Now that we’re in spooky season, here are a few books to read to get you in the mood. Each one is filled with history or interesting stories from places around the world. So pick up one of these and improve your knowledge of all things creepy!
Creating your Vintage Hallowe’en: The Folklore, Traditions, and some Crafty Makes by Marion Paull
This fun book takes you through the long history of Halloween. It discusses its origins in ancient times beginning with the Celtic festival of Samhain. From there, the author explains how pagan traditions of All Hallows’ Eve evolved through the medieval period with the advent of Christianity. Eventually, the holiday became transformed by Americans throughout the 19th and 20th centuries when Irish and Scottish immigrants arrived in the United States. The book also discusses the origins of Halloween symbols like black cats, jack o’lanterns, skeletons, and witches. Included in the book are fun craft ideas for making trick or treat baskets, ghost decorations, haunted house lanterns, costumes, and more. The author also gives some nice snippets from various poems.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2GhRknj
The Ghostly Register by Arthur Myers
An older book on this list, but a must have, the author acts as your travel guide as he takes you to all sorts of haunted locations in more than half of the fifty states. The book is written in a report style with subheadings, showing the author’s journalistic background. It explores more famous haunts like the Winchester Mystery House, the Queen Mary, and the Edgar Allan Poe House. The book also discusses non-human entities haunting places such as a dragon that seems to protect a small community in Texas and an elemental, a nature spirit, that lead to problems for one family. One of my favorite passages is about Bara-Hack, a village in Connecticut that is now uninhabited, but reports of ghostly sounds being heard in the village date back to its founding in the late 1700s. As a side note, the chapter on Witch Hollow Farm explains that a Mary Tyler was condemned as a witch in Salem in 1693, but the one Mary Tyler I know of (who was actually the sister-in-law of Sarah Parker’s sister Hannah) was found not guilty.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3l5j9ib
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty
Mortician Caitlin Doughty, who runs the Ask a Mortician YouTube channel, travels the globe in this book to explore how death is treated in various cultures. She starts by contrasting typical Western death rituals to that of the open-air cremations held in Crestone, Colorado. Next, she travels to South Sulawesi, Indonesia to see how they keep the mummified corpses of their relatives in their house and to Mexico for their Días de los Muertos festivities and rituals. Likewise, she goes to Japan, which has the highest cremation rate in the world, and views an establishment that contains light up crystal Buddhas that correspond to cremated remains. Another Japanese ritual she explains is how families will be involved in the cremation process by picking up the charred remains of their family members and placing them in the urn. Through exploring these different views of death and more, Doughty urges those of us in the Western world to become more comfortable with death and to not be afraid to get closer to our deceased loved ones, whether in caring for their bodies or remembering them long after they die.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2S3wkU3
The Complete Book of Ghosts by Paul Roland
After a brief history of how spirits have been viewed through time and by different cultures, author Paul Roland gives you various examples of ghostly encounters. The author discusses the famous ghosts of the Tower of London all the way to the hauntings at the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona. Also discussed are people with supposedly psychic abilities as well as those who attempt to gather evidence of the existence of the other side. Some of the most chilling sections of the book are those that discuss the appearance of a seemingly normal person’s spirit double, or doppelganger, and how a tour of Versailles turned into a literal trip to the past for two women. This book will leave you wondering just how many strange events or psychological and medical problems are actually spirit related. It even gives you instructions for how to have an other-worldy experience for yourself.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/36d6hlC
Witchcraft: A Secret History by Michael Streeter
In this book, the author explores witchcraft and magic in the ancient world, especially how goddesses and biblical characters used these practices, and how they were viewed by the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Celts, and the Norse. Then he explains how the early Christians associated practitioners of magic with the devil and how church supported persecution of witches led to thousands of people, mostly women, being executed. The witch hunts then spread to the new world only for them to slowly dwindle out as science, better laws, and general skepticism of former witch hunts took hold. Yet magical practices survived in the world thanks to so called “cunning folk” and the eventual founding of the modern Wicca religion in the 20th century. This book is good for dispelling some of the myths surrounding the history of witchcraft and for clearing up misconceptions about modern practitioners of the craft. I also liked that the book explains how modern witches have taken up practices from the old religions and how views of magic in the ancient world helped to form the foundation for how witches would be viewed for centuries to come.
Buy at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mWcZlU
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