By Chris Friend-Winter, 2018
Hi everybody! In the good old days, it was considered wise
to have all of the spinning and weaving done by Christmas time. With the
holiday season finishing off the year it was once believed that all housework
left unfinished would be destroyed by malicious fairies and other spirits
connected to the winter blight. Spinning was a special target of wrathful
spirits, who enjoyed tangling all the spinning left on the wheel and sometimes
would even smash the wheel itself.
Spinning has a long association with fairies and can be
traced to more ancient goddesses connected with fate. The proverbial fairy
godmother likely has her origins in ancient weaver goddesses who spun,
measured, and decided the fates of mortals. In this form fairies were usually
welcome in homes where there was a birth and would bestow gifts on the child
and predict its fate. Again, it was considered a good idea to have all of the
housework done, especially the spinning.
It was considered a good idea to lay out a feast for these
enchanted visitors. Fairy godmothers might also appear at marriages and at the
death of a loved one. When the fairy godmother appeared at a death it was to
escort the person’s soul to the next world. Again, if the housework was not
done the fairy godmother might be less favorable in her blessings, possibly
cursing the mortals. Many of the matronly fairies, like Befana, the Christmas
Witch, may have originated in these more
ancient goddesses. With Yule being the longest night of the year and at the end
of the year, the coming New Year had to be started on the proverbial right foot
and this meant keeping these seasonal spirits happy.
During the Halloween season I usually read something scary,
often a horror anthology. This year I read John Skipp’s PSYCHOS (Black Dog and
Leventhal)—pretty scary stuff. Full of noteworthy authors such as Robert Bloch,
Ray Bradbury, and Neil Gaiman, this made for a perfect Halloween read. Some
content is quite disturbing, but, then again, this is a horror anthology about
psycho killers and the like. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.
Also during Halloween TCM showed the classic silent Haxan—Witchcraft through
the Ages (1922).
Directed by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen, this weird movie filmed like
a documentary is a look at witches, devils, black Masses, and Hell itself.
There are enough wild images for several horror movies. Witches fly on
pitchforks to meet with the devil, while a black Mass is held. For an old
silent movie this film has incredible special effects and set design. One shot
has an elderly witch giving birth to a group of demons. This shocker almost
makes The Exorcist look restrained—very
bizarre and recommended to anyone looking for something quite different.
Happy winter and stay warm, Earthlings.
Chris Friend, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Parkersberg, W.Va,
wrote the BP #81 poem set, “Angel of the Bereft, “Beauty’s Sleep,” & “Dark
Trinity” (+ the BP #80 poem, “The Temple of Colors”; BP #79 poems, “The
Marquis” and “My Bloody Valentine”; the BP #78 poem, “The Old Yule Goat”; BP #77’s
4-poem set: “At 50,” “Owls,” “Vintage Halloween,” & “Xmas in the Doll
Asylum”; BP #76’s 4-poem set: “Hag Fairy Communion,” “Love’s Sepulcher,” “Night
Wanderer,” & “St. Andrew’s Feast”; 2 poems for BP #75, “Angel of the Pagan
Dead” and “Churchyard Watcher”; BP #72’s 2-poem set, “Ed Gein” & “Sour
Puss”; and the 2008 poem “All Hallows’ Eve”), writes and illustrates our “MARS
News” column. He did a cover for Black Petals back in 2000 for the fall issue,
and has been around ever since. BP keeps up two websites for him and prints his
column in the issue quarterly. Chris has a gallery at http://chris.michaelherring.net/ and was featured artist in
Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].