Monday, 31 October 2016

Ghosts From the Past

In the days of ancient Greece, crossroads were dedicated to Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld, who was said to have 3 faces, each to observe the three ways of the crossroads. Representations of her as a pole with 3 masks were placed where 3 roads met and cakes with candles were left so the ghosts that followed her would be fed and not haunt the living. Diana, Roman Goddess of the Witches was also Goddess of the Crossroads and a small altar was placed there for the protection for travellers who left gifts in return for good luck. In India, Rudra, the God of the Crossroads also ruled ghosts and evil powers, in Africa, Elegua opened and closed all paths and carried a forked stick made of the guava tree. In Russia, vampires were said to lurk at crossroads, in Sweden witches were reported to dance at the crossroads in order to summon the devil.   

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Dead or Alive! Burial Customs!

Burial Customs to prevent the dead from rising to haunt the living!

In 2004, two extraordinary skeletons were discovered in a ditch on the perimeter of an ancient cemetery on the west coast of Ireland. Both skeletons had large stones wedged into their open jaw and had large stone slabs placed over their grave; their limbs were broken and bound. These skeletons were carbon dated to the seventh century when Ireland was becoming Christianised and new stories were told to the pagan people about what would happen in the Afterlife. Traditionally, Christian corpses were buried facing the eastern horizon, so that when the sun rose on the last day, all would stand and immediately see Jesus rising in glory with the dawning of a new day in Heaven. These two bodies, with their head in a ditch, would not greet their saviour along with all others in the cemetery, as they were buried to lie in a NW-SE direction.

Saturday, 29 October 2016


Past times
The blooms of high summer had faded and cold winds had caused the first leaves to fall. After the cereal crops and hay were cut and stored, and the jams and pickles made, any animals that were unlikely to survive the winter were slaughtered.
In times past, as winter approached, many people were out of work and, because life was precarious, many of the community’s elderly and infirm wondered whether they would live to see another year.
Since ancient times, the farming year was divided into “quarter” days of the solstices and equinoxes, and the “cross quarter days” of which Halloween is the most important.
Its name derives from the beginning of Hallowtide: three days from 31 October to 2 November that were devoted to All Hallows, All Saints and All Souls, when servants were hired, rents were paid and accounts settled.
In the time of the Celtic pagans, each day began at nightfall. Similarly, the year began with a celebration of summer’s end and the onset of winter – the end of the harvest season and the entering of the darker half of the year – known as Samhain (pronounced Sow-en).
Some historians describe it as the Celtic New Year and it also marked the Feast of the Dead, for Samhain was seen as a time when the boundary between this world and the next was thought to be at its most permeable.
In all cultures, remembering and showing respect for those who have died is a tradition of great importance and, in the Christian calendar, Hallowtide reflects this time of endings and beginnings by honouring those who have departed this life.
Out of work farm labourers, known as guisers and mummers, dressed incognito in costumes and travelled around the big houses providing entertainment and begging for food, cider or ale. Hobbyhorses and bobbing for apples provided entertainment for children and bonfires cleared any rubbish left over from the harvest.
Root vegetables, such as turnips, were made into soup. Churches were decked in white and bells rang out to ward off evil spirits. Divination and scrying often took place and fairies were said to be at their most active. Stories, especially of death, hardship and the unknown, were told.
Remembering the dead would include a prayerful vigil and cemetery gates were left open for visitors to light a candle at the graveside. “Soul cakes” – a cross between a biscuit and a scone – were cooked and given to the poor and to children who sang and went from door to door begging for treats.
This activity is thought to be the origin of modern day “trick or treat” festivities. In Ireland, a fruitcake is given.

Current times
Many of the past traditions survive in some form in today’s Halloween celebrations. Pumpkins are the favoured squash, the inner flesh removed for cooking and the outer skin carved into a face. A candle is usually placed inside to create a glowing lamp.
Black, orange and purple are now the chosen colours of the season. There is a tradition to peel an apple at midnight and to throw the apple skin over your shoulder. The way the apple skin lands reveals the first letter of the name of a future spouse. There are also scrying traditions with mirrors at midnight.
To counteract the reverence of Hallowtide, a polarised culture has developed which celebrates Halloween in a similar way to the past, but with a more trivial and anarchic aspect. The masks have survived, as have the costumes, which often now reflect witches, ghouls, vampires and mummies. Add to these, spiders and skeletons and it is apparent that fear of the dead, which was so prevalent in the past, has been replaced by an embracing of all that could be considered deeply frightening.
Practical jokes are played, especially by roving bands of masked and costumed children who knock on doors and request a treat, such as a bag of sweets or fruit. The homeowner who does not provide a gift is treated by the children to a “trick”, usually plants are pulled from gardens or water poured through the letterbox.
Little surprise, then, that police report a sharp rise in anti-social behaviour around Halloween. Many people condemn this “trick or treat” activity because unsupervised children can be placed at risk. In addition, it is unfair to the elderly and unwell who are inconvenienced or disturbed by boisterous youngsters calling after dark.
Many people believe this is the best time to visit a medium for proof that their loved ones in the spirit world are alive, contented, healed and at peace. Mediums, on the other hand, will tell you that the time of year makes no difference: your loved ones can communicate at any time.
However, you may feel this is an appropriate time to make your own contact with a loved one in the spirit world. If so, I suggest you set aside 20 minutes and ensure you are not interrupted.
If you have some mementos of the person, such as a photo, a garment, favourite flower or item of jewellery, place them on a table with a white candle. On the evening of All Hallows, the last day of October, when the sun has set and the sky is darkening but not quite as dark a night (known as dusk or gloaming), light the candle.
Ask your spirit guide for protection while you travel the spirit realms, then call upon this person by name, either out loud or with your inner voice. Focus on seeing this person’s face and any other distinguishing features, such as their hairstyle or eye colour.
Take a couple of deep breaths and allow your body to relax. It is time for you to speak with this person, to tell them how much you love them. Listen with your inner ear and see with your inner eye. You might be able to feel their presence in the room, and feel the huge levels of love, beauty and joy that our loved ones bring.
You can respond by sending your love and blessings. This is a precious time of contact as you reach out to them in longing and receive the nourishment, consolation and support they provide.
When you are ready, thank them for coming and for bringing you such strength and tenderness. You say “goodbye” and see them wave. Blow out the candle and return the items to where they belong. And Halloween will have taken on a whole new meaning for you.Article by Wendy Stokes, first published in Psychic News Magazine, October, 2016.

The History of Hauntings!

The historian, Tacitus documents an early haunting that occurred 2000 years ago. It happened to the philosopher, Athenodorus, who bought a house and discovered, one evening whilst at work, a ghost shaking chains at him. Dismissing the spectre to return to his work, the ghost eagerly beckoned the philosopher into the courtyard where he vanished. Marking the spot where the spectre stood, Athenodorus dug into the ground and discovered the corpse of a man in chains. The philosopher carefully separated the bones from the chains and conducted a dignified burial. The ghost was seen no more.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Haunted London

48 Doughty Street to 13 Portsmouth Street WC2: When he was 27 years old, Charles Dickens, moved into this imposing house in 1837 with his new wife, Catherine. They lived here for three years during which time his sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth died here. Mary was the inspiration for the character of Little Nell, who worked in the little 'odds and ends' shop in his tragic novel, The Old Curiosity Shop. The concerned ghost of Charles Dickens, wearing top hat and tails, has been seen rushing along this route.

What is Oneiromancy?

The study of dreams and their divinatory interpretation. From ‘oneiros’ a Greek word meaning dreams and ‘mancy’ meaning divination. The Oneiroi were winged spirits of the realms of sleep. They lived in Erebos, Land of Darkness, and contacted sleepers through one of two gates. One gate was made of horn, the other of ivory. Prophecy and prediction came through the horn gate, fantasy and delusion through the ivory gate.

Quote: I do not hesitate to affirm at the outset that occurrence of dreams foretelling a future event with accuracy must be accepted as certain. Camille Flammarion. Premonitory Dreams and Divination of the Future. 

Quote: Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than in the imagination while awake? Leonardo da Vinci.

Quote: Man is a genius while he is dreaming. Akira Kurosawa.

Thursday, 27 October 2016


Belief in possession by evil spirits is a very ancient one. The earliest documents were found in a palace belonging to an Assyrian ruler of Assurbanipal in Nineveh. Written on a clay tablet dating from 650BC is an inscription of a desperate appeal of a man who is possessed by a tyrannical ghost. The ancient Hindu scriptures, 'Atharva Veda', details demonic possession. Some ancient Buddhist sects also describe deliverance of evil spirits. We are familiar with the cases described in the New Testament where Jesus meets a possessed man on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and directly addresses the spirit by asking “What is your name?” and is told, “My name is Legion” (that is an entire Roman army). The Roman army was in occupation in Israel at that time. The man pleads with Jesus not to command the spirits to depart but Jesus saw a large herd of cows nearby and directed the demons out of the man and into the swine herd (who charged to the cliff edge, threw themselves into the sea and were drowned).  

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Jane Burvill's Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Serves 6
approx 1 kg/2lb 4oz pumpkin;
40g or 1.5 oz butter or margarine;
1 thinly sliced onion;
1 crushed garlic clove;
900 ml or 1 pint of vegetable stock;
salt and pepper;
1/2 tsp ground ginger;
1 tbsp lemon juice;
3-4 thinly pared strips of orange rind;
1-2 bay leaves or 1 bouquet garni;
300 ml or 1.5 pints milk
TO GARNISH: 4-6 tbsp single or double cream, natural yogurt or fromage frais; snipped fresh chives

1. Peel the pumpkin, remove the seeds and then cut the flesh into 2.5 cm or 1 inch cubes. 2. Melt the butter or margarine in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and fry over a low heat until soft but not coloured.
3. Add the pumpkin and toss with the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the stock and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the ground ginger and lemon juice, the strips of orange rind, if using, and the bay leaves or bouquet garni.
5. Cover the pan and gently simmer the soup over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is tender.
6. Discard the orange rind, if using, and the bay leaves or bouquet garni. Cool the soup slightly, then press through a sieve with the back of a spoon, or place in a food processor or blender until smooth. Pour into a clean saucepan.
7. Add the milk and reheat gently. Adjust the seasoning. Garnish with a swirl of cream, natural yogurt or fromage frais and snipped chives, and serve.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Dreams and Dreaming!

"An uninterpreted dream is like an unopened letter"

Dreams and Dreaming Part 2: When we arrive at 60 years of age, we will have been asleep for 20 years and awake for only 40! Everyone dreams many times each night, but few remember their dreams. Dreaming is vital to our mental health and we cannot do without our dreams even for a few days. If you see someone’s eyes are moving under their closed eyelids whilst asleep, they are almost certainly dreaming.

Fascinating Examples:

The champion golfer, Jack Nicklaus had a dream where he swung the golf club in a new way. He tried it and won many tournaments. There was a mathematical genius in India, Svinivasa Ramanujan, who often saw handwriting on a screen that demonstrated new mathematical solutions and once he dreamed that a Hindu Goddess appeared to him and showed him a new formula.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Dreams and Dreaming

Dreams and Dreaming Part 1: If we live for sixty years, we will have been asleep for twenty as we spend a third of our life in sleep. During this sleep state, we dream for many hours, not just one dream per night! If we experience any kind of problem, we are often advised to ‘sleep on it’ as this is a recognized way of accessing wisdom that not available to us throughout the day.

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Druids, Native Americans and almost every other culture have used dreams for gaining wisdom. Sigmund Freud said the examination of dreams is the “royal road” to self discovery.

Interesting dreams have been recorded throughout all time. Sir Christopher Wren dreamt that a woman gave him dates to eat and when he bought some the next day, it cured him of his crippling colic condition. As a child, Lady Seymour dreamt of nine finches in a nest. When she married the Earl of Winchelsea, whose name was Finch, she had nine children. Before the Coronation of King Edward VII, the Duke of Portland had a dream that the state coach was stuck under Coronation Arch. When measured, the coach was indeed too large. Otto Loewi dreamt he won the Nobel Prize before it was awarded to him.