Friday the 13th

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In Western culture, Friday the 13th has always been believed to be an unlucky day, despite there being no evidence of this before the 19th century. This holiday can happen anywhere from 1 to 3 times a year. In the years between 2010 and 2019, there were 3 Friday the 13ths in 2012 and 2015, 2 in 2013, 2017 and 2019. In the years between 2020-2029 there will be 3 Friday the 13ths in 2026, 2 between 2023 – 2024 and 2 in 2029. The average is recorded at 2 or 3 a year. There is never more than 3 a year and never less than 1a year. Today was and will be the only Friday the 13th this year. Friday the 13th has inspired horror movie figures such as Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street and, in fact, a whole horror film franchise. It has also been related to various ill events in history which we will discuss below.

An Ill Omen

I mentioned above that various events have been linked to this very unlucky day. Two such events are the Last Supper and the Trials of the Knights Templar. Catholics believe that the number 13 is an unlucky number because according to the calendars at the time, Jesus was brought for execution on Thursday 13 and the Friday of the 14th, he was crucified

The Trials of the Knights Templar is another event in history that is always associated with Friday the 13th with their arrest on Friday the 13th, October, 1307. This was due to Philip IV’s desire for the vast wealth acquired by the Templars during the First Crusades.

Donald Dossey, a famous folklore historian, believes that this belief stems from Norse mythology. The story is that one day 12 gods were having a dinner in Valhalla when Loki arrived unwelcome. He arranged for Balder to me murdered by another god with a mistletoe tipped arrow. Quoted, Dossey says, “Balder died, and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day.” This made the number “13” an unlucky number.

This belief inspired a 19th century secret society called The Thirteen Club. This club contained such famous members as Chester Arthur, Grover Cloveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Their sole aim was to prove that Friday the 13th wasn’t an unlucky day.

As well as inspiring a secret society, it also inspire a horror franchise and two phobias. These phobias are paraskavedektriaphobia and friggatriskaidekophobia.

In the Canterbury Tales, Chaucer writes that starting a journey on a Friday was bad luck. However, Chaucer isn’t the only famous author to use this day in his literary creations. Dan Brown, as well as many other historical fiction writers, mention this day when discussing the Knights Templars.

I mentioned above that in Catholic belief, they hold that the Last Supper was considered evidence that 13 is an unlucky number, this due to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ being on a Friday. The Catholics are not the only culture to hold that the number 13 is an unlucky number. In the Code of Hammurabi there was actually no 13th day at all.

In Western cultures, the number 12 is often referred to as the number of completeness (12 months of the years and 12 gods of Olympus), while the number 13 has acquired a reputation for being bad luck number. It is believed that it is bad luck to have a wedding on a Friday and, as Chaucer mentioned, to start a journey on a Friday.

Today is day surrounded by so much controversy. Is it good? Is it bad? I guess, you will need to decide for yourself. What do you believe? All I can say is that it’s one interesting day with a dark, rich history. Mentioned down the ages from the Hammurabi Code to the Nightmare on Elm Street, this day has always been believed to be a bad day; but do you really believe it or is it just another day? For me, it’s my favourite day. My favourite number is 13 and I love Fridays. So it’s the perfect combination for me.

I wish you all a day filled with good luck and not bad. God bless, my dear avidReaders

The Greatest Pranksters

Given it was April Fools’ Day a week or two back, I was wondering about the first prank. Who did it? Where did they do it and what was it?

In the year 1582, France decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar which set the date of the New Year to January 1st. Up until then New Year’s day was always April 1st. The people who didn’t know that and still celebrated in April were considered fools and thus were the butt of a lot of jokes. This gave them the title “April Fools” and so began a long tradition of pranking “fools” every April. Some historians believe that the first prank started in France in this same year.

First Pranks

We go all the way back to Rome, specifically the reign of the emperor Elagabulus (c. 218-222). Known as one of the originator of the famed whoopee cushion, this emperor also had a penchant for leaving tamed wild animals such as lions, bears and leopards in the room of his sleeping, drunken guests. He also had a tendency to release snakes in public. He found this amusing to the terror of anyone who was unfortunate to be nearby.

Our next story takes us to two feuding neighbours. Anthemius was an architect who was at war with his neighbour. One day he lost it and ended up creating an earthquake machine. What he did was to build several boilers of water under his house. He then proceeded to feed a hose from his house through a tiny hole into his neighbour’s cellar. Whenever he got the inclination, he would start up these boilers and give his neighbour an “earthquake”. This prank was achieved by using massive amounts of steam caused by the boilers.

In the early 15th century what was probably the earliest pranks were done by a monk in England’s Syon Abby. He performed such tricks as making eggs levitate (this was his favourite prank) as well as making apples move on their own by putting bugs in them. He seems like he was the life of that Abby, doesn’t he?

Just over 200 years later, in the year 1740, we meet our next two pranksters. These two men decided to publish a fake newspaper called the English Mercurie which was supposedly published in 1588 (this would’ve made it the oldest newspaper ever published). These two pranksters decided to deliver it as a gift to the British Museum 26 years later where it can still be found and referred to to this day.

Then we come to the year 1810 and a prank that is my personal favourite. Theodore Hook made a bet that he could turn any home into the most talked-about address in London. He then proceeded to do just that. He started in the morning with a delivery of coal, then it became furniture, musical instruments, flowers, bread, fish, wedding cake, gardeners, undertakers and even the Mayor of London! All of this occurred outside the home of Mrs. Tottenham who was ignorant of the whole affair. It caused such a traffic jam, that Hook did, in fact, win his bet.

Pranks That Went Horribly Wrong

There have been many pranks over the years that have gone horribly wrong, such as the high school senior who was accidentally shot dead while participating in an elaborate treasure hunt. Then there were students who decided to put laxatives in a chocolate Bundt cake for their teachers and ended up sending two to the hospital with insecticide poisoning (Dulcolax poisoning). They ofcourse thought it was a huge joke, but I doubt the teachers agreed.

There are a few that fall into the category of pranks that went horribly wrong. Here are a few.

An Icelandic teenager falls into this category. The teenager had somehow managed to get the private phone number for George Bush. In the year 2007, this young man decided to call Bush to ask for a private meeting. The young man, Vilfill, pretended to be the president of Iceland. He managed to get through to Bush’s secretary and she informed him that he should wait for a call from the President, instead he got a house-call from the police and was dragged off to an interrogation room where he was interrogated for hours. He was able to answer all their questions and explained that he only wanted to talk with Bush.

Then we have the story of the two teenagers who covered up a stop sign and ended up accidentally killing two elderly ladies as they drove into the intersection and were hit by a car as they crossed. Both men were arrested and charged with reckless homicide.

Two guys were hanging out with a third friend for Thanksgiving (they were staying in Vermont with him). The one friend fell asleep and, in an hilarious attempt to wake him, fired off an air rifle and fire it off near off his friend. He was shocked to find blood spurting out. Later his friend was pronounced dead on the scene.

Our last tragic prank gone wrong, is a young boy of only 14 years old, who was shot dead in a drive-by for egging the wrong car.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with a fun prank between friends, but it’s important that, like in the instance of Elagabulus and his wild animals, sometimes a prank can go too far. It’s always important to remember that safety comes first, otherwise you’ll end up with a dead prankee.

It’s fascinating to note how far back some pranks go. From the very first whoopee cushion to the ultimate prank call, they all have their place.

God bless you all, my darling avidReaders.

The Nain Rouge

I remember a while back I was looking into this while looking up fairies. One such story was regarding someone who had actually seen a dwarf watching her from the tree in her yard. She said he looked just the dwarves in folklore. We now know that there are people that have a condition called “Dwarfism”. This would not have been known at the time when the legends were forged into the culture of such peoples as the Scottish and Irish. Other cultures no doubt will have their own legends.

The most well-known are notably the Irish leprechauns. These were little men famous for their love of their “pot o’ gold” as they used to say. This is also where the legend of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was founded.

Dwarves are associated with wisdom, smithing, mining and crafting. They are little men with long beards who dwell in their mines mining all different kinds of ore. In the Germanic mythology these creatures lived in the earth and mountains, as you can most likely guess it is because of their precious ores in the earth. The most recent mention of this in the movie trilogy The Hobbit. In this trilogy we see dwarves swayed by the riches of their old mines. In this movie they are depicted as short, stubby men with long unkempt beards, but quite a few scholars debate whether this is true or just a comical portrayal of these beings. They would’ve no doubt been great miners because of their size and ability to fit into the smallest of cracks and crevices in the earth to get to the ore no one else could. In result, they could’ve perhaps become quite prolific as miners and even started to craft their own jewelry and other useful items. Something else to consider, why couldn’t these so-called misfits form their own communities–I mean being ignorantly treated as mis-fits, wouldn’t you? This could’ve very well led to the tales of the little people. Afterall, aren’t most fables and legends based on truth?

The Nain Rouge/Red Dwarf

But what about now? I mean that was then, are they still being sighted in recent years, well maybe. People in Detroit in recent years have claimed to have seen these famous little people. They have been sighted for hundreds of years dating back to the Ottawa Tribe up to most recent times. The most common sightings have been of what is called “Nain Rouge” or “Red Dwarf”.

The Nain Rouge was sighted by Native tribes for hundreds of years and were considered very real by these people. The earliest recorded sighting of the Nain Rouge starts with the founder of Detroit, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in March 10, 1701 at a party he was hosting. In this account he was met by a fortune teller who told him he would found a great city, but that there would be great turmoil within it and that he ought to always pay heed to and respect the Nain Rouge. If not, it would mean his downfall. He probably laughed at this. Later, however, he would realize the truth in her words. When he did found the city of Detroit, he was walking with his wife one night and heard two men complaining about the city and talking about a little man they had seen who they referred to as the Nain Rouge. This man then went on to say it was a sign of bad luck for the city.

Now we come to the great question: Are the dwarfs/dwarves of mythology real and as they were depicted back then? Well, quite a few have claimed to see them, but again are they not people that have lived outside of human civilization by choice? Well, if you ask the miners of Cornwall, you will know that they lived with the knowledge of the Knockers (sometimes called the Knockertommys) who were little people that were known to bring good fortune should you show them respect or misfortune should you show them any disrespect. I first read of the Knockers in an old heirloom my mother inherited from her grandmother called the Mermaid of Zenna–a compilation of Cornish folktales. It was about a young boy who learned this lesson very quickly and became blessed because he showed them respect. If you have someone in your family who is Cornish ask them about the Knockers, you might just hear something interesting. As for the other legends out there, there is always a possibility these things may be real. People didn’t believe in werewolves until Hypertrichosis was discovered and suddenly everyone understood the legends. Legends, as I mentioned above, very often ring with truth.

Don’t always doubt something before you see it.

Remember Remember

Effigy of Guy Fawkes

I’m sure we all know this famous quote from the movie “V for Vendetta”. I have never watched the film myself, but I had a childhood friend who used to quote it all the time on the 5th of November. You see, the 5th November is my birthday. Anyway, this is not about me. This is about Guy Fawkes.

Why

Let’s start by asking ourselves one simple question: “Why?” Why would someone be driven to such a drastic act? Well, let’s examine the background Guy Fawkes would have been born into.

Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth Catholicism was quite heavily repressed, this repression intensified after her excommunication in 1570. She then went on to massacre dozens of bishops, priests and forbid many of the Catholic practices during her reign of terror. When King James I took the throne there were many who hoped that this would change. To their dismay in the year 1603, when King James I took over they soon discovered that this was definitely not the case. In fact King James I oppression only increased towards Catholics, despite his wife, Anne, being a Catholic. He was strongly protestant and would fine any person refusing to attend Protestant services. It was also under his strict observations that the King James Bible, used by Christians today, was translated. In the years between 1604 – 1612, there was understandably much unrest among the Catholics.

How?

So, now we ask: “How?” How did this take place? Who planned it? Well, let’s see how they planned all this.

One night in an inn called the Duck and Dragon, 5 men met and discussed plans to destroy the Houses of Parliament in England. These 5 men were none other than Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby, Tom Wintour, Jack Wright and Thomas Percy. The plan was proposed by Robert Catesby. They planned to plant bombs using gunpowder in an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. After all their planning, they swore an oath on a prayer book to never speak of this to anyone else. It was only later that 8 other men joined what came to be called the “Gunpowder Plot”. Catesby may have been the leader of this plan, but it was definitely Fawkes that has always been remembered.

It was clear from the very beginning that not only was Guy anti-Scottish and pro-Catholic, but also that he sought aid from the Spanish government to help him start a rebellion in England to dethrone James. He claimed that James would drive out the Catholics, declaring them heretics. In the year 1605, he also took to calling himself Guido instead of Guy. He took on an alias in aid of this plot–John Johnson. He worked as a caretaker in the cellar just below the House of Lords. It was in this cellar that they stockpiled their gun powder. It was this gun powder that, on the 5th of November 1605, Fawkes would light upon the opening of Parliament. King James I, his eldest son, the House of Lords and the House of Commons would go up in flames. While all this was happening Guy would escape across the Thames, while his other 12 conspirators would start instigating an uprising in the English Midlands. They planned to kidnap Elizabeth, James I’s daughter, and install her as a puppet queen after which they would marry her off to a Catholic. They hoped that this would eventually re-install the Catholic rule they wanted.

But before this plot could even come to fruition, an anonymous letter was sent to a Catholic sympathizer warning him not to attend the Opening of Parliament. This caused the authorities to suspect something was about to happen. There is still no name to the letter that was written and sent on October 26 warning of this plot. Some have said that the authorities knew in advance and had designs to use it as a means to cause further restrictions on Catholicism.

Why A Guy, though?

Simply put. Fawkes was caught on the 4th November the night before with a match at the ready to light the bombs the next day. They caught him and tortured him in the Tower of London under James I’s orders, while his other conspirators were arrested and given similar treatment, except for four men among which was Catesby who died in a shootout with English troops.

The next year 1606, all the conspirators were hung and drawn and quartered for their treason. After this great victory, the English started lighting bonfires in celebration of the great victory they had won. The government then declared November 5th as a day of thanksgiving (I suppose you could call it their version of Thanksgiving). Children would go around with an effigy of Guy asking for “a penny for the old Guy” something very similar to trick-or-treating.

Guy Fawkes has undergone many changes over the years. In America, it was celebrated as Pope Day, but soon died out around the 19th century when Catholics were finally emancipated. In the 1980s, the graphic novel “V for Vendetta” was released completely over-hauling Fawkes’ look and turning him into a hero. We all know the DC movie by the same name released in 2005 based on the graphic novel.

I originally planned to have this out yesterday, but if you want to know what happened to stop me yesterday you can access my Ko-fi account, I have it all down there. In fact, I write daily what’s happened. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s sad, but if you want a look into who I am, you’ll find it all there.

God bless all of you, my darling avidReaders. Keep safe. πŸ‘§πŸ°

Why Do Wear Costumes and Trick or Treat on Halloween?

Image courtesy of History.com

Costumes have become a very important role in the modern celebration of Halloween, but why? Why do we dress up? In the modern age we live in, it’s become something we do for fun, but where did all this start? In my previous article, I spoke very briefly about this, but here I will take a deeper look into all this and we can see what gets dug up.

For a quick recap: “The Celts, as I mentioned in last week’s article, celebrated what we call ‘All Hallow’s Eve’ or ‘Halloween’ (Samhain to the Celts at that time) was celebrated on November 1st when it was the end of summer and the boundaries between the living and dead were believed to be blurred.” This is where the core of our article comes in.

Disguises

Samhain Disguises

We all wear disguises for some or other reason, but I think we can all agree that this is mostly to hide something. Whether it’s to hide how you’re feeling or to hide from others–we all wear disguises. On Halloween/Samhain this was the case with the Celts. Because the Celts believed that the spiritual boundaries were blurred, they believed that the dead walked among and interacted with the living. This understandably terrified them as they believed they would be cursed or quite possibly be killed. So they had to find a way to repel these beings of another world. Their solution: disguises. These they used to ward the dead and this is now a tradition that has been passed down to the present. When the Irish folk came in search of a better life and for work during the Great Potato Famine, they brought across all their customs and traditions and we just adopted them and modified them. In doing so, I feel we lost a lot of what this tradition means.

People in those times were too afraid to leave their houses because of these ghosts, but they quickly found a way around that, donning scary masks or disguises to blend in with the spirits that they so dreaded encountering. These disguises were also used to honour the spirits. This idea began in County Cork, Ireland.

Trick-Or-Treating

Trick or Treating

Of course, how could anyone think of this tradition of disguises and spirit-warding without thinking about trick-or-treating? They are tied so closely tied in with each other that it is impossible to think of the one without the other. So let’s talk about how trick-or-treating started.

A few years ago, my father explained to me the origins of the various holidays and celebrations we have today and I was quite shocked. One day, I think I’ll write on those. (If you have any ideas let me know πŸ˜‰ ) In particular the tradition of trick-or-treating, this also is quite similar to the story of the Jack-o’-Lanterns. The tradition started with the offering of food or money to the dead. Trick-or-treating itself, according to my sources, say that this tradition was originally children dressed up in their ghoulish attire going from door to door asking for money or food. All things considered, this makes sense given that these offerings would’ve been made to the dead. But then, just me digressing a little (and again if you know the answer please tell me), it kind of defies the purpose if the money or food went to the spirit? It could be that the parents made the food for the dead and then something else for the kids to come collect? Either way, that is where it all started.

People in Catholic countries, however, don’t celebrate it as the rest of the world do. Instead they visit graveyards and churches to light candles for the dead, pray and bless their spirits. As a Christian, I prefer not to get involved in this simply because of what happens on this holiday. I won’t mention what, but I can tell you it’s not the trick-or-treating or costume parties that put me off.

I’ve grown to love ghost stories now that I’m older, but I still think that playing with Quiji boards and trying to interact with demonic entities is something not to be taken lightly or done simply as a game.

Tomorrow is October 31st and all around the world people will be celebrating this, not knowing it’s origins. I hope that as you read this, you’ll be a bit more enlightened about this. Please be careful out there tomorrow πŸ™‚ In South Africa, we’ve already had terrible things happening. So please pray for us, most importantly for our children this time of year.

God bless and keep you safe, my darling avidReaders! πŸ™‚

Halloween: The Jack-o’-Lantern

Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve as it is known by many ancient European countries is something that is celebrated world over. Trick or treaters. Carving pumpkins. Horror movies. All these have the single goal of celebrating the scariest month of the year. This ancient tradition goes all the way back to the Celts who believed that on October 31 the spirits of the dead would return from the Netherworld to walk amongst the living. They dressed up in costumes in an attempt to scare away these apparitions. They believed that by offering gifts of food or decorating their houses with ghastly ornaments they would be able to ward off/appease the spirits. If these offerings were not acceptable or presented the inhabitants of the house would become cursed in various ways. There are other uses these spirits had, but for the purpose of this article I will be having a look at the origins of the Jack-o’-Lantern.

Where did this time-consuming activity first originate. Well, we’ve established above that this was originally Celtic festival. So, who better to know than the Celts?

The Celts never used pumpkins for their Jack-o’-Lanterns, their first Jack-o’-Lantern was used to refer to people. It was only thanks to Irish immigrants that the tradition of using pumpkins came to be practiced as there were no pumpkins in Ireland at the time. Before this came into practice, as far as 1663, Jack-o’-Lanterns referred to a man with a lantern or a night watchmen. A decade later, this came to refer to the mysterious eerie lights spotted over bogs, swamps and marshes at night. These lights came to possess many names jack-o’-lanterns, hinkypunks, hobby lanterns, corpse candles, fairy lights, will-o’-the-wisps and fool’s-fire. This is a by-product of oxidization when gases from decomposing plant matter comes into contact with heat or electricity.

Stingy Jack

Before this scientific discovery, however, the Irish thought up all manner of tales to explain this phenomena–they called him Stingy Jack. Often depicted as a blacksmith, this infamous character invited the devil for a drink. However Stingy Jack had no intention of paying the bill and managed to convince the devil to turn himself into a gold coin to settle the bill. Again, Jack tricked the devil and skipped out on the bill, putting the devil–along with a silver cross to keep him trapped–inside his pocket.

It did not end here Jack proceeded to trick the devil into another act where the devil had to climb a tree. On both occasions the devil was trapped and Jack made him promise not to seek revenge on his soul. So the devil did not, but instead of being allowed through Heaven’s gates as he intended, God forbade him. Jack was left with neither Heaven nor Hell to return to and so his soul was cursed to walk the earth. The devil, upon rejecting Jack’s entrance to hell, gave him a single coal to light his way. He then sent him off into the dark to find his own hell. He put this coal into a carved out a turnip and now wanders earth with it to this day.

The Irish believed that these eerie lights were Jack’s lantern as his lost soul wandered the countryside.

Where Is It Now?

This tradition has come a long way from the Celts all the way into the heart of the western world. It is only now starting to become a big thing in South Africa. In Britain children would trick their friends into thinking they were Stingy Jack and try and scare them. In Britain, this tradition spread to turnips, beets and potatoes that were carved out and stuffed with coal, wooden embers or candles. This done during their fall festival.

In 1800s America, the children used pumpkins to the same end making them more and more grotesque to increase the scare factor. By the end of the 19th century the Jack-o’-Lantern went from being a trick to being a seasonal decoration.

This practice has become a major holiday in America with thousands of children across the continent celebrating it by trick-or-treating.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did researching it. It’s a really fascinating legend.

God bless you all and I trust you will have a blessed day further πŸ™‚

The Tokoloshe

I have heard many stories about this creature. Any South African knows the story of the Tokoloshe. He is supposed to be a little white man that comes into the house of African people at night and kill them. He is a creature from Zulu and Xhosa folklore. African people believe that by putting their beds on bricks the Tokoloshe won’t be able to reach them.

My mother once told me a story about her maid who was murdered in her home with all the windows and doors locked. Her throat was slit which just happened to be the Tokoloshe’s MO. This scared her so much as a child. You can imagine.

I’m sure if you had to talk to any African you would hear stories about the Tokoloshe. He is a very infamous demonic entity in their history. Said to be summoned by a jealous or angry Sangoma, a Tokoloshe is a dead body that is possessed and during this ritual it’s eye is pierced through the socket with a hot rod iron. A special powder is then sprinkled over the body and it shrinks!

I can’t remember if it was my mother or father who told me that the Tokoloshe was a demon summoned by a witch doctor and since then it has been a plague to the African people. Even mentioning its name is enough to bring terror. Once summoned, the Tokoloshe demands a soul as remuneration. The Tokoloshe is the only one who then decides who it will take and not the sangoma who summoned it.

It is said that only children can see this creature, hence its choice to kill adults since they can not see it and thus defend themselves. However, if you do happen to see a Tokoloshe, pay it no heed as it can be mischievous, but ultimately harmless unless under the influence of a powerful sorcerer.

There is even a story of a Afrikaans family living on a farm where they recount the horrific tale of how they were terrorized by a pitch-black dog that was accompanied by what can only be described as a Tokoloshe. They were Christian Afrikaner farmers and they saw it. The person who gave the testimony says that if the Tokoloshe only attacks African people, then why would it have terrorized their family?

Believing in man’s ability to summon demons simply by using a Ouiji board, it is not such a stretch for me to believe that a witch doctor would be able to do the same thing. It is terrifying to think of the things we are capable of. If you’re as big as a fan of haunted houses and ghost stories as I am, you will know what I say is true.

Whatever the price you are willing and the lengths you are willing to go, when it comes to revenge (at least in this case) make sure you dig two graves.

God bless you all, my darling avidReaders! A big thank you for all your support. On Wednesday we reached over 1,000.

Impundulu/Lightning Bird

Known by many names, the Lightning Bird is known across the Pondo, Zulu and Xhosa tribes of South Africa. This creature is feared as blood-drinking like creatures known only in mythology as vampires. This infamous creature is always closely related to witchcraft. It is known to often be the familiar of a witch or witch doctor. Much like a vampire, it is said to take the form of a beautiful young man to lure its master’s enemies or seduce women. Thus you can see why it would be so similar to Dracula.

Much like a dragon is capable of breathing fire, the Lightning Bird can use its own body fat to produce lightning strikes and as valuable components in traditional medicine. It is also claimed to be immortal and often outlives its masters, being passed down from mother to daughter as a continual familiar to its master. It normally manifests itself as lightning, except to young women taking on the form of a bird. It is not known to have any weakness except for one–fire. If you set the Lightning Bird on fire, it can be destroyed.

The hammerkop

The above bird is often associated by some African cultures with the Lightning Bird, despite the actual features of the Lightning Bird taking the form a man-sized bird with black and white feathers. It uses its large talons and claws to summon lightning and thunder. These bird, as they are associated with witches, are said to be symbols of bad luck and can only be dispatched by a witchdoctor. The flesh of a lightning bird is also said to be used to trace thieves and witchdoctors use this ability to maintain control over their tribe–both criminal and law-abiding.

In order for witchdoctors to catch the Lightning Bird, they must wait for it to strike lightning once it does this they are able to capture it. It is also supposed that where they lay strike lightning is also where they lay their eggs. This site can either be blessed or cursed and these eggs need to be dug up and discerned by the witchdoctor whether or not they are blessed or cursed.

It is true that the Pondo, Zulu and Xhosa all fear this creature. I am beginning to notice more and more as I look into my country’s legends that there is a definite pattern to their shared beliefs. All these different cultures believe that these creatures are evil spirits or cursed in some or other way and, also, that they bring only misfortune. This story bears a strong resemblance to the legends of the Thunder Bird which some believe was in fact a pterodactyl. I, myself, have seen drawings of the Thunder Bird as it was described by the North American indigenous peoples and strongly side with those who believe it was a pterodactyl. However, it is for your own discernment whether or not you believe these creatures exist. I have given you the bare facts as I researched them and now leave you with one question: What do I believe?

If you want to share your own opinions on the topic or have some more information you want to share, you can post in the comments or on the forums. πŸ™‚

God bless you all my darling avidReaders.

Mermaids of the Klein Karoo

Courtesy of Pinterest

We all know mermaids are fiction, but let us consider something: What if they were real? What if someone somewhere had seen such a creature? In the past sightings of mermaids have always turned out to be fakes. People who used Photoshop or it was discovered that what was actually see was a manatee or dugong. This is such a frequent mistake that these sea creatures have been classified as Sirenia. This has only brought discredit to the belief that such creatures exist. Still some believe they have seen and heard things to make them believe such creatures exist.

The mermaids of the Klein Karoo are said to lure their victims to their watery deaths. This is backed-up by claims that many unmarked graves have been found–the victims of mermaids. Many associate mermaids with Ariel, but these vicious creatures are nothing like the Little Mermaid. They are in fact tricksters doing everything they can to lure their victims to a watery grave. They possess pale skin, long black hair and red eyes.

One particular place among the windy rivers and roads in the canyon Meiringspoort, just outside the town of De Rust are frequent reports about a mermaid residing nearby one of the rock pools. The area is known by locals to be her home and such sightings are nothing new to them. Many locals have claimed to have spotted a mermaid sitting on the edge of a mountain rock pool combing her long black hair.

The Meiringspoort Flood

In the year 1996, a flood occurred in Meiringspoort. This incident caused a revival in the belief of mermaids. Mermaids are believed by some to be a spirit haunting the area and a clairvoyant even claimed to have contacted one of these spirits. The clairvoyant claimed that the spirit’s name was Eporia. This spirit is claimed to either be a sinister spirit associated with the demonic entities of the Eseljagtspoort outside Oudtshoorn or a victim carried away by the waters of the Meiringspoort flood.

The Khoi-San Rock Paintings

In 1875, a Bushman related to a local farmer the tale of the Eseljagtspoort water spirit. This creature took the form of a woman and lured men only to later drown them in the depths. It is here that one still see rock painting drawn by the Khoi-San of what they know to be mermaids. These depictions lead us to believe that tales of these mythological creatures have been around for centuries. When asked about these creatures(also known as the Watermeid) locals were terrified, speaking in hushed whispers. They were fearful of these vicious creatures and feared that they would become the mermaid’s next victim. These stories and drawings can be seen and heard all over the Klein Karoo and the Khoi-San people’s rock paintings are found in Eseljagtspoort, just outside the town of Oudtshoorn.

What is a Mermaid?

Well, we know what a mermaid’s physical features are: face of a beautiful woman, lovely long hair, torso of a woman with her lower abdomen and legs replaced by the tail of a fish. However, there has been much discussion in folklore about these sirens of the sea. As children we all were raised with the story of the Little Mermaid with her lovely singing voice causing a handsome prince to fall in love with her. Now, as adults, we watch Pirates of the Caribbean and the series Siren, causing us to question whether what we know of mermaids are true or not. The Greeks had their priestesses of the Isle of Pleasure. Pirates believed that the siren’s song was to fear as they would drag you to the depths. In the series Grimm, they are depicted as beautiful women who can only have children with human men. Every culture will no doubt have their own take on these mythical beings–all with their own unique names and varying attributes. I have only mentioned a few depictions, but, if one has to go into all the different mythologies concerning these creatures, you will no doubt find many similarities. This is enough to make us wonder if mermaids are real? Are they perhaps manifestations of evil spirits as the Buhsman told the farmer? Or is it just that they are falsely identified? There will always be speculation around them. I, personally am more likely to believe the Bushman’s story and lean towards them being evil spirits. You will notice with my writing that I strongly believe that a lot of what we imagine to be ghosts, dwarves or aliens are demonic manifestations. This is just my opinion on the subject and I am, by no means, a professor of Cryptozoology. Thus I cannot claim to know everything about the field. So, I encourage you to dig deep and draw your own conclusions.

As always, I love hearing what you have to say about my articles and what you believe. So, if you have any opinions on this topic or perhaps have your own story to tell, please put it in the comments. I would love to hear!

Good night all my darling avidReaders. God bless you as you awake to another bright day tomorrow.

The Congo’s Biloko

Artistic depiction of two Biloko facing a warrior.

This particular legend isn’t exactly in my backyard, but while researching the article I was going to write, I came across this legend and I was so struck by this creature that I had to write about it. I spoke in a previous article about the Skinwalker and the Eloko scared me as much as the Skinwalker. So, naturally, I decided to look deeper into this terrifying creature. It is a known fact that a large majority of the Congo is yet to be explored and, though I can’t say for fact whether the Eloko exists or not, I can say that most legends are based on some or other experience with the mentioned legend. Why would the Nkundo’s Eloko be any different?

According the natives of the Congo (the Nkundo), the Eloko (plural: Biloko) are the dark side of the Knocker from the Welsh miner’s tales. These creatures are considered to be spirits that unresolved issues. it takes the form of a dwarf, but has the spirit of ancestors with grudges. They are said to live in the densest and darkest parts of the forest of Zaire. These spirits are also known to fiercely defend their treasures of the Zaire forest. Only the most daring of hunters and explorers dare to go near where the Biloko are known to live as they fiercely defend the game and rare fruits these hunters and explorers are in search of. Very few hunters have ever had any successful hunts in the regions where the Biloko dwell. Hunters that go into the Zaire rainforest wear amulets and fetishes which are sacred objects that repel the Biloko from attacking them. These same objects lift the spell of the Biloko allowing them to see the game normally hidden by the Biloko’s protective spell.

These dwarf-like demons have no hair (having grass in place of hair) and don themselves with the grass and leaves of the forest. They live in the trees of the rainforest. The Biloko, as well as being a dwarf-like creature, have terrifying, piercing eyes. They also have snouts emitting a piercing cry that compel humans, dead or alive. With their long, sharp claws they are known to tear into human flesh in fact, it is said that they prefer the tender flesh of a woman.

Sometimes depicted as trolls, Biloko are known to carry a bell around their neck with which they can bewitch and attract humans. Don’t let their size deceive you; Biloko are far stronger than they look and only heroes and sorcerers can resist them.

These creatures have also been used as a fable to stress to men the importance of caring for their wives and to be cautious of the dangers of the forest. Biloko are also sometimes used to represent various gangrenous diseases, since these eventually eat their victims away. The Biloko is said to end at their victim’s liver where they the Nkundo believe the spirit resides. There are many stories the Nkundo can tell of this terrible creature, below I have attached a story I read in Cryptid Wiki.

“One day a hunter took his wife, at her insistence, into the forest, where he had a hut with a palisade around it. When he went out to inspect his traps, he told her: “When you hear a bell, do not move. If you do, you will die!” Soon after he had left, she heard the charming sound of a little bell coming closer, for the Eloko has a good nose for feminine flesh. Finally, a gentle voice asked to be let in to his room. It was like the voice of a child. The woman opened the door and there was an Eloko, smelling like the forest, looking small and innocent. She offered him banana mash with fried fish but he refused: “We eat only human meat. I have not eaten for a long time. Give me a piece of your arm.” At last the woman consented, totally under the spell of the Eloko. That night, the husband found her bones.”

This creature bears shocking similarities to so many legends across the world. It would seem that way or another we have all heard similar stories with slight differences. As I mentioned above, the Biloko bears resemblance to the Knockers of Welsh folklore in physical features and bear the same characteristics of departed souls that have not made peace yet and thus can’t move on.

A cautionary tale indeed. Even though we may not believe in the Eloko legend, it poses a very serious question: “What happens to me after I die?” When you close your eyes, will you die wishing you had made right with the people you had hurt or forgiven those who have hurt you? In the end, once you die, there will be no going back.

God bless you all my darling avidReaders.