Easter Bunny. Friend or Foe?

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Easter weekend is upon us again. I’ll be dying eggs tonight with my family and preparing to host everyone for a meal on Sunday after sunrise service at a park here in my town. We will have an egg hunt or two and hopefully, we can find all the eggs. There have been a few years when some of the eggs disappeared into a different dimension and were never seen again. Pretty typical Easter.

My kids have made sure we have carrots for the Easter Bunny. I don’t know about you, but I think he might be the strangest Easter icon of all. You might believe he came about because he’s a symbol of new life and pagan in origin, but he might be more German than pagan.

German immigrants brought the tradition of Osterhase or Oschter Haws, a colored egg-laying rabbit, to America with them. As the tradition spread so did the gifts the bunny drops off on Easter morning to include chocolate, games, and other goodies.

Now, let’s think about that for a minute. A rabbit. That lays eggs. Colored eggs, no less.

Then the little freak, or mutation, or whatever he is, also leaves chocolate. Sometimes in the shape of HIMSELF. I don’t even want to know where the chocolate comes from!

I think there’s more weirdness going on here than first meets the eye.

I know what you are thinking. It’s a cute little furry bunny who brings nothing but happiness. But check this out. If you look at this one just right, it looks likes an alien skull. AN ALIEN for crying out loud! animal-1934328_1920

Yes, you say. But they are cute and furry. Oh? Really? He looks pissed. And look at those claws! I dare you to touch his eggs. Those things aren’t easy to lay, you know.easter-eggs-2009530_1920

That’s not even a bunny, just a bear impersonating a bunny. Okay, what do you say about this guy? What is that sticking out of his mouth? Antenna? Feelers? What, I ask, WHAT?DEARLORDBUNNY

I’m not being fair to the bunny you say? Okay, how do you explain these guys? It’s a whole dang army. Those are not bunny buck teeth. They are FANGS! I can see the bloodlust in their eyes.bunnies-151390_1280

Look at more traditional Easter Bunnies? Oh, all right. These guys look like specters haunting the woods ready to curse you or eat your soul.decoration-1557661_1920

Too commercial? Homemade bunnies are better. Really? easter-bunny-7253_1920

Oh, and look! Another unholy bunny army! You might want to eat them before they eat you. I think I see some black-eyed bunnies in there!easter-bunny-7255_1920

Come on, Joy! You are shouting at me now. Kids love the Easter Bunny, you say. Yep, looks like love all right. I’ll bet this poor kid is still in therapy.WEREBUNNY

Hey! That’s over the top now, you object. All I can say is, it’s better than this guy showing up! HALLOWEENBUNNY

Okay. Would you rather have this show up? easterbunnywagon

Now that we have examined the Easter Bunny, I’m not so sure I want him to come by.

On second thought, it’s worth it to get some treats! Hi, my name is Joy and I’m a chocoholic.

We had some fun with our dear rabbit. Take a moment to consider the most amazing icon of this holiday, the tomb is empty. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

p.s. a special thanks to Pixabay for providing many of the fun images!

Top 5 Reads and Flicks for a Spooky Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us and fans of romance everywhere are rejoicing. Hearts, flowers, sweet chocolates, and sparkly cards will be flowing. But there is absolutely no reason that us horror fans should feel left out. Here are my top five things you can read or watch to keep your Valentine’s Day spooky.

To Read:

1. The Monk: A Romance by Matthew Gregory Lewismonk

Don’t let the fact that this book was published in 1796 put you off. Star-crossed lovers, pregnant nuns, cross-dressing monks, murder, rape, incest, ghosts, demons, and sorcery rule the twisting plot and subplots. Oh, did I mention Satan himself is one of the characters?

2. The Witching Hour by Anne Ricewitching

A story of a matriarchal family of witches with varying talents and powers. The newest head of the family, Rowan and her lover Micheal Curry, have a deep and touching romance. Rowan used her skill as a doctor and her powers of psychic healing to save his life. But the Mayfair family’s personal demon Lasher wants Rowan for his own and there is little he won’t do to get her. Now that’s a messed up love triangle. At over 900 pages it’s a longer read, but totally worth it.

3. Salem’s Lot by Stephen Kingsalems-lot

Writer Ben Mears returns to his hometown of Jerusalem’s lot after losing his wife in an accident. He plans on writing a book about his boyhood there. Love is a powerful healer and he strikes up a passionate romance with a local young woman named, Susan Norton. Their picnics and canoodling is interrupted when a local boy goes missing. Then the townsfolk start dropping one by one, converted to the undead by a mysterious vampire, Mr. Barlow. Leave it to a vampire to suck all the fun out of a new romance.

To Watch

drac4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker; Screenplay by James V. Hart; Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

Lovers torn apart by duty. A man who gave all for the Church only to see his love condemned for eternity. A vow of revenge with a price to be paid until the end of time. And that’s just in the first ten minutes. When the Count finds Mina and realizes she is his beloved Elisabeta reincarnated, redemption is near. Too bad everyone else wants to drive a stake through his heart and cut off his head. This movie closely follows the original novel by Bram Stoker more than some other Dracula films. It’s quite sensual and visually beautiful. You’ll find yourself disgusted with the Count one minute and cheering for him the next.

41irodztwxl-_sx342_5. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour.

This creepy story takes place in the fictional place of Bad City, Iran. Just like the name implies, it is a place of crime, drugs, and hopelessness. A lonely skateboard riding female vampire stalks the inhabitants, preying on the most depraved residents. She meets a young man Arash and they begin to fall in love. Too bad Arash’s father is one of the most depraved citizens around. Shot in black and white this tale of love is weirdly fascinating!

It’s no surprise that three out of the five on my list are vampire stories, right!? Enjoy your Valentine’s Day. If you need some card ideas, check out my blog post Valentine Cards to Die For. It will keep the spooky Valentine theme going. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights!

The 4th of July, Angels, and Other Weird Stuff You Should Know

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America’s birthday is upon us once again. To most folks it means bar-b-cues and fireworks. Some of those folks might recall that way back when someone dumped some tea in a harbor and George Washington kicked the British out after a long cold winter at Valley Forge. Oh yeah, and a guy named Paul Revere rode a horse warning that the British were coming so George could kick them out. Clearly, there is quite a bit more to it than that and the American revolution really is a very compelling story. As with any major event in world history, there are many myths surrounding this period. Some of them with a supernatural twist.

Considered by many to be the “Father of our Country,” from the cherry tree story to the composition of his dentures, George Washington boasts numerous myths and legends, second only to Benjamin Franklin. One such story comes out of the harsh and deadly winter at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War. Washington and the Continental Army wintered there in 1777-1778 under brutal conditions. 10,000 men began the winter and only 7,500 remained to see the spring thaw thanks to freezing temperatures, food shortages, and disease.

As the unverifiable (according to Snopes, likely fabricated) story goes, Washington was sitting at a table in his tent writing a communique when a beautiful otherworldly woman appeared to him. Referring to him as “Son of the Republic” she showed him a vision of the “birth, progress, and destiny of the United States”. Seeing that the Union would prevail and prosper gave him the renewed strength to endure the current and coming challenges.

You can’t think about the Revolutionary War without thinking about the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is not just the famous “we hold these truths to be self evident” part but basically an indictment of the King. Signing the document would be an act of treason and these men’s property and very lives were at stake. There were tense moments of debate when the adoption of the document almost stalled.

There is a legend that says it was during one of these pivotal moments when an unknown person stood and gave a deeply rousing speech. When he finished the group erupted and even the most hesitant signed the document. When they turned to congratulate the man on his words, he had vanished. Was he a very humble patriot, an angel, a time traveler, or something else? Here’s an excerpt from his oration:

“Sign that parchment! Sign, if the next moment the gibbet’s rope is about your neck! Sign, if the next minute this hall rings with the clash of falling axes! Sign, by all your hopes in life or death, as men, as husbands, as fathers, brothers, sign your names to the parchment, or be accursed forever! Sign, and not only for your selves, but for all ages, for that parchment will be the textbook of freedom, the bible of the rights of man forever.’’

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There is one strange coincidence that is verifiable, three of the first five Presidents passed away on July 4.  Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died in 1826 and James Monroe died on that day in 1831.

The birth of America is a truly fascinating and dramatic period. Personally, I like to learn about history from perspectives other than the commonly accepted “text book” versions. Kenneth C. Davis wrote a really great read, Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know about American History but Never Learned. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is another.

New perspectives on commonly known events provide deeper understanding about history and the people who lived it, and even those who keep re-living it. After all, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed, is said to be haunted by none other than Benjamin Franklin.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Photo by: Rdsmith4, Wikimedia Commons

Independence Hall, Philadelphia. Photo by: Rdsmith4, Wikimedia Commons

Happy Independence Day!

Eerily Beautiful World of Relics

We are approaching Easter Sunday this weekend. Thinking about the meaning of this holiday for many, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the many religious relics of the passion always come to my mind. A religious relic is either the physical remains (whole or in part) or personal effect of a venerated person used as a tangible memorial. Think of it as a souvenir of sorts.

Growing up in Catholic school I used to imagine strange and spooky relics hidden in the nooks of my school or our church. The many alcoves and hidden areas (that grown ups said were so you could pray in private, uh-huh) reinforced my morbid imagination.

The Shroud of Turin is probably the most recognized relic related to the resurrection. The centuries old linen clothe has the image of a man, apparently crucified, visibly impressed on it. Many believe that man is Jesus of Nazareth and the power of the resurrection burned his likeness into the burial clothe. The Shroud has been the subject of intense and detailed study over the years. Carbon dating from 1988 and 2013 have contradicting results, the later test putting the age of the clothe to around the time that historians believe Jesus was crucified. Is it a forgery, a piece of artwork, or the real deal? I admit when I look at pictures of the Shroud of Turin it leaves me awestruck.

In 2013 archeologist excavating the ancient Balatlar Church in Turkey found a stone chest that may contain a piece of wood from the cross Christ died on. There are many reliquaries in various churches across Europe that claim to contain actual pieces of the cross. Pieces of this relic have made it across the ocean to the Americas, as well. There is a church in Florida that not only has a piece of the cross but a part of the table that the Last Supper was eaten from. A more popular culture reference, in the documentary My Amityville Horror, demonologist Lorraine Warren produces a relic she says is a splinter from the cross of Christ.

The crown of thorns placed on Jesus’ head while he was mocked before his death is housed at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and is displayed throughout the year. While it looks like it could be authentic it has never been officially authenticated.

Shroud of Turin, Wood from the Cross of Christ, Crown of Thorns relic

Shroud of Turin, Wood from the Cross of Christ, Crown of Thorns relic

 

Those relics from the passion and resurrection are interesting and even beautiful. However, there are many relics that are rather strange and equally interesting as disturbing.

Heads –

  • Saint Catherine of Siena – This devoted young woman who by her own description, experienced a “mythical marriage” with Jesus that has been the subject of many works of art and writings. She helped the poor and sick and even influenced politics. She died in Rome in 1380 at only 33. Blessed Raymond of Capua, Saint Catherine’s former spiritual director, sent the head back to Siena so a part of her could be in her home town. The mummified head is still housed today at the Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico in Italy.
  • John the Baptist – John had been telling King Herod that it was not cool that he had his brother’s wife, Herodias. Herodias used her daughter to ask for John’s head on a silver plate, can you say Sociopath? Legend says that his severed head was passed from person to person, place to place and the grace coming from the head was able to heal people. Where it is today is a matter of contention. Muslims believe his head is inside the Umayyad Mosque in Syria, while Christians believe it is on display in Rome, buried in Turkey or in France’s Amiens Cathedral.
St. Catherine, John the Baptit

St. Catherine, John the Baptist

Blood –

  • St. Januarius – Legend says he was beheaded in 305 C.E. for hiding fellow Christians during a persecution by Emperor Diocietian. Just after his death a woman saved some of his blood, the now dried blood is stored in two hermetically sealed ampoules. However, three times a year thousands come to Naples Cathedral to witness as the dried blood becomes liquifed.
  • St. Lawrence – He was martyred in 258 C.E. by being roasted alive on a large grill. Some of his blood was caught and like St. Januarius the centuries old dried blood turns to liquid in full-view of the worshippers.
  • Pope John Paul II – There are three known containers of his blood. One is a not a vial of blood but a piece of fabric stained with his blood after he was shot in 1981. Just this year, thieves broke into the remote mountain church of San Pietro della Lenca in Italy and stole the relic. It has since been recovered and returned to the church. Talk about bad mojo.

janjanuarius-(1)

The Incorruptibles – 

Basically, this is when the dead body of a saint shows no sign of decomposition, some for over a thousand years! Unlike a mummy their skin remains supple looking. Catholics believe this to be a miracle and is a sign of the deceased holiness.

saintsCollage

 

Various Body Parts –

  • Finger of St. Thomas – Thomas said he would not believe that Christ had risen unless he could put his finger in the wounds from the crucifixion, a risen Christ obliged. The Church of Santa Croce in Rome has the a preserved finger alleged to be the very one Thomas put into Christ’s wounds.
  • Tongue of St. Anthony – 750 years ago the tongue of St. Anthony was found to be an incorruptible relic. Perhaps because of his skilled preaching. Westminster Cathedral in Britain houses a piece of dried flesh and some facial skin said to be the tongue.

The Weirdest –

  • The Holy Foreskin – Supposedly when young Jesus was circumcised his foreskin was saved. Many churches claimed to have the relic but by the end of the 18th century these had been discredit but rumors kept circulating. Considered to be the only flesh of Jesus left on the earth you can see why some believers would like to possess it. In the Italian village of Calcata a reliquary containing what is reported to be the true Holy Prepuce was paraded annually until thieves stole it. National Geographic produced a documentary The Quest for the Holy Foreskin to search for any trace of the afore mentioned relic.

Relics are not exclusively Catholic, many religions and belief systems contain them. The faithful find them reassuring to their faith. Skeptics point out that many have been proven as fake.  One very pious woman I know said it didn’t matter if they are real or fake, if it got people thinking about Jesus it was enough. However, some point out that people become too focused on the relic and put their adoration in a very wrong direction. Then there are those who find the arena of relics to be just plain morbid and bizarre. It does seem terribly strange but how many of us have kept a funeral card or a flower from funeral flowers of a loved one? Perhaps relics are just an extreme version of that. At any rate they are weird and you know how I like that.

For those readers who celebrate Easter, have a most excellent holiday and those who don’t have a most excellent Sunday. Until next time, Never Turn Off the Lights.

 

 

 

 

Happy Mardi Gras and National Pancake Day!

It must be fate, National Pancake Day and Mardi Gras on the same day!

What an exciting time in perhaps the most haunted city in America.The origins of Mardi Gras go way back to medieval Europe and perhaps even as far back as ancient rituals of fertility that celebrated the coming of Spring. But in New Orleans it’s time for parades, throws (beads and such thrown from the floats), costumes, lavish parties, and reveling in the streets before the penitent time of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Some say that the excitement and energy of the events attract the dead of New Orleans just as readily as the living. Some of the parade routes include passing by cemeteries, funeral homes, and other supposed haunted locations. According to some, as the parade passes these areas they pick up some otherworldly participants and they have photos to prove it.

I found a few of these photos on line at Haunted New Orleans Tours. I know photos can be faked and manipulated, what do you think?

French Quarter Parade

French Quarter Parade

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GHOST-WALKS-THE-STREETS

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If you’re like me and can’t go yourself, books are the next best thing. Ruined, a Novel, by Paula Morris is a terrific choice. It takes place in New Orleans where we follow newcomer Rebecca as she struggles with moving into her Aunt Claudia’s strange and spooky house and navigating the alien social structures of her new life. Ghosts, a haunted cemetery, New Orleans’ lifestyle, a mystery, Mardi Gras Krewes, a cute boy, and some mean girls. What more could you ask from a book? Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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If you are lucky enough to go to Mardi Gras take as many photos as you can. If you get anything weird, feel free to share with those of us who can’t be there. By weird, I don’t mean topless folks or broken fingers of those who tried to grab throws that hit the ground but any non-humans or former humans who might be partying with you.

If you can’t go to Mardi Gras you could head over to IHOP to celebrate with some free pancakes and make a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Having had preemie babies in a NICU for many long weeks this cause is near and dear to me. At any rate, celebrate away! Tomorrow marks the start of the Lenten season.

Valentine Cards to Die For!

Valentine’s day can be kind of scary and raise all kinds of uncertainty. What to give? Will I get anything from anyone? If I give will it be received or thrown back in my face with a hardy laugh? Will I be gracious, by gracious I mean have the pepper spray ready, when the creepy person in my life gives me a valentine? Yes, truly terrifying.

In my quest to find the perfect Valentine gift for my valentine I ran across some pretty amazing cards. The kind of cards that just really celebrate the darker side of this love-fueled holiday.

Let’s begin with sweet and paranormal:

ghost ghostlove

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for some pop-culture creepiness:

vampire hannibal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specifically for the vegetarian in your life:

forthevegetarian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case that wasn’t gross enough, try this one:

puke

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing says “be mine” like these lovely examples (or should I say threats?):

stocks drowning skunk

Let’s just call it like it is:

stalker

 

 

 

 

 

 

A romantic dinner suggestion:

cannibal

 

Speaking of cannibals, nothing is more romantic than zombies:

wlkingdead zombie brains

 

 

 

The one thing we all think of when we think romance:

clown

 

Let’s not forget the demonic:

demoncat devil

 

What every teacher wants to find on his/her desk:

teacher

 

You can’t go wrong with hand-made, right? It shows how much thought and time you put into the gift. It’s a creative way to show what is truly in your heart.

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Valentine from Mia Farrow to Woody Allen via Perez Hilton. Click image for the full story.

Well, there you have it. I told you Valentine’s day was scary. I hope these lovelies help the day live up to your expectations.

Happy Valentine’s day and remember never turn off the lights, especially if you got one of these, and particularly if it’s from Mia Farrow.