Friday, November 16, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Witching Hour

The witching hour. The hour when witches, demons, and ghosts are supposed to appear, usually midnight. So, says one dictionary.

In folklore, the witching hour or devil's hour is a time of night associated with supernatural events. Creatures such as witches, demons, ghosts, and gremlins are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful. Black magic is thought to be most effective at this time. The hour between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. in European tradition was considered a period of peak supernatural activity, due to the absence of prayers in the canonical hours during this period. Women caught outside without any sufficient reason during this time were sometimes executed on suspicion of witchcraft.

The Witching Hour can vary slightly,  but it should always be in the middle of the night, sometime between 12-3am.
One of the biggest reasons the Witching Hour is so vitally in the middle of the night (even though it is technically the beginning of the day) is because the liminality the time offers. Another reason, why many people focus on midnight as much as 3am because midnight is the time between two days, and many believe the veil between the worlds is at its weakest point then, allowing for a heightened level of communication between our world and another.

This makes it the perfect time to swap ghost stories, communicate with spirits, or why people take out an Ouija board or perform spells in the old days (think Victorian and before).

Additionally, even back in the centuries before, the hours between 12-3am are usually when most people are dead asleep. The cover of darkness and the sleeping world allows witches and other creatures to convene publicly, but without being seen or otherwise persecuted for the meeting. For demons to possess easier? Or when succubuses and incubuses invaded dreams to seduce mortals.

Another thing about this time is a lot of people wake up around 3 am. Although this is said to be in relation to something wicked, experts argue that you’re in your REM sleep cycle during the time bracket. Your heart rate, cardiac pressure, breathing rate, and arterial pressure becomes irregular at this time, which is why you may feel anxious when you suddenly wake up at those odd hours. It is interesting that we are irregular and on alert at those
hours naturally. Is it a coincidence, or is it an evolutionary tactic developed to better protect ourselves?

Friday, November 02, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Dia De Los Muertos

 Image result for day of the dead images
Many of us think about spirits 365 days a year, but there are those who began to think of them as soon as pumpkins start to appear in grocery stores and the cooler autumn breeze whips leaves changing color off the trees. Those same people want to hear scary ghost stories, and if those tales have a basis in fact, well, that’s all the better.

Humankind has been fascinated with the dead since the time of the cavemen, their shaman telling them tales around a blazing campfire built to keep the dark and worse away. Some cultures honor their dead and welcome their ancestors to come to visit them, bringing them foods and gifts. Just like Mexico does with their Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos). More than 500 years ago, when the Spanish Conquistadors landed in what is now Mexico, they encountered natives practicing a ritual that seemed to mock deathIt was a ritual that the indigenous people had been practicing for at least 3,000 years. A ritual the Spaniards tried with no success to eradicate. 
The Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations kept skulls as trophies and displayed them during the ritual. The skulls were used to symbolize death and rebirth. The skulls were used to honor the dead, whom the Aztecs and other Meso-American civilizations believed came back to visit during the month-long ritual. The Spaniards thought death as the end, while the natives embraced it, as to them it was only the beginning. Not separating death from pain and wealth from poverty, unlike in Western cultures.
Not able to kill this barbaric ritual, the Spanish merged it with “All Saint’s Day” and “All Soul’s Day,” the first two days of November. When the natives celebrated it for a month, always falling on the ninth month of the Aztec Solar Calendar, approximately the beginning of August. Festivities were presided over by the goddess Mictecacihuatl, known as "Lady of the Dead.” 

Nowadays, people don wooden skull masks called calacas and dance in honor of their deceased relatives. They placed wooden skulls on altars dedicated to the dead. Sugar skulls, made with the names of the dead person on the forehead, are eaten by a relative or friend. Families would also visit the cemetery where their loved ones are buried. They decorate gravesites with marigold flowers and candles. They bring toys for dead children and bottles of tequila to adults. They sit on picnic blankets next to gravesites and eat the favorite food of their loved ones. Strangely enough, in Richmond, Virginia, families would come to town and visit their buried dead at Hollywood Cemetery, picnicking by the graves. Today, in the contract, it is stated that when you purchased a gravesite there, no picnics are allowed there!
Honestly, the dead may haunt the graveyards, but they don’t stop there, for paranormal activity has been cited in homes, schools, hospitals, prisons, amusement parks, so many places. And they don’t wait for Halloween or Day of the Dead or All Soul’s Day, but any day of the year works for those who passed away.
After all, the dead don’t stay dead anywhere you look!