Latest story on Ancient Origins: How Murder & Mayhem took a Saxon princess from the palace to death in poverty
OK, this "coven" of over 20 witches were taking part in a Halloween jaunt on the Willamette River in Portland (Oregon). Pictures via OregonLive.com
Catch our exclusive interview with best selling author Ben Aaronovitch on latest Weird Tales Radio podcast - UPDATED
Our latest Weird Tales Radio Show is a must for all writers, plus fans of urban fantasy and Doctor Who, as it features an exclusive interview with best selling Rivers of London author and one-time Doctor Who scriptwriter Ben Aaronovitch. Click on the player link below to hear it.
One listener said "Just listening to your recent Ben Aaronovitch interview, and thought you got the best out of him. I was surprised at how warm he seemed."
I see from my Facebook timeline that on the 5th November 2014 I posted this story about Pope Francis suffering a costume malfunction. It didn't occur to me at the time but that looks suspiciously like an M.R. James-style "face of crumpled linen".
Those of us of a certain age who still follow the Old Ways or are Northern (in my case both) will know that tonight 4th November – not Halloween nor Bonfire Night – is the most important night in the mid-autumn folklore season.
Why? Because tonight in Mischief Night, aka Miggy Night or Punkie Night.
It was like Halloween trick-or-treating but without any treats and with tricks verging on minor acts of vandalism and anti-social behaviour as we school kids peddled forth on our bicycles to inflict a reign of terror on the Good Citizens of my home town of Scarborough. You know... dropping lighted fireworks through letterboxes, ringing doorbells and running away before they were opened (known as Knock, Knock Ginger), lifting garden gates off their hinges, and ordering taxis to call at the homes of hated schoolteachers.
And, it wasn’t just in Scarborough, as Mischief Night was celebrated across all the Northern counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and as far south as Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. One suggestion is the 4th of November was the night Guy Fawkes got up to his mischief in the undercroft beneath the parliament building in Westminster. But, given the strong Viking heritage of these counties – all part of Danelaw from the mid 8th to mid 10th centuries – is there also a connection with Loki, the Norse trickster god, at work here?
The 4th November was also the night we lit our lanterns. Called Punkie lanterns, they were carved out of turnips or swedes rather than pumpkins and lighting them was accompanied by reciting the rhyme:
Give me a candle
Give me a light
If you don’t
You’ll get a fright
And yes the local hospitals A&E department was full of boys who'd cut, stabbed or sliced themselves with carving knives and potato peelers trying to carve out rock hard turnips.
Mischief Night was already in decline by the 1970s – about the same time as local authorities started gentrifying Bonfire Night by encouraging organised, communal fireworks displays, rather than allowing everyone to do their own thing (explosives, petrol, and fire – what could possibly go wrong) – and was subsequently swept away by the retail shopping festival that is Halloween.
New Weird Tales Podcast
Episode #29 - 9th August of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcast is our Mythbusting in the Waveney Valley edition and, along with two Medieval Ghosts for August, we look at the tale of Robert Johnson - the Delta blues legend and founder member of the Forever 27 Club, and go Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park with Tom Lehrer.
Follow this link to access all episodes of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcasts. The page also contains links to all our other podcast platforms. Click the player button below to hear latest show.
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