Myths and Legends Part 2

Today we’re taking a look at 3 more of the spooky legends that surface around Halloween each year.

Werewolves:
Countries around the world and throughout history all have legends and stories about werewolf type creatures.  There are actually 3 types of werewolves: the shapeshifter (can change form at any time), the wolfman, and true werewolves (who transform during the full moon).  One legend says that there is a spirit-god named Wisakachek in Native American Mythology who was a shape-shifter who lived in the woods and was a friend to humans.  He turned the first people into werewolves to help them be better hunters when he saw that they were struggling so much.  Some werewolf stories can be attributed to hypertrichosis, which creates unusually long hair on the face and body; and a second condition, porphyria, which is characterized by extreme sensitivity to light (thus encouraging its victims to only go out at night), seizures, anxiety, and other symptoms.  (Learn more here and here)

Vampire:
Most often Romanian prince Vlad Tepes from the 1400’s is credited as the basis for the Dracula story, but others believe that the gods Apollo and Artemis can be credited for the first vampire. And while many people are familiar with the concept of vampires being humans who return from the dead, others believe that vampires aren’t human in any way, but supernatural beings even as far back as Ancient Egypt.  Vampires are always believed to drink blood, regardless of what other characteristics they may be believed to have (like turning into bats or having a reflection that aren’t universally believed).  Interestingly, vampires were one easy answer to the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people.  Some traditions believe that iron bars are just as effective as wood because vampires are known to fear iron.  If you’re thinking of becoming a vampire, you may want to think twice because “anyone who consumes blood regularly runs a real risk of haemochromatosis (iron overdose), which can cause a wide variety of diseases and problems, including liver and nervous system damage.”  (Learn even more here.)

Lake Monsters:
There’s an extensive list of monsters that live in bodies of water.  There’s Champ in the US/Canada, Nessie the Loch Ness monster, the Kraken, mermaids, Ogopogo in Canada, Nahuelito in Argentina, and other supposed monsters in many countries around the world. Sea/lake monsters are notoriously hard to see and identify because of the water that they supposedly live in and the number of things that could be seen instead of the monster that people think they’re seeing such as deer, logs and even just waves.  If people are seeing what they think they’re seeing they are in the forms of fish, serpents, crocodiles, turtles and other sea/water animals, but much larger.  Of all the scary creatures in the world I think they’re one of the best that have a chance of being real.

What spooky creatures capture your attention?

Myths and Legends Part 1

For the next 2 posts we’re going to slightly deviate from the usual, and talk instead about some of the facts and history behind some of the most famous legends and spooky stories.   What interests me is that there is almost always some truth behind a legend, even if it’s not paranormal/supernatural in nature, after all, the stories had to have some foundation to be started.

Jack-o-Lanterns:
According to one source, “Celtic folklore tells the tale of a drunken farmer named Jack who tricked the devil, but his trickery resulted in him being turned away from both the gates of heaven and hell after he died. Having no choice but to wander around the darkness of purgatory, Jack made a lantern from a turnip and a burning lump of coal that the devil had tossed him from hell.

Jack, the story goes, used the lantern to guide his lost soul; as such, the Celts believed that placing Jack-o’-lanterns outside would help guide lost spirits home when they wander the streets on Halloween.”

Other stories about the jack-o-lantern include using the scary faces that could be cut into pumpkins to scare away evil, rather than guide souls.  Another famous pumpkin related story is that of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  This isn’t based on a factual event but is a story by Washington Irving.  Irving did hear folk stories about a German/English/Scandinavian headless rider, so that may have inspired his work, but from what history shows, tell the pumpkin was all his own. (You can learn even more here and here)

Buried Alive:
This became a scary legend because it was true too often.  In the centuries before modern medicine it was often hard to tell if someone was truly dead or alive.  But because they were concerned about illnesses (and no one really wants to live around a possibly dead person), they were buried when it was determined according to their limited knowledge that the person was dead. Because of how frequently this occurred there was a coffin created, the “safety coffin”, and the addition to the bell at each grave site.  Unfortunately sometimes modern medicine misses stuff and very rare cases occur still today.  (You can learn more here and here)

Bloody Mary:
The thing about this spooky legend is that there are at least 2 legends behind this name, the foremost being Queen Mary from.  She got the name because she was next in the bloodline to rule and had to produce an heir to keep the bloodline going.  She unfortunately couldn’t have a baby and after several tries was killed by her sister, Elizabeth, who became ruler instead.

Another story around Bloody Mary include the legend of a woman appearing in a mirror after her name is called 3 times to the mirror.  Ironically, rather than seeing death the legend of looking into a mirror was about walking backwards up stairs in a dark house gazing into a mirror to see their future husband’s face.   (You can learn more here and here).

Ouija Board:
The Ouija Board started in the 1800’s, as an extension to the seances that were popular in many circles, including religious and political ones.  People too often died before they reached 50 years of age, so there was a lot of questions about what came next, as well as reassurance about the children they lost too young.  Stories about a ‘talking board’ appeared in 1886 and one wise business man decided to take it to the masses and give them the chance to connect with their lost loved ones.  So in the 1891 the board appeared in stores, marketed as a board game and a “magical device that answers questions about past, present and future”, not to mention a little fun at the same time.  While many things have changed since then, the board remains basically the same.  As to whether or not the board actually works, the jury is still out on that, although some people say it’s a completely human interaction, no spooks involved.

What stories and legends are you most fascinated by?

We the United Nations

Yesterday was United Nations Day. Today I want to share a few verses from the Bible about the nations and a short reflection on what it means to be part of the united nations.

Psalm 67:3: “May the nations praise you O God. Yes may all the nations praise you.”

Deuteronomy 7:7:  “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples..”

1 Chronicles 16:31: “Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!””

Psalm 9:8: “He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness.”

Psalm 9:20: “Make them tremble in fear, O Lord.  Let the nations know they are merely human.”

Each and every nation has their own people, culture and history.  No nation is exactly the same as any other, and even the nations who are similar have differences.  Those differences are one of the reasons why it’s so important to have an organization like the United Nations, so that we can all come together in a safe environment and support each other.  Because what may be seen as differences could be the solutions or insights that other nations are in need of and could benefit from.  The United Nations should also be a safe place for us to talk about our challenges and and concerns that we have with other parts of the world.  The United Nations is also a reminder that we all share this same planet and should be considerate of what we’re doing and how it could be affecting the future of our world.

The verses above also remind that all nations should give honor to God and that God is aware of all nations from the largest to the smallest.  God doesn’t care about size or military might, but cares for all nations. We should remember that we’re visitors on this planet that He has created and that if we want to keep living here we should do better with working together to care for it.

Reality Reflection: Enjoying Fears?

This month we’ve been talking a lot about the topic of enjoying life, but for the next week we’ll be getting into the other topic that everyone talks about in October: Halloween.  Today I thought we’d talk about something that can be a controversial topic, enjoying Halloween.  I know that most people, whether they admit it or not, get a little excited by a scare, or find something intriguing about all things scary.  It might be all about the mystery for people: there’s just so much we don’t know about what comes next, whether we’re talking about what’s around the corner, what’s in the dark or what’s after this life.  For others it might just be all about the adrenaline rush that they experience when they get scared.  But whatever it is, it captures our attention.

But what about enjoying the scare and enjoying feeling that fear?  Is it wrong to watch scary movies, talk about legends/myths/monsters, try to scare others or open ourselves up to considering what might be out there?  I think there are lots of scares that can be fun and are OK to be involved in, like telling scary stories, watching scary movies or visiting the Halloween attractions that open up every year in October (places with actors, not those that are reportedly haunted).  I think that some would say it’s necessary to do some investigating of places that are reportedly haunted because there is so much we don’t know, and as the saying goes, knowledge is power.  But I think we need to be careful of how far we go and of how much power we give the fear, because fears can absolutely ruin your life, and I believe there are some very bad things out there that we can’t see (not to mention the bad stuff we can see).

I think we all need things that excite us in our lives, things that make us feel alive, things that we’re curious about.  But like racing hot rods, eating or gambling, I think that scares need to be taken in moderation.  I don’t think that it’s something you should devote your life to unless you’re truly willing to face whatever consequences may show up.  I think a little fear can be good fun with friends or family, and that it’s OK to watch a scary movie or ghost show on TV occasionally.  So this Halloween, as your kids are running around in their costumes and consuming candy and other treats, if you want your treat to be a little fear, don’t feel too guilty, go ahead and enjoy.

What’s your perspective on fears, scares and Halloween?

Aloha and Enjoy

We’ve got less than 10 days left in this month, a month we talk about two sometimes opposing topics: Halloween and enjoying life, with next week mostly devoted to talk of Halloween, today I want to talk about enjoying life again.  This week I heard a definition or translation of a word that we hear enough that most of us would recognize it, even if it’s not a word we use in our daily language. The word is aloha and the definition used was “to consciously manifest life joyously in the present.”  It’s a bit of a mouthful, but super powerful if you take the time to really get what it’s saying.

But this understanding of Aloha is exactly what we’ve been talking about this month on the blog: learning how to enjoy life each day.  Some days that enjoyment takes a bit more effort and consciousness to manifest, while other days it seems effortless.  Neither is wrong, especially when you’re getting started learning how to enjoy life, and even the wisest or most zen individuals have admitted to having a challenging day.  That’s all part of our life experience and how we’re supposed to live our lives.  It wouldn’t be much of a journey if it got handed to us on a silver platter.

I do believe though, that when you’re focused on the good, when you’re creating solutions and giving support to others, working towards better understanding of what goes on in our world, open to new experiences and perspectives, and generally moving with life rather than fighting, hating, rejecting or being apathetic towards it, life is typically easier, better and more enjoyable.

As you and your kids and/or friends pick out Halloween costumes or make last minute party plans I encourage you to think about the difference you would experience in your life if you were manifesting results beyond your wildest dreams as a regular part of your life.  What would change for you?  What would you do differently?

Enjoying Our Differences

This month we’ve been talking about enjoying life, enjoying each other, enjoying our world and enjoying God.  I know that what I enjoy in life may not be what you enjoy in life, and that’s OK.  That’s one of the reasons why the world we live in is so diverse.  If it wasn’t so diverse neither would we be, in fact we’d all look, sound and act a lot the same, and I can’t believe that our world would be anywhere as awesome as it is if we were so similar.

But as different as we are we also have to have similarities or we wouldn’t be able to live in relative harmony and partnership with each other.  Sure, there are wars and disagreements and the like, sometimes because we heard things wrong or don’t know how to communicate effectively using words, sometimes words aren’t effective when it comes to defending yourself, and sometimes people prefer to hate and hurt.  But back to our similarities, we all have feelings, have families (in whatever form they may come in), have dreams and goals and gifts and talents.

This week I read a passage that reminded me about the importance of respecting other people and their preferences.  It reminded me that just because I enjoy simple things and you may enjoy much more complex and complicated things, neither of our enjoyment should be less joyful than the other, nor should we reject or not be willing to try what other people enjoy simply because it’s different from what we enjoy.

I encourage you this week to be open to the joy of others and trying new things.

“Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”  Romans 12:14-16

Reality Reflection: Life Changing

I heard it said again on the radio tonight, the statement said by someone who had some interaction with an entertainment group (music/TV producer etc): “my life has completely changed!!”  Don’t get me wrong, I love life changes.  I love that we can step into them and many things can go right as a result.  There are plenty of people who have benefited from “life changes” that have begun like this, but there are others who have not benefited, and may even have a worse life as a result.  For every successful reality, music, TV, sweepstakes, lottery star/winner there are also those who end up throwing many good things in their life away as a result of the encounter with the “life changing moment.”

One of the things that pushes my buttons most about this is that before they won the lottery or before they became a mega star they were living this whole life-a life that probably wasn’t awful and they were OK living.  Sure, we all wish we could improve or change our lives in some way, but many people live OK lives in this day and age. As much as we may hope and dream for our own fairy godmother (in whatever form “she” comes in), most of us don’t need her to get through life.  With a little hard work most of us can reach the real goals we have for our lives (without robbing a bank or selling drugs).  We may never become the super pop star known ’round the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make enough money or have the life experiences we truly want.

Assuming you get lucky one day and it happens to you and you can say “and my life has completely changed!”, I encourage you to keep a level head.  Yes, you should celebrate the abundant blessings and great opportunities that come your way as a result.  You should take time to live it up and try things that before weren’t things you could do because of who or where you were or your finances.  But at the same time you should also put away as much of the money as possible to keep in case it happens that there’s an ‘after’ to your happy life change.  I’m not saying something will go wrong, just that it’s always a good idea to plan for the future.  And don’t give up on the people who mean the most to you now either, because it’s likely that they’ll be the people there long after the fame has ended.

Just in case today is your lucky day, it’s always a good idea to have a smile, decent outfit, cleaner house and positive attitude at the ready (and it wouldn’t hurt to work on meditating and finding your center now while you have the time to practice).  Who knows, maybe because of that smile and positive attitude you’ll get lucky without a fairy godmother today.

Enjoying Life Together

Lately I’ve been thinking about an old phrase: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This phrase fits in really well with the concepts of Karma, abundance and good will, and even the concept of prosperity.  It’s also a simple and universal way to live your life.  There aren’t any racial or location differences to consider, it’s not something that prefers someone over someone else, it’s not really about preference or cost, and it’s something that we can all understand and see how it would work in our own life.

However there is a side to it that makes it a challenging concept to apply: that of not always wanting to unto others as you would want done to you (typically helping them have good in their life since that’s what you want in yours). It’s hard to want to do good to those who have admitted to killing people. It’s hard to do good to those who say really nasty things about you or others.  It can be hard to do good to those who have something we are jealous or envious of. It’s sometimes even hard to want to do good to those who seem to have it all because we figure there’s nothing we can give them that would give them any real benefit. And then there are the times we’re so caught up in what we want that we can’t even begin to figure out how to bless others.

If you’re feeling stuck with regard to doing to others as you would have them do to you I would start with something simple: enjoying life more.  Enjoyment is our topic this month and I think it is an easy answer to the question.  If you’re going to do unto others as you would have them do to you it’s likely that you could work on helping them enjoy life more, and get the same in return.  A big part of enjoying life is about the attitude you have towards life, and if your attitude is to enjoy your life and help others enjoy theirs more in return I’d say you’re off to a good start.

Of course doing unto others as you would have them do unto you isn’t just about getting something you want, it’s about living in a way that’s alert to what goes on in the world, and making decisions that are considerate to the health, happiness and longevity of everyone and everything else.  Yes we still can make decisions that benefit us, but not if the cost of getting what we want causes significant harm to others.  I encourage you to be considerate of the rest of the world when you make decisions, because you don’t want it coming back to bite you.

Humbly Choosing Joy

This month we’re talking about enjoying life, along with the typical Halloween topics.  One of the best reasons to enjoy life and make it a point to do things you enjoy is because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  Tomorrow could be a better day than today (something those of us who have had a bad day certainly hope for), or it might bring serious challenges and require you to make changes in your life, or it might even be your last day.  I’m not the type of person who lives life to the absolute fullest like some people do, but I certainly make it a point to have at least a little fun and joy in each and every day, even if it’s something as simple as having a cup of tea.

But on the other hand I don’t make lightly of the gift that life is or criticize those who can’t find even a little joy in each day.  It’s not something everyone can instantly do, it’s a skill that has to be honed typically as adults because we’ve lost the gift that just about everyone has as a child of appreciating life and being able to see the gifts in each day, even if they don’t seem that remarkable to someone who has lived for several decades.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow are gifts, even if we don’t see them as such yet.  As we head into some of the busiest times of the year there will be a lot on your plate and in your life.  Sometimes all that busyness will drive you crazy and you’ll just want to be done with it.  But I would encourage you to step back and give in to the temptation to truly enjoy it.  Don’t get mad that the Hanukkah and Christmas stuff is out in stores, think about which carols you’re going to sing in your head while going trick-or-treating with your kids.  Don’t rant and rave at the bad driver in front of you, choose to be thankful you’re a better driver than them.  Don’t get mad at your kids when they don’t do well on a test, take it as a lesson and choose to work harder with them on understanding the subject for the next test and talk with them about what didn’t go right.  Don’t give up on a family member because they’ve chosen an addiction and can’t follow through with treatment, remember the good times and be there to support them when they do try treatment.

There’s always more than one way to approach a situation, will you join me in choosing joy?

“Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring.”  Proverbs 27:1

Reality Reflection: Ghosts and Ghost Stories

October is typically known for one thing here in the US: Halloween.  I love seeing all the creative things that kids choose to wear and am still a big fan of candy even if I can’t eat it much anymore.  I’ve also been known to watch a scary movie or two, as well as watch some shows about ghosts on TV.  Recently I was watching one that got me thinking about the reality of ghosts.  I’ve seen too many shows to not believe that there is something that we can’t see going on in the world.  While I do believe that there’s Heaven and a life after this one, there’s also something that clearly interacts with us in our world, known under the common term of ‘ghosts.’  Some of the ghosts are able to interact with us, but others aren’t aware of us or how things have changed since they lived.

What got me thinking about ghosts was a comment about if they belong here with us.  There are some ghosts that are happy to be here, others that are frustrated and feel trapped here, others that we’re keeping here and the group of ghosts that are unaware of being here.  The ghosts I want to focus on today are those who are frustrated and trapped and those who we’re keeping here.  While I don’t have personal knowledge or experience with ghosts, if ghosts are anything like people I can believe that there are ghosts like that.  I can believe that there are ghosts who get stuck and act out as a result.  I can also believe that some ghosts are kept here by us because we can’t let them go or we do things to keep them here like seances, Ouija boards and maybe even ghost hunting.  As much as it’s cool and interesting to interact with ghosts and prove their existence, with these ghosts it sounds like it would be better if we would let them go instead of trying to keep them here with us.

This discussion on ghosts reminded me a lot about how we live our lives too.  We have been known to hold ourselves back, we’ve been known to act out towards others because we’re frustrated and we’re known to hold others back as well for one reason or another (including jealousy).  Just like it’s necessary to let some of the ghosts go on their way and not stay with us, it’s equally (or more) important to work on freedom in our lives.

I encourage you to take time this week to figure out if you’ve been holding yourself back, if you’ve been holding others back, if you feel trapped, and what you’re going to do to change it. Maybe it’s writing a letter to someone who has passed on that you’re letting hold you back from developing your full potential. Maybe it’s enrolling in a class to further your skills, maybe it’s getting coffee with someone to bury the hatchet.  Maybe it’s just choosing to forgive someone or yourself and letting go of the past.  Whatever it is I encourage you to make moves this week so that you can live your life with happiness and fulfillment.