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Halloween History and a Conversation with the Holiday’s Leading Expert, Lesley Bannatyne – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #18

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Lesley Bannatyne, the nation's leading expert on Halloween, The Big Séance Podcast

 

Halloween is just days away, so what better time to talk about the history of my favorite holiday with the nation’s leading expert on Halloween, Lesley Bannatyne! She’s the author of five books on the topic of Halloween, including Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History, which will celebrate 25 years of being in print in 2015. Click HERE for my review of this book.

 

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Halloween History

Topics discussed in this episode:

Can you guess Lesley’s favorite Halloween candy?

Lesley shares some of her favorite memories from the holiday. 

Where did Halloween come from?

  • Samhain
  • Harvest
  • Darkness and the coming winter
  • Folklore and Superstition
  • “The Other World”
  • All Hallows/All Saints Day
  • All Souls Day
  • Pranks and Mischiefs
  • Guy Fawkes
  • Victorians and Halloween Parties

When did Trick-or-Treating become a part of Halloween? 1940s

  • Kids and mischief around Halloween
  • Adults threw Halloween parties to keep young people from mischief and vandalism. It didn’t work. 
  • Adults learned to offer food and treats (extortion/begging?) in exchange for no mischief or violence on their property. 
  • Trick-or-Treating seen on television for the first time
  • Trick-or-Treat for Unicef (charity)

When did costumes go from being disguises to a way of expression? Costumes then and now. 

Our favorite symbols of Halloween. Where did they come from?

  • The Witch
  • The Black Cat
  • The Bat
  • Pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns
  • Are Scarecrows disappearing?

The Victorians and Halloween… how did they celebrate?

  • Parties and Decorations
  • Games
  • “Dumb Supper”
  • Seeing the image of your future love

Lesley shares how she researched and found historic articles and information from Halloweens past from vintage periodicals. 

Urban Myths about Halloween

  • Fear
  • Apples and razor blades
  • Black Cats and Satanic Sacrifice

Church, Religion, and Halloween

How has Halloween changed since Lesley’s book was first released?

What does duct tape have to do with Halloween? (Ha!)

 

For More on Lesley Bannatyne:

www.iskullhalloween.com

Lesley’s Books

For More Halloween History

Why Halloween Matters

The Literature of Old Halloween

Check out Lesley’s appearance on the BBC on Halloween day!

Check out her appearance on the History Channel’s The Real Story of Halloween

 

Thanks, Lesley!

 

Don’t forget!! Are you a regular listener? Please e-mail (or call, or SpeakPipe) with where you’re listening from, and how you’re listening! I’d appreciate it! Patrick@BigSeance.com

 

Sam Haynes, Spine ChillersSpooky Music featured on this episode is from Sam Haynes. You can find more about Sam and his music at http://www.hauntmusic.co.uk/. Thanks, Sam!

 

 

 

The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple PodcastsSpotifyTuneIn RadioStitcherGoogle Play Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!


Some Halloween Poetry On This Chilly Autumn Evening

On this chilly autumn evening, I’ve been bundled and working my way through A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past, edited by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. You’ll find tons of great things in this book and I love Ms. Bannatyne. I can’t write poetry, and I have to work very hard at reading it. However, I do like these two, also included in Lesley’s book, and both in the public domain. I like that they were written in a time period that has really been resonating with me lately. And with 10 days till Halloween, they’re totally appropriate for putting you in the mood. 

 

All Souls (1909)

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton

I

A THIN moon faints in the sky o’erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

II
Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope–
For the year’s on the turn and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.

III
And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.

IV
And now they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: “Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!”
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.

V
Till they say, as they hear us–poor dead, poor dead!–
“Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed–
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
A touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart–
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.”

VI
And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
“One more, one more, ere we go their way”?
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.

VII
And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, wee too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it’s All Souls’ night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away. . .

 

Hallowe’en (1910)

John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs

John Kendrick Bangs

The ghosts of all things past parade, 
Emerging from the mist and shade 
That hid them from our gaze, 
And, full of song and ringing mirth, 
In one glad moment of rebirth, 
And again they walk the ways of earth 
As in the ancient days.

The beacon light shines on the hill, 
The will-o’-wisps the forests fill 
With flashes filched from noon;
And witches on their broomsticks spry 
Speed here and yonder in the sky, 
And lift their strident voices high
Unto the Hunter’s Moon.

The air resounds with tuneful notes 
From myriads of straining throats, 
All hailing Folly Queen; 
So join the swelling choral throng, 
Forget your sorrow and your wrong, 
In one glad hour of joyous song 
To honor Hallowe’en!

 

You might also like: 

The Wraith (Paranormalogistically)

“Can you help me?” I’ll never forget. (Big Séance)

Halloween Memories and Nostalgia from This Generation X-er (Big Séance)

Skin and Bones (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

 

 

 


Two More Halloween Books from Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Last year I read and reviewed an amazing book by a true Halloween expert, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. The book is titled HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History. I loved it and learned so much from it that I’ve referenced the book several times here on the blog. I immediately ordered her follow up book, but I saved it for this year’s autumn lineup. So tonight I present to you HALLOWEEN NATION: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night.

If Lesley’s first Halloween book is the history, then HALLOWEEN NATION is a fun and in-depth snapshot of the current reality of the holiday here in the USA, with some history thrown in when it is necessary, of course. The book covers everything from our obsessions with ghosts, witches, zombies, costumes, and pumpkins, to tricks and pranks, and the different ways we choose (as children AND adults) to celebrate the holiday. Also, she discusses many of the horrifying and heart-stopping haunts that we love to put ourselves through for entertainment. And she truly does go behind scenes, tracking down many interesting people, such as event organizers, a witch, artists, people in the haunted attraction industry, and the people who build and create the creatures used in those attractions.  

The book includes a 20-page section of notes that really shouldn’t be skipped. I’m in the process of finishing these now. She also includes a section of helpful resources and a selected bibliography.

HALLOWEEN NATION is full of fascinating photos in full color. Lesley writes in a friendly style and tends to add humor at the very moment you have the urge to turn to your invisible friend to throw in a funny comment. She’s got you covered.   

A few weeks ago I also picked up Lesley’s A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past. I grabbed this one in hopes of finding some stories to share with my students at school on Halloween. I always try to do something different, spooky, and fun to celebrate the day. I’ve also just become more and more fascinated and interested in the history of the holiday. If anyone has access to a time machine, let me know please. I haven’t started this book yet, but I believe I’ll start tonight!

For more on Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, visit her site at iskullhalloween.com.

 

You might also like:

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude - The Paranormalist)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude – The Paranormalist)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

 

 

 


HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History…

It makes me sad to admit, but my reading has really slowed down in recent months with so much going on. So I knew I needed to get an early start on this one to get it done in time. I’ve always been the person who gets overly excited about each season before it even arrives (my first “Fall” post was back on August 1st, for God’s sake), so it really worked out for me. 

As you’ve heard me say so often in this blog, I heard this author being interviewed on The Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold. She is a pro on the topic of Halloween, and I just love listening to her. I believe Jim has had her on a few times. 

The author, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, from her Amazon author page.

What we know as “Halloween” comes from so many places, traditions, and cultures that it is very easy to get lost in it all. Just like America itself, Halloween really is a blend of it all. The earliest roots come from Pagan traditions that were later changed by the Catholic church into what we know as All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. Throw in a little Guy Fawkes Day (which I’d never heard of), the Celtic festival of Samhain, and the Roman festival of Pomona, and hundreds of years later we open our doors on the evening of October 31st to hear “trick or treat” being shouted by masquerading children of all ages.

 

 

Some interesting things I learned…

  • Interested in a 9th century recipe for “All Souls’ Bread” that the Roman Catholic clergy encouraged the living to offer to spirits of the dead? This book has it. 
  • For a while the holiday seemed to be more about love than anything spooky. Many early Halloween traditions included young women practicing divination of all kinds to determine their future husbands. If you’d like to try it, you can stare into a candle lit mirror at midnight on Halloween. The face of your future love will show up over your shoulder. Not creepy at all (rrrriiiiiiight). This is also where bobbing for apples came from. Another tradition was for girls to hang their wet blouses to dry above them while they slept. Apparently your future husband will visit and “turn the sleeve”. Good to know. 
  • Another interesting tradition… the Irish “Dumb Supper”. A young woman was supposed to see the shape and image of her future love if she cooked and served an entire meal backwards. I’m not sure how this works but I’d love to see it. 
  • Lesley includes a page out of the October 1911 issue of The Delineator, where ideas for entertaining in October are given. Love it! Time machine, please!
  • Using pumpkins as lanterns, or carving pumpkins into “jack-o-lanterns” came from the Irish. Before they arrived to America where large pumpkins were available, they used hollowed out turnips. The story of “Jack” (which there are different versions of) is also fascinating.
  • The Mexican “Day of the Dead” is something I think is fascinating… and I’d love to experience it. 
  • I’ve always wanted to experience the Victorian era, but Halloween in those days just seems so interesting and fun! LOVED this section in the book. Also, one of the main reasons I like the movie Meet Me In St. Louis is the depiction of Halloween in those few scenes. 

There is also plenty in this book on the more familiar 20th century Halloween traditions. 

This is not a new book (it was originally published in 1990), but it’s a good one with lots of fun facts and history. If you want to learn about the history of many of our traditions from this season while also getting in the mood for ghosts and goblins, you should check out this book… maybe put it on your list for next fall. 

 

Halloween is just around the corner! Enjoy!

 

Peace!

 


The Paranormal Podcast… To Ouija or not to Ouija?

Jim Harold and The Paranormal Podcast

I’ve mentioned Jim Harold and the Paranormal Podcast several times here at The Big Séance. It has played a big part in my paranormal “education” in the last several years. I love to listen to his podcasts driving to and from work. And… maybe I’m a nerd, but the opening theme music pumps me up and prepares me for the day. 🙂 I can proudly say I’ve listened to almost every episode! If you haven’t checked The Paranormal Podcast out, you totally should! 

Jim Harold

Some of my favorite guests or authors on the program have been Annie Wilder, Maria DeSimone, Michelle Belanger, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, and Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who was recently interviewed by Jim about her latest book. I’m ordering it as soon as I “publish” this post. 

Ouija Gone Wild by Rosemary Ellen Guiley with Rick Fisher

From Guiley’s site:

For more than a century, simple divination devices called “talking boards” have captivated millions of people curious about contacting the spirit world. The most famous is the Ouija, whose trademarked name has become synonymous with all boards. Ouija messages have inspired writers, artists, and musicians, and have played a part in murder, suicide, possession, treasure hunting, marriage, divorce and bizarre behavior.Authors Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Rick Fisher provide a detailed examination of the Ouija. They debunk myths and discuss how horror films have influenced popular opinion.

 

Rosemary Ellen Guiley

I have to tell you (without going into a giant Ouija board post) that even though in the past I have resisted the urge to run out and get a Ouija board, I’ve always taken a strong NO OUIJA BOARD stance. After listening to her discuss the book, I wonder if this opinion is silly… especially having never used one. I like to consider myself a person who takes spirit communication and the study of it seriously. If this is the case, is it truly any different from experimenting with the spirit box or my clock radio… or even basic EVP research? 

I’ve read quite a bit about the topic, but never an entire book devoted to it. While looking up sites to link in this post, I also realized that there are more books than I realized devoted solely on the topic of the Ouija. My “To Read” shelf may have just grown quite a bit. 

 

Thoughts? Does anyone have any interesting Ouija board experiences? 

 

 


Books For Summer Reading…

I have purchased WAY TOO MANY books recently, but I’m just about set for summer reading! I’m so very excited! They’ve either arrived this week or they will arrive any day now. Have any of my readers read any of these books already? Do you have any suggestions for other books that are similar? 

 

The Art of Mediumshiup by Elaine Kuzmeskus

The evidence for life after death is overwhelming, and scientists, from Professor William James to Dr. Gary Schwartz, have validated after-life communication. In The Art of Mediumship, discover what really goes on in a séance. Find out how mediums such as Arthur Ford and Edgar Cayce, and psychic detectives such as Noreen Renier receive their information from the Other Side. Learn how to develop clairsentience, clairaudience, and clairvoyance through dreams, meditation, and a Spiritualist circle. Read about today’s ghost hunters who rely on electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and psychic photography as means of communication to solve mysteries. Learn how they capture spirit photos and spooky voices. Find out how to become a professional medium and the best ways to gain credibility with the public. Whether you just have an interest in the Other Side or plan to study the art of mediumship, this book demystifies the process with step-by-step instruction. 

 

Breakthroughs in Technical Spirit Communication by Dr. Theo Locher

Explores the historic and technical development of ITC (instrumental transcommunication), perhaps the most phenomenal field of survival research in history, in which researchers and scientists today receive voices, text, and images from spirit colleagues through computers, TVs, radios, telephones, cameras, and other equipment. Focus is on the work of the Harsch-Fischbachs of Luxembourg; George Meek and Bill O’Neil in the US; Marcello Bacci in Italy; Ernst Senkowski, Manfred Boden, Hans-Otto Koenig, Klaus Schreiber, Adolf Homes, and Friedrich Malkhoff in Germany; and other pioneers in the field. 

 

Conversations Beyond the Light: with Departed Friends & Colleagues by Electronic Means by Kubis & Macy

Conversations Beyond the Light provides the results of ITC’s (Instrumental Transcommunication) research, the first ‘hard’ physical evidence of life after death. Includes photos, line drawings and many spirit world descriptions by active, vibrant people — all of whom were former earth residents.

 

Halloween: An American Holiday, an American History by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Lesley Bannatyne’s fascinating book . . . will be widely appealing to anyone who ever wondered where witches, trick-or-treating, and jack-o-lanterns really came from. It is by far the best book on the history of Halloween available today. Alison Guss, senior producer, The Haunted History of Halloween, The History Channel An excellent resource for research into the history of holidays . . . in the United States . . . Highly Recommended. The Book Report Halloween has evolved from the Druids’ celebrations of 2,000 years ago to become today the fastest-growing holiday in the country. This, the only book to completely cover All Hallow’s Eve, examines those ancient origins as well as its traditions and celebrations, from costuming to bobbing for apples. Jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and witches are explained. Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins lurk behind every page. The book traces the contributions of America’s immigrants to the holiday, documenting the beliefs each ethnic group has added to the mix. Related recipes, poems, songs, crafts, and photos perfectly complement the meticulously documented text. The result is the most educational and entertaining examination of Halloween, its myths, and its truths. 

 

Halloween Nation: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

America’s leading authority on Halloween presents interviews with spooky rock groups, amateur vampires, haunted house creators, champion pumpkin carvers, and more, all in the quest of explaining the nation’s unique love affair with this holiday. The collection of essays and interviews explores the pop culture phenomenon that is Halloween, and why we celebrate it the way we do today.

 

The Scole Experiment: Scientific Evidence for Life After Death by Grant Solomon

This book chronicles the extraordinary results of a five-year investigation by a group of English researchers into life after death. 

 

Seance 101: Physical Mediumship: Table Tipping, Psychic Photography, Trumpet Seances, and Other Important Phenomena by Elaine Kuzmeskus

Séance 101 explores the physical side of the spirit world and how contact with “the other side” affects you! Read this book to find out : • How spirits communicate with us by tipping tables. Learn the basics from the New England School of Metaphysics. • How spirits manifest on film and the methods for using Electronic Voice Phenomena to contact spirits. • Where to locate and safely open your third eye, that natural intuition that can be developed into a psychic tool. Learn to meditate and set up a seance. • The importance of psychic surgery, medical practices without tools, anesthesia or pain; trumpet mediumship, where spirits speak from megaphones; and percipitated painting, when spirits paint works of art , without the help of mortals. • How magic and mediumship are tied together via the spirit of Harry Houdini! The spirit lives. Will you become a believer? 

 

Speak with the Dead: Seven Methods for Spirit Communication by Konstantinos

Using things you probably already own such as a camcorder, computer, or tape recorder you can contact departed loved ones or other spirits, record their images and voices, and establish two-way communications between the worlds. Speak with the Dead also details the more traditional methods of sance, trance, and scrying. This book will guide you to one of the most awe-inspiring experiences youll ever have.

 

 


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