Decorating eggshells is an ancient tradition. In cultures around the world, the egg is a symbol of new life, fertility, and rebirth. For this reason, many ancient cultures used eggs during their spring festivals. In Africa, decorated ostrich eggs have been found that are over 60,000 years old. Ostrich eggs of gold and silver were found in graves of the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians.
In 1610 A.D., the Christian Church began the custom of decorating eggs in memory of Jesus Christ. These eggs were stained red to represent the blood shed at Christ’s crucifixion. The hard shell of the egg represented Christ’s sealed tomb, and thus the cracking of the egg symbolized resurrection. Christians wouldn’t eat eggs during Lent, and Easter was the first chance to eat them after 40 days of going without. The eggs laid during that time were often preserved through boiling. This is also why eggs were in abundance during Easter meals.
Many traditions have formed around eggs. In Europe, they were hung on New Year trees and Maypoles, since the egg symbolizes the regenerative forces of nature. Egg hunts and rolling eggs down a hill were games played by many cultures. Every year the White House has an Easter egg roll on the lawn.
Decorating techniques and traditions vary by culture, but eggs were often given as a token of friendship, love, and peace.
A special thank you to theholidayspot.com
In the Early Modern Era, roughly 1480 to 1750, there were sanctioned and official witch trails. Most of us are aware of these stories from history and Hollywood films, but during this time of mass hysteria, an estimated 40,000-60,000 people were executed, and 75 to 85% of them were women.
Many Acts regarding witchcraft were made into law, with an introduction to more serious penalties occurring under King Henri’s VIII’s, Witchcraft Act of 1542. This Act was the first to define witchcraft as a felony, a crime punishable by death. Then in 1563, Elizabeth I passed a law against Conjuring, Enchantment, and Witchcraft. Although witchcraft was still considered a felony, the new law was more lenient, and allowed the death penalty only when harm had been caused to another. Lessor offences were given a prison term.
Prior to Elizabeth I’s new law, anyone could be accused of witchcraft on any grounds, without any proof. The accused were brought before an ecclesiastical court, where church ministers acted as judge, jury, and executioner. The confessions were sought through the use of torture and so there was little chance of anyone escaping an accusation of witchcraft. Being tortured led to the majority of those accused to admit to guilt before being executed. Due to the 1563 law, those accused were now brought under the jurisdiction of the courts, allowing due legal process. Evidence was required to prove the accused did harm to another.
In 1604, these Acts were added to by King James to include the penalty of death again, without the benefit of clergy if a person was found guilty of invoking evil spirits or supernatural entities. This law was called An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits. The law had many powerful supporters, including the English witch hunter Matthew Hopkins. Burning at the stake was eliminated except in cases that also involved petty treason.
In 1735, Great Britain did a complete one eighty in regard to its views and passed the Witchcraft Act. Parliament made it a crime for any person to accuse someone of having magical powers or to claim a person guilty of practicing witchcraft. The belief in magic and the supernatural was against the law. The maximum penalty was a year in prison. The law was considered heavy handed and thought to be a view held by the medieval church that magic was illusionary and superstitious nonsense. The new law meant that witchcraft was no longer considered a criminal act, but an act against the country’s newly enlightened state, and thus considered fraud.
Witch trails subsided after 1700, and the last person executed for witchcraft in Great Britain was Scottish born, Janet Horne, who was executed in the British Isles in 1727. The law wasn’t without opposition, and Lord James Erskine, a significant figure in parliament, did argue against the Act of 1735. Erskine claimed to believe in witchcraft, which had many members in parliament thinking he had bats in his belfry, although it’s believed he rejected the law because of Scottish political and religious reasons, not because of his belief in magic.
The Witchcraft Act of 1735 was used during the early 19th century in an attempt by the political elite to rid ignorance and superstition among the masses. This law was eventually repealed with the enactment of the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951. The new law was implemented in England and Wales. It prohibited a person from claiming to be a psychic, medium, or other spiritualist while attempting to deceive and profit from the deception for reasons other than entertainment. Of course this law was also repealed in 2008 and replaced with Consumers Protection Regulations.
Witchcraft, voodoo, magic, and sorcery have been punishable since the earliest laws preserved by man. In ancient Egypt and Babylonia, The Code of Hammurabi (18th century B.C.) said this: "If a man has put a spell upon another man and it is not justified, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to the holy river; into the holy river shall he plunge. If the holy river overcomes him and he is drowned, the man who put the spell upon him shall take possession of his house. If the holy river declares him innocent and he remains unharmed the man who laid the spell shall be put to death. He that plunged into the river shall take possession of the house of him who laid the spell upon him."
Roman laws before Christianity had provisions against evil incantations and spells. Thousands of Romans were killed under the guise of witchcraft; many of these deaths were triggered from epidemic outbreaks. The numbers of deaths are believed to far surpass the witch-hunts of Early Modern Europe.
Fear can be a very powerful motivator for people, and the Bible tends to play upon such fear. The Hebrew Bible condemns sorcery in Deuteronomy, Exodus, Samuel, and others. Since so many people followed scripture, they believed the Exodus scripture that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and well, they didn’t.
The witch trails in Early Modern Europe came in waves, with witch trails in the 15th and early 16th centuries, but declining before peaking again in the 17th century. To justify the killing of others, the Protestant Christians deemed witchcraft to be associated with Satan.
The largest numbers of witch-hunts in Modern Europe were seen in central and southern Germany, with the peak years in 1561-1670. Witch-hunts first appeared in large numbers in France and Switzerland during the 14th and 15th centuries. In Denmark, following the reformation of 1536, the practice of witch hunting was encouraged, and hundreds of people were convicted and burned. The Salem witch trails in the U.S. took place in the late 17th century.
After reading the reasons behind some of these trials and why a person was accused, I have to say the ignorance and following the herd mentality is amazing. Some of these women were healers, who worked with plants and herbs to help others, some were deformed, some not liked by their neighbors, others were midwives, but I’m sure very few were true witches. These people were merely feared or disliked by others who were too closed-minded to see that they were the ones sinning with their acts of murder.
A special thank you to www.parliment.UK, and radicalhubpages.com
My third time travel in the Destiny series, A Tudor Displaced is finished and off to the editor.
A Tudor Displaced is the story of Phoebe Bennett, who follows the time travel passageway to Regency England. Upon arrival, she’s placed under the care of the Earl of Inlsey, Gabriel Worthing, who has no idea how to handle the unpredictable Tudor lady. The main characters from the previous two stories also come back to welcome and help Phoebe adjust to her new life. Of course, Gabriel refuses any help from Desirea, but the Hollywood starlet is not about to let that fly.
I’m branching out in my writing and have recently finished the rough draft of my new Time Travel Paranormal. I wished to write a novel that would capture a larger audience, while writing something I enjoyed, and that I would allow my teen kids to read. I’ve always wanted to write a series about good witches, but I wanted them to also have a higher awareness and for their minds to be open to learning. I also wanted love to echo throughout the story, a love for family, for others, and for life. I endeavored to create a spiritual understanding of the powerful energy of love. Since I’m fascinated by life and our soul’s immortality, my keen interest had me reading far more than I likely would have for research. I’ve read about people receiving messages from angels, from deceased loved-ones, and from spirit guides. I read books on NDE’s (Near death experiences), but by far my favorites were the books regarding Past Life Regression Therapy.
This new time travel series focuses upon three sister witches. The Griffin triplets are descendants of the great Queen, Cleopatra of Egypt. This new story involves the spiritual aspects of our lives, while delving into the soul’s purpose, and exploring the Divine energy of love that surrounds us. Historical tidbits regarding Egypt, Isis, and healing stones appear throughout the story. The Griffin sisters have incarnated to balance the energies of positive and negative, regardless of year or dimension. And in their free time, they own and operate the Griffin Reiki and Wellness center. Their faith in God, their understanding of the afterlife, and their love for each other is how the sisters advance to awaken the spiritual awareness’s of mankind.
The dozens of books I’ve read have advanced my spiritual wellbeing, which has been a rewarding experience.
Here are a few books that I thought inspiring.
Brian Weiss, Many Lives, Many Masters. (I’ve read nearly all of Weiss’s books, but if I had to pick only one, I’d choose this one.) This book is known to be life changing.
Michael Newton, Destiny of Souls.
Delores Cannon, Between Death and Life.
Squire Rushnell, Divine Alignment.
Catherine Lanigan, Angel Watch.
While doing my research on magic and witches throughout history, I came upon what was known throughout the Greco-Roman world as a curse tablet. People who wish to ask the gods to do harm to another wrote a curse tablet text. These curses were usually scratched on very thin sheets of lead, then rolled, and pierced together with nails. The bound tablets were then buried, either in graves, thrown in wells or rivers, or nailed on the wall of temples. Sometimes the tablets included a piece of hair or clothing, or the name of the person the curse was meant to harm.
The messages were often addressed to the lessor gods like Pluto, Charon, and Persephone. Not all evoked the gods, and some of the tablets provided a list of crimes against the target. The targets tended to be rivals in love and war. Some tablets only carry the name of the person targeted, leading researches to believe that the curse may have been said aloud. Many of he tablets are said to contain imprecise wording, like: “if he is guilty” or even conditional phrases such as, “if he breaks his word.” The concern is with justice being received by the target.
Curse tablets were used to deter thieves in Roman Bath houses. Over a hundred Latin written tablets were excavated in Bath, England. Bathers didn’t care to emerge from their bath to find their clothes stolen, so the tablets were used to deter thieves by using their faith and fear in the gods. The curse tablet was believed to bring the criminal to justice and retrieve the lost item. They were oft times considered more binding if the curse was written backwards.
Curse tablets were also used for court cases, like writing down a curse that would prevent another from speaking.
In 2006, a curse tablet was found in Leicester, England, outside of an Ancient Roman townhouse, dating from the second century A.D. The tablet reads: “To the god Maglus, I give the wrongdoer who stole the cloak of Servandus. Silvester, Roimandus … that he destroy him before the ninth day, the person who stole the cloak of Servandus …" A list of 18 or 19 suspects were named on the tablet.
Magic was used by the Greco-Roman society, regardless of economic or social status. There are about 1600 curse tablets discovered, 220 of them were located in Attica, Greece, with the many of those written in Greek. The first sets of tablets were found in Selinus, Sicily and are believed to be from the 6th century B.C. Of the 1600 tablets found, 110 are written in Greek. Ancient literature shows that these curse tablets were well known and feared.
Not all of these tablets contained curses; some of them contained love spells. The curse tablet faded into obscurity around the 7th or 8th centuries A.D., although cursing continues to flourish today.
A special thank you to National Geographic News and paganwiccan.com
Visiting a doctor in the 21st century isn’t fun, but visiting a doctor in Regency England was often life threatening, and your treatment depended on how much you could afford to pay. This is why home remedies were tried before the doctor was summoned. There were three medical practitioners functioning during the time of Regency England. Physicians, surgeons, and apothecaries, but I think midwives should also have a place and have included them below.
We shall begin with the physicians, who are considered to have better training and experience. The physician often came from a genteel background. They were the second or third sons of a gentleman. The doctors attended prestigious schools and earned their degree at a university. These universities were associated with various hospitals. Their training did not include an apprenticeship, nor did they practice on actual patients. A doctor’s education consisted of listening to medical procedures taught in a lecture hall.
Doctors were considered expensive and hired by the members of the aristocracy. They also liked to be paid in a discreet manner, since theoretically, gentlemen did not accept money for work. Only physicians that were licensed by the Royal College of Physicians were addressed by the title of doctor. If a doctor was staying with a family, he was likely to be invited to dine with them.
Surgeons were not regarded as highly as doctors, nor were they like the surgeons of today. Surgeons in Regency England were more like general practitioners, and usually had an apprenticeship under a doctor. In 1815, the laws of apprenticeship changed to require a five-year apprenticeship and a six-month training course to receive a license as a surgeon, prior to this they were not very educated. Most surgeons of the period learned from on the job training. Medical knowledge at the time was obtained through trial and error, where experiments were conducted and observations were made and noted in journals. These medical journals were a source of knowledge for those in the medical field, unfortunately these journals were expensive, so poorer doctors often shared the subscription and passed the journals amongst each other.
Surgery was performed without anesthesia, and was usually limited to amputation or noninvasive surgeries, like cyst removal. Ether wasn’t discovered until 1842. Before this time, people who needed surgery were given large does of alcohol, opium, cannabis, or mandrake, which were not very effective. Less effective measures of pain relief were ice, hypnosis, bloodletting, and nerve compression. If the pain didn’t kill you, then an infection might, since the chances of dying from infection were very high. Because the surgeons performed amputations, and lacked the university education, they were seen below doctors in social circles, and thus if staying with a family he would likely dine with the upper servants.
Apothecaries were considered the poor man’s doctor. They were apprenticed to learn about drugs. In essence, they were Regency pharmacists and deemed as tradesmen. But in villages or rural areas, where doctors were scarce, it was the apothecary who would come to your home to treat you. The problem was that many of these elixirs given for treatment were toxic. See my early blog on Drugs and Addiction. Apothecaries were seen even further down on the social scale and fall beneath the surgeons. An apothecary’s chance of staying to eat with the family was slim, but he would dine with the servants, if invited at all.
Midwives and Women
Women during the era acted as midwives, nurses, and herbal healers. But during the Regency, more men began to enter into midwifery. Midwives delivered the majority of babies. Forceps had been invented by this time for difficult births, but female midwives often wouldn’t use them, while the males would. Cases of childbed fever increased, due to forceps use. C-sections were rarely used because of the high rate of infection. An obstructed baby would be killed and removed in pieces. If the mother died, they would try to save the baby, but the procedure had to be done quickly or the baby wouldn’t receive oxygen. Husbands were often consulted before these life or death tactics were taken.
A few doctors were knighted for doctoring the royal family, and although the aristocracy hired doctors, they did not invite them to their parties. Most of the doctors treated patients in towns and villages, and they rarely visited the hospitals. People were often treated inside of their home. The hospitals were mostly located in the cities, and not used by the majority of the population. Hospitals were considered places of contagion.
Items used by a Regency doctor often included the black leather medical bag, lancets, scalpels, syringes, and bleeding cups. The Frenchman, René Laennec, invented the stethoscope during the Regency era in 1816. Hand washing and changing bandages were not concerns, so illnesses often spread or caused infections. You can see more on medical treatments by referring to my blog on Leeches and Bloodletting.
Although medicine was hit or miss, new medicines were discovered, such as quinine, calamine, proven herbal remedies, and others. Edward Jenner improved upon the small pox vaccination during the Regency, making it the first infectious disease to be restrained in this manner.
A special thanks to thebeaumonde.com and Roy and Lesley Adkins, Jane Austen’s England and romancingthepast.com
The rabbit’s foot is often used as an amulet to bring about luck. The lucky rabbit’s foot originated from ancient beliefs held by the Celts around 600 BC. The Celts considered the rabbit a friend to the god of fertility, due the rapid rate in which rabbits reproduce. Rabbits are also associated with spring and the return of flowers and foliage. Since rabbits live underground, the foot of the rabbit was used to protect a person from evil spirits.
Women who wished to become pregnant or those who wished to enhance their sexual lives, also carried the rabbit’s foot. In the 16th century, Reginald Scot, an Englishman who wrote The Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584, claimed a rabbit’s foot in your pocket would ease arthritis pain. The belief in the lucky rabbit’s foot is seen in Europe, China, Africa, and North and South America, but the view of the rabbit’s foot varies by culture. To the Chinese, the rabbit’s foot symbolizes prosperity.
Not all of the rabbit’s feet are considered lucky. When rabbits run, their hind legs land of the ground first, thus it was their right hind leg that was considered magical, since the left was often associated with the devil. One superstition claims that the foot would only be lucky if the rabbit was shot in the cemetery at night with a silver bullet.
In hoodoo, which is a mix of African/American folk magic, the rabbit’s foot was used in various ceremonies. Superstition claims that carrying the foot will bring you good luck, and rubbing it on the bottom of a baby’s foot will assure the child good luck for life.
Not all beliefs regarding the rabbit’s foot are said to grant luck, for there were some that believed they evoked bad luck if the owner of the rabbit’s foot kept the talisman for themselves. The good luck was only believed to come if the owner gave the rabbit’s foot to another. This would bless the giver and receiver of the rabbit’s foot luck, but if the receiver lost the lucky talisman, both giver and receiver would be met with bad luck.
Animal rights activists have concerns regarding the killing of rabbits for such a purpose, and thus encouragement toward the rabbit’s foot as a lucky charm is passing into history. Although you can still buy them in some countries, synthetic alternatives are readily available.
A special thanks to Scientific American and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
The year of the Horse begins on January 30th with the new moon and ends on February 18th.
This is the year of the wood horse or the green horse, since wood is an element of spring, when plants begin their regrowth. In Chinese astrology, the year of the horse is considered a year of luck, competitiveness, and good things, it is also a time of rapid change and power struggles. The horse is a spirited animal that symbolizes travel and speedy success. The horse is known for freedom, passion, leadership, and nobility. Horse is also the strongest fire animal of the Chinese zodiac and so it is connected with heat, fire, and the color red. Since red is a symbol of love, the horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese horoscope. People born in the year of the horse are often intelligent and have a gift for speech.
So what does all this mean for the coming year? 2014 will be a lucky year, and bad luck should be minimal. If it’s a favorable year for you, you could catch a lot of lucky breaks, and if it’s an unfavorable year for you, the luck in the year could soften the blows. The wood horse is a year of victories, unexpected adventure, and romance. Wood energy encourages slow growth. It is the year for taking chances.
A word of forewarning, horse energy is fast and can refer to fools rushing in where the wise fear to go. So although this may be a lucky year, before you rush to complete your goals, make sure you’re prepared and use common sense to meet with success. Keep in mind that you don’t want to go galloping off in the wrong direction. Under the horse there is no middle ground, so as some global economies will become stronger, others will collapse. This year may bring about opportunities for spiritual growth and attitude changes. It is the cooperative energy of the horse that reminds us of the courage and stamina necessary to follow our dreams. Thoughtful transformations and a shared enthusiasm for improvements is a positive indication that 2014 will be a good year.
Castle Stalker is a four-story keep that sits on a tidal island on Loch Linnhe. It is located off the coast of Argyll, Scotland. The castle is accessible from the shore at low tide. The original castle was built in the early 14th century by Clan MacDougall who were the Lords of Lorn. (Lorn is an ancient district in the west of Scotland.) Around 1388 the Stewarts took over the Lordship of Lorn and were said to have built the castle that currently rests upon the site in the 1440’s. Due to a drunken wager made by King James IV of Scotland, the castle passed to Clan Campbell in 1620. The Campbell’s abandoned the castle in 1840, when the keep lost its roof. In 1965 Lt. Colonel D.R Stewart Allward purchased the castle and began restoration. Castle stalker is owned privately and is open to the public at select times during the summer.
Ballindalloch Castle is located in Moray, Scotland. The first tower of the Z plan design was built in 1546, which was a typical design for the late 16th century noble houses in the Grampian region. The tower house was plundered and burned by the first Marquis of Montrose, but was restored in 1645. Ballindalloch is known as the Pearl of the North. The property has been in the Russell Macpherson-Grant family since 1457. The Macpherson-Grants, founded the famous Aberdeen Angus cattle on this land. In 1770, two wings were added to the castle by James Grant, who decided to enlarge his family home and allow his chef the use of one of the new wings. Throughout the property’s history, the castle underwent alterations, which were extensive during the Victorian era, with further modernizations being done in 1965. The rivers Spey and Avon run through the property. The home is still family owned and is open to the public. Guests can partake in light snacks and beverages in the tearoom.
Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian gothic revival mansion. The castle is located in Cardiff, Wales. The structure was originally a 3rd century Roman fort that was built upon by Norman invaders in the 11th century. The castle was the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff. In the 12th century, the castle was rebuilt with stone and defensive walls were erected around the property. Cardiff Castle underwent many attacks in the 12th century due to conflicts between the Anglo-Normans and the Welsh. Owen Glendower, the Prince of Wales, attacked the castle in 1404 during the Welsh Revolt against King Henri IV of England. The English Parliament also took the castle by force during the English Civil War, but Royalist supporters regained it in 1645. The structure continued to undergo renovations through the years when it passed into the hands of the Marquesses of Bute. The castle grew into a Georgian mansion and many of the other medieval buildings on the property, along with the walls, were demolished. The grounds were landscaped and reconstructed to include parks. The finding of Roman remains led to the walls and a gatehouse being reconstructed into the Roman design. The interior is considered to be an excellent example of gothic revival. In the 20th century, many commercial companies took interest in the lands surrounding Cardiff and the property was sold off in pieces, with some of the lands becoming nationalized, until only the castle was left. The castle is currently owned by the city of Cardiff and it is open to the public.
Alcázar of Segovia is a stone fortification located in the city of Segovia, Spain. The castle is built upon a rock cliff above the rivers of Eresma and Clamores. Segovia Castle is shaped like the bow of a ship, making it distinct from other castles. The fortification first began as an Arab Fort, which was built atop the remains of a Roman fort. The castle is believed to have been built in the 12th century, after the city of Segovia returned to Christian hands. The palace was enlarged and added to during the next four centuries. During the middle ages the castle served as a royal palace. It has also served as a state prison, a royal Artillery College, and a military academy. In 1862 a fire destroyed much of the structure and it was rebuilt two decades later in a more romantic style. Segovia Castle is one of the castles that inspired Disney’s Cinderella Castle.
Since early history, working animals were exposed to hoof damage from excessive wear. In ancient Asia, horses hooves were often wrapped in rawhide or other materials for protection. The early Roman’s also attempted to wrap their horses’ hooves with a solid, leather and metal contraption, called the hipposandal. The nailed type of horseshoe came later. The earliest written record of an iron horseshoe was in 910 A.D. Around 1000 A.D., cast, bronze horseshoes with nail holes became common. By the early 11th century, iron horseshoes were manufactured, and due to the value of iron at the time, horseshoes could be accepted to pay taxes. The continual need for horseshoes, placed blacksmiths in high demand, and their craft led to the development of metallurgy.
Interesting history, but why is the horseshoe considered lucky? Why do we see them hung over barn doors and along fences? There are a couple of reasons. First, lucky horseshoes came into being during festive occasions, where a silver shoe was hammered into a horse’s hoof before the parade, and the retriever won a prize.
Another reason the horseshoe is lucky is because it is said to ward off witches and devils. The iron used to make the shoe was an element believed to ward off fairy folk and evil entities. Why iron? Iron smells like human blood and blood is our life force. Iron is also found deep in the earth and considered the life force of the earth. Thus iron, like silver, could ward off witches, fairies, and ghosts. Although if witches existed, then they likely used iron cauldrons, so their fear of that element seems convoluted. I’d like to note that prison bars, cemetery gates, and many crucifixes are also made out of iron, which is interesting. So lower entities of energy dissipate from the grounding element of iron.
Legend says that the blacksmith, Saint Dunstan, nailed a horseshoe to the devil’s foot, with a guarantee that the devil would leave his family in peace if he nailed a horseshoe on the door.
Horseshoes are still seen in the 21st century as well, although I’m unsure if people are aware of the stories behind the symbol they are hanging. Nailing a horseshoe on the barn was said to prevent a witch from taking or riding your horses. Western culture claims the user of the lucky talisman should leave the ends upward, so that the luck doesn’t drain out. Other cultures suggest leaving the ends downward to shower the person with luck. Most cultures believed that since the horseshoe protects the horse, then it must protect people too. The horseshoe being recognized as good luck dates back to the 4th century in Greece. They felt that the iron horseshoe drove away evil and the shape of the horseshoe represented the crescent moon, which was known as a symbol of fertility and good luck. The horseshoe was a potent charm on land or sea. Horseshoes were nailed to the masts of ships to protect the crew during storms. The rule of luck regarding a horseshoe is if you find one and there are nails still in it, count them, for the more nails means a luckier you. In Northumberland, the rule was that the holes missing nails, indicated the number of years remaining until the person who found the item weds.
A Poem by James T. Fields
The stranger asked to see the shoe;
The farmer brought it into view;
But when the old man raised his head;
He laughed outright and quickly said;
“No wonder skies upon you frown,
You’ve nailed the horse-shoe upside down;
Just turn it round, and soon you’ll see
How you and Fortune will agree.”
A special thanks to Diabolicalconfusions.wordpress.com and The History & Use of Amulets, Charms and Talisman by Gary R. Varner