Black Petals Issue #73 Fall, 2015

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

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Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Journey Starts with a Flower-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Cold Surprise-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Final Run_Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Gift of the Anasazi-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Killer Deal-Fiction by Denny Marshall
Please Remember Me-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Safe Haven, Part I-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Safe Haven, Part II-Fiction by Denis Bushtalov
The City-Fiction by Wayne Haroutunian
The Witch and the Rock-Fiction by Janet C. Ro
Roadside Accident-2 poems by Denny Marshall
Journey to the Devil's Shore-Poem by Grant Tarbard

Autumn, 2015- Chris Friend

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Hello there again from old, cold planet Mars.

Since popular opinion holds that Halloween has its origins in the more ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (Sow-unn), I will do this year’s Halloween issue on it.

A few people have the erroneous view that Halloween comes directly to us from Samhain, even though evidence shows that this is a patchwork holiday of pagan and Irish Catholic folk beliefs. Some of the folk practices connected with Halloween might have been derived from the ancient Roman festival of the dead known as Lemuria which was celebrated in May. The original date of All Saints Day was also in May. My own research suggests that a lot of modern Halloween practices, like trick-or-treating, seem to derive from Irish Catholic practices, such as passing out soul cakes.

For the 2015 fall issue we will take a look at what many believed was the Celtic New Year. Samhain occurred at the final great harvest before the winter gloom. Samhain itself means “summer’s end”, and was viewed as the time when the powers of light were diminished and the spirits of blight came up from the Underworld to beat down the foliage and freeze the land. As the powers of the sun seemed to fade, the forces of death, decay, and darkness were seen as gaining strength. The old winter goddess Cailleach was believed to fly through the sky with the Wild Hunt (dark fairies and frigid spirits of winter chaos).

Since the forces of winter darkness were gaining strength, the Celts brought in their livestock to avoid any harm. But there was only just enough grain to keep the cattle alive through the winter, and the surplus livestock had to be slaughtered. All of the crops had to be harvested and quickly brought into storage, since any fruit or grain left out past Samhain was believed to be enchanted with pixy dust from fairies flying over.

In Wales it was griffins who flew over, blighting the crops with their supernatural essences. The Unseelie Court was a wild band of Scottish goblins who came up from the Underworld during this time, making great mischief. Uncanny places like spook-roads, also known as crossroads, would be avoided at this time. Crossroads were confusing spots with no exact direction, often leading lonely travelers astray. This made them perfect places for vampires, werewolves, and other boogeys to find easy prey. After the winter gloom set in, the land would be possessed by the spirits of blight and death until spring’s return.

 

Speaking of Halloween, there’s apparently an early episode of The Simpsons when Bart goes trick-or-treating as Alex from A Clockwork Orange. It’s interesting to note how many hands Anthony Burgess’ novel went through. In the early Sixties, the Rolling Stones owned rights to A Clockwork Orange, and, allegedly, no other than Ken Russell was going to direct it. Andy Warhol had rights to do it and made a low budget version of it. Then it passed to Frank Sinatra, who could make no sense of it. Finally, during Christmas 1969, Terry Southern gave the novel to Stanley Kubrick as a gift. Kubrick saw the book’s potential as a film. And so goes the origin of one of the Seventies’ most controversial films. It’s also interesting to note that the legendary Andy Warhol considered David Croneberg’s Videodrome to be the A Clockwork Orange of the 1980’s. Here are 2 more of my seasonal poems. Happy Halloween!

 

Gypsy Autumn


The old Romani woman
Sits by her painted wagon,

Watching the grasshoppers

Leap from one golden sheaf

To the next

Like little green goats,

And smiles in pleasure,

Admiring

Their simplicity.

 

 

Winter Company

 

Granny

A great wash tub

Of a woman

Who’d hunt bears

With a switch

 

Stirs the kettle

As the train passes

And rattles

The bones of bears

And old men

 

Stashed away

In the closet

They wait

To be pulled out

As company

For those long winter months

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Chris Friend, mars_art_13@yahoo.com, writes and illustrates the column: “MARS News.” 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 Chris and prints his column in the issue quarterly, as available. He has an art gallery on this site: http://chris.michaelherring.net/ and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake), Jan.‘11.

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