue Jay, red eyes glowing and pointing the antlers in a menacing way.
A month passed, and still Blue Jay did not return as he had promised Bright Moon. The months dragged by and the tribe decided that he would never return.
But Bright Moon never took any other young man as a husband, for she had a secret. When the moon shone as bright as her name, Bright Moon often saw a white buck in the smoke of the campfire, running, and an arrow in his heart. She lived hoping the deer would finally fall, and Blue Jay would return to her.

Southeastern Virginia has its own version pf this legend. Set in the Great Dismal Swamp of the Tidewater region, it's one of tragic love. There had been an Indian maiden, Wa-Cheagles, who happened to be daughter of the chief of one of two warring tribes in the area. For years she had an interesting relationship with a doe that she called Cin-Co, which meant guiding friend. It was believed that Cin-Co brought deer into the swamp each autumn. The doe would always lead her current fawn up to Wa-Cheagles to show her, at the edge of the forest near a pool of dark brown water. This was the only way for the squaw to meet with the doe as squaws were not allowed into the forest because the tribes believed this to be an evil omen.

One year, Cin-Co appeared alone, limping. She walked back into the forest, doing it two to three times, until Wa-Cheagles overcame her fear and followed her. The doe lead her to her fawn that had a hoof firmly on a barely living rattlesnake. No doubt this reptile had bitten Cin-Co and was the reason for her limp. The doe was telling the Indian maiden she wanted her to care for her fawn, since the doe was dying from the rattlesnake poison. While there, Wa-Cheagles heard a moan and discovered an Indian brave from an enemy tribe with a swollen leg from a rattlesnake bite. If she attended to him, she must pledge herself to him. Both then would be hunted down, to be killed by arrows with tips laced with water moccasin venom.
But she went ahead and helped him, removing her beret and tying it around his leg.  Using some snakeroot she found, she applied a poultice over the wound. Ready to leave, she saw that Cin-Co had died and the fawn had vanished. Upset, she went back to her tribe.
For three days, she would sneaked away to tend to the brave. On the third day, her father appeared in the clearing, finding not only her, but the brave too. He carried away Cin-Co’s carcass, giving them enough time to get away.
Wa-Cheagles and her lover stopped at Lake Drummond to rest. Just then three warriors from her tribe confronted them, determined to erase the curse from their tribe.
As the warriors drew back their bows to send their arrows flying, a dark cloud blotted out the sun and a loud rustling noise filled the air. A flock of wild geese flew around Wa-Cheagles and her lover. The geese settled en masse on the lake until not one inch of the water could be seen. Terrified, the braves dropped their bows and arrows and bolted.
Just then, the “swamp spirit” rose out of the lake and strolled over the backs of the geese, approaching the two lovers. It told them that Cin-Co’s spirit had saved them. That Wa-Cheagles must continue the doe’s good work. The spirit magicked the maiden into a white deer, a small crimson spot on her forehead. Her lover became a charmed hunter. The spirit told them they would roam the swamp’s forest forever, side by side, protected from both animals and hunters by rattlesnakes.
To this day there are hunters and others who say they have seen the white deer and the Indian brave by her side. Whenever a hunter pursues them, a rattlesnake appears on the spot they had been sighted, hissing and rattling its rattle. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving

If live in the US, happy Thanksgiving. To all others, have a super Thursday and upcoming weekend.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey--All About The Turkey

Since the turkey will be the central star of most tables tomorrow, let's talk turkey.  
The turkey provided more than sustenance to Native Americans. The feathers were used for fletching their arrows and for decorations, Bones of the bird became tools, spurs for arrow heads and its leg bones were made into fish hooks.

Of course, Benjamin Franklin had wanted the turkey as our national bird, but the bald eagle won out. Surprisingly to say, the wild turkey of Ben Franklin's day was a brightly plumed, cunning bird of flight and able to defend its territory.

And though it most likely was something they may have eaten on Thanksgiving, but no one is really sure, it is pretty sure the Pilgrims ate venison on their three day celebration. Yes, three days, not one as we do it. Wild turkeys were probably first domesticated by native Mexicans. Spaniards brought tame Mexican turkeys to Europe in 1519, and they reached England by 1524. The Pilgrims actually brought several turkeys to America on the voyage in 1620.

Researchers know of two kinds of wild turkey. One is called the ocellated turkey, native to Yucatan and Guatemala and a brilliantly colored bird with eyelet spots on its tail similar to that of a peacock. The other is the wild turkey common to Mexico and the United States. At one time this wild turkey migrated as far north as Maine and southern Ontario, Canada. And the state that raises most of those turkeys you will find in the supermarkets? Minnesota. 

Turkeys are extremely curious by nature. Groups of domesticated turkey have been seen standing in the rain with their beaks pointed straight up toward the sky. What are they doing? According to poultry research at the University of Illinois, it is unclear. Some turkey experts speculate that these birds are curiously looking at raindrops falling from the sky. Or could they be attempting to get a drink of water? An old wives tale suggests that turkeys have been known to actually drown in this position. But even there is no proof yet on this.

A web search for turkey will generate a lot of information about the Republic of Turkey, an eastern European nation, yet there is no turkey to be found on the menu in that country. The name translates into “large bird.”

Heard of Kentucky Wild Turkey Bourbon? Well, back in 1940 Thomas McCarthy, a hunter and distillery executive, brought a private supply of bourbon along with him on an annual wild turkey hunt with his friends. The following year the good old boys requested more of the same bourbon referring to it as “Wild Turkey.” Mr. McCarthy later honored his friends by turning the nickname into a legendary brand of Kentucky bourbon. True story.

Big Bird, of Sesame Street fame, is actually dressed in turkey feathers. Although he is not a turkey, his costume is made of nearly 4,000 white turkey feathers, which have been dyed bright yellow.

In England, during the 1700's, turkeys were walked to market in large herds. Turkey farmers often covered the birds' feet with little booties to protect them on the long journey to the London market.

Only the adult male turkey makes the gobbler, gobble sound. The adult male is called the "tom" turkey. The female or hen turkey makes a gentle clucking or clicking sound. The hen never gobbles.

Why turkeys are called turkeys? Some say Columbus thought the land he discovered was connected to India which had a large population of peacocks and he thought turkeys were part of the peacock family. He decided to call them tuka, which is the word for peacock in the language of India. But there are those who say the name came from Native Americans who called the birds firkee, which sounds like turkey. While others says the name came from the sound turkeys make when they are afraid - "turk, turk, turk."

Charles Dickens' The Christmas Carol is credited for popularizing the serving of turkey for Christmas dinner.

In the sport of bowling, when a player bowls three strikes in a row—it is called a turkey.

Now, you learned more about turkeys then I assume you ever wanted to know about. But one thing I am sure about and you too—we’ll be enjoying the bird on Thanksgiving, lore or no lore.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Thunderbird!

If you ever read Indian myths, then you heard of the thunderbird. It is described as a large bird, capable of creating storms and thundering while it flies. Clouds are pulled together by its wing beats, the sound of thunder is made by its wings clapping, lightning flashes from its eyes when it blinks, and individual lightning bolts are made by the glowing snakes that it carries around with it. In masks, it is depicted as many-colored, with two curling horns, and, often, teeth within its beak. The Lakota name for the Thunderbird is Wakį́yą, a word formed from kįyą́, meaning “winged,” and wakhą́, “sacred.” The Kwakwaka’wakw has many names for the Thunderbird and the Nuu-chah-nulth gave it the name of Kw-Uhnx-Wa. The Ojibwa word for a thunderbird that is closely associated with thunder is animikii, while large thunderous birds are known as binesi.
Although associated most of the time with the Plains Indians, the Thunderbird was also known to the Algonquin-speaking peoples.  However, like most Native American cultures on East Coast (except maybe Iroquois), little is now known of their beliefs. 
In regards to the Thunderbird, this much is known: This fearsome being that resembles a winged man or an immense bird causes fear and dread. The myths tell that it is known to actually kill and eat humans from time to time.

There once existed a gigantic bird in North America. Called the Teratornis Merriami, it stood five feet tall and had a wingspan of twenty-four feet and had the long narrow beak of the predator bird, too. Bones of this bird and humans have been found in the same areas together. Maybe the ancestors of the Native Americans today killed these giant birds for their feathers or myths of the Thunderbird arose due to the birds kidnapping their children and stock.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Haunted Richmond II Got Another Great Review!

Haunted Richmond II was reviewed by I Smell Sheep Review Blog. They loved it!

Win the copy they have, by leaving a comment if you had ever visited a haunted site, plus contact info (so they can get address to mail it to you if you win the book).

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Curse of the Three Sisters

For Supernatural Friday this month until Thanksgiving,  I am going to talk about the Native American myths and legends. Today's is all about a ghostly legend told about the Potomac River in Northern Virginia, as told in my book,  Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales

What are your favorite Native American stories? Let us know, by leaving a comment.


Curse of the Three Sisters—Northern Virginia

Another tale of the Algonquian tribes is about a curse by three Algonquin women that apparently seems to still work today. This curse concerns three large granite rocks that rise out of the water between Virginia’s shoreline and Washington D.C. The story takes place a hundred years before Jamestown had been settled by the white man.
Though the land was rich with farmland and game and everyone did well, peace did not reign here. To the north were the Iroquois and Susquehannocks and they would raid the Algonquin tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy in the Virginia area, the battles fierce and bloody.
After a long siege, one Powhatan chief felt it was safe enough for his warriors and him to hunt for food. He forbidden though, three of his young sons to go with them, feeling they were not old enough to defend themselves if trouble came.
The young men decided to show their father how well they could go out and bring enough fresh fish to feed the women, children, and old men in the village. They did this after the hunting party left.
Now the greatest abundance of fish lived in the waters near the northern shore where the Susquehannocks warriors might still be. Using a canoe, they pushed it into the river and struck out. Not long after, a Susquehannock scouting party captured them and they were brought before the village, tortured, and killed. Of the villagers, three young daughters of the village shaman who were in loved with the young men watched with horror and growing anger.
They devised among themselves that they would cross the river to the village of the Susquehannocks to demand the warriors that killed the men they loved. They would take them back to their village to beguile them with their beauty and their fathers’ medicine. But afterwards, they would kill them by a long, agonizing death.
The sisters lashed several logs into a raft and pushed it from shore. But the current from the river proved too strong and fast and soon, they found themselves racing downstream. Still angry over the senseless deaths of the men they loved, the sisters cursed the river and said if they couldn’t cross it, no one would ever be able to do so.
The raft broke up and they sank to their deaths. The curse became true as one flash from a lightening struck the spot where they went down. That night the storm continued and the river’s waters went crazy. The following morning all grew calm as the sun rose into the sky. But three boulders had rose out of the spot where the sisters drowned, boulders that hadn’t been there before.
From that time on, the rocks take their toll on those who dare to try and cross the river there. A growing list of those victims who died is added to a growing list by local law enforcements—many fishermen, swimmers, and boaters. Old-timers claim that you can hear moaning over the Potomac during a storm, warning of another impending drowning.
In 1972, when they tried to construct a bridge to span the river, it became interrupted by one of the worse storms ever. Whitecaps surged on the water and lightening struck the spot where the bridge supports were starting to be built. The water surged and swept away the construction framework. Funny thing, the bridge was to be called “Three Sisters Bridge.”
Next time you feel you want to test an Indian curse work, try swimming in the Potomac where three sisters had died.

Like every state in the Union, Virginia has unique myths, legends, and yes, even true stories that sound much like legends, but aren't. Learn about the urban legend of the Bunnyman and what happens to mortals at his Bunnyman Bridge in Clifton at midnight on Halloween. Prepare to discover the myths surrounding Edgar Allan Poe and other famous Virginians. See why Natural Bridge is actually a haunted tourist attraction. And what makes the Great Dismal Swamp so creepy: Is it the ghosts or Bigfoot? Meet the Witch of Pungo in Virginia Beach and find out that Mothman and the Jersey Devil actually visited Virginia. Read Virginian stories of witches, demons, monsters, ghosts, pirates, strange animals, and soldiers from the Civil War. Come visit a most amazing, frightening, and even intriguing Virginia that you never knew existed.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

I'm Signing at the 18th Annual Museum Stores of Richmond Holiday Shoppers Fair This Weekend!


I am signing copies of Haunted Richmond II for Chesterfield Historical Society Museum Store at the 18th Annual Museum Stores of Richmond Holiday Shoppers Fair on Friday, November 2, 2012--1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, November 3rd--9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and at the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220. Holiday Shoppers Fair

Supernatural Friday: Harbinger of Autumn Harvest: Myth of the Scarecrow

Scarecrows are a sign of autumn. They maybe in the farmer’s fields all summer, but most people think of them connected with corn stalks and pumpkins, with Halloween to Thanksgiving. Scarecrows link to the planting and protection of crops and the changing of the seasons. In agrarian societies, Spring was celebrated as a time of resurrection – of life reborn after the dark winter. Sacrifice is bound up in this cycle. Winter kills that which grows, and breeds, until it is reborn in Spring. A description for a scarecrow: that which frightens or is intended to frighten without doing physical harm. Literally that which - scares away crows, hence the name scarecrow.
Scarecrows fascinate us. Daniel Defoe is generally thought of as the first English novelist to use the term "scarecrow", in his 1719 novel "Robinson Crusoe." Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Feathertop" is about a scarecrow created and brought to life in seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts by a witch in league with the devil. He is intended to be used for sinister purposes and at first believes himself to be human, but develops human feelings and deliberately cuts his own life short when he realizes what he really is. The basic framework of the story was used by American dramatist Percy MacKaye in his 1908 play The Scarecrow. After all, in the Batman comics one of his villainous adversaries is the Scarecrow! A scary scarecrow was the center monster in Supernatural Season 1, Episode 11, entitled “Scarecrow.” Sam and Dean Winchester travel to a small town in Indiana where couples have gone missing the same day each year, only to discover the local farmers are sacrificing the innocent victims in order to end a geographic blight long cursing the region, to a Pagan God who takes the form of a scarecrow.

The Scarecrow is the alter ego of the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn, the smuggler-Robin-Hood hero in a series of novels written by Russell Thorndike. The first book, Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh, was published in 1915. The story was made into a movie (1937) and later taken up by Disney in 1963 and dramatized for its Sunday night audience as Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan.
There are other scarecrows in film and TV shows. ‘The Wizard of Oz’: not a horror film, but more fantasy. This film features a talking scarecrow who sings "If I Only had a Brain".
‘The Wickerman is a chilling 1973 horror movie in which a policeman travels to a Hebridean island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Instead he finds a neo-pagan cult who demand a sacrifice each year – someone they burn inside a giant wicker figure. There’s a remake to this cult classic.
‘Children of the Corn’ is another. A young couple stumble onto a town of creepy children and “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”.
Doctor Who has an episode “Family of Blood,” where formless aliens control an animate army of scarecrows. When the Doctor finally defeats them, he traps one of them inside the form of a scarecrow.

Back in ancient Greece, wooden statues were placed in the fields, carved to represent Priapus. Although he was the son of Aphrodite, Priapus was hideously ugly. His most prominent feature was his constant and huge erection. Birds tended to avoid fields where Priapus resided, so as Greek influence spread into Roman territory, Roman farmers adopted the practice.
Different kinds of scarecrows were used in pre-feudal Japanese rice fields. The most popular one was the kakashi. Farmers used old dirty rags and noisemakers like bells and sticks mounted on a pole in the field and lit it all on fire. The flames—and no doubt, the smell—kept birds and other animals away from the rice fields. Of course, the word kakashi meant "something stinky." Over time,  Japanese farmers began making scarecrows that looked like people in raincoats and hats. These scarecrows were equipped with weaponry to make them look even more frightening. In Kojiki, the oldest surviving book in Japan (compiled in the year 712), a scarecrow known as Kuebiko appears as a deity who cannot walk, yet knows everything about the world.

The Middle Ages in Britain and Europe had small children become crow-scarers. They had to run around in the fields, clapping blocks of wood together to frighten away birds that might eat the grain. As the medieval period wound down and populations decreased due to plague, farmers discovered there was a shortage of spare children to shoo birds away. In medieval England, animal skulls were secured to posts in order to frighten away birds and other animals from the crops. But before long, those in Britain and Europe took to stuffing old clothes with straw, placed a turnip or gourd up on top, and mounted the figure in the fields. They soon realized these lifelike guardians did a pretty good job of keeping crows away.

He takes care of the crops. His size corresponds to the height of the cornfield and he is coated with wax from nine beehives. A witch doctor places the eyes, which are two beans; his teeth are maize and his nails are white beans; he is dressed in “holoch” (corn husks). Each time the witch places one of these elements on the scarecrow, he calls to the four winds to protect the corn.

Scarecrows came to North America with European emigrants. German settlers in Pennsylvania brought with them the bootzamon—bogeyman—which stood guard over the fields. A female counterpart would be added to the opposite end of the field or orchard sometimes. In the southern Appalachians, another common method of scaring off crows was use of a dead crow hung upside down from a pole.

Mayan Scarecrow Myth:
The scarecrow is presented to the Sun God and given as an offering to the Rain God. Fragrant herbs and anise are burned, and the sacred fire is kept burning for about an hour. Meanwhile, the witch doctor distributes “balché” to the witnesses, which is a very intoxicating liquor, so that the humans won’t be aware when the gods come down to earth. The ceremony should take place when the sun is in the middle of the sky. At that hour, the witch doctor makes a wound on the little finger of the owner of the cornfield, then squeezes out nine drops of blood into a hole in the right hand of the scarecrow; this hole reaches to the elbow.
The witch doctor closes the hole in the scarecrow's hand and in a peremptory voice commands: "Today your life begins. This man (pointing to the owner) is your lord and master. Obedience, scarecrow, obedience ... may the gods punish you if you fail. The cornfield is yours. You must punish the intruder and the thief. Here's your weapon." At this moment he places a rock in the right hand of the scarecrow.
During the burning and the growth of the cornfield, the scarecrow is covered with guano palm, but when the fruit starts to emerge, he is uncovered.
The people say that if a thief or mischief-maker tries to steal the crops, he is stoned to death. Therefore, in the cornfields where scarecrows stand guard, nothing is ever stolen.
After the harvest, a “hanincol” (meal in the cornfield) is served in honor of the scarecrow. After the ceremony, wax scarecrow is melted and the wax is used to make candles, which are burned in the pagan and Christian altars.

Next time, you drive past a field and see a scarecrow, think. Are they truly scary, or is it all bad press?

All the above scarecrows are from Agecroft  Hall's Scarecrow: The Challenge and the Exhibit, which goes through this Sunday, November 4, 2012.