Black Petals Issue #78 Winter, 2017

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Home
Mars-Chris Friend
All is As It Should Be-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Clown Attack-Fiction by Paul Strickland
One Hell of an Interview-Fiction by Daniel Clausen
Sacrifices-Fiction by Toney Baus
Self-Immolation-Fiction by Michael Mulvihill
Surviving Montezuma, Ch. 5 &6-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Lucky Break-Fiction by Hillary Lyon
Those Other Guys-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Only at Night-Poem by Cindy O'Quinn
Ouija-Poem by Ramona Thompson
Roadkill Cat-Poem by Ramona Thompson

Winter, 2017-Chris Friend

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Since BP’s winter issue usually comes out between Christmas and Valentine’s Day I thought I’d write on the color red. I have read that red is considered the most pleasing color to the eyes. Obviously, red blood and the life force are intertwined. Red symbolizes the supernatural, with fairies and witches often wearing red clothes. Having red hair was also associated with vampires and fairies and thus considered unlucky. (Judas Iscariot was said to have had red hair.) Among the Celts red was associated with the dead and it was taboo to eat red-colored food. Since death is the time when life-giving blood stops and congeals, red was seen as a symbol of health, vitality, and strength.

In earlier times the dead were painted with red ochre to prepare them for the next life. Often the tools of the dearly departed were also painted red to imbue them magical powers. Usually both the corpses and their tools would be placed within the great burial mounds found in Ireland, as well as many other sites. Since spilt blood would make the ground turn bright red, it became the color most associated with cruelty, war, danger, destruction, and violent death. Mars, the god of war, was also connected with red, which transferred to the name of the planet. The red-haired Irish goddess Morrigan was linked to battle and warfare. Some warrior deities became vampires and drank blood spilled on the battlefield. Because of this, red was often employed as the color of choice for flags of socialist revolutionaries. To be caught “red-handed” was to be caught in the act of committing a crime.

Red has an obvious connection to the sun and deities associated with the sun. As the sun begins to set it turns blood-red. The ancients believed that the sun god died and slipped down into the Underworld to dwell with the dead. The red clouds of dusk were thought to be the red hair of the goddess of death, who would accept the dying sun at night, only to give birth to him the next day. This image was likely one of the sources for the many paintings of the Virgin Mary holding the body of the dead Christ.

The color red implies completion, as in the fall harvest. At one time the popular colors of Halloween were black and red, until the American pumpkin made Halloween orange. Red is associated with authority and influence—red carpets being unrolled for VIPS, Roman Catholic Cardinals wearing red hats, Chinese officials sporting red buttons to show their rank. Red is also worn to ward off the evil eye and bad luck. The ancient Romans wore red coral against the evil eye. Red thread was used to keep fairies and witches from casting spells on children and farm animals.

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Vampiric fairies were thought to dye their red caps by dipping them in blood; when the cap dried, the evil fairy would have to search out a fresh victim. These particular fairies were described as having long sharp talons, being short of stature with long gray beards, carrying red staffs, their evil faces dominated by crooked, protruding teeth and red eyes. 

In Russia, Santa Claus is known as Ded Maroz, or Grandfather Frost (in Siberia, Father Ice). Like our Western version of St. Nick, he has a long white beard and wears a red coat and black boots. His helper is the Snow Girl, who presents ginger cookies to the good. This version has Santa making his rounds on New Year’s Day, not Christmas, traveling the Russian landscape in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.

I’d like to recommend my friend Nellie Hufford’s new book of poetry as a possible Valentine’s Day gift. Proof of My Existence is written by a great story teller. Many times after the end of our poetry workshop, Nell shares the most incredible stories about her family and other people she grew up with—never one dull moment. The Halloween issue of Night ‘til Dawn contains several poems and drawings of mine. (Google on!) Happy winter, Earthlings, and here’s a poem.

 

The Old Yule Goat

 

As the wind screams,

Causing my guts to jump

Like squirming black toads,

The Great Hunt flies over

Led by a howling daemon

With horns that curve

Like the waning moon.

Its hooves cast sparks

Across the sky.

 

 

Chris Friend, mars_art_13@yahoo.com, of Parkersberg, W.Va, wrote 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”). He also illustrates his “MARS News” column. After a cover for BP’s 2000 fall issue, he 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].

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