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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Anti-Santa: Krampus! the evil beast.

Forget about the Elf on the Shelf !!! instead of having a gossipy elf at home, you should get Krampus

Your children don’t listen to you during the Christmas holidays and the elf story is not working anymore? Then tell them the story of the European demon and I assure you that you will have good children ( until Christmas day at least ).

Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon and beast who literally beats and scare  kids into being nice on Christmas.
: Bearing horns, dark hair, and fangs, the anti-St. Nicholas comes with a chain and bells that he lashes and sticks meant to hit naughty children; then the bad kids go down with him to the underworld.

His name derived from the German word krampen ( claw ), is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.
Krampus was created to be the counterpart St. Nicholas, who rewarded children with sweets for their good behavior. In contrast, Krampus would crush "wicked" “bad” “naughty” children and take them away to his lair.

The night before December 6 ( Krampus Night ) Krampus shows up in towns, sometimes with Santa and sometimes alone and he makes sure that every naughty boy or girl gets a rod of wood or metal inside the shoe or boot they'd left out the night before outside their door. Santa will make sure that the good kids get a special present on their shoes.

In modern times, countries like Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic gave a new spin on the tradition which now involves men dressed as devils, who take over the streets for a Krampus Run where people are chased through the streets by the "devils." Drunk, grown men dressed as the beast? Yep, sounds equally scary as meeting Krampus.

Krampuslauf:❝ A Krampuslauf is a run of celebrants dressed as the beast, often fueled by alcohol. It is customary to offer a Krampus schnapps, a strong distilled fruit brandy.[1] These runs may include perchten, similarly wild pagan spirits of Germanic folklore and sometimes female in representation, although the perchten are properly associated with the period between winter solstice and 6 January.❞  (Wikipedia)

The demon’s masks, look like rams faces and ram's horns, which are made with effort. After many years of tradition and also depending on the district where the demons go, the masks sometimes have different sizes and materials. Each Krampus has a thick skin (mainly sheep) and the bells worn on their backs are made of steel. Roles or clamps, the bells are called, can be heard from a distance and this means that the Krampus is near. This unique sound, along with loud roars (Screaming Demon) is in these two days in the Gastein area (Austria) what gives this place a strange and mystical atmosphere.

Countries like Austria are attempting to commercialize the harsh persona of Krampus by selling chocolates, figurines, and collectible horns. So there are already complaints that Krampus is becoming too commercialized. Oh well, as long as there is money in this world, everything will be commercialized at one point to the other.

The face of Halloween.

Far from an activity for children to do with their parents during October for Halloween, the original Jack-o-Lanterns, of the Irish myth, were actually quite terrifying looking and I can’t imagine children would have want to come close to any of them. This essential Halloween decoration item has a purpose and a story behind it.

They were carved from turnips or beets rather than festive orange pumpkins, and were intended to ward off unwanted visitors; spirits, goblins and demons. When the Irish and Scots emigrated to America, bringing the tradition along, they found that pumpkins, native to America, made perfect fruits for carving. Pumpkin Jack-o-Lanterns have been an integral part of Halloween festivities ever since.

The name “Jack O’ Lantern” was originally one of the numerous names given to ignis fatuus (Medieval Latin for “foolish fire”), another of which is “Will O’ the Wisps”, basically the odd light that can occasionally be seen over marshes, swamps, and the like.  “Jack O’ Lantern” first popped up being used this way around the mid-17th century in East Anglia, UK and spread from there through parts of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

Also this name could originally derive from the practice of calling men generically “Dick, Jack, Tom, etc.”  In particular, men who were lower class, were often called generically “Jack” beginning around the 14th century in England. (This practice popped up again in the late 19th century in the United States where “Jack” was used for the name for a man where his real name is unknown).  Thus, when you see someone carrying a lantern in a distance at night that you see is a man, but you can’t make out who exactly it is, he is literally “man with a lantern”, a.k.a. “Jack of the Lantern” or “Jack O’ Lantern”. 

The truth is that the jack o’ lanterns and pumpkin carving are probably going to be around for a long time, at least that is what I hope so. I could not imagine a Halloween season without this mysterious folks.

Even though the pumpkin is a simple vegetable, carved with a scary face and that alone makes it trick and it’s a perfect decoration for a spooky night; nowadays it is more commercialized in different ways. Just like masks changed from scary to sophisticated and expensive. The pumpkin has changed.

Before, the image of the jack o’ lantern alone was commercialized in cards, masks, plates and different decorations items. Today, the pumpkin itself has suffered a major transformation.  Apparently to get the attention of the new generation, new stencils with images of Disney characters, Movie characters, Music Idols were created to carve on pumpkins. We can also count with light and sound effects.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about this cool new designs, there are very creative people out there BUT I just hope kids learn first to carve the original face of our beloved jack so this tradition won’t disappear completely. But the question is: the Jack -o-Lanter face,will it disappear? 

Carved Pumpkins Back Then:

Carved Pumkins Today:

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Let's call the spirits: Séances

A séance is an attempt to communicate with spirits. The word "séance" comes from the French word for "seat," "session" or "sitting," from the Old French "seoir," "to sit." In English, however, the word came to be used specifically for a meeting of people who are gathered to receive messages from spirits or to listen to a spirit medium discourse with or relay messages from spirits (…)
One of the earliest books on the subject of communication amongst deceased persons was Communitation with the Other Side by George, First Baron Lyttelton, published in England in 1760. (Wikipedia)

The séances became popular during the mid-nineteenth century and it became a popular. Some say that the housewives were so bored that people began to gather for these séances. It is important to note that any meeting of this kind, back then and today, creates a more relax atmosphere, not so focused on social labels or etiquettes, ie that apart from being a gathering of men and women (so they would interact),they could also relax without being judged, hey ... everyone was there for the same reason, right? In the Victorian Era, the séance became a source of entertainment, the rich families could afford this practices at their parties but for the middle class it became a source of hope, they really believed in it and they mixed their religion believes with contacting the spirits for answers and guidance.

The séance usually involved different tools for their purpose like:  Spirit boards, cards, talking boards, and Ouija boards.  The guest sat down around a light-weight tables and the rest people were standing up just in silence watching everything. A medium was invited to contact the dead. This person would use different techniques to achieve the spiritual/paranormal experience. Mediumship, trance, channeling and possession.

The mediums are possessed by a spirit, they speak and act through the medium, sometimes the medium is conscious about what it’s going on around her and she is just transmitting the message of the spirits. It can be orally or by writing, but sometimes the possession it’s so strong that the medium doesn’t remember what she did or said.

Mediums would evoke or invoke spirits. Evocation: Is to call forth, to invite a spirit to be present.
Invocation: when you call a spirit and welcome it to possess you. When the medium invite any spirit willing to communicate but this is dangerous since we don’t know if the spirit will be good or evil.
These practices started as a genuine way to contact the loved ones; a genuine desperation to contact the other side but with time it became a way to entertain people and then it became a show. There were discovered fakes mediums and fake spirits and fake paranormal activities.

Thanks to the popularity of the frauds, séances popularity declined. These practices are still done in the present but it became a rare thing to do and it is always accompanied by skeptics. It is said that real mediums do not accept money from the people they help or their “powers” will be taken away. If you think about it, having a power or the ability to listen or pass messages from the dead to the living should be something that you should do to help people and not because you want to get their money. As a matter of fact I know a medium she does not charge and I ask: What do they get from saying they have spiritual powers if they don't want get paid? Or be famous? Well, there are real mediums out there but to make public you have this gift comes with great responsibility and pressure.
I’m honest and when I see tarot reading or hand reading sign I do not believe completely that they are 100% accurate but in my heart I wish it was true. Who wouldn’t like to get into a medium parlor and contact the spirit of your loved one? But I do believe on the paranormal, spirits, heaven, the beyond and magic. This things exist but are rare to see, it's a matter of faith and feeling it in your guts. We are made of enery, we have a soul and we feel. There must be something beyond our material bodies.


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