Black Petals Issue #86, Winter, 2019

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Eric Roseman's Poem-Fiction by Jacob Austin
New Orleans Take-Out-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Napper's Holler-Chapter 7-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 8-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Napper's Holler-Chapter 9-Fiction by A. M. Stickel
Not This Time-Flash Fiction by Roy Dorman
Our Neighbors, The Zombies-Fiction by Jon A. Park
The Art of Dream-napping-Fiction by Mark J. Kevlock
The Night Side of Eden-Fiction by George Rosas
The Sump-Fiction by Anthony Lukas
Tingles-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Winter's Gnome-Poem by Janet C. Ro
Saucer, Schmosser-Four Poems by Richard Stevenson

Winter, 2019-Chris Friend


Here in the United States February 2nd is commonly known as Groundhog Day, when it is believed that the lasting power of winter can be predicted based on the groundhog seeing its shadow. I have heard that it was originally up to the bear to see its shadow after winter hibernation to reveal how many more days of winter remained. February 2nd also marked the Celtic festival of Imbolc (Em-bowl) when many of the spring lambs were born. Imbolc can be translated as “first milk,” suggesting the birthing of the lambs. It symbolized the defeat of the winter crone goddess Caileach by the maiden goddess Brighid, representing fire and warmth.

Sometimes the battle is that of a dragon (winter) and a lamb (spring). On the Isle of Man there is a belief in a fairy lamb with red fleece that must be touched with caution. According to legend, a curious woman saw just such a lamb with a red saddle and bridle and reached out to touch. Before she could lay a finger on it, the lamb jumped up and disappeared. Lucky for her, since, had she touched it, she might have been struck with paralysis or even pulled away a withered arm.

In some of the literature it is suggested that the Christian festival of Candlemas is derived from Imbolc, but there really is no obvious connection. It is a day set aside for the blessing of the church candles and the removal of the Christmas evergreens. These days the holiday decorations are usually taken down on New Year’s Day; in the old days it was either Epiphany (Jan. 6th) or Candlemas. Candles blessed on Feb. 2nd were considered especially effective in driving away evil spirits and disease.


During the Halloween season TCM usually runs excellent horror films, and 2018 was no exception. I caught the 1960 film, Horror Hotel (or City of the Dead), which featured Christopher Lee as a professor of occult studies and also the head of a satanic cult. He lures a young woman to a dark little town where she ends up as a human sacrifice at a black mass. I chose this film because it’s set during Candlemas. In this instance devil worshippers are using this date to blaspheme the Christian festival. There is a slight Lovecraftian element to the proceedings, making this a pretty scary movie despite its low budget. Soon others come looking for the victim, only to discover that the local hotel is being run by a witch who was burned at the stake 300 years before. (Witches were never actually burned in the United States-CF). The scenes of the victim being carried down into a dark secret chamber screaming are quite disturbing. Recommended. 


Happy 2019, Earthlings.

Chris Friend,, who wrote 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 and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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