Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Random thoughts and spirits

Country-folk art

Recently, I went to a Mexican restaurant in San Rafael for lunch. All along the walls were rustic face masks. I didn't get the impression that they were of Mexican origin. They reminded me of old rural European folk art. They were like a rustic type of art. Something that you might see on a fence in the countryside. In other words, a crude type of outdoor country art. Even if they were Mexican, they would have been from a European face mask tradition.

I suspect that the owner purchased them somewhere, feeling that they would liven up the place. They sure did. You can't help but notice them. I recall some were like the image of "Pan," with horns, or maybe like a stereotypical old "country woman" face. I think some were of animals. With Mexican art like that, that I have seen, the faces look "Mexican or Mayan." These seemed much more old rural European. Something that could have been observed in the semi-pagan European countryside--perhaps on a fence or barn--maybe 700 years ago.

There really is something to be said of the crudely beautiful country art. Not trashy, but rustic! Rustic is like an old barn, while trashy is like "junk all over." Rustic is like nature. I think of Brescian history. The southern urban Brescians were fine artisans; while the people of the northern Alpine "Tre Valli Bresciane" (Camunians, Sabines, Trumpilinians) were more in tune with country folk art. Venetian masks are different, as they are more of a fine craft.


Rabbit's feet?

I remember as a young boy, that I had a red rabbit's foot. I may have gotten it in some gift shop in Wyoming. I was one of my prized possessions, as I kept it in that special box with those types of items. Somehow I lost it over the years. A rabbit's foot is an old pagan symbol for good luck. I was thinking recently, are rabbit's feet somehow immoral? A rabbit isn't an animal that humans regard as special, like dogs, horses, or cats. We still hunt and eat them.

I like rabbits, but I don't really see them as ideal pets. They belong in the foothills and brush, so they can kick their hind legs and take off. They're ill suited for a small cage, like small pet rodents. But is there something wrong with a rabbit's foot? People have deer or other horns, which they may well have found while hiking. Unlike a horn, "fur" isn't something that one would really retrieve from an animal at the end of it's life. A rabbit's foot is sort've in-between a horn and fur.

I say it's not immoral. The question of animal furs or reptile skins will go on, but rabbits are not in any way rare. It's just too "sensitive" of us to be so perturbed by a rabbit's foot. It's not like rabbit's feet are some big industry. It's another small part of our past and history that lingers on.


Daily synchronicity

One evening several weeks ago, I ran across a book in pdf form entitled 'Miners, merchants, and midwives: Michigan's Upper Peninsula Italians' (Magnaghi; 1987). The Upper Michigan Italians were almost all from the north, and have a history even going back to the 1860s. The book is out-of-print, and used copies are very expensive. My family migrated to the Montreal River area with other immigrants from Lombardy. Reading a bit about that history was very fascinating to me. Although solidly Catholic, some women of the community gained a reputation as practitioners of folk medicine, brought with them from rural Alpine villages. A leftover from the "La Vecchia Religione" of the ancients.

The very next morning, I was driving and thinking about a part of the book where it talked about Upper Michigan immigrants who came from around the Valtellina north of Val Camonica, Trento, and the Südtirol. Just as I'm about to park, still engrossed in this particular section of the book that I had read the night before, I look at the bumper of the car directly in front of me.... and I see an old sticker with a red eagle, which read "Tyrol!" That particular coat-of-arms was of the German Tirol, but I would lean towards a synchronistic connection for me there.


An animal message?

Animals are a way for the goddesses and gods to communicate with us, as has been covered here before. A couple of weeks ago I was sitting on a deck overlooking a vast hillside, having a beer. The occasion was the finalization of a long-range plan for a business. As I was sitting there, a small bird landed right on the railing. I can state conclusively that it was within two feet from me! It chirped, and remained there for about ten seconds before flying off.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Ghost programs and the metaphysical issue: Part 10

On Friday I was watching the program 'The Dead Files' on the Travel Channel. The show is so popular, at least for a cable channel, that the network does everything it can to just keep it ongoing. In other words, it's not really even clear if the season has ended! They produce a new episode here and there, and fill in the blanks with the "Revisited" episodes, which don't offer much new information about the older cases.

In this past episode, they reviewed two earlier cases. In the first one, which took place in rural upstate New York, when Aimee had a sketch made of the (in-this-case) grim-looking spirit.. one of the guys responded "It looks like a witch!" No other spiritual tradition continues to be spoken of in this negative manner. Name any other demographic which was genocided in the past, and which the average person still believes that it was "proper," or at least continues open and outward scorn against them!? Even the recent movie 'Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters' is a clear example. What if a movie came out that was called 'Hansel and Gretel: Catholic Hunters'? Or "Muslim Hunters"... or... I think I'll stop there.

In the second part, they revisited a case that had been ongoing since the original episode. In other words, the haunting has continued. Aimee often advises haunting victims to seek help with a spiritual cleansing. Depending on the particulars, she usually suggests a Catholic priest or other Christian pastor to bless or exorcise the home or property. Sometimes she will suggest a Native American Shaman from a local tribe to do a cleansing, and occasionally a Wiccan. Lets give the Wiccans some credit, as some have become very adept at this in recent years, as has been covered here before.

This particular family, which had long been terrorized by the dark forces in their home, was Catholic. Their children were targeted in particular, so they were desperate. Aimee suggested a Wiccan in this case, to cleanse the home... and this Wiccan woman sure did. She did her thing and the dark forces were finally gone! What was frustrating was that after they initially consulted her, they said that their relatives were "upset" over them receiving help "from a Wiccan." Again, name just one other demographic that was genocided, and the aggressor "demographic" can continue to openly scorn the victim "demographic"..? Name just one...

It just seems logical to me, that if someone needed help from a certain tradition--even if they weren't exactly a fan of it--that they would allow them to do what had to be done... and even if it didn't change their opinion, at least they could be grateful to that individual(s). Even if we shift gears here, and you had the chance to help someone who you didn't even like... you should strongly consider doing it. It's not always about who they are.. it's about who you are.

On Saturday, I watched the new A-and-E program entitled 'American Haunting'. It was a three hour, three episode special. They were okay, similar to Syfy's 'Paranormal Witness'. I still think that the documentary-style paranormal-genre programs are the best. I think the best one going now is 'School Spirits' on the Syfy channel. Season 2 should be starting up sometime this year.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Eyes of the Wolf

In early Spring, while hiking, I observed something that I had never seen before. I saw two coyotes in the wild, approximately 20-25 yards away. Because they didn't seem to be very interested in me, I didn't feel any particular fear. It was more like awe. The first thing I noticed were their eyes, intense and glowing. These two looked quite a bit like wolves. They were surprisingly tall for coyotes, and very fleet in their movement. I think they were looking for brush rabbits, which are plentiful in those foothills.

Coyotes are not harmless. They have been known to drag off children. They should be respected and not taken lightly. Coyotes are native to North America, while DNA studies have shown that wolves are descendants of Eurasian timber wolves who crossed over onto this continent on sheets of ice from both east and west directions, thousands of years ago. They are similar animals, mainly just smaller in size.

Looking into their eyes left an impression on me. I don't feel as comfortable when hiking at twilight, much less after dark. At one point I made direct eye contact with one of them. I saw that wild look in its eyes, perhaps measuring me. If they had attacked, I would have had no defense. I couldn't outrun them. I had no weapon. There were no trees around. A very fearful thought. One interesting thought about many animals, including canines, is that they would be almost entirely harmless if their jaws were muzzled.

While hiking this past Friday evening, very heavy fog rolled in, which made it prematurely dark. Also, it was difficult to see more than thirty yards. After dark, I have often seen "eye shine" at the end of the beam of my flashlight. It never concerned me a lot because I always knew it was either a wildcat, raccoon, skunk, or a possum. Usually foxes keep a healthy distance. The other small animals stay in close range, as long as they can stay hidden.

On this evening, as I entered a wooded area, I started to see eye shine. It had gotten dark and very foggy. As I made my way down the narrow trail, amid heavy brush, I saw the eye shine of three sets of eyes in the dark brush off to the side. I couldn't quite make out the possible size from that distance. I then thought of the coyotes. If they were coyotes, and there were three of them--and if they attacked--again, I would have no defense. I thought about those glowing eyes from the Spring experience.

I was afraid as I passed though that spot. So much so that I purposely made noise. I dragged my feet, made heavy breathing sounds, and a couple of grunts. Sounds consistent with a bear. Not that I thought any animal would think I was a bear, but to project a certain arrogance, as if I was the chief predator. It was a bluff. I was fearful of what possibly could have been three large predators, of which I had no defense.

After I left that narrow trail, and entered a wooded area, I turned off my flashlight for a moment. It was almost complete darkness. Only a small amount of light was visible directly between the treeline along the trail, due to the fog that was illuminated by the urban lights from the distance. Had my flashlight gone dead, the prospect of walking back in the complete darkness would have been terrifying. Sometimes raccoons, skunks, or other small animals don't move right away, and you could walk right into them and be bitten. Stepping on a large snake. Sometimes unusual people wander into the dark woods without carrying a flashlight. Our ancestors feared the night, for good reason. Anyone who is in a remote area at night, should always carry a flashlight so they can, at the very least, signal to another person.

Strangely, about fifteen minutes later as I was near the end of the wooded trail, I saw raccoons on the trail in front of me. They didn't seem too happy to see me. At one point, I was startled by a loud furious growl in the brush right next to me! It had to be two raccoons in a brief skirmish. Occasionally, raccoons display aggressive behavior, even towards people. I like to describe them as "little bears."

Finally, I came upon one large one who was standing up straight in the middle of the road looking at me. At almost three feet tall, perhaps forty pounds, agitated, with large paws and sharp nails, and with powerful jaws... I had to stop! There we were, just standing and starting at each other from about ten yards. The beam of my flashlight on him and his shining eyes. Finally, I started to move forward by dragging my shoes against the ground. After about three steps, he angrily moved off to the side of the trail.

It was almost as if he were making the statement "this is our city!" For all I know, he may have been of chieftain of the clan... or maybe even the matriarch. During the day, while they're asleep, we invade their city; just as during the night, while we sleep, they invade our city. There must be some concept to them that "this is our place, and that is their place."

If I had somehow shrunk down to about three feet tall, I never would have gotten past him alive. At least with raccoons, you can gauge their mood by observing them. As long as you don't startle or corner them, they aren't a threat to a person. They could be a threat to pets. Often at twilight, at approximately that location, I observe raccoons, skunks, and wildcats together on the trail. They just sort've hang out and look at each other. Skunks sometimes walking right next to raccoons or wildcats.

Those woods wouldn't be the same without the "little bears." I keep thinking about the dialogue from the end of the movie 'Jaws'. Remember when they're paddling back to shore, after fighting the shark for days. Brody said "I used to hate the water," and Hooper responded, "I can't imagine why."