Spring, 2018- Chris Friend
Well, hi everybody! Looking forward to the return of
spring. Bitter cold and darkness has really brought me down and I’m eager for
warm weather. Many people don’t realize that our modern Christian holiday
of Easter derives its name from Ostara, an ancient Scandinavian holiday
honoring the return of spring.
The fairies and
spirits most connected to spring were believed to return from the Underworld
and bless the land with their magic. Various deities connected to spring were
also thought to help return nature back to her former glory. Around May Day
(Beltane) the forces of winter and darkness were also believed to return to the
Underworld until the return of winter.
Easter Bunny is likely connected to the spirit of Ostara, who was described as
a goddess with the head of a rabbit. She is sometimes depicted with a basket of
colored eggs. Rabbits have a clear association with the return of spring and
are connected to both witches and fairies, notably when they dance and kick
like the activities of magical beings. Spotting a rabbit during the night was
seen as an ill omen.
As was often done, the sacred
figures of the
old religion became the devils of the new. The Medieval church declared rabbits
one of the forms that witches and fairies might take. Even in recent memory I
have heard of someone shooting a rabbit and hearing of the local witch having
exactly the same wounds the very next day.
Rabbits also have a certain
connection to the
moon and the Underworld. One reason for this connection is the rabbit-shaped
patterns on the lunar service, as well as the moon residing in the Underworld by
day. The rabbit is one of the forms that the crone fairy Black Annis takes during
her nighttime jaunts. The belief in the
lucky rabbit’s foot may have originated among those practicing New Orleans
hoodoo. In old time Europe the rabbit is also associated with the corn spirit…
Last Halloween I caught the perennial cult classic, The Black Cat, (1934)
on TCM. This
one stands apart for me because of its weird plot and wonderful sets. It even
has a “Rocky Horror” sub-plot of a young couple stranded in the house of a “bunch
of rich weirdos.” The plot concerns a World War I veteran (Bela Lugosi)
traveling across Europe to wreak vengeance on an old enemy (Boris Karloff) who
has become the high priest in a devil-worshipping cult. Karloff lives in a vast
futuristic fortress built over a mass grave of dead soldiers killed in the
previous war. He keeps his dead wives in a state of perfection, suggesting an
element of necrophilia. At one point Karloff’s warlock throws a surreal black
mass. Since The Black Cat is pre-Code,
the filmmakers got away with a considerable
amount of controversial material. The end shows Lugosi flaying Karloff alive—pretty
graphic for 1934, despite being done in shadow.
Recommended, this is an excellent, underrated, horror film
(if the many depictions of the events recalled on Good Friday are not already
gruesome enough at this time of year).
Happy Easter, Earthlings. To life!
Chris Friend, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Parkersberg, W.Va, wrote the BP #81
“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].