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?

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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.