Thursday, December 13, 2012

A wonderful blog tour by a great author...

A fantastic writer with a dual authorial persona is doing a blog tour this week. She is the author of Steampunk and Victorian titles like 'Avalon Revisited' and one of her latest must reads 'Zombies of Mesmer'. To go along with her blog tour are a few giveaways, so be sure to follow her across the webverse on her blog tour!

Start with the link below:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Marriage...Death After Life?

 I found my starting point rather easily, yet it seems I had a bit of a difficulty on where to go from there. After giving it a few days I began to peruse through the stack of  brimming notebooks I keep on various facts and musings on a variety of subjects. I suddenly found my answer when I came across a certain excerpt I had jotted down only a few months ago...why not continue on with Death. Not a literal death in the sense of the word and not in the direction you may think.

So I venture forth on the subject of death, many people jokingly say and at times legitimately believe that marriage is death to one's individuality, their freedom, and even their identity. In that logic marriage is in fact death, making weddings parallel to funerals. Aren't we a twisted lot.

 Victorians were highly superstitious, as were those who came before them. Superstitions have indeed evolved over time, enhancing the initial fears of their origins. Many superstitions we still hold firmly to even in our modern society. The topic of this post is a rather good example of how many of those superstitions have not changed that dramatically over the last 100 years or so.

 I digress on this subject of marriage and death; I can always save that for another blog.

 As you may know marriages during the Victorian era were usually still arranged, if they were not the permission of one's parents was critical before a young lady could enter into such an engagement and even courtship. I won't bore you with the protocol on such things...I will however now bore you with superstitions related to weddings and marriage!

 Woman have fussed over what colours to include in her wedding far longer than men want to even know. Most importantly, the colour of the wedding gown was critical. In this day and age any Bride can tell you that one should always wear white, a symbol of purity. Right...did anyone tell Kim Kardashian that?

 During the Victorian era, there were many helpful little rhymes that one could recite to assist in what choices to make. This particular one predicts what will happen in your marriage depending on the colour you wear. Kind of like asking a Magic 8 ball!

Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back
Married in Red, you'd better be dead
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen
Married in Blue, you'll always be true
Married in Pearl, you'll live in a whirl
Married in Yellow, ashamed of the fellow
Married in Brown, you'll live out of town
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink

 In case each meaning eludes you, I dearest reader will break it down in modern tongue for you!

White = Atta girl, you've picked Mr. Right!
Grey = Welcome to Abu Dhabi.
Black = If I could turn back time.
Red = Kill me, kill me now.
Green = Now that you're a shut in, here is your official
Membership to the sweat pants club!
Blue = Monogamy, it's a good thing!
Pearl = Eight kids, three dogs, and two cats later, showers
have become a thing of the past.
Yellow = Oh, him? I have no idea who that guy is.
Brown = Farm living is the life for me, land spreadin' our so far and wide
Keep Manhattan; just give me that countryside...
Pink = Little Debbie is your best friend!

Colour of the gown was not the only thing that a Bride was concerned about. In fact, a Bride herself would sew in a little satchel or pouch into her petticoats; inside this pouch she would place a small piece of cloth, a small piece of bread, a sliver of wood, and a single one dollar bill. Each item placed there was to ensure that the couple would always have clothes to wear, food to eat, a roof over their heads and money for the future.

Another little rhyme you may recognize from Victorian London:

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and silver sixpence in her shoe.

 Now it is commonly believed that specific items went with each portion of the rhyme, some from particular people in her life. "Something old" was generally a garter given to the new Bride to wear by the wife of a happily married older couple. "Something new" could be any new item of clothing or jewelry for the bride, symbolizing the new start and look toward a happy future. "Something borrowed" was typically a token given to the Bride by her family as a gesture of their good wishes, however it must be returned after the wedding in order for it to bring good luck. "Something blue" was from a long standing tradition associated with the colour blue, which symbolized fidelity and virtue. "Silver sixpence in her shoe" was to bring wealth into the marriage for the future.

 Once again, I leave you with a few more common superstitions. 

- The Bride is never to eat a crumb of the cake until it has been cut, she must be the first one to cut it or else she will be childless.
- The Bride must always save a small piece of the cake, this ensures fidelity.
- Bad luck upon the marriage, if the Bride bakes her own cake.
- Wedding charms were baked inside of the cake; the cake would then be cut into enough pieces for all guests, only some guests would get a charm. The meaning for each charm is this:

The ring for marriage within a year
The penny for wealth, my dear
The thimble for an old maid or bachelor born
The button for sweethearts all forlorn

-If the Bride looked into the mirror before leaving for the ceremony it would bring good luck. However, if she were to look into the mirror again on the way to the church it would bring bad luck.
-Bad luck upon the marriage if the Groom saw the Bride before the ceremony.
-When the Bride and Bridesmaids entered the church together, good luck would come if any of the following crossed their paths, indicating a happy and smooth marriage: a rainbow, lambs, black cat, spiders, and toads. The luckiest would be to encounter a chimney sweep, especially if he gave her a kiss upon the cheek. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Death Is Only the Beginning...

 The research of Victorian superstitions, paranormal, and the insane all have the same thing in common, death. In some cultures death is considered to be rebirth or a new beginning, one would be heralded from this life through death to a new life on the other side. So it is with death that I find my beginning…

 In Victorian society superstition was abundant in daily life, not only impacting the way they thought and acted but also continuing on in our own modern culture. Many sayings and beliefs used today are culminated from that period of time.

 When one passed on the clock was stopped on the precise time of death. Many cases all the clocks in the household were stopped as a sign of remembrance. The curtains were all drawn shut, in hopes of trapping the soul in the house so that it would not wonder from the body. Black Crape or veils were placed over all the mirrors, ensuring that the deceased’s soul would not be trapped in the looking glass. Wreaths made of laurel, yew, or boxwood were decorated with black ribbon or crepe then hung on the front doors, this was a beacon to all those whom passed that someone in the household had passed on. To ensure that the soul of the deceased did not possess any of the family members, all family photos were then turned facedown.
  Whilst preparations for ceremony and burial were arranged, the body was placed in the parlour room. Candles were placed in the room to mask the odor of the decaying body; flowers were also placed in abundance in the room which leads to common day practice of sending flowers in condolences to the grieving family. Embalming ensures that the decaying process is delayed, so flowers and candles placed during funerals nowadays are merely symbolic in their decoration.

 From the time of death until burial a “Waking” was held, this was the practice of assigning family members or friends of the family shifts to watch the body. It was commonly believed that the deceased may only be in a comma, so to ensure that this was not over looked they kept constant watch for any signs of life. This worry inspired coffin makers to design a “warning system” to relieve fears once the body was buried. A bell was placed by the grave marker, a rope or chain was run from that bell to inside the coffin. Should the buried wake from a comma, they then could pull the rope or chain which in turn would ring the bell. Notifying the grave keeper that someone was quite possibly buried alive, hence the term “Saved by the bell.”

 Now it goes without saying, that this was only the tip of the superstitious beliefs pertaining to death. There were many omens or bad tidings that surely death would occur in one’s family or household. I leave you, dear reader, with a list of those omens. Take heed that none of the following should happen to you.

-          If the deceased has lived a good life, flowers would bloom on his grave; but if he has been evil, only weeds would grow.
-          If several deaths occur in the same family, tie a black ribbon to everything left alive that enters the house, even dogs & chickens. This will protect them against deaths spreading further.
-          Never wear anything new to a funeral, especially shoes.
-          You should always cover your mouth while yawning so your spirit doesn’t leave you and the devil never enters your body.
-          It is bad luck to meet a funeral procession head on. If you see one approaching, turn around. It this is unavoidable, hold on to a button until the funeral cortege passes.
-          Large drops of rain warn that there has been a death.
-          Stop the clock in a death room or you will have bad luck.
-          To lock the door of your home after a funeral procession has left the house is bad luck.
-          If you hear a clap of thunder following a burial it indicates that the soul of the departed has reached heaven.
-          If you hear 3 knocks and no one is there, it usually means someone close to you has died. (The superstitious call this the 3 knocks of death.)
-          If you leave something that belongs to you to the deceased, that means to the person will come back to get you.
-          If a firefly/lightening bug get into your house someone will die soon.
-          If you smell roses when none are around someone is going to die.
-          If you don’t hold your breath while going by a graveyard you will not be buried.
-          If you see yourself in a dream, your death will follow.
-          If you see an owl in the daytime, there will be death.
-          If you dream about a birth, someone you know will die.
-          If it rains in an open grave then someone in the family will die within the year.
-          If a bird pecks on your window or crashes into one, there has been a death.
-          If a sparrow lands on a piano, someone in the home will die.
-          If a picture falls off a wall, there will be a death of someone you know.
-          Never speak ill of the dead because they will come back to haunt you or you will suffer misfortune.
-          Two deaths in the family mean that a third is to follow.
-          The cry of a curlew or the hoot of an owl foretells death.
-          A single snowdrop growing in the garden foretells a death.
-          Having only red & white flowers together in a vase (especially in a hospital) means a death will soon follow.
-          Dropping an umbrella on the floor or opening one in the house means that there will be a murder in the house.
-          A diamond-shaped fold in clean linen portends death.
-          A dog howling at night when someone in the house is sick is a bad omen. It can be reversed by reaching under the bed & turning over a shoe.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There is always a starting point...

It seems that there are a variety of books, blogs, and even websites dedicated to the various subjects on my list to write about. Scattered across the information highway like litter; neither cohesive nor easy to research. I've tried and found myself spending countless hours searching through various online engines and printed materials in hope of gaining a broader knowledge base.

This was chiefly derived from my own fascination with the Victorian culture beyond the fashion, science, inventions and literature. All wonderful venues of our ancestors, those who came before us at the height of a new century on the horizon. My admiration comes partly from the romanticized ideals of the time, life in what seems to be simplicity yet in its depths far out weighs our own in so many ways, or perhaps the fact that my own generation and those of my time have welcomed in a new century as well.

Since childhood I have been drawn to the Victorian era, my initial exposure at the age of 6 was a hard back copy of Jules Verne's 'A Journey to the Center of the Earth'. It opened my eyes to whole new world, I was hooked. Soon followed more wonderous tales by H.G. Wells, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among many other fantastic writers. Cinema furthered my love as I became more entranced into my escape from a harsh and at times abusive childhood.

Despite the rigorous Christian upbringing, I was fascinated by many occult subjects. Vampires, Werewolves, paranormal and even superstitions, all fueled my hunger to know more. As I grew older I finally delved headlong into research to fully understand the myths and beliefs that captivated the Victorians. Now I share all that I have and shall discover on this blog with you.