A Witch’s Familiar


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I have a little black dog I found years and years ago. He’s old now, but ever since I found him he’s been my little shadow. Funny thing is immediately after finding him I said “This is my familiar!” This little guy has been a great comfort and a great little protector. I have a weird connection with crows as well. During the most trying moments of my life, during loss of loved ones, or during serious sickness I’ve found crows outside of my window or outside of my door. It’s as if they were there to tell me that everything was going to turn out alright, and it has. So, each time I see a crow it’s a sign of comfort for me, and maybe, in a way, these crows and my little dog are my familiars.

 

Traditionally, a familiar is thought to be an animal spirit that helps protect a witch. They appear as various animals – cats, dogs, goats, rabbits, owls, snakes, crows, frogs, ravens and more. During some witchcraft trials any animal, even a fly, could be assumed a demonic familiar. It was Christian belief systems that denounced familiars as agents of the devil.

 

A verse in the Bible even makes mention of a familiar. Leviticus 19:31 reads “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” What was unfortunate about this is that during the witch trials many suspected witches who were coincidentally animal lovers were condemned to death. Their love of animals, in some ways, solidified authorities’ belief that they were witches. There are even cases of animals being put to trial, and being found guilty of being a witch.

 

William Shakespeare makes mention of familiars in Henry VI, Part II “Away with him! He has a familiar under his tongue (Act 4, scene 7).

 

So, next time you look your dog or cat in the eye or notice a peculiar bird following you along they’re probably there to protect you.

 

-Gravedigger



Dog Superstitions


dog

They are ‘man’s best friend’ and have been thought so for thousands of years, but did you know that there are several superstitions around dogs? Here are some of these superstitions:

 

Howling near the front door – many dogs bark when they hear the doorbell or a knock at the door, but has your dog ever just approached the door and proceeded to howl for no reason? Howling near a door is considered an ill sign, foretelling a major calamity, possibly even death.

 

Howling at the moon – it’s not just wolves that howl at the moon. Dogs howl at the moon as well, but you don’t really want them to.  When a dog howls at the moon it means death is near for someone close.

 

Dog whining during childbirth – most people give birth in hospitals these days, but it’s not strange to labor some time at home. So, if you are in labor at home and your dog starts whining it means your child will become a criminal.

 

Dogs know whom to trust – if a dog growls and backs away from someone that person is not to be trusted.

 

Supernatural superpowers – it’s said that dogs can sense ghosts, and they can even sense when someone in the house is in danger.

 

Ever had a dog follow you home? If so, it’s a sign of good luck.

 

Finally, seven years bad luck to anyone who has ever deliberately killed a dog. The only exception is a veterinarian who puts dogs to sleep in order to end their suffering.

 

Be good to your dogs and all of our pets.

 

-Gravedigger



Keys for good and bad luck


Keys

 

Skeleton Keys, there’s something nostalgic about them. Keep an eye out and you may notice that keys have become a decorative item in some homes. People have taken to hanging old iron keys in their home or leaving them out for display, but why? First off, old keys are good luck. So if you have any old keys in your home it doesn’t hurt to keep them hanging around a little longer.

 

Keys were once almost entirely made of iron and have been considered lucky items for a very long time. It was thought good luck to touch a key when one felt they were entering a dangerous situation because keys were thought to keep you safe. Oddly enough, I always seem to clutch onto my keys when I’ve found myself outside and felt fearful of where I was walking. Holding on to my keys added some sense of comfort. In addition to touching your keys for safety it’s thought that if you sense an evil spirit nearby that jangling your keys will make it leave. Another way keys were used to bring safety was placing a key beneath a sleeping child’s pillow as it was thought that a key there would keep them safe.

 

There are also bad luck superstitions associated with keys. It’s thought bad luck to drop keys. It’s thought even worse luck to accidentally break a key. If you’ve ever lost a key, well, it’s good to panic because losing keys is considered an omen of disaster, typically involving death.

 

Now, take a look through your old set of keys. If you find a rusted key keep it because a rusted key is a sign of good luck and typically means you will be receiving an inheritance.

 

-Gravedigger



Airplane Superstitions


william-shatner-the-twilight-zone

 

Just recently I took a flight out East. I had known from checking the weather that we would be flying through a weather system. So I mentally prepared myself for the possibility of turbulence during the flight. After we reached the cruising altitude the captain got on the intercom to welcome us on board and to state that the flight attendants would be going through their drink service rather quickly as soon as he finished speaking. The pilot also added that the second half of the flight would be bumpy. As soon as the flight attendants concluded the drink service the lead attendant got on the intercom to stress that we should “REMAIN SEATED FOR THE REST OF THE FLIGHT.” As soon as she concluded, the plane was rocked from below and I grabbed my hot coffee off the tray table before it splashed and burned anyone. I drank my coffee fast, and it burned, but I was more worried about the shaking plane, the blood rushing away from my cheeks and whether or not we were going to make it.

 

I’m a nervous flyer. I was not always a nervous flyer. Once upon a time I was actually a flight attendant myself, but that was another life. I actually quit the flight attendant job because of superstition. The flight crew was scheduled to stay overnight in a hotel…that used to serve as a Civil War hospital. I called my supervisor right then and there and said I could not sleep in that hotel. The supervisor thought me silly and refused to change my schedule. After hearing countless stories from other flight crews I preferred to quit than to be awaken by the ghost of a soldier at the foot of my bed. It all worked out, I suppose, I finished college, got married, and well am here now. Coincidentally the tragedy of September 9, 2001 happened just two weeks after I quit the airline. It crossed my mind if there was a possibility that I could have been on any of those flights, and yes, it could have been possible. Since then, I have terribly feared flying.

 

I have some flight superstitions of my own, but I’m so superstitious I will not share my own. However, here are a few flying superstitions that I have come across.

 

Words

It is considered bad luck to say words associated with an accident in an airport or on a plane. Words such as “crash,” “evacuation,” “forced landing,” and so on should be avoided.

 

Tapping

There are people who believe it is good luck to either tap the exterior of the plane as they are boarding, or the interior of the plane when they arrive at their seat. Some people also believe it matters where you tap the plane, for example, some prefer tapping the right side.

 

Dancers

This is one I have yet to see. There are people who believe that it is good luck to do a little dance when they board the plane. Humor them if you see them.

 

Counters/Lookers

This one really varies. There are some people who believe they must count objects on the plane for good luck, for example rows or people on board. Within the same group of people there are also people who need to find a familiar object, face or person in order for them to believe their flight will be safe. For example, some people look for babies as they feel that babies on board a plane signals good luck.

 

Numerologists

This is the most common superstition I have come across. There are people who avoid flights associated with certain numbers believing them bad luck. For example, American Airlines and Delta Airlines have banned flight numbers 191 given there have been some crashes associated with those numbers:

1967: Flight 191, experimental X-15 military plane

1979: American Airlines 191, 271 people died when the plane crashed near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

2006: Comair 5191, 49 people dead in a crash in Lexington, Kentucky

2012: JetBlue 191, the pilot had a meltdown in air and got on the intercom and said: ​”This is your captain freaking… “Pray f–king now for Jesus Christ…This plane will never make it to Vegas…We’re all going down!” Thankfully, passengers were able to restrain him

 

Other unlucky numbers associated with flying or flight numbers include 911, 666, and the number 13. Many airlines do not have a 13th row or even a 13th gate.

 

Clapping

I don’t think this happens that often today, but I remember people would clap once the plane landed. It was a sign of thanks to the pilot for a flight well done. This is frowned upon by some. Still, I was on a flight maybe 5 years ago where the passengers broke out into an applause after landing.

 

Flowers

While flowers are associated with love and holidays they are also associated with funerals so it’s thought bad luck to bring flowers on board a plane.

 

Do you have any flight superstitions? If so, let us know at Twitter @BurialDayBooks

 

-Gravedigger



Front Door Superstitions


Front Door

 

The front door, it’s the primary entrance to your home. The front door allows access to you, your guests, and according to superstition good luck and evil spirits.

 

There are a variety of superstitions, rituals and curios that are associated with the front door of one’s home. Some of these include hanging a cross over the front door for protection, a horseshoe for good luck, hanging mirrors near the front door to ward away evil spirits and the evil eye, and there are also a variety of statues that can be used for either protection or luck. Some also believe that the front door and the back door should never be open at the same time as this allows for easy access for evil spirits to enter.

 

Superstitions also surround actually entering through the front door. For example, a new bride should not walk into her own home as she should be carried over the threshold by her husband. This ensures a lucky marriage and a lucky life. Visitors to your home should also never enter with their left foot first, as that drags bad luck inside. A visitor should also leave through the same door from which they entered, because it’s believed that leaving through another door will allow the visitor to take all of the occupants’ good luck from them.

 

Other things to note about the front door:

 

  • If a door opens by itself it’s a sign that you will have an unwanted visitor soon.
  • It’s believed that all houses have a spirit, and so a slamming door is bad luck as it’s though to harm this house spirit.
  • A person who slams a door purposefully will experience bad luck for the rest of the day.

 

Do you have any superstitions regarding the front door? If so, let us know on twitter @BurialDayBooks

 

-Gravedigger



Abracadabra!


Magician_g

It’s the magic word of conjurers and magicians. Today, it’s often associated with stage magicians, and it’s typically uttered in jest, Abracadabra. However, the word abracadabra has a complex history. The origin of the actual word is unknown. Some believe that it came from the Aramaic words Ab (Father), Bar (Son) and Ru’ach Acadach (Holy Spirit). There is evidence of the word abracadabra being used by Cabalists in the second century CE to ward off negativity and evil spirits.

 

During the Middle Ages, a protective amulet with the word ‘abracadabra’ written as an upside down pyramid was worn around the neck. The word was written out eleven times, first the full word, followed by an instance with one letter being dropped each time. These amulets were often written on paper and were thought to cure fevers, toothaches and a variety of illnesses, bad luck, and were thought to protect against the plague.

 

After wearing the amulet for nine days it would be discarded over one’s left shoulder before the sunrise into a stream, preferably that flowed west to east. The left side was used as it’s believed the left is related to the Devil, and the west to east water flow was believed to symbolically carry evil and replace it by the good created by the rising sun.
In addition to wearing the amulet, some people also believed that simply saying the word abracadabra out loud could summon supernatural energies.

Abracadabra

So, the next time you feel evil energies creeping up on you, or you feel the hot breath of the Devil on your neck just utter the magic word Abracadabra! And poof, all evil will be vanquished.

 

-Gravedigger



We are well into another year and have news!


picture-of-rosemarys-baby-photo

So we’ve been playing catch up, lots of it as the holidays left us scrambling. There are a few announcements and a few changes.

The most important change is that we will not be publishing a Gothic Blue Book this year.

This year, we will publish one new short story per month. However, now, our monthly short story author will receive payment for their story.

We do apologize that there is no Gothic Blue Book planned for this year, and we have a very reasonable excuse that we can’t quite disclose publicly yet.  It’s good news, life changing news, and we will share soon.

Additionally, weekly blog posts will increase, and we will continue the focus in discussing all things folklore, legend, superstition and myth.

The submissions listings will be updated shortly.

We thank you for understanding.

-Gravedigger

 



GOTHIC BLUE BOOK V: THE CURSED EDITION IS NOW AVAILABLE!


cover 333 500It’s here! GOTHIC BLUE BOOK V: THE CURSED EDITION!

First, I have to say I can’t believe this is our 5th book. When we started Burial Day Books 5 years ago we did it to give people a platform where they could share their traditional horror tales. Now, here we are, 5 years later and we have continued to grow. Each year we see more submissions and each year I get less and less sleep in reading your great stories, fighting with the Undertaker as to which story to publish, and of course formatting and editing the books.

I do admit, it’s gotten harder each year, but each time I step back and look at the finished product I’m so proud; I’m proud of our writers and I’m proud of myself that I can put this together so quickly. As many of you know, we take submissions, read them and publish the edition in less than a year’s time – a pretty fast turnaround for publishing.

We are excited to have a wonderful collection of poetry by Stephanie M. Wytovich, and fantastic fiction by Maria Alexander, Max Booth III, K. Trap Jones, Jennifer A. Smith, Kerry G.S. Lipp, and so many more.

Again, I’d like to thank our authors, and I especially want to thank all those that submitted and our supporters. I’m beyond thrilled that we’re still here after 5 years, and I’m thrilled that you all have continued to reach out to us, say hello, submit your stories, and enjoy our collections.

Print Edition

eBook Edition

Thank you so much.

Cynthia (cina) Pelayo
Gravedigger/Publisher
Burial Day Books

 



GOTHIC BLUE BOOK V: THE CURSED EDITION IS NOW AVAILABLE!


cover 333 500It’s here! GOTHIC BLUE BOOK V: THE CURSED EDITION!

First, I have to say I can’t believe this is our 5th book. When we started Burial Day Books 5 years ago we did it to give people a platform where they could share their traditional horror tales. Now, here we are, 5 years later and we have continued to grow. Each year we see more submissions and each year I get less and less sleep in reading your great stories, fighting with the Undertaker as to which story to publish, and of course formatting and editing the books.

I do admit, it’s gotten harder each year, but each time I step back and look at the finished product I’m so proud; I’m proud of our writers and I’m proud of myself that I can put this together so quickly. As many of you know, we take submissions, read them and publish the edition in less than a year’s time – a pretty fast turnaround for publishing.

We are excited to have a wonderful collection of poetry by Stephanie M. Wytovich, and fantastic fiction by Maria Alexander, Max Booth III, K. Trap Jones, Jennifer A. Smith, Kerry G.S. Lipp, and so many more.

Again, I’d like to thank our authors, and I especially want to thank all those that submitted and our supporters. I’m beyond thrilled that we’re still here after 5 years, and I’m thrilled that you all have continued to reach out to us, say hello, submit your stories, and enjoy our collections.

Print Edition

eBook Edition

Thank you so much.

Cynthia (cina) Pelayo
Gravedigger/Publisher
Burial Day Books

 



My Novel Santa Muerte Mentioned in Academic Paper


On occasion I google my name, mostly to see if there are any mentions of me and my works anywhere I should be aware of. Yesterday, I came upon this find and I’m surprised I did not find it sooner.

 

Back in 2014 a student at the University of Miami mentioned me and my novel Santa Muerte in his thesis for his Master of Arts. Armando Rubi III wrote the below about my novel in his thesis Santa Muerte: A Transnational Spiritual Movement of the Marginalized.

 

I have not yet read the entire paper, but I did enjoy his analysis of my usage of Santa Muerte.

The below is an excerpt from Armando Rubi III’s thesis Santa Muerte: A Transnational Spiritual Movement of the Marginalized.

 

“The abuse of the power of Santa Muerte for personal gain and nefarious purposes such as drug cartels, violence and criminality is endemic in the media portrayals on either side of the border. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in inner-city Chicago, Cynthia Pelayo has won the International Latino Book Award for her young adult novel, Santa Muerte. The novel centers around Ariana Molina, a young woman whose father works for the authorities in Mexico combating the drug cartels. “Ari” begins to have visions and dreams of Santa Muerte and finds herself being targeted and kidnapped by the cartel that seeks to eliminate her father. Throughout the book, Pelayo connects Santa Muerte to the drug cartels yet at the same time criticizes how the system of belief has been corrupted and abused. In a flashback, Ari’s mother states:

 

Santa Muerte wants to be worshiped and praised and she has found that in the people on the edge; prostitutes, drug dealers, thieves and murders [sic]. They have brought the passion that she has longed for since the conquerors left. Lust, power, death, and revenge. These are the things she oversees and these are the things that her followers are begging for Ari, 32 but I want you to beware. There are those who abuse their gods. There are those who do not know for what they ask because they think that their earthly indulgences are all that matters, but the gods are no fools. Our god of death is commanded by no one. (181)

 

Ari’s mother has restated that the marginalized are the people that Santa Muerte attracts yet is highlighting the criminal or illegal practices of the marginalized. Prostitutes or thieves may not be violent wrong-doers, but their activities are considered illegal and on the fringes of society, highlighting their criminality both in the present and the colonial experience.

 

It is to be noted, however, that there is a criticism of those who abuse Santa Muerte’s gifts. In the conclusion of the novel, Santa Muerte herself recruits Ari as her agent among the living and tells her: “You will find my betrayers, find my detractors. I’ve been abused long enough by the living. The living do not command me. I command the living and I want death to those who have abused my powers and my strengths” (221). Pelayo has clearly constructed a unique Santa Muerte worldview in her novel, having a young girl serve as her living agent. Santa Muerte states that she wants death to those who have abused her, signifying that she alone does not choose who dies. The more neutral or benevolent beliefs of Santa Muerte are that God the Father is who decides when it is a person’s time to die and that Santa Muerte is only the messenger who claims the soul. The more malevolent beliefs of Santa Muerte–which Pelayo insinuates in her novel is abuse of the religious system–do teach that if devotees are sincere and make adequate offerings, they can persuade Santa Muerte to kill or cause harm to an enemy.”