Category Archives: Hallowe’en

St Aspinquid, meet St Tammany

Paul Revere "Obelisk" panel

Paul Revere “Obelisk” panel, 1766; click to enlarge

In the recent Hallowe’en posting (link), the Uncertaintist introduced you to a regional legend of Nova Scotia and Maine, Saint Aspinquid, the “Native American Saint.” He has some attributes of the real Seventeenth Century New England chief Passaconaway. His name might be a variant of another real Seventeenth Century chief’s, Abenquid, about whose life little is known. A lingering question is whether Saint Aspinquid refers to any specific real-life hero or only to an imaginary character.

The prospects for a powerful, pious and real Aspinquid are dim. The earliest extant published mentions of him, in the 1770’s, emerge among English colonists in northern British America just when other English colonists farther south also adopt Native themes in their own public festivities. Conspicuously similar to the peace-preaching religious-minded Aspinquid is the character built upon the Seventeenth Century Lenape (Delaware) chief Tamina, Tamanend or Tammany, who dealt with William Penn.

“Tammany” is a household name today because of the spectacularly corrupt political machine that once ran New York City. How Chief Tammany’s renown took that turn is a good story (told in detail by Edwin Patrick Kilroe’s 1913 Columbia University dissertation, link), but our present concern is to examine how Chief or “King” Tammany became a frankly imaginary “Saint.” The conjecture is that something similar happened to Chief Abenquid-Saint Aspinquid, at about the same time, farther north.

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Whom we remember atop Agamenticus

view from the top

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The middle panel above looks easterly from the highest of the three hills that are Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine. The current signage dates from 2009 when the rock pile in the picture was instituted after an older nearby pile was summarily dismantled, to the displeasure of local Native Americans.

Our subject for this Hallowe’en is the legend told by the left-hand sign, and by its predecessor at the earlier pile that had proposed its own version of the Native hero Aspinquid. The right-hand placard is shown only for the record. It has no predecessor. It scolds about a “leave no trace policy” amid cell towers, a former ski lodge, ample parking, a newly installed semi-paved walking trail, a fire watch tower, a memorial to a deceased fire watchman, picnic tables and bird-watching platforms. There are portable toilets, but not public trash cans. Carry in, carry out, sure enough, but leave no trace? Traces have been left, oh gentle bureaucrats.

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Practical magic for you and a friend this Hallowe’en

snow-white-huntsman-pic-16

Charlize Theron as a famous scryer in Snow White and the Huntsman

Last year’s Hallowe’en post here at the Uncertaintist described how turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century middle American adults celebrated the holiday with solitary dark-mirror scrying. Few of the novice scryers realized that it might really work, rapidly causing vivid worldly or otherworldly hallucinations.

Scrying’s fast, reliable and dramatic effectiveness, even for casual inexperienced users, was experimentally demonstrated by Giovanni Caputo in 2010. A few months ago, Caputo published new research on a related, two-person method of easily altering consciousness. Variations on the technique which Caputo studied are used by cults like Scientology and have been shown to work as a love charm as well – the ultimate two-person team activity. This is not just a way of seeing something that isn’t there, but it may also promote changes in thought and behavior as well.

Real magic, then, lurks a mouse click away, just in time for your holiday enjoyment…

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Practical magic on Main Street, Hallowe’en 1914

Gibson Hallowe'en card

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One hundred years ago, while William Butler Yeats conjured in magician’s robes and Carl Jung began to transcribe visions into his Red Book, ordinary middle-class Americans, too, dabbled in magic, or as some prefer to say, explored depth psychology.

One night a year, standing alone before mirrors in dimly lit rooms, our grandparents and great-grandparents, some in jest and some on a dare, pretended to pierce the veil that keeps the waking world apart from the shadow realm. Many of them watched in awe as the veil dissolved before their eyes. Continue reading

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Hunting for Thoreau’s Vampire in Vermont

reuben grave in contextjpg

On September 26, 1859, Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal (volume 30, page 20),

The savage in man is never quite eradicated. I have just read of a family in Vermont– who, several of its members having died of consumption, just burned [?] the lungs & heart & liver of the last deceased, in order to prevent any more from having it.

“Consumption” is tuberculosis, from which Thoreau died a few years later, decades before the bacterial cause of the disease was identified. Until then, macabre incidents like Thoreau’s happened in New England. When a living person seemed to have their life force gradually sucked out, then family and friends might look to the graveyard to find someone who’s responsible.

With Hallowe’en upon us, it’s an apt time to investigate Thoreau’s report. Your Ob’d Uncertaintist set out to hunt a vampire in Vermont. Who could resist that? Something unusual happened there long ago, suggesting the essential truth of Thoreau’s story, but also hinting that a tale about superstitious caution may have improved in the retelling.

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A real-life New England ghost story for Hallowe’en

The house as it once was

About ten years ago, a little girl living in the comfortable Boston suburb of Newtonville began talking with a nice grandmotherly lady upstairs whom nobody else in the house had met and whose feet always floated above the floor.

The girl’s parents researched the imaginary friend’s name, Mrs Woodman, along with another name they’d heard from their daughter, Gridley. They discovered that a real Jane Gridley Woodman had lived in their house at the turn of the Twentieth Century. The little girl’s Mrs. Woodman had seven children, as had Jane, with the same number of boys and of girls as Jane’s children.

The visits lasted for years. At some point, the apparition began to ask the little girl for a favor. It was just a hint at first, but Mrs Woodman became more and more insistent as time went on.

Here’s the link:

http://www.necn.com/news/new-england/_NECN__The_Spirit_of_Mrs__Woodman_NECN-247665531.html

For a few comments on what happened, please read on.

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