Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Mummy Meets Frankenstein's Monster

It was a classic Mummy tale.  

An intrepid explorer, fascinated with reanimating...


...visited the pyramids.

Using an ancient spell passed down through centuries of beads, he performed an incantation and the mummy came to life!

Fortunately, the two hit it off quite well.  It's almost as if they shared DNA.  

So the intrepid archaeologist (named Frank, btw) invited the Mummy back to his castle in Transylvania.

There the two swapped stories of how they were made and brought to life...

... and perished and were brought back to life.


At night they would whip of feasts from their native lands and dine beneath the stars.

In the summer they would lie on the castle roof, gaze at the galaxies... 

...and marvel how the skies looked exactly the same as they had in former lives.

But when autumn rolled around, and a chill touched the air, they wondered about other reanimated creatures.

Did they face the stigmas of society?  Did they deal with post traumatic stress syndrome?

 And where did they go for spare parts?

To further their study, they put out an invitation to all the re-animees of the planet...

...inviting them to a symposium where they could discuss their issues...

...and divulge their suppliers.

 So great was the response that Frank created a commune for the Reanimated.  Next time you're in Transylvania, stop in.  

But hang onto your parts.

Available on etsy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Venus of Willendorf on a Nearly Wordless Wednesday

Venus of Willendorf pendants and charms on etsy.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, is a perfect example of how cultures change, yet survive.  Beliefs of the Mexican people go back to early Aztec and Mayan roots, with a blend of Spanish conquerors and Catholicism.

Back in the 8th century, the church decreed that November 1st would be celebrated as All Saints Day ~ a day set aside to honor martyrs and saints.  This, of course, was an attempt to gloss over another culture, since, for 2000 years, Celts and Druid priests combined harvest festivals and celebrated the new year on November 1st.

The Celtic dead, you see, were believed to have access to earth on Samhain, which fell on October 31st.  At that time, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead was lessened. To celebrate, Celts danced around huge bonfires while wearing heads and hides.


This was done to confuse the spirits.  Offerings of burned crops and animals were given to the dead who returned at that time.

Clearly this is something the church wanted to cover up.  So at the end of the first millennium, they designated November 2nd as All Souls' Day as a time to honor the dead.  To keep up with the Druid and Celtic pagenatry, All Souls' Day was celebrated with... (ready??)  huge bonfires...


...and people dressed up, though not in animal heads and hides.  Rather, they dressed as saints, angels, and devils.

Back then, All Saints Day and All Souls' Day were known as All-hallowsmas, which made October 31st "All Hallowed's Eve" or Hallow'e'en.

Getting back to Mexico... when the Spaniards arrived they met up with two-month celebrations honoring the harvest, the dead, and the new year.  This was a long-standing tradition.  For more than 500 years, the goddess Mictecacihuatl, who is the Lady of the Dead, presided over Aztec harvest rituals.  Guess what they used?  Yep.  Fire (and incense)...


...and costumes of animal skins.  To this was added images of their dead and offerings of ceramics, personal goods, flowers and foods, drink and flowers.

So the church stepped in and attempted to transform this joyous (and long) celebration into a serious (and short) day of prayer focusing on tragic images of death and reflection on saints and martyrs.  This did not meet with universal acceptance.

Instead, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day evolved into Dia de los Muertos ~ a celebration to honor the dead with color, flowers, candles, and joy.


The flowers are, as you see, marigolds.


Marigolds are traditionally used to decorate altars for Dia de los Muertos.

Called Cempazuchil, or Flower of the Dead, Marigolds go back to the Aztecs.  In the Aztec language, marigold is Xempa (which means dead) + Xochitl, meaning flower.   This was changed for easier pronunciation in the Castillian Spanish, becoming Cempazuchil. Marigolds represent the sun's rays.  Since the sun is the origin of all living things, marigolds are the symbol that the deceased have not lost their place in the universe.

And that is why this bracelet is in bright floral colors.

And that is why Day of the Dead is still celebrated.

Some day all these might be superseded by a different holiday, but I'm betting it will involve bonfires and dressing up, and a lot of good food.


And you could still wear the bracelet.

Day of the Dead BrightandShinyThings on etsy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Return of the Three Vegetarian Witches

Once upon a time, there were three witches: Ursula, Glenda, and Medea.  

They lived together in a cottage in the woods where they mixed their potions by day and flew reconnaissance missions at night.  Their familiars ~ an owl, some black cats, spiders, a few bats ~ kept them company.  It was a good life.

But there were problems, as there always are.  The local markets carried limp produce, brown at the edges, unappealing and bland.  There were no local farmer's markets and the ones that could be reached by broomstick had some anti-broomstick ordinances in place.

So Glenda, Medea, and Ursula started to grow their own produce.


They grew herbs for their potions and vegetables for their table.  They grew greens and tomatoes and eggplants and pumpkins and giant zucchini.  Ursula even rigged a particularly large zucchini to fly like her broom.


A local skeleton helped them with the gardening.

Frank nurtured the compost bin.

And life was good.

But there were problems, as there always are.    Ursula became uncomfortable with the notion of using animal parts in their brews.  Not only was it disgusting.  Have you ever tried to remove the eye from a newt?  But it was cruel, and Ursula sat down by the cauldron with Medea and Glenda and told them her thoughts.

It turned out that Medea and Glenda has similar reservations.  They no sooner wanted to dice the tongue of a frog than sit through a Justin Bieber concert.

But witches throughout history had used these ingredients.  They were in all the spell books.  There was no Nouvelle Spell Cuisine from which to draw.

How could they make powerful potions without animal parts?

Still, the witches resolved that they would harm no more animals making their brews.  They used their organic herbs and vegetables, and the potions were  cruelty-free.  Unfortunately, they weren't especially potent.

So again they sat down to think while the cauldron simmered and bubbled.


Medea started to pace.  She walked the paths around the cottage, and as she paced, she noticed the various stones around her.  They were ordinary stones.  Some were volcanic, some sedimentary, some metamorphic.  But each was different and unique.  This gave Medea and idea.

She hurried back to the cauldron, rocks in both hands, passing some toads who fled at her approach.


"My dears," she exclaimed.  "Look at these rocks!"

Glenda and Ursula stared, not sure what Medea's point could be.

"Think about it," she said.  "Each rock is different and unique.  Each, it might be said, has a unique power."

Glenda and Ursula had to agree.  They had several volumes about rocks in their library.  "Suppose," Medea continued, "we could obtain the same powers from rocks that we obtain from caterpillar knees.  Suppose certain rocks could grant the same serenity we create with terrapin tonsils.  Would that not be a wonderful advance?"

And so Medea and Ursula and Glenda went to their books.  They read and researched and studied by night.  By day they collected stones and rocks and amulets.  They traded pattypan squash for quartz and rutabagas for aventurine and radishes for jasper.


Finally they were ready to begin their experiments.  They mixed herbs and vegetables and served them in goblets carved of gemstones.  Little by little, day by day, their potions became more powerful, more specific.


Each day was filled with new discoveries.  Each night was filled with new recipes.  Soon other witches flocked to the cottage to learn the mysteries Glenda, Medea, and Ursula had unveiled.  They started to blog about their recipes, and even began writing a cookbook.

Their goal: vegetarian witches with potent organic brews.  They would appreciate it if you would become a follower of their blog.  And maybe put in an advance order on  Amazon for the cookbook.  They'd also appreciate it if you took the pledge: I will not make potions with toad tongue.

Glenda, Ursula, and Medea thank you for your support.

Ursula, btw, is pursuing her own interests, making better flying zero-emissions zucchini to replace brooms.  She tried working with pattypan squash for a while, but found the aerodynamics challenging.


A bracelet to tell their story can be found on eBay.