The Powers That Be

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Because of its milk that is a staple food for many human beings, the Cow is arguably one of the most useful animals in the world. It was one of the first animals domesticated by humans, and its symbolic importance is rich. It is emblematic of fertility, abundance, wealth, the universal Mother, and of rebirth. The Cow is also a gentle and compliant creature.

In Vedic literature the Cow is also a symbol of abundance and fertility as it represents both earth and sky. To Hindus and Buddhists, symbolism of the Cow deals with patience and holiness.It is considered India’s most sacred animal. The calm, tender nature of the Cow wins this right among the Buddhists.

The Cow as a sacred animal is a fundamental part of Hindu iconography. In India the Cow is so revered, and treated so gently, that it often causes a traffic hazard as it ambles along busy city roads. There are several reasons for the sacred status given to the creature. Not only does the Hindu faith have respect for all animals (vegetarianism is a tenet of the faith), but the God Krishna was a cowherd for a time, and one of his names is Bala Gopala, “the child who protects the cows.”

Hindu deities rule over each and every part of the Cow. During times of famine, the Cow is far more useful as a creature that can produce limitless amounts of milk, then as a dead beast that would provide meat for a limited period only.

In Egypt the Cow was personified as Ahet, the mother of the Sun itself. To make themselves fertile Egyptian women wore amulets of the Goddess Hathor, with the head of a Cow, in her guise as the Creator.

In Norse mythology the Cow makes an appearance as Audhumla, the mother-ancestor of all living things, whose utters emitted the four rivers of power – these provided nourishment for the giants (primarily the first giant, Ymir) that ruled the First World.

In Celtic mythology the Cow is sacred to the Mother Goddess Brigit who also governs the Earth, mothers, children, health, nurturing, providence, and the full range of the Female element of the universe. This symbolism remains consistent with that of many other cultural settings and supports Cow as representing life’s fragile beginnings and the necessity to safeguard and restore those who have no voice or support.

In Greek myth, one of the names for the great Cow was Europa, which means “full Moon.” The stars were said to be the children of Europa.

In Lancashire folk-speech, the name “cow’s lane” was sometimes given to the Milky Way, the traditional path of souls, as it was also in some parts of Germany. This may be connected with the old north European belief that whoever gave a cow to the poor during his life would be guided by that cow along the perilous soul-road after his death, and so would be sure of reaching Heaven in safety.

Once, there was a custom whereby the cow was brought to the sickroom, and in what must have been a distressing and rather frightening ritual, the dying person was encouraged to grasp the tail of the cow as he breathed a last breath.

This psychopomp aspect of the Cow is still celebrated in the Nepali festival called the Gai Jatra or Cow Festival. In a boisterous celebration, every family that has lost a member during the course of the year has to take part in a procession, leading a Cow, or if no animal is available, then a child dressed in a cow costume is considered to be a fair substitute. The Cow is believed to guide the soul on its final journey, including a voyage through the Milky Way, the constellations of stars said to be the milk splashed by the great Cow that was the mother of the Universe.

Red cows appear in some pagan creeds as personifications of the dawn, or clouds, or lightning. It is possible that they had some special significance for the ancient Hebrews also, since it is definitely stated in Numbers 19:1 that the victim offered for the purification of the people must be “a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke.”

In England the milk of a red cow was formerly supposed to be superior to any other, and to have healing properties. Such milk is often specifically mentioned in 17th and 18th century medical books as an essential part of remedies for various ills, particularly for consumption and chest ailments. Red is, of course, a life-giving color in mythology and folk tradition alike because it is associated with fire and with blood, and red objects of various kinds figure constantly in healing charms and folk remedies.

According to a French legend, Cows always have a sweet breath because when Our Lord was born in the stable at Bethlehem, a Cow, seeing Him shivering in the cold, warmed Him with her breath and drew the hay over Him with her lips. As a reward for this act of kindness, she was promised that her breath, and that of all her descendants, should ever afterwards be sweet, and in addition, she was given the privilege of carrying her calf for nine months, like a Christian woman with a soul to be saved.

Cow Symbolism

The Cow is a lunar symbol, aligning itself with feminine (yin) qualities among the Chinese yin-yang energies. A quick-list of Animal symbolism of the Cow would include:

  • Patience
  • Nourishment
  • Abundance
  • Fertility
  • Female Power
  • Potential
  • Possibility
  • Calming
  • Grounded
  • Provision
  • Beginnings

Because you’re seeking out Cow symbolism and meaning, a deep stirring must be happening in your soul. Cows represent motherhood, Mother Gaia, and the Mother Goddesses. Take time to meditate on all Mother Cow has to offer. She is a sacred reminder of fertility, birth, and nurturing.

  • When Cow appears as your Spirit Animal trust that the mighty storm will pass and you’ll be OK.
  • Cow as a Totem Animal belongs to those with profound Mother Goddess instincts.
  • Call in Cow as your Power Animal when your soul needs TLC.

The Cow Totem

Those who know Cow as their Totem Animal supply a sense of stability and solid, loving, growth-oriented relationships with self, others and the environment.

Cow people have the ultimate “mother’s intuition.” They can feel when others are out of sorts – when their auras are “scratchy” – and they always seem to know just what to say or do to help. Somehow, folks heal more quickly when in the company of Cow Totem Animal people.

If Cow is your Totem Animal, always remember that one cannot feed others from an empty trough. Though you were born with the natural instinct to take care of the world, YOU are part of it. Your needs are just as important as everyone else’s. A wise Cow mama know when to take a break and nourish her own mind, body, and spirit.

We should always work to have a positive and happy home environment. If we don’t, we should inquire deep within as to how we can change that. Calling upon the Cow animal totem, we can learn how to make basic changes that are needed to balance the joys in our surroundings.

Like its family member the bull, the Cow totem is highly connected to nature, the Earth, and its continuation through reproduction. Cows are very generous with their lives and behave in the most selfless of manners.

Among fertility and femininity, these mother creatures represent the virtuous traits of sustenance, abundance, potential, calming, grounding, and provision. They also serve as an uplifting sign of female power and prestige, since they are, after all, crucial to the continuation of any species.

New beginnings are also a theme associated with Cows in conjunction with their maternal auras. Through their pregnancy, birth, nourishment to their offspring, and ultimate bodily gifts, Cows show the entire life cycle in its bittersweet beauty from start to finish.

The female Cow totem is linked to its male counterpart, the bull, through the symbolism of fertility and reproduction. While the male totem exemplifies nourishment through its slaughter or sacrifice, a Cow symbolizes birth and motherhood.

Cow symbolism assists us in understanding and embracing fertility and the relationships necessary for it. It is a soft and nurturing creature that arouses the soft side in each of us. The two animals are directly connected, as they are both needed to create new life.

These animals illustrate both the masculine and feminine qualities that exist in every being. The bull is characterized by bold and rigid energies, while the Cow is far more gentle and tranquil. They remind us to constantly ensure that these energies are in harmonious balance.

Cows As Spirit Guides

The Cow is a very powerful Spirit Animal. While at first you might wonder about the value of such a guide in your life, there is much about Cow to respect.

Like many other animals, Cows as spirit guides have been revered in various religions and cultures around the world. In ancient Egyptian astrology, the Cow served several symbolic purposes, including being worshiped as the goddess of joy and maternal nourisher of all things.

Additionally, they remind us to nourish ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. If we neglect the basics of our lives, it will be impossible for us to live happily and thrive. Every day, you should ask yourself if you are eating the right foods, drinking enough water, and exercising both your body and your mind to remain healthy and alert.

Cow reaches out to those struggling with fertility offering motherly advice. You may not always like what Cow tells you (did you like everything your mother told you?), but the heart behind the Cow Spirit Animal is truly one of giving. She always wants what is best for both you and your proverbial herd.

When weathering a storm, be it emotional or physical, turn to Cow as your animal spirit guide and think of how firm Cows stand in vile weather. There is no moving a Cow and no influencing it, but for urgent matters of hearth and heart. Nonetheless, as you stand in your place of power, remember that Cow also gives you keen perceptions. Be on the alert for possibilities or potential peril.

If your spiritual path is working toward the greatest good, Cow guidance is a fantastic helpmate. She will stay with you compassionately with watchfulness, making sure you stay inside the spiritual boundaries you’ve set.

Cows are lunar, divine feminine energy. If you’ve ever looked into a Cow’s luminous eyes it’s easy to feel how loving they truly are. But, as soft and magickal as moonlight is, never forget it is the moon which is mighty enough to influence all the waters of the earth. The divine feminine is just like that. Pliable and giving, but it should never be mistaken for weak.

Cows are a simple creature that get their joys from life’s basic pleasures. From this, they aid us aid us in remembering to be easy going and live in the moment. Often times, we ignore the innocent and plain moments that make our lives wonderful.

If we can manage to clearly assess our lives, we will be reminded to thank our family members and those close to us for all that they do to make our lives joyful. Simply appreciating your community can change your mentality greatly, having positive effects on both your outlook and your body.

One of the Cow symbol’s main spiritual messages is to never take this for granted, for eventually this life will end.

Cow As A Power Animal

If you want to have children, consider carrying a carved Cow totem and invoke Cow as your Power Animal. Cows are powerful symbols of new life. That life need not necessarily be as a parent however. It can apply to new jobs, new homes, and new relationships.

Keep a Cow totem on hand when you need protection from negativity or nightmares. Like the Mother Goddess herself, Cow energy holds you close, reassuring that nothing will harm you.

As a power animal Cow calls on you to love fully. Look at the world and the wonders of creation and let that fill you with all the characteristics you most need to embrace life.

Note, however, that this power animal will not let you give and give and give without refilling. Those that serve need service, including you. Put out a cattle call and let people give back (it blesses them too).

Dreaming About Cows

 Lessons of gratitude and the appreciation of sacrifice are prevalent in cow symbolism, especially when presented in our dreams, and we would do well to integrate them into our daily life.

A cow dream symbolizes some important issues. In Hindu culture, cows are sacred and represent fertility, nourishment, and motherhood. Cows also represent personality traits such as passivity and overall contentment. Seeing a cow in a dream is usually a positive thing, with the appearance of grazing cows, in particular, representing happiness and prosperity. Some ancient societies and some tribal societies measure a person’s wealth by how many cows he or she has.

The dream cow indicates that you obey authority figures without questioning them. It may represent maternal feelings or a desire within you to be taken care of. If you see a herd of cows in your dream, it suggests that you have a strong need to belong to a group. A herd of cows may also mean that you have a group of close friends that you enjoy. If the herd was disturbed or anxious in some way, it means that something or someone may be acting on your group of friends in such a way as to cause trouble and pull the group apart.

Dreaming of a field full of Cows portends improved finances or potentially a multiple birth in the family. A Cow grazing happily speaks of joy and contentment in the home. If the Cow represents self, it’s a signal that you need nurturing and spiritual nourishment.

The appearance of a cow with the face of a skeleton in your dream means that your mother or some mother figure in your life is acting coldly toward you or not responding to your needs. If you dream of cow with a calf, this is always a positive sign.

If you dream of being a cow, this suggests that you are afraid of being stupid. Dreaming of a sick cow suggests that some plans you’ve made for the future are threatened and require some action from you to avoid problems.

Because cows often represent motherhood, they are also representative of the feminine part of a man’s psyche. If you are a man, the dream of a cow suggests that you recognize this part of yourself and incorporate it into your life in order to attain greater psychological balance overall.

Dreams of cows are symbolic of peace, passivity, endurance, mothering, and humility.

Superstitions About Cows

An old English superstition says that cows kneel down on Christmas Eve and pay homage to Jesus. They speak in human voices, but anyone who hears them will die before being able to tell anyone about it.

Old farmers say that every herd has a “master cow” which leads the others into mischief. If a cow lows after midnight, it is a death omen for someone in the neighborhood, and similarly, if a cow lows three times in a man’s face, he has not long to live.

If a cow licks the forehead of another cow, it is a sign that their owner is about to die. It is also a sign of imminent death if a cow enters your property. Three cows means three deaths. Yet another reason for keeping your gates closed, especially if you live in the country!

It is important to wash your hands thoroughly after milking a cow. If you don’t, you will receive no milk on the following day.

  • Cows that eat buttercups produce tastier butter.
  • When out in the field an upright Cow tail foretells rain.

A cow’s breath is believed to have health-giving properties and people suffering from tuberculosis were at one time encouraged to sleep with the cattle.

If separating a calf from its mother, you should take a calf out of the barn backwards to prevent its mother mourning the loss of her child.

In Ireland a hare appearing with Cows on Beltane signify witches who are up to no good stealing away with fresh milk. The Scots believed that putting tar behind the Cows’ ears would keep the witch from succeeding.

Witches were also believed to be able to steal the milk of cows from a distance by means of a magical tether, the strands of which were plaited the wrong way. They could do the same by going through the motions of milking with a rope, or a pot-hook, or the legs of a stool, and sometimes they came in the form of hares and sucked the udders of cows lying out in the fields. When the true milking-time came around, such bewitched animals would give only a poor supply or no milk at all.

Various charms were used to counteract these thefts, one of which was to make the rope used to tether the animals’ feet out of horsehair, and to thrust a stick of rowan, or some other magickal wood, through it.

In an article in Folk-Lore (1895), a story is told about a Bernera farmer whose cows gave so little milk that he was sure they were bewitched. He used such a rope, with excellent results; but as soon as the cows were released, they all rushed to a certain woman’s house and began tossing at the walls. This was regarded by the local people as clear proof that the woman had previously bewitched them, and so strong was the feeling against her on this account that she had to leave the district.

In Discourse on Sympathy (1658) an old country belief is recorded that if milk boiled over and fell on the fire, salt must immediately be thrown on the place where it fell. If this was not done, the cow which gave it would suffer from an ulcerated udder.

Sources:

The winter solstice and winter season is the time of greatest power for those with the raven as a totem. The solstice is the shortest day of the year The sun shines the least on this day, thus it is the darkest. From that day forth, the light shines a little more each day This is symbolic of the influence of raven. It teaches how to go into the dark and bring forth the light. With each trip in, we develop the ability to bring more light out. This is creation.

CHANT

Wing so black it shines like Moon at midnight,
O Raven, strong, hear my cry!
Teach me old magick, powerful, bold,
O Raven, eloquent and wise.

The Raven’s keynote is that of magic, shapeshifting, and creation. While its cycle of power is that of winter solstice. The raven is one of those birds that has a tremendous amount of lore and mythology surrounding it, and it is often contradictory. It is a bird of birth and death, and it is a bird of mysticism and magic.

In the near East, the raven was considered unclean because it is a scavenger. It is one of the foods listed as forbidden in the Bible. The raven is one of the birds that Noah sent out after the floods, but it did not return to the ark. On the other hand, also in Biblical lore is the tale of how a raven fed the prophet Elijah when hiding from King Ahab.

In Scandinavian lore, the raven played a significant role. The Norse god Odin had a pair of ravens who were his messengers. Their names were Hugin (thought)and Munin (memory). Odin was known to shapeshift as a raven himself. This reflects the idea of raven being a messenger of the great spiritual realm.

In the Middle Ages the croak of the raven was believed to foretell a death or the outcome of a battle. It was even taught to the common folk in Christian communities that wicked priests became ravens when they died. Even today, some old timers tell how you can expect hot weather when a raven is seen facing a clouded sun.

The raven is a member of the corvids family, to which belong crows and magpies and other such birds. In truth, the only really significant difference between the crow and the raven is in size, the raven being much larger. It would be beneficial to study the information on the crow for anyone who has a raven as a totem. Much of the same information that applies to one, also applies to the other. It is simply a matter of degree. Rather than repeat that information here, I would like to give you some information not generally associated with the crow itself.

The raven has a wealth of myth and lore surrounding it. In many ways it is comparable to the coyote tales of the plains Indians, the Bushmen tales of the mantis and other societies in which an animal plays both a significant and yet confusing role. The coyote was both trickster and wise being-fool and wise one. This was true of the mantis in the tales of the Kalahari Bushmen.

In the Pacific Northwest the raven has this same aura about him. In the Pacific Northwest, raven brought forth life and order Raven stole the sunlight from one who would keep the world in darkness. Nothing could exist without raven. Raven is honored in art and on totem poles, reflecting the tales and mysticism that have developed around it.

With raven, human and animal spirits intermingle and become as one. This is reflected in its deep, rich shiny black. In blackness, everything mingles until drawn forth, out into the light. Because of this, raven can help you shapeshift your life or your being. Raven has the knowledge of how to become other animals and how to speak their languages.

Ravens are great at vocalizations, and they can be taught to speak. They incorporate and mimic the calls of other species. In the Northwest are tales of the Kwakiutl Indians who offered the afterbirth of male newborns to Raven so that when they grew up, they would understand their cries. Raven can teach you to understand the language of animals.

Ravens are playful, and they are excellent tool users. They will use stones and anything else that is available to help them crack nuts and such. They are birds not intimidated by others, and they are very fast and wary Because of this, they are not easy prey for other animals or birds. This implies the ability to teach you how to stir the magic of life without fear They are also known for their amorous behavior, reflecting the strong creative life force to which they have access.

This creative life force can be used to work the magic of spiritual laws upon the physical plane. It can be used to go into the void and stir the energies to manifest that which you most need. All this and more is what raven teaches. If raven has come into your life, expect magic. Somewhere in your life, magic is at play Raven activates the energy of magic, linking it with your will and intention.

Raven speaks of the opportunity to become the magician and/or enchantress of your life. Each of us has a magician within, and it is Raven which can show us how to bring that part of us out of the dark into the light. Raven speaks of messages from the spirit realm that can shapeshift your life dramatically Raven teaches how to take that which is unformed and give it the form you desire.

~Ted Andrews – Animal Speak

  • Titles: The Old Man; The Uncle
  • Also known as: Maam; Don Pedro; Saint Simon; Brother Simon; Brother Peter
  • Pronounced: Mah-shee-mon
  • Origin: Maya

Maximón is a master shape shifter, reconciling religious traditions and offering guidance to indigenous Mayans who venerate him in Guatemala. He is also a heavy drinker and smoker.

Maximón, also known as San Simón, is an important Mayan folk saint in Guatemala represented by a dressed up wooden effigy sitting on a chair who, unlike other saints, smokes cigars and drinks alcohol. Today Maximón is actively worshiped as part of what we could refer to as “folk Catholicism“, especially in the highlands of Guatemala.

His visitors travel from near and far to come see him and ask for protection, money, to be cured or even find a husband. Maximón receives everyone – men and women, villagers and urban dwellers, prostitutes and entrepreneurs – who come with many offerings including tobacco, liquor, money and tortillas (his favorites).

Christian missionaries who came to Guatemala to convert the local people encountered the primordial Mayan deity Maam, Lord of the Universe. Attempts to syncretize him to Saint Simon backfired. Instead of the Mayan god fading discreetly into the identity of the saint, Maximón, as he became known, took on a whole new life and personality of his own: defiant, rambunctious, anti-social. The Church then attempted to syncretize him with Judas Iscariot or even Satan, but it was too late. All they did was enhance Maximón’s outlaw image and make his devotees love and admire him even more.

Maximón’s appearance varies greatly by location. While he’s popularly depicted as a man in a suit and hat, this isn’t a constant. In Santiago Atitlán, he wears colorful garlands and scarves, while in Zunil, he wears sunglasses and a bandanna.

Although his wardrobe has been updated and modernized, Maximón is an ancient, primordial spirit. He has survived numerous attempts to suppress his veneration and is now more popular than ever, venerated throughout the Americas and Europe.

He is generally benevolent, associated with healing, prosperity, and protection. In Guatemala, Maximón is traditionally invoked for protection for or from anti-government forces. Nothing is beyond his assistance or outside his jurisdiction. Maximón is said to represent both light and dark, and to be a trickster. He is both a womanizer and a protector of couples. Be wary.

Maximón is a crossroads spirit. He mediates between the living and the dead, people and spirits. He serves as a bridge between malevolent and benevolent spirits. Maximón is an extremely responsive spirit who works for comparatively modest offerings.

He makes people’s dreams come true. He challenges believers. He heals. He helps overcome obstacles. He stands against injustice. He dances the night away. He brings wealth and success. Fertility and prosperity. He wins the heart of women and protects from infidelity. In fact, he is the lord of sexuality standing for all unresolved matters of a moral nature.

Legend says that one day he was caught sleeping with the wives of the village men who had supposedly gone to work. Furious, they cut his legs and arms off. So Maximón also makes mistakes, which makes it easier for people to relate to him. Sometimes when he brings justice to a person, it is even at the expense of another. Thus, he sits at a crossroads between being both a deity and a trickster, a friend and a fiend.

Maximón may indicate his presence via the smell of cigar smoke when no cigars are present. He visits in dreams.

Spells, Rituals and Operations:

Maximón is invoked in numerous magickal spells, rituals, and operations.

  • Protection of your business

Place his image in your shop or store to stimulate better business and for luck, money, and protection. Maximón foils and/or punishes shop-lifters and thieves

  • Abusive people or situations.

If someone abuses you, whisper your needs directly into the ear of Maximón’s image. Place the person’s photo under Maximón’s left foot, or write a note and place it there.

  • Requests for love.

Coil a rope around his image (even around his neck!) to show him that you need his help capturing someone’s heart or alternatively, for hobbling competing suitors. Whisper in his ear to tell him what you need.

  • Marital issues.

Wrap a rope around his image to keep your spouse from running off with another.

  • Maximón is invoked to heal addictions.

He will accept request on behalf of others, especially addicts. He may be invoked on behalf of someone else who cannot or will not ask him themselves. It is not necessary to tell the person that you have requested Maximón’s blessings on their behalf. The deal is between you and Maximón. Make offerings and tell him what the other person needs. However, even if the other person reaps the blessings, Maximón is doing YOU the favor; YOU must fulfill any vows or promises made.

Colors and Candles

An elaborate color scheme is used to communicate with Maximón. Those who are experienced candle-burners may choose to retain their own candle color associations, but the following color chart is commonly used to communicate desires and petitions to Maximón. Burn the color candle that closest represents your needs:

  • Black: Protection from envy, jealousy, enemies, and the deliberately cast Evil Eye
  • Blue: For good luck, employment
  • Brown: Protection from resentment and the accidentally cast Evil Eye
  • Green: Business, prosperity, cash
  • Light Blue: Cash, travel, education, and happiness
  • Pink: Hope, health
  • Red: Love, fidelity
  • White: Protection of children
  • Yellow: Protection for adults

Offerings:

Hats, silk scarves, flowers (he likes bougainvilleas, carnations, and gladioli), fruit, tobacco products especially cigars, copal incense, water, Coca-Cola, tequila, aguardiente. An elaborate offering when you really need a big favor or as a fulfillment of a vow is forty candles plus copal incense.

Images:

The oldest images of Maximón consisted of masks and mysterious wrapped bundles. However a modern votive image has also evolved possibly based on the only known existing photograph of shaman, wizard, and Maximón devotee Francisco Sojuel (died circa 1907), credited with crafting the first modern Maximón mask. This image depicts Maximón as a mustached man wearing a black suit and a Stetson or similar hat. He is usually, but not exclusively, depicted sitting.

The modern image closest to his ancient one consists of a bundle of fabric topped with one or more Stetson hats.

The name Maximón is often interpreted as deriving from Maam and Simon. Another theory suggests that it derives from Maam and ximon, a Mayan word that may refer to a bundle or the act of “tying up,” essentially creating a bundle. The use of bundles as sacred objects is not uncommon in indigenous American spiritual and magickal traditions.

Votive images range from pocket-size to life-size. The mouth of his statue may be open so a real cigar may be inserted.

Alternatively, the statue may be designed so that the cigar can be placed in his hand. Ashes and stubs from offerings are collected and preserved. Placed in a small charm bag they serve as amulets, allegedly bringing good luck. Sometimes tubes are inserted into statues so Maximón can actually “drink.” Liquor passing through his system is then reserved for ritual use.

Maximón often accumulates an extensive wardrobe. He is a fastidious spirit whose clothes must be kept clean. The rinse water used when hand-washing his clothes may be preserved as Holy Water, or magickally charged water. It is said to have magickal and healing powers.

Festivals and Sacred Sites:

Guatemalan festivals dedicated to Maximón coincide with Holy Week, culminating on Good Friday.

One of the aspects of Maximón is that he can appear in any form. During Easter week he takes on the form of Judas Iscariot, who in betraying Jesus became the catalyst who put into action the events ended in the crucifixion of Jesus. Judas (Maximón) then hangs himself.

What has sometimes been described as a lynching in Guatemala, is actually a Easter Week re-enactment of the crucifixion where the hanged man is Maximón in his guise as Judas Iscariot. The Tz’utuhil Maya workers on the fincas [plantations] on the coastal side of the Volcano Atitlán have brought their customs with them from the highlands in Santiago Atitlan.

Maximón is the subject of innumerable home shrines, but his major public shrine is in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala.

In Santiago Atitlán, Maximón’s effigy resides in a different household every year. His image is normally only taken out of this house during Holy Week, whereafter it will change households, but is on display year-round due the popularity of pilgrimages. The effigy of Maximón in Santiago stays with one of five families, who are members of a religious brotherhood looking after the saint. He stays there for an entire year, and is moved during the procession of Holy Week.

Maximón lives in a room within the family home, and he is accompanied by two chosen family members at all times. Yep, you read that right: at all times…for a year. The chosen two won’t work for a year; guarding Maximón and spending time with him is their full-time job for 365 days. They stay by the altar year-round, drinking and smoking alongside it.

But that’s not all. These guys are also there to pass on offerings from visitors to the effigy, which are usually in the form of cigarettes, cigars, money, tobacco, and moonshine. Visitors can then ask for good health, good crops or marriage counsel. The two guardians usually put on one of Maximón’s two cowboy hats and speak to him in a local dialect.

It looked like they were having a casual chat, the guardian resting his arm on Maximón’s shoulder in a brotherly way, stopping his speech every once in a while, as if listening for Maximón’s reply, or simply to tip the ash off his cigarette.

If you want to share a drink with Maximón, you can do that too. He likes the local ‘Quetzalteco’ and his guardians will pour it through Maximón’s mouth. Because he’s hollow, the liquid flows through him and out between his leather boots. It’s then caught in a glass and drunk by the guardians or other family members who happen to be passing through. Like some kind of spiritual keg you can tap. This means the guardians are always drunk, or at least sleeping off a big drink. All the time.

In the town of San Andrés Itzapa, there is a large temple to Maximón. Here, offerings such as corn, flowers, and candles are burned in public by Shamans for the deity. Pilgrims travel to this temple from all across Latin America.

Maximón is more than just a saint. He represents the resilience of Mayan people in the light of their struggles against oppression, a symbol of hope and transformation.

Myths and Legends:

According to some legends, Maximón was an elder who reincarnated to protect his people. During the Spanish Conquest, an elder named Ri Laj Mam, upset by the evils of the Spaniards, encouraged his people to start a rebellion. He was eventually executed, but returned to life in the form of a judge named Don Ximon, who fought to give land back to the native people of Guatemala.

Another legend states that Maximón was hired by traveling fishermen to protect the virtue of their wives. Instead, Maximón disguised himself and slept with all of them.

In Santiago Atitlán, an alternative tale says that Maximón was never a man, but a wooden figure created by Shamans to defend the village from witches. However, Maximón used trickery to harm the people of the village, so the Shamans twisted his head around and broke his legs to stop him. He then did his job properly and protected the people of the town from evil.

Sources:

Just a few minutes walk from the church of Santo Tomás in the center of Chichicastenango, there is a wooded hill. Atop this hill is an ancient rock with a carved face, known all over Guatemala as Pascual Abaj (Sacrifice Stone). This stone-faced idol, a shrine to the Maya earth god Huyup Tak’ah (Mountain Plain), stands amid a circle of squat stone crosses in a clearing. Said to be hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years old, it has suffered numerous indignities at the hands of outsiders, but local people still revere it.

Daily there are Maya priests and priestesses performing ceremonies there. People come there for all sorts of things: to bless a marriage, to pray for a good harvest or to give thanks for a good harvest, or to remedy a problem such as preventing thieves from stealing your corn. The rites are conducted by the aj’itz (maya priests).

Also known as:

  • Turcaj
  • Turk’aj
  • Turuk’aj
  • Turukaj

Pascual Abaj (alternatively written Pascual Ab’aj) is a pre-Columbian Maya idol at Chichicastenango that survived the Spanish conquest of Guatemala and which is still venerated by the local community. It is the best-known example of such an image or shrine to the Maya earth god Huyup Tak’ah.

After the Spanish conquest, the stone figure is said to have been carried away from a site in the village of Chichicastenango and reset upon the hill so offerings could be made away from the vigilance of the Catholic Church and the Spanish colonists.

The image was badly damaged in the 1950s by members of Catholic Action. Before it was defaced, the statue was described as a grotesque human figure with a large head and high, pointed forehead. It had two circular earspools in line with its mouth; its arms were crossed on its chest, with the fingers extended. A cord was sculpted around its waist, to which was attached the image of an inverted severed human head. It stood approximately 1 metre (3.3 ft) high. An observer in the 1950s noted that the figure appeared to have been buried sometime in the past.

Traditional Maya shamans regularly perform ceremonies at the shrine, by day and night. The statue is set upon a small altar surrounded by offerings, which include pine branches, crosses, flowers, copal resin, and items crafted from stone. The shrine has now become a popular tourist attraction where visitors witness traditional Maya ceremonies.

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The legend of La Llorona (pronounced “LAH yoh ROH nah”), Spanish for the Weeping Woman, has been a part of Hispanic culture in the Southwest since the days of the conquistadors. The tall, thin spirit is said to be blessed with natural beauty and long flowing black hair. Wearing a white gown, she roams the rivers and creeks, wailing into the night and searching for children to drag, screaming to a watery grave.

No one really knows when the legend of La Llorona began or, from where it originated. Though the tales vary from source to source, the one common thread is that she is the spirit is of a doomed mother who drowned her children and now spends eternity searching for them in rivers and lakes.

La Llorona is a legendary figure with various incarnations. She is often presented as a banshee-type: an apparition of a woman dressed in white, often found by lakes or rivers, sometimes at crossroads, who cries into the night for her lost children, whom she has killed.

The infanticide is sometimes carried out with a knife or dagger, but very often the children have been drowned. Her crime is usually committed in a fit of madness after having found out about an unfaithful lover or husband who leaves her to marry a woman of higher status. After realizing what she has done, she usually kills herself.

She is often described as a lost soul, doomed to wander the earth forever.

The legend of La Llorona persists in areas where mountain lions are active. The Audubon Field Guide to North American Mammals notes that the mountain lion’s “blood curdling mating call has been likened to a woman’s scream.

The Legend:

The legend is said that in a rural village there lived a young woman named Maria. Maria came from a poor family but was known around her village for her beauty. One day, an extremely wealthy nobleman traveled through her village. He stopped in his tracks when he saw Maria. Maria was charmed by him and he was charmed by her beauty, so when he proposed to her, she immediately accepted. Maria’s family was thrilled that she was marrying into a wealthy family, but the nobleman’s father was extremely disappointed that his son was marrying into poverty.

Maria and her new husband built a house in the village to be away from his disapproving father. Eventually Maria gave birth to twins: a boy and a girl. Her husband was always traveling, and stopped spending time with his family. When he came home, he only paid attention to the children and Maria knew her husband was falling out of love with her. One day, he left and never returned.

Years later, as Maria and her twins were walking by a river, she saw a familiar carriage with a younger, beautiful woman next to her husband. Maria was so angry and confused that, without thinking, she picked up her two children and threw them into the river, drowning them.

Only after she saw their bodies floating in the river did she realize what she had done and she then jumped into the river, hoping to die with her children. Now she spends eternity looking for her children around that river.

It is said that if you hear her crying, you are to run the opposite way. If you hear her cries, they could bring misfortune or even death. Many parents in Mexico and Guatemala use this story to scare their children from staying out too late.

At the gates of heaven, she was challenged over the whereabouts of her children, and not permitted to enter the afterlife until she found them. Llorona is forced to wander the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring. She constantly weeps, hence her name “La Llorona.” She is caught between the living world and the spirit world.

Variations of the Story:

In some versions of the tale, La Llorona kidnaps wandering children who resemble her missing children, asks them for forgiveness, then kills them to take the place of her own. People who claim to have seen her say she appears at night or in the late evening by rivers or lakes.

Some believe those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death but those who escape in time are not, as in the Gaelic banshee legend. Amongst her wails she is noted as crying “¡Ay mis hijos!” which translates to “Oh my children!” In the Guatemalan version of the legend, it is said that when her wails sounds near she is actually far and when she sounds distant- she is actually very near.

It should be noted that the folklore will vary dependent on the location as it is not specific to any one region and is known throughout numerous Latin American countries.

La Llorona is also sometimes identified with La Malinche, the Nahua woman who served as Cortés’ interpreter and mistress who bore his children and who some say was betrayed by the Spanish conquistadors. In one folk story of La Malinche, she became Hernán Cortés’ mistress and bore him a child, only to be abandoned so that he could marry a Spanish lady (although no evidence exists that La Malinche killed her children).

Aztec pride drove La Malinche to acts of vengeance. In this context, the tale compares the Spanish discovery of the New World and the demise of indigenous culture after the conquest with La Llorona’s loss.

Similar Stories:

The Chumash of Southern California have their own connection to La Llorona. Chumash mythology mentions La Llorona when explaining nunašɨš (creatures of the other world) called the “maxulaw” or “mamismis.” Mythology says the Chumash believe in both the nunašɨš and La Llorona and specifically hear the maxulaw cry up in the trees. The maxulaw cry is considered an omen of death. The Maxulaw is described as looking like a cat with skin of rawhide leather.

Outside the Americas, La Llorona bears a resemblance to the ancient Greek tale of the demonic demigodess Lamia. Hera, Zeus’ wife, learned of his affair with Lamia and, out of anger, killed all the children Lamia had with Zeus. Out of jealousy over the loss of her own children, Lamia steals other women’s children. In Greek mythology, Medea killed the two children fathered by Jason (one of the Argonauts) after he left her for another woman.

Author Ben Radford’s investigation into the legend of La Llorona, published in Mysterious New Mexico, traced elements of the story back to a German folktale dating from 1486.

Modern Stories:

A Mexican woman, Juana Léija, attempted to kill her seven children by throwing them into the Buffalo Bayou in Houston, Texas in 1986. A victim of domestic violence, she was apparently trying to end her suffering and that of her children, two of whom died. During an interview Léija declared that she was La Llorona.

This folk story has been represented artistically in various guises: in film, animation, art, poetry, theatre and in literature aimed at both adults and children alike. The legend is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture and among the Chicano Mexican population of the United States.

When Patricio Lugan was a boy, he and his family saw her on a creek between Mora and Guadalupita, New Mexico. As the family was sitting outside talking, they saw a tall, thin woman walking along the creek. She then seemed to float over the water, started up the hill, and vanished. However, just moments later she reappeared much closer to them and then disappeared again. The family looked for footprints and finding none, had no doubt that the woman they had seen was La Llorona.

She has been seen along many rivers across the entire Southwest and the legend has become part of Hispanic culture everywhere. Part of the legend is that those who do not treat their families well will see her and she will teach them a lesson.

Another story involved a man by the name of Epifanio Garcia, who was an outspoken boy who often argued with his mother and his father. After a heated argument, Epifanio, along with his brothers, Carlos and Augustine decided to leave their ranch in Ojo de La Vaca to head toward the Villa Real de Santa Fe. However, when they were along their way, they were visited by a tall woman wearing a black tapelo and a black net over her face.

Two of the boys were riding in the front of the wagon when the spirit appeared on the seat between them. She was silent and continued to sit there until Epifanio finally turned the horses around and headed back home, at which time she said “I will visit you again someday when you argue with your mother.”

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, the tall wailing spirit has been seen repeatedly in the PERA Building (Public Employees Retirement Association), which is built on land that was once an old Spanish-Indian graveyard, and is near the Santa Fe River. Many people who have been employed there tell of hearing cries resounding through the halls and feeling unseen hands pushing them while on the stairways.

My story of La Llorona takes place in Mexico. When I was eight years old when my abuelita (grandma) told me to go to the store to buy soda. This was during the evening as we were getting ready to eat supper. My brother and I left for the store and along the way we heard wailing but we didn’t pay much attention to it. However, as we continued on we saw a young woman walking toward us.

All of a sudden my little brother started to cry and the woman ran toward him, acting as if she was going to get him. When we saw that she was floating instead of walking we began to run back to our house and told our grandmother and mom what had happened. We just locked the door and started to pray to God to help us and make La Llorona go away.

Cries in the Night

When I was 12 years old (1991), my parents separated and my mother moved me and my brother to Monterrey Mexico. In the winter all three of us would sleep in the same room because there was no central heating — only electric heaters. There were two beds for my mother and brother. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag, next to my mother’s bed.

One night around 2:30 in the morning, I woke up because I had been dreaming about my great grandma. She kept calling my name — three times to be exact. Just a few minutes later I heard the scariest screams coming from down the street. It was horrible!!! The cries continued, each time coming closer. I was so horrified that I could not even wake my mother who was laying right next to me! I was so scared, I did not even blink. It was the most evil cry I have ever heard!

Finally, it passed my house and slowly faded away! The next day I told my mother. You know, I didn’t believe in stuff like this, especially not La Llorona. After that night, I do.

A Kansas Tale

Recently while working as a copy editor for a newspaper, I came across a wire story about the La Llorona. That brought back memories of what happened to me while I was a student at Kansas State University in the early 1980s in Manhattan, Kansas, and led me to your Web site where I read more about the legend.

One evening I went to a mobile home that I seem to remember being near a creek or river to visit a couple of my friends who also were attending K-State. As I walked into the door, I found them sitting on the sofa looking somewhat freaked out. They explained that just moments earlier one of the bar stools was spinning and hopping around. As they were Mexican-Americans, they wondered whether the La Llorona had anything to do with that incident. They explained the legend to me as I had never heard about it before.

They would invite me to stay the night in a spare bedroom, which I did. Later in the night a woman appeared to me, laying next to me in bed, and asked if I would know where her children were. It seemed that, while I may have been dreaming, I was half-awake.

Then I fully awoke and looked up toward the doorway just in time to see a dark figure seemingly looking at me and then quickly ducking back out the doorway. Right then that left me too scared to go check and see if that was one of my friends checking in on me, perhaps to see why I was talking in my sleep or something. I went back to sleep and waited until the morning to ask them if either one of them looked into my room during the night. Neither one did.

So to this day I do not know whether I really did experience a supernatural visit or if my dream and mind played tricks on me.

Possible Origins of the Story

The origins of the legend are uncertain, but it has been presented as having pre-Hispanic roots. La Llorona is thought to be one of ten omens foretelling the Conquest of Mexico and has also been linked to Aztec goddesses. In the Florentine Codex, an encyclopedic work on the Nahua peoples of Mexico completed during the 16th century by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, we find two Aztec goddesses who could be linked to La Llorona.

The first is Ciuacoatl (Snake-woman), described as ‘a savage beast and an evil omen’ who ‘appeared in white’ and who would walk at night ‘weeping and wailing’. She is also described as an ‘omen of war’. This goddess could also be linked to the sixth of ten omens that are recorded in the codex as having foretold the Conquest: the voice of a woman heard wailing at night, crying about the fate of her children.

A later codex by a Dominican friar, Diego Durán, details the origin myths of the Aztec gods and discusses a goddess, Coatlicue, who is often linked to or thought to be the same as Ciuacoatl. Coatlicue (she of the snaky skirt) was the mother of Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war.

Durán describes her as ‘the ugliest and dirtiest that one could possibly imagine. Her face was so black and covered with filth that she looked like something straight out of Hell’. She waits for her son to return to her from war and weeps and mourns for him while he is gone. Durán also provides detail of some strange occurrences ahead of the Conquest that were purported to have troubled Moctezuma. Among these is a ‘woman who roams the streets weeping and moaning’.

According to the Florentine Codex, Chalchiuhtlicue (the Jade-skirted one) was goddess of the waters and the elder sister of the rain god, Tlaloc. Sahagún describes her as one who was ‘feared’ and ‘caused terror’. She was said to drown people and overturn boats. Ceremonies in honor of the rain gods, including Chalchiuhtlicue, involved the sacrifice of children.

These sacrificial victims were bought from their mothers and the more the children cried, the more successful the sacrifice was thought to have been.

There are many similar European and Old World motifs that she could also be linked to: the ‘White Woman’ of the Germanic and Slavic tradition, the Lorelei and, of course, the banshee. The trope of the barbarian girl who kills her children after being betrayed by her lover and discarded for a woman of higher status or more ‘appropriate’ race also has roots in the Greek tradition, in the legend of Medea and Jason.

It is strange that such a pervasive myth could have such different features, but still be known by the same name. Indeed, the variations in the folk story seem to be geographical, with different regions having their own slightly different versions of the wailing woman.

In addition, the legend has changed over time, seemingly to reflect the socio-political climate. Just as a source will often tell us more about the author than the subject, we can glean a lot about the story-tellers’ points of view when examining the development of this particular legend. It is not until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that the folk story can be found in print. However, when we look at them, far from finding an official version, we can clearly see that many elements of the La Llorona story change over time.

La Llorona ~ The Play

La Llorona, a 1917 play by Francisco C. Neve is set during the reign of Philip II (1556-98). The protagonist is Luisa. She has a son with her lover, Ramiro, the son of Cortés, who is of much higher social status. Though they have been together for six years, Ramiro is due to marry the very wealthy daughter of a judge. Luisa is unaware of this and Ramiro believes that he can continue his relationship with her, if he marries in secret.

Luisa is told of Ramiro’s impending wedding by a rival suitor and she is driven mad, not only by Ramiro’s infidelity and his decision to marry someone else for honor and status, but by his desire to take their son away from her. When he comes for their child after she breaks up their wedding, Luisa eventually tells him that he can have his son’s life and kills him with a dagger, offering Ramiro his body in a fit of delirium, saying that she killed him after Ramiro had killed her soul.

Luisa is hanged for her crime in a public execution during which she is vilified as a witch. Ramiro is presented as very remorseful and dies of sorrow and grief when La Llorona appears to haunt him.

The play satirizes the class system to an extent and especially masculine ideas of honor. Ramiro’s mistress and son are an open secret among court society and whispers of gossip surrounding his love life are a prominent theme at his sham wedding. He does not garner respect from his peers and courtly society in New Spain is presented as a place of back-stabbing and chaos.

La Llorona in Popular Culture:

La Llorona appeared as the first antagonist in the 2005 pilot episode of the TV series Supernatural. Sarah Shahi portrayed Constance Welch, The Woman in White who, after discovering her husband’s infidelity took the lives of her two children by drowning them in a bathtub at home and soon after, took her own by jumping off a bridge into a river.

Her ghost was known to haunt the Centennial Highway, hitchhiking unknowing motorists, mostly men, and killing those whom she deemed unfaithful. Sam Winchester destroyed her ghost by crashing his car into the house where she used to live. Finally facing the ghosts of her children, The Woman in White was destroyed by her own guilt from killing them.

La Llorona briefly appears in the 1973 Mexican film Leyendas macabras de la colonia. La Llorona is mentioned and appears in several episodes of “El Chavo del Ocho” and “El Chapulín Colorado”, both comic series written by Roberto Gómez Bolaños, aka Chespirito.

La Llorona appears as the main antagonist of the Mexican animated film La Leyenda de la Llorona. Here, La Llorona is portrayed as a more sympathetic character, with her children’s deaths coming as an accident rather than at her own hands.

In 1995, Mexican playwright Josefina Lopez wrote “Unconquered Spirits”, which uses the myth of La Llorona as a plot device. The play has two time periods, with Act One taking place in 16th Century Mexico after Spain occupied it. Here, Lopez takes inspiration from the “La Malinche” variation, with the heroine represented as a young Aztec girl who is brutally raped by a Spanish Friar. She gives birth to twin boys as a result, and drowns them in the river out of protection rather than spite.

Act Two takes place in 1938 amidst the San Antonio Pecan Sheller’s Strike. A widowed mother who works at the Pecan factory has an abortion after being raped by her white supervisor, resulting in a visit from La Llorona to give her the strength to fight back against her attacker. The play is well noted for its sympathetic portrayal of La Llorona as a victim of oppression.

La Llorona appeared as the “monster of the week” in the NBC TV series Grimm, in the ninth episode of the second season which first aired on October 2012. In this storyline, she is a ghost-like creature (her exact origin and nature is undefined) who appears in different cities at yearly intervals around Halloween, always luring three children to a point where three rivers meet, attempting to ‘sacrifice’ these children to regain her own. In the episode, they manage to save her latest victims, although La Llorana simply vanishes into the water.

In Nancy Farmer’s 2002 science fiction novel, The House of the Scorpion, and its 2013 sequel book, The Lord of Opium, the main character, Matt, makes several references to La Llorona, often when retelling the story to other main characters or during self-reflection.

La Llorona is mentioned in the 2003 film Chasing Papi starring Sofía Vergara, Roselyn Sánchez, Jaci Velasquez, and Eduardo Verástegui. Her screams can be heard when Thomas (Eduardo) is under stress or confronted by the three women in his life. La Llorona’s image is shown a few times in the film too.

  • The song “She Turned Into Llorona” appears on the 2003 Manic Hispanic album Mijo Goes to Jr. College.
  • The 2006 Mexican horror film Kilometer 31 is inspired by the legend of La Llorona, and the main evil entity in the film is based on her and her story,

La Llorona has also been the theme character of several of Universal Studios’s haunted houses during their annual Halloween event, Halloween Horror Nights (Both Hollywood and Orlando locations).

The story of La Llorona has been turned into a short comic book story by Love and Rockets writer/artist Gilbert Hernandez. La Llorona is also one of the various names used by Hopey and Terry’s punk band in Jaime Hernandez’s Mechanics series.

  • La Llorana appeared as a ghost in Batwoman #1 (Volume 2) in November 2011.
  • La Llorona appears in Josh Walker’s 2014 novel, Luke Coles and the Flower of Chiloe where the Llorona is the mark of one of Luke’s hunts.
  • La Llorona also is a short film which was released in 2015.
  • La Llorona is the basis for the “monster of the week” in the fifth episode of the second season of Sleepy Hollow entitled “The Weeping Lady”.

Morgana, a playable character in League of Legends, has a skin called “Ghost Bride” (named “La Llorona” in Spanish). She has different voice over lines in the Latin American regions (North and South) and the skin was released as a way to celebrate the launch of Latin American servers.

  • The sixteenth track of the Frida Soundtrack is titled “La Llorona”. It is sung by Chavela Vargas.
  • The twelfth track from the self-titled album by the Latina punk band FEA is “La Llorona”, and is based on the legend, with the cry/lyrics in the chorus of “mis hijos, mis hijos!”.

The song “La Llorona” is featured in the 2017 Disney-Pixar film Coco, sung by Imelda Rivera (voiced by Alanna Ubach) during the sunrise concert as she attempts to evade Ernesto de la Cruz who sings the song in duet with her (voiced by Benjamin Bratt with his singing voice provided by Marco Antonio Solís).

In the 2000 Sci-Fi series, The Invisible Man, La Llorona is the code-name for a Chrysalis’ agent modified to be able to consume large amounts of water and spew them out forcibly and at-will.

  • The debut studio album of Lhasa de Sela is called “La Llorona”.
  • On March 7, 2018 Primero Soy Mexicana by Angela Aguilar was released on which “La Llorona” is the 7th track.

James Wan and Gary Dauberman are producing a film about La Llorona, titled The Curse of La Llorona. It is scheduled to be released on April 19, 2019 by New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures. The film will be directed by Michael Chaves and star Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, and Patricia Velasquez.

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Do you feel like some other entities exist around us, just as ultraviolet rays exist around us that we can’t perceive, and only certain animals are, perhaps even only sometimes, aware of them? Even mainstream science recognizes cats, dogs, and other animals can see frequencies humans can’t. It’s well known that dogs and cats have much better senses than humans.

According to Animal Planet, a dog’s eyes “detect more delicate movements; his sense of smell is 1,000 to 10,000 times more sensitive than a human’s. He can hear much higher frequencies, and at four times the distance of a human with normal hearing.” This, some claim, could mean that dogs and other animals also sense the paranormal, and are often more accepting of it.

Their keen senses mean that animals may also have the ability to predict earthquakes, a belief that, as National Geographic reports, dates back centuries. In records from the year 373 BC, historians noted that many animals, “including rats, snakes and weasels” fled the Greek city of Helice prior to a devastating earthquake. This is a phenomenon that continues to be observed to this day, though it is still not fully understood.

Of course, there’s a big difference between earthquakes and spirits. However, this simply goes to underline the fact that animals, including dogs and cats, may sense many things that we are not able to.

It makes sense scientifically in a separate way from spiritually. It’s simple really: the scientific explanation is that cats and dogs can see UV light and a few other rays, which human retinas don’t have the ability to see.

According to Pet MD:

“Have you ever felt that your cat or dog can see something you don’t? Well, you may be right, according to a new study. Cats, dogs, and other mammals are thought to see in ultraviolet light, which opens up a whole different world than the one we see, the study explains.

UV light is the wave length beyond the visible light from red to violet that humans can see. Humans have a lens that blocks UV from reaching the retina. It was previously thought that most mammals have lenses similar to humans.

Scientists studied the lenses of dead mammals, including cats, dogs, monkeys, pandas, hedgehogs, and ferrets. By researching how much light passes through the lens to reach the retina, they concluded that some mammals previously thought not to be able to see UV actually can.”

Many studies that have been carried out on the senses of dogs offers quite a debate on the psychic abilities and sensory perceptions of them. There is, of course, no way to know what is really going on because we cannot communicate on the level we would need to for confirmation.

A Personal Experience

I believe there is something more to this phenomena that delves into the metaphysical realm.

My little sister and I have had experiences where our cats see things that aren’t there. They bat at the air with their paws, meow, hiss, and make strange noises at things that we can’t see.

The most profound time it occurred was right after my grandfather passed. Our cat named Double Stuff was batting at the air, meowing very strangely, and chasing something around the room, trying to jump at it in the air, looking at this thing on the ceiling.

It was almost as if some spirit or entity was floating around on the ceiling and only the cat could see it.

There was no different UV light in my room when the cat did this: so why would the cat only at that time try to chase some invisible things?

Then a few weeks ago, my sister experienced seeing “shadow people,” a phenomena commonly reported by people who suffer from sleep paralysis.

As she saw these shadow entities around the house at night (given that it wasn’t an illusion), the cat started acting strange and scared. It meowed, hissed, did the same things it did before but in a scared way, not bewildered and interested.

Signs Your Dog Is Seeing Spirits

So, what will your dog do if they see a spirit? We’re not exactly sure! We do know there are a few things your dog might do if they see something you don’t, though. You might notice your dog’s body stiffen and they might start growling or barking. They might also put their ears up and sniff to get more information about what they are seeing. Dogs use their senses of hearing and smell much like humans use their sense of sight. So, you might see your dog doing more with their nose or ears than their eyes or paws.

Here are some signs you might notice if your dog sees or smells something you don’t:

  • Growling
  • Barking
  • Sniffing
  • Ears
  • Staring
  • Running around
  • Odd behavior

Since we don’t have much information about dog-spirit sightings, we are left to speculate what your pup might do. They might think the spirit is an intruder and chase them around. Some spirits have been known to be good with animals, though. So, your pooch might like the spirit. It all depends on the situation.

If your dog is staring into the air at nothing or chasing something you can’t see, could it be something supernatural? Maybe!

Another Personal Experience:

Reddit user Lillibeth shared the following story two years ago. She had recently moved into an old house with her grandparents. The place was about 100 years old and, in her words, “creepy.”

One night, she and her dog, Lola, were about to go to bed. But Lola began to act strangely. She jumped up and went to the bed’s edge, as if to look over. Her eyes then began to follow something in the air, something invisible.

“I would call her name and she wouldn’t move,” Lillibeth wrote. She turned on the light to see if perhaps Lola was being pestered by a fly or a mouse, but she saw nothing. Then, as if in fear, Lola curled up against Lillibeth, occasionally glancing over the edge of the bed throughout the night.

Was Lola afraid of something her owner could not see?

These are questions I suppose we can’t answer. We can’t speak to our pets and know what they’re thinking. What are their eyes following when we see nothing there? Why are they barking or growling, why are they afraid?

Has your pet ever acted strangely? Do you believe it was a ghost?

And What About Cats?

Can cats see ghosts? How about angels? Fairies? Or even demons?

Well, animals may not use a language to communicate like humans but a true animal observer will realize that animals do communicate very well with their sounds and body language.

The cat is one such species and apart from communicating with their owners, they have a connection with each other as well.

It might seem a bit unusual for humans who consider this preposterous but if you observe cats keenly, they are not as unintelligent as many of us might consider them to be.

Some of the Feline observers have found their cats staring continuously at a particular spot from later they found unusual sounds coming from the same spot.

Other instances include cats sense ghosts and staring at the stairway like someone is walking up and down and later it looks like they are trying to fight something off their face.

Some of us might consider it as playing or other might just think this is the way cats behave. But is that really true?

There was another cat who lived with his pet owner and kept staring at a room, later the owner said that she could hear some unusual sounds coming from the room.

Did the cat see anything that was not visible to the naked eye? It has been predicted that cats can see things from the spiritual world which normal people usually cannot.

After a few studies it has been found that cats genuinely know more than humans, they feel the vibrations and that is the reason they despise people who are not fond of cats.

It is quite shocking but they can sense the negativity coming from them and they too tend to stay away from such people or you might find them hissing while such people are around.

They even know when their owners are going to arrive and who loves them the most. They are even capable of realizing any danger that is near them or near their pet parents.

They even understand when their caretaker is sad or hurt and such telepathic traits make it more suspicious that they are completely capable of sensing people who have left their bodies (souls).

Do Cats Protect Us From Spirits?

It has been observed that cats behave weird when they sense an unusual presence around them. It is even said that they do not like a place if they sense any psychic presence there. It has been said in the Ancient Egyptian mythology that cats are blessed with the power to ward away evil spirits, but is that true?

There have been sayings that dogs bark in the night in order to ward away any evil spirits. The same has been the case with the feline creatures as well.

Buddhists believe that cats are the souls of the dead who live in the bodies of cats before they get another new life. Cats are also believed to see any aura or evil presence around human beings.

Many believe that cats can easily predict future as they get to ‘know’ or can easily sense feelings.

They certainly may not be able to completely protect you from evil spirits but can certainly warn you if anything bad is to happen.

Signs Your Cats Are Seeing Spirits

The ancient Egyptians worshiped them as gods, and believed that cats took on a spiritual importance and were considered to be a sacred animal with magical powers. In some myths, cats are able to walk in and out of the spirit world as they please.

Is it true? Can cats see ghosts? Here are some signs to look out for.

  • The out of nowhere poofy tail and flat ears.

You’re just sitting there, watching netflix… and you get a sudden chill down your spine. You look over and see your cat all puffed up and looking scary. Yep… Your cat is looking at a ghost.

  • They stare at seemingly nothing, like the corner of the wall or ceiling.

Ever been lying in bed and your cat suddenly perks up and is staring at the ceiling above your head? It could be a spirit, a ghost, or even fairies or an angel.

  • The loud bump in the night but your cat is sitting next to you.

We hear bumps in the night and us cat owners know that it must be Fluffy running around doing cat stuff. Then you remember that Fluffy is curled up next to you and you see him staring out towards the dark hallway… Possible explanation? A ghost is messing with your stuff and your cat is watching it happen.

  • Your cat’s sudden disappearance and sudden reappearance.

One second you see your cat walk into the room, the next second, he’s gone. You call and look everywhere… but no signs. You check their usual spots, above the kitchen counters, under the bed, in the cat tree, the litter box… nothing….

This is simple. Your cat has found the portal into the ghost dimension and curiosity got the best of him. Don’t worry – he’ll return. Cats can come and go as they please. Shake some treats and your cat will suddenly appear in front of you again.

  • Growling or hissing at something invisible.

You’re just minding your own business, sipping a glass of wine and watching The Walking Dead when your cat stares behind you and begins to hiss… even worse… growl. Of course you’re home alone… but you feel the hairs on your neck rise. Your cat sees something… a ghost? Or something else?

  • Playing with an invisible friend.

There are times when you might have seen a cat behave weirdly as if something exists around or as if it is playing with something. This might be seen as a playful nature but not all the times can you tell that.

  • Looking at someone who isn’t there.

There are a few owners who have said that they have seen their cats eyeballs move as if it was looking at someone walking by or running up and down the stairs.

Sources:

  • Keynote: Transition and Initiation
  • Cycle of Power: Nighttime

The bat is one of the most misunderstood mammals. Modern depictions in movies and television have given it a sinister reputation, but it plays an important role in Nature and as a symbol in the totem traditions. Although more modern lore places the bat in cohorts with the devil, with its dragon-like wings, in more ancient times it was a powerful symbol.

In Babylonia bats represented the souls of the dead. In China they were symbols for happiness and long life. To the ancient Mayans, they are symbols of initiation and rebirth. To the medieval peoples, they were miniature dragons.

From the early Meso-America traditions came a sacred book of the initiatory process in which bats hold a significant role. This book was called the Popol Vuh It was discovered by Father Ximinez in the 17th century. (You can read excepts from it on Widdershins). The second book of the Popol Vuh describes the seven tests that two brothers must undergo The seventh test took them into the house of bats. Huge bats flew through the labyrinth and it was overseen by Camazotz, the god of bats. This being had the body of a human, the head and wings of a bat, and carried a great sword by which he would decapitate unwary wanderers.

This powerfully symbolic story and imagery reflects the process of transition – part human and part bat (animal). It implies a loss of one’s faculties if unwary about the changes. It also holds the promise of rebirth and coming out of the darkness.

The authors, Jamie Sams and David Carson, refer to the bat as reflecting the traditional shaman’s death – the breaking down of the former self through intense tests. It is a facing of your greatest fears – that it is time to die to some aspect of your life that is no longer suitable for you.

Most people fear transitions, holding onto a “better the devil you know than the one you don’t” kind of attitude. If a bat has flown into your life, then it is time to face your fears and prepare for change. You are being challenged to let go of the old and create the new.

For many, change is always distressing. When the bat comes into your life, you may see some part of your life begin to go from bad to worse. That which worked before may no longer. This is not negative though! And it will only be upsetting to the degree that we are emotionally attached to the old way of life or to the degree we focus on the past rather than the infinite possibilities of the future.

Changes and transformations are blessings. They are not triggered from without but from within; and the world is our mirror. As we change, even within our consciousness, everything reflected with the world also begins to change. To understand and enjoy the blessing of change, begin by taking or renewing responsibility for your life. This means opening to the power within which will override all fears.

Look beyond the immediate and limited circumstances. There can be no death without there also being rebirth. Everything reflects the divine. Remember that fear and death is choosing to block or go against the Divine energies that are yours by right of inheritance. Rebirth and life are found by choosing to follow the flow within. The choice is always ours. Remember that each time you trust your inner promptings, you chase the fears within the dark corners of your mind away.

  • What you choose to do today will have repercussions for years down the road.
  • Do you want those repercussions to be positive or negative?

Though small in stature, the bat is a powerful symbol. Its medicine is strong and can even be traumatic. It is a nocturnal animal, and the night was often considered the home of fears. Home fires and lights are often used to chase back the night and the fears rather than facing them and transmuting them.

  • Are you avoiding something that is inevitable?

Sometimes bats are a symbol of facing our fears. They have very sharp, needle-like teeth. They can also be carriers of rabies. Rabies is an infectious disease of the blood, created by a virus. It was often associated with madness. Fears that are allowed to spread, uninhibited, will eventually permeate our system and can create a kind of madness within our lives. Bats can reflect a need to face our fears. The imaginings that result from fears that are incubating are often much worse than the actual facing of the fears, themselves.

  • What are you most fearing right now?

From a naturalistic view, bats are not sinister. They play a very valuable role in nature. They feed on insects and are essential to the pollination of many plants. Their waste product, guano, is also used as a valuable fertilizer. This hints that every aspect of facing our fears will have value to us, no matter how messy it may seem to be. It holds the promise of empowerment.

The bat is also the only flying mammal. Its tremendously elongated finger bones support the wings which are made of a tough leathery skin. Its flight seems fluttery and jerky, but it is flight nonetheless All flight implies a rising above.

Because humans are mammals as well, the bat is an even more important symbol for us. It becomes a symbol of promise amidst the sometimes chaotic energies of change. It reflects the ability to move to new heights with the transitions. Yes, our own flights may seem fluttery and jerky, but we will be able to fly.

We will not only be able to fly as a result of the changes, but we will be able to see the world from an entirely new perspective. Bats sleep with their heads down. This posture has always reminded me of the Hanged Man card in the tarot deck.

This card reflects the piercing of new barriers and the opening to higher wisdom. It symbolizes a new truth being awakened. It also implies great strength and stamina to handle the ordeals that may beset you as you open to new consciousness. Its message contains the promise of new horizons and unexpected views about to manifest. Meditation upon this card would be most beneficial for those with a bat as a totem.

The bat is actually a sociable animal. It lives in flocks and thus its appearance usually reflects either a need for more sociability or increased opportunity with greater numbers of people.

The bat has a medicine which awakens great auditory perception. The idea of “blind as a bat” is wrong. Bats are not blind, and their eyes are large and developed. They can easily navigate by sight in lighted situations.

On the other hand, they are expert at maneuvering through the dark. They have a form of sonar in their nose that gives them perfect navigation. Their ability at echo-location enables them to perform amazing flying feats even within the flock. They rarely, if ever, collide. This sonar and echo-location can be linked metaphysically to the gift of clairaudience or clear-hunting. It awakens the ability to hear spirit.

Those with a bat as a totem will also find that they have an increasing ability to discern the hidden messages and implications of other people’s words. Listen as much to what is not being said. Trust your instincts. The nose is the organ of discrimination, and with its sonar located in its nose, the bat reflects the ability to discriminate and discern the truth in other people’s words.

The bat is powerful medicine. It can be trying, but it always indicates initiation – a new beginning that brings promise and power after the changes.

From: Animal Speak by Ted Andrews

Winged Balancer of Life,
Dark-faced Goddess, Daughter of Justice

Nemesis is the Greek Goddess of balance, justice, retribution, and vengeance. Evil deeds, undeserved good fortune, and crimes that go unpunished or that bring rewards, may invoke Her wrath and remorseless justice and retribution.

Nemesis resembles modern images of angels. She is a winged, wreathed woman, usually dressed in white.  She can also be seen as a Griffon holding a Wheel of Fortune. She is sometimes known as, Adrasteia, which means “The Inescapable.”

  • Other Names: Rhamnousia, Rhamnusia, Adrasteia, Adrestia
  • Plant: Mullein
  • Creature: Griffin, Goose
  • Festival: The Nemesia
  • Symbols: The wheel, wings, whip or sword, dagger, measuring rod, hourglass, bridle, scales, branch laden with apples

Nemesis measures out happiness and unhappiness making sure that happiness does not occur excessively. If you are arrogant before the Gods, she will mete out the punishment. What goes around comes around and you can be sure that Nemesis will use Her powers against those who deserve it.

She is implacable and remorseless, but she is not cruel. Nemesis distributes just deserts. She is the spirit of righteous, justified anger, directing her powers against those who have violated cosmic order. Nemesis has broader jurisdiction than the Erinyes, who may be her sisters. While the Erinyes only avenge shed blood, Nemesis takes action wherever natural laws are flouted, broken, or disrespected.

Nemesis serves as a personal goddess offering protection and sponsorship to devotees. Those who invoke her protection are expected to behave honorably and to uphold natural moral code. You can find spells and rituals that invoke Nemesis in the Book of Shadows.

It is believed that Nemesis is the daughter of Nyx the dark Goddess of night and Erebus, God of the Underworld. Her closest companion is Aidos, the Goddess of Shame. Greek prophesies suggests that when humans become more wicked than good, Nemesis and Aidos will abandon the Earth and then all hell will break loose!

Nemesis hasn’t left yet and is still administering justice. German painter Alfred Rethel painted her as an avenging angel in hot pursuit in his 1837 painting, “Nemesis Pursuing a Murderer.” According to legend, a high-ranking man with secret, undiscovered crimes on his conscience won Rethel’s painting in a Frankfurt lottery. Contemplation of Nemesis’ portrait allegedly drove him mad.

Nemesis Stones

Nemesis Stones are stones taken from an altar of Nemesis. Stones are engraved with an image of Nemesis, usually in the form of a young woman standing with one foot on a wheel. They are worn as amulets around the neck and set into rings. They exorcise and ward off evil spirits as well as preventing and banishing nightmares and healing the moonstruck.

Spirit Allies:

Nemesis’ closest companion is Aidos, Goddess of Shame, and Artemis is Nemesis’ good friend. She may be worshiped together with Themis, Goddess of Divine Order. Nemesis is often found in the company of Tyche, Goddess of Fortune, if only to ensure that people get what they deserve.

Origins:

As the “Goddess of Rhamnous”, Nemesis was honored and placated in an archaic sanctuary in the isolated district of Rhamnous, in northeastern Attica. There she was a daughter of Oceanus, the primeval river-ocean that encircles the world.

Pausanias noted her iconic statue there. It included a crown of stags and little Nikes and was made by Pheidias after the Battle of Marathon (490 BC), crafted from a block of Parian marble brought by the overconfident Persians, who had intended to make a memorial stele after their expected victory. Her cult may have originated at Smyrna.

Nemesis and Helen of Troy

In some metaphysical mythology, Nemesis produced the egg from which hatched two sets of twins: Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra, and the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux. While many myths indicate Zeus and Leda to be the parents of Helen of Troy, the author of the compilation of myth called Bibliotheke notes the possibility of Nemesis being the mother of Helen.

Nemesis, to avoid Zeus, turns into a goose, but he turns into a swan and mates with her. The story is as follows:

Rich-haired Nemesis gave birth to Helene when she had been joined in love with Zeus the king of the gods by harsh violence. For Nemesis tried to escape him and liked not to lie in love with her father Zeus the son of Kronos; for shame and indignation vexed her heart: therefore she fled him over the land and fruitless dark sea.

But Zeus ever pursued and longed in his heart to catch her. Now she took the form of a fish and sped over the waves of the loud-roaring sea, and now over Oceanus’ stream and the furthest bounds of Earth, and now she sped over the furrowed land, always turning into such dread creatures as the dry land nurtures, that she might escape him.

Nemesis, as she fled from Zeus’ embrace, took the form of a goose; whereupon Zeus as a swan had intercourse with her. From this union she laid an egg, which some herdsman found among the trees and handed over to Leda. She kept it in a box, and when Helene was hatched after the proper length of time, she reared her as her own. It is in this way that Leda comes to be the mother of Helen of Troy.

Here is a slightly different story, which also explains the creation of the Constellation Cygnus (or the Swan):

When Zeus, moved by desire, had begun to love Nemesis, and couldn’t persuade her to lie with him, he relieved his passion by the following plan. He bade Venus Aphrodite, in the form of an eagle, pursue him; he, changed to a swan, as if in flight from the eagle, took refuge with Nemesis and lighted in her lap. Nemesis did not thrust him away, but holding him in her arms, fell into a deep sleep.

While she slept, Zeus embraced her, and then flew away. Because he was seen by men flying high in the sky, they said he was put in the stars. To make this really true, Jupiter put the swan flying and the eagle pursuing in the sky. But Nemesis, as if wedded to the tribe of birds, when her months were ended, bore an egg. Hermes took it away and carried it to Sparta and threw it in Leda’s lap. From it sprang Helen, who excelled all other girls in beauty.

Nemesis and Narcissus

Although a respected goddess, Nemesis brought much sorrow to mortals such as Echo and Narcissus. Narcissus was a very beautiful and arrogant hunter from the territory of Thespiae and Boeotia, who disdained the ones who loved him.

Nemesis lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was only an image. He was unable to leave the beauty of his reflection and he eventually died. Nemesis believed that no one should ever have too much goodness in their lives, and she had always cursed those who were blessed with countless gifts.

Sources:

Eat pumpkins quickly, lest they turn into vampires. People aren’t the only beings who can become vampiric. According to Balkan Romani folk traditions, hard-shelled, seedy fruits and vegetables can become vampires too. Although melons and squashes can also be vampiric, pumpkins – maybe because of Halloween associations – have garnered the most attention.

The potential vampire is activated when a pumpkin is kept longer than ten days or not consumed before Christmas. Leaving it out all night exposed to a full moon may activate transformation, too. Not every pumpkin is guaranteed to turn into a vampire just as not every corpse is expected to rise. Vampire pumpkins betray themselves by making growling noises or developing red, vaguely blood-like splotches on their shells.

In general, there’s no need to worry about vampire pumpkins very much. As they don’t possess teeth, they can’t cause sudden, immediate harm. They are, however, unhealthy to keep around as they gradually absorb psychic energy from those around them. If a person is debilitated with low energy and a weak aura, such pumpkins can eventually cause damage, although it is a slow process. Vampire pumpkins also attract malevolent spirits.

Plunge vampiric pumpkins (or other suspect produce) into boiling water to kill them. Then break them into pieces and discard. (The traditional weapon for breaking them is a branch or handmade broom, which is then also discarded.)

From: Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells

The Black Dog is among Britain’s most famous spectral hounds. It may be dangerous and malevolent or helpful and benevolent. It usually serves as a guardian of treasure or a sacred place. If left alone, it usually leaves you alone, too, but if aggression is shown toward it, the Black Dog isn’t afraid to demonstrate supernatural powers, potentially causing terrible wounds, paralysis, or death before vanishing into thin air.

  • Manifestation: A shaggy black dog the size of a calf with glowing, red eyes.
  • Other names: Moddey Dhoo, Mauthe Doog, Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock

This ghostly canine is also known as Mauthe Doog, a calf sized black dog who haunts Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. Guards saw the specter so often, they eventually grew less fearful. But, according to lore, one drunk soldier went down a passage in the castle to confront the ghost dog. He came back too terrified to speak and died three days later. The passage was sealed and never used again. Mauthe Doog sightings, however, continued.

Black Shuck

Black Shuck, Old Shuck, Old Shock or simply Shuck is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia, one of many ghostly black dogs recorded in folklore across the British Isles. Accounts of Black Shuck form part of the folklore of Norfolk, Suffolk, the Cambridgeshire fens and Essex, and descriptions of the creature’s appearance and nature vary considerably; it is sometimes recorded as an omen of death, but, in other instances, is described as companionable.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name Shuck derives from the Old English word scucca – “devil, fiend”, from the root word skuh- to terrify.  The first mention in print of “Black Shuck” is by Reverend E.S. Taylor in an 1850 edition of the journal Notes and Queries which describes “Shuck the Dog-fiend”;

“This phantom I have heard many persons in East Norfolk, and even Cambridgeshire, describe as having seen as a black shaggy dog, with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.”

Images of black sinister dogs have become part of the iconography of the area and have appeared in popular culture. Writing in 1877, Walter Rye stated that Shuck was “the most curious of our local apparitions, as they are no doubt varieties of the same animal.”

Descriptions of Black Shuck vary in both shape and size, from that of a large dog to being the size of a calf or horse. W. A. Dutt, in his 1901 Highways & Byways in East Anglia describes the creature thus:

He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer’s blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. You may know him at once, should you see him, by his fiery eye; he has but one, and that, like the Cyclops’, is in the middle of his head. But such an encounter might bring you the worst of luck: it is even said that to meet him is to be warned that your death will occur before the end of the year.

So you will do well to shut your eyes if you hear him howling; shut them even if you are uncertain whether it is the dog fiend or the voice of the wind you hear. Should you never set eyes on our Norfolk Snarleyow you may perhaps doubt his existence, and, like other learned folks, tell us that his story is nothing but the old Scandinavian myth of the black hound of Odin, brought to us by the Vikings who long ago settled down on the Norfolk coast. 

Dr Simon Sherwood suggests that the earliest surviving description of devilish black hounds is an account of an incident in the Peterborough Abbey recorded in the Peterborough Chronicle (one version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle) around 1127.

This account also appears to describe the Europe-wide phenomenon of a Wild Hunt.:

Let no-one be surprised at the truth of what we are about to relate, for it was common knowledge throughout the whole country that immediately after [Abbot Henry of Poitou’s arrival at Peterborough Abbey] – it was the Sunday when they sing Exurge Quare – many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting.

The huntsmen were black, huge and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats and the hounds were jet black with eyes like saucers and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns.

Reliable witnesses who kept watch in the night declared that there might well have been as many as twenty or thirty of them winding their horns as near they could tell. This was seen and heard from the time of his arrival all through Lent and right up to Easter.”

Abraham Fleming’s account of the appearance of “A strange, and terrible wunder” in 1577 at Bungay, Suffolk is a famous account of the beast.

“A straunge, and terrible Wunder wrought very late in the parish church of Bongay: a town of no great distance from the citie of Norwich, namely the fourth of this August, in the yeere of our Lord 1577. in a great tempest of violent raine, lightning, and thunder, the like wherof hath been seldome seene. With the appeerance of an horrible shaped thing, sensibly perceiued of the people then and there assembled. Drawen into a plain method according to the written copye. by Abraham Fleming.”

One of the most notable reports of Black Shuck is of his appearance at the churches of Bungay and Blythburgh in Suffolk. On 4 August 1577, at Blythburgh, Black Shuck is said to have burst in through the doors of Holy Trinity Church to a clap of thunder. He ran up the nave, past a large congregation, killing a man and boy and causing the church steeple to collapse through the roof. As the dog left, he left scorch marks on the north door which can be seen at the church to this day.

The encounter on the same day at St Mary’s Church, Bungay was described in A Straunge and Terrible Wunder by Abraham Fleming in 1577:

This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) running all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed. 

Fleming was a translator and editor for several printing houses in London, and therefore probably only published his account based on exaggerated oral accounts. Other local accounts attribute the event to the Devil (Fleming calls the animal “the Divel in such a likeness”). The scorch marks on the door are referred to by the locals as “the devil’s fingerprints”, and the event is remembered in this verse:

All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew, and, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew. 

Dr David Waldron and Christopher Reeve suggest that a fierce electrical storm recorded by contemporary accounts on that date, coupled with the trauma of the ongoing Reformation, may have led to the accounts entering folklore.

Littleport, Cambridgeshire is home to two different legends of spectral black dogs, which have been linked to the Black Shuck folklore, but differ in significant aspects: local folklorist W.H. Barrett relates the story of a huge black dog haunting the area after being killed rescuing a local girl from a lustful friar in pre-reformation times, while fellow folklorist Enid Porter relates stories of a black dog haunting the A10 road after its owner drowned in the nearby River Great Ouse in the 1800s.

Sources:

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