Black Petals Issue #90 Winter, 2020

Mars-News, Views and Commentary

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
BP Artists and Illustrators
1957-Fiction by Michael J. Moore
Black Dog-Fiction by C. P. Webster
Curse of the Candles-Fiction by Jerry Payne
Death Rattle-Fiction by Jan Cronos
Estranged-Fiction by Alan Trezza
The Return of the Ferryman-Serialized Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Scarlet Bedroom-Fiction by Daniel K. Merwin
The Soul Destroyer-Fiction by James Flynn
The Packing Bay-Flash Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Jizo-A four-poem Japanes Theme Set by Dee Allen
Blood-Red Drops-Poem by Chris Collins
The Great Universe-Poem by Hicham El Qendouci
Female Mischief-Poem by Hillary Lyon
Worm-Poem by Hillary Lyon
The Lycanthrope's Lament-Poem by Hillary Lyon
The Sea-Poem by Jason Rice

January, 2020—Chris Friend


As I’ve often written, February 2nd, or Candle Mass, is still the official end of the Christmas season in the Catholic Church. This was a day set aside for the blessing of the candles used in various church rituals. It may have derived from an older custom of people carrying torches in processions to purify the land during the winter gloom and honor (or exorcise) various spirits. The use of candles in a variety of rituals, ceremonies, and festivals goes back to ancient times. Candles made from bees’ wax were considered spiritually powerful, since bees were believed to come from Paradise.

During the Middle Ages, candles and any form of illumination were considered especially important during the winter gloom. And candle flame was also used for a variety of divinations and spells. It was thought that if a candle burned blue a ghost was lurking about. If a candle burned down too fast, there was a thief nearby. In vampire folklore, passing a candle over a corpse might cause it to reanimate as the undead.

However, since candle light represents the symbolic light of Christ it is also used in church rituals, including exorcism. In the past, leftover wax from a blessed candle was used to plug up a key hole to keep out evil spirits, including vampires. But, candles were also set out during All Souls’ Eve to help the wandering dead find their way home on this haunted night. Candles are used in voodoo rituals as well.


During the summer I decided to read something a little different than my usual science fiction and horror anthologies. I settled on Philip Freeman’s Sister Deidre’s Celtic Adventures series. Set in 6th century Ireland it centers around a young nun who solves a variety of mysteries. She also has a druid grandmother who frequently helps her. The first one I read was The Gospel of Mary, in which an elderly nun shows up at sister Deidre’s abbey with an ancient scroll. The old lady tells the younger that it is an actual scroll written by the Virgin Mary, and she must guard it with her life. Sister Deidre and another young nun decide to hide the parchment from church authorities, who will only be too happy to destroy it, and possibly even murder them. Mr. Freeman quite clearly knows a considerable amount on Celtic folklore and ancient beliefs. This was a well-written book that I found very entertaining. The second book I read in the Sister Deidre mysteries was Sacrifice. This might appeal to horror fans along with mystery enthusiasts. This has Sister Deidre investigating the weird ritual murders of several young nuns in her convent. When the blame is placed on the local druids, notably Sister Deidre’s grandmother, it is up to the nun to find out the true culprit(s). I recommend both books highly… Happy winter; stay warm.


Chris Friend,, of Parkersberg, W.Va , who wrote BP #85’s poem, “Demons Play Flutes”; BP # 84’s poems, “The Sentinel” and “Psalm of Mithra”; 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 and was featured artist in Kurt Newton’s Ultimate PerVersities (Naked Snake) [Jan. 2011].

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