Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label Washington Irving. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Washington Irving. Show all posts

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 25: Wars, Spirits and the Canadian Woods

Kingsmere's fake ruins.
One of the themes of this blog is the technological and spiritual impact of war. One of the strangest ghost stories around that theme concerns Canada's longest serving Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King.  He headed the country for a total of 21 years, intermittently from the 1920s to the 1940s, including the whole World War II period. He never married; a dear friend had died in 1900 (Mackenzie King had his dead friend used as the model for a statue of Sir Galahad, which stands at the entrance to Canada's Parliament Buildings), and most of his family died through the First World War.

In the post-WWI-era, he became interested, as many grieving people did, in spiritualism. He is known to have hired mediums to speak regularly to his dead family, especially his mother, and other departed spirits. He used spirtiualist techniques such as table-rapping, and was given a crystal ball by an English psychic. He was also fascinated by numerology and dreams, and kept extensive diaries about his spiritual impressions. This was, again, unorthodox and kept secret during his period in office. But it was not entirely out of step with the times.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

History of a Colour: Haint Blue

Image Source: Curious Expeditions.

I thought it would be nice to start a series of posts on sites on the Web which give the histories of particular colours. A few years ago, the wonderful blog, Curious Expeditions, had a post up on the history of a famous colour of America's Old South, Haint Blue.  This is a special blue that is meant to confuse evil spirits and keep them at bay:
Haint Blue originated in the deep American South. Today, in cities and towns throughout the south, one will find these blues and greens tints on shutters, doors, porch ceilings and windowsills, gracing many historic homes. The pretty blues and greens compliment any grand old Victorian mansion, but the first painted strokes of Haint Blue adorned not the homes of the rich, but the simple shacks of African slaves.

Known as the Gullah or Geechee people, the original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. Many of their ancestors came from Angola, which may be where the name Gullah originated. They are well-known for preserving their African heritage more than any other African American community. They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints.

Haints, or haunts, are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. These are not your quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts, they are the kind you don’t want to mess with, and the kind you certainly don’t want invading into your humble abode looking for revenge. Luckily, the Gullah people remembered an important footnote to the haint legend. These angry spirits have a kryptonite: they cannot cross water. The safest place would be in an underwater bubble, or perhaps to surround your house with a moat. But the Gullah people had a much more elegant solution. They would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk, and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together, and paint the mixture around every opening into their homes. The haints, confused by these watery pigments, are tricked into thinking they can’t enter.
This belief was a key component in Washington Irving's tale of the Headless Horseman - and a common European superstition - that malevolent spirits cannot cross water.

Hunnewell School, Wellesley, MA, USA. Image Source: Tilly's Cottage.