superstition

Needled

sundaylegends

I’m knitting again.

I know it’s a weird statement, on a knitting blog. But this rut I’ve been in has extended to anything harder than garter stitch blankets. But I’m working on a trade, a scarf for a Christmas ornament, and I’m really enjoying the project. I’m not working on anything terribly complicated-lace on largish needles with bulky yarn. It’s pleasant enough though-and I like the yarn. Always a bonus.

As I settled into the rhythm, I realized that the needles I’m using are bright green-which triggered an idea I’ve had for this column for a long time and have mentioned in passing on occasion. But it’s unofficially Memory Month, so if I’m rehashing an idea, it’s actually appropriate.

There is an idea, in relation to folk magic and urban legend, that you can work spells and raise energy with fiber arts. The basic idea is an extension of knot magic: knitting is basically a series of needle-worked knots, and knots can be used to ‘trap’ or catch energy. So in theory, you could work up spell bits and bobs, in various colors, and hold onto energy that way. If you wanted, you could hold the piece until the end of the spell and burn the piece then to release the energy. Or you could hold onto it like a talisman. This idea actually extends to a superstition that’s floated around my Internet career on various fiber sites-that different cultures had the idea that it was terrible to rip out your own work because it tears out your own luck.

The idea of this binding means that you can also bind a person to you through knitting or other fiber work-working your hair or the hair of another person will bind the two of you together.

Knitters will sometimes say that projects and yarns have personalities, and you can ‘raise’ energy will working on a piece. It’s not necessarily bad luck to work a project that you don’t like, but it can be rough going and sometimes yarn will tell you what it does and does not want to be-it’s easier to work with a yarn that wants to be, say, a scarf than yarn that doesn’t.

In terms of energy, it also possible to use fiber to work with manifestations, meditations, and other mindsets that are aided by repetitive motion. If you wanted to work an abundance chant, for example, you could use green needles (hence what triggered this post), green yarn, or both (or neither, to be honest) and work your chant across each chant. Spinning and knitting are both helpful to clear the mind for meditation.

Folklorically, a lot of the myth surrounding European hearth spirits mention fiber, at least in passing. Many of these spirits (fae or otherwise) are deeply interested in spinning and other fiber arts. Some will actually do the spinning for you if you stay on their good sides, for others, if you slack on your fiber work, you risk enraging them.

Knitting is not without its own little urban legends and superstitions-it’s terrible luck to knit for a baby before it is born. As in, potentially fatally bad luck. There is also the infamous sweater curse-don’t knit for your partner before you’re engaged, or you run the risk of breaking up the relationship. You should also try to never hand a person a pair of needles with the points to them or risk damaging your relationship. Dropping needles is bad luck. Don’t leave knitting needles empty.

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Blue

blue

Even though it’s been close to a year since Holly asked me why green was considered unlucky, I haven’t forgotten to finish out this series. It does stand to be pointed out again that color associations do vary from culture to culture and even within usage. These associations also shift over time-in large part, our association with pink belonging to girls and blues belonging to boys extends back only as far as the 1920s or so. Actually a great deal of our culture markers (including diamond engagement rings) also extend back only into the Interwar period but that’s a discussion for another time.

Like green, blue is a peace color. Used to pull in healing and calming energy, blue is used to encourage peace and comfort. In some cultures the color’s associations with a draw down of energies is so strong that it is actually used to mark mourning. The presence of too much blue can likewise push down energy so much that it inspires depression; to be depressed is sometimes referred to as being blue. Blue is often associated with water, and by extension the color is sometimes used in with similar meanings such as boosting emotion or intuition.

Orange

Orange is a strange color.

Orange is supposedly the most disliked color in America. I don’t get that, orange is very much my Me color.

Orange is a color of contradictions and balance, being placed between two ‘hot’ colors that carry vastly different implications. Orange balances out the influences of yellow and red, making it both a lust/passion/fertility color, and a color associated with purity and cleansing.

Orange is not a powerful as red in terms of attracting energies- but this is actually one of its strengths. Orange is good for attracting energies when you know what you want and are attempting to control it. If red is just opening the doors for a free-for-all, orange is holding a by invitation only event. Often associated with success and luck, orange is especially good when you’re working towards more material or concrete needs, such as money or a new home.

Orange is also a stimulating color, and therefore is good for movement. Sometimes orange is used for stirring up stagnating energies, such as attempting to determine what decision to make next or figuring out what step to take towards development. Within the chakras, orange is the color associated with both sexuality and creativity. Taken too far however, and orange pushes energies into excess.

If other colors have direct superstitions attached to them, orange seems to fly fairly under the radar. Orange tends to have associations with days or holidays (halloween, for example), there isn’t much to be found specifically with regards to the color the way that red or green does. If anyone knows any, I would love to hear them.

Colors

Red

Green

6 months ago- Vivian

1 year ago- newfoundland thrummed mitten

Shunning Hell House

Lovecraft’s short piece “The Shunned House” sets up the premise that a house exists in Rhode Island that is capable of killing off the inhabitants, one by one, to the extreme that no child is ever born alive on that property. Of course, Lovecraft being Lovecraft, the root cause in this situation is an eldritch horror living in the depths of the Earth underneath the property.

I found the piece to be much more readable that most of Lovecraft’s work, and in reading it I started thinking about a subject that comes up in blogland every so often- the idea that places have their own health, and if a place gets sick, what then happens to the inhabitants of that place.

I rarely go into what my social circle calls ‘woo-woo’ since that’s not the intent of this blog. But let me tell you about my tenure at Hell House.

When I finished grad school, I was completely broke. As in, I had something like $20 to my name and was about to start a job making $12,000, give or take a few hundred. Someone kindly offered to take me in- and while it was definately preferrable than some of my options this didn’t work out to be one of the more pleasant eras of my life.

There were some personality issues that needed to be worked out but I will be damned if the house itself wasn’t part of the problem. The house needed work, and there was a mold issue- so yes, the house was adding a physical element to it.

I swear though, that there was something about that property that was just…angry. At the risk of sounding like I’ve gone completely crazy (finally) there was a day that I was upstairs by myself where I really believe that something in that house wanted to push me down the stairs.

I thought about not telling anyone about this because, well, frankly I know how this sounds. But the subject came up on one of my comms awhile back and the response I got when I told the story was, no, I’ve lived in sick houses before or, no, places can pick up energies and they may not be pleasant ones.

I’m not suggesting that America is studded with hellmouths or something. But I do wonder sometimes if the energy that we do put out is picked up by something somewhere, and if certain places are just better at holding the negative emotions more than others.

6 months ago- the walking dead

Red

Red is a power color.

It doesn’t really matter what the association is, it’s going to be intensive. The color of fire, red is used in combination of strong emotion- lust, love, rage, destruction. In some cases this is cleansing, in others, it’s destructive. Red can be used to either draw up or tamp down any of these, depending on motive, since red is also a purifying color.

Red is a very primal color. The root of the word may even be related to blood. Its connection to life makes it a very dominant color and should be used with restraint. Because of its connection to life and the life force (…I really dislike that term…) red has traditionally been given a dual natured meaning; on one hand, the color is associate with love, sexuality, and passion, and on the other, the color is also used to represent sin and guilt.

Red superstitions are hard to pin down, since red varies so much in meaning from culture to culture. Red hair is often quoted as being bad luck, or red heads are seen as ill-tempered- this may be a throwback to when a red-headed individual may have been invading. In some cultures red is seen as lucky and is connected with money. The Greeks have a superstition about touching red to avert bad luck or fights.

6 months ago- Sunday Legends- Woman in White/La Llorona

1 year ago- I don’t see why he doesn’t agree with me

Playthings of the Cosmos

Let me take you on one of my patented rides down memory lane.

I was five. My father was stationed in northern California (I’m a Navy brat). Somehow I got ahold of the TV remote.

The movie I managed to find was Magic with Anthony Hopkins.

To rely on Internet slang- my mind was blown, bricks were shat, and I was given my first phobia in the space of a 5 minute clip (maybe it was longer, but that’s all I really remember). The idea that a doll could make people hurt other people? Even kill them? That was literally too much for my mind to handle.

Even now, I think that’s a pretty heavy concept.

There’s something about tiny little (anthropological) fetishes that drives people crazy. How many times do people reference voodoo dolls? Remember Chucky? The fact that there was even a movie to spawn reoccuring nightmares for the next decade says a lot (I said that the scars of that movie run deep).

Poppets

I like poppets.

Poppets are cool.

(…random dr who reference).

Poppets are what voodoo dolls want to be.

Literally.

A poppet is a doll, generally about the size of an adult hand though that’s not set in stone, made for a distinct purpose. The point here is that it’s a) handcrafted and b) made with intent.

Poppets are used for a range of purposes. Sometimes treated as a form of sympathetic, they take on the purpose of the oft-quoted voodoo doll; the doll can stand in for an intended individual. What happens to that doll is supposed to extend into the person it’s representing. In some cases the doll can be charged to protect the entirity of the hearth that it’s placed within. It’s slightly more uncommon but not unheard of for the poppet to be an actual protective ward, charged with a particular job to respond to- for example, if the hearth is suspected to be under attack from an entity, the doll can be used to respond to that energy by packing it with specific items or herbs.

Kachina

Kachinas are technically spirits who if treated with respect, can create effects in the world around them. Kachinas are not gods, but they do hold a major place in the Hopi cosmology (among others). With over 400 identified, they can represent everything from elemental forces to animals and other natural features. A similar idea would be animism, where inanimate and/or natural features such as geological formations have souls.

Kachina dolls were used to teach children the various kachinas. Each doll represented a different kachina and were used to familiarize the next generation with the role of each.

Hinamatsuri-Doll’s Festival

Also referred to as Peach Festival, Hinamatsuri is held on March 3rd in Japan. The holiday is held to ask for the safety and success of young girls. It is suggested that it is linked to historical beliefs surrounding the ability of dolls to absorbed and hold onto negative spirits- at one point dolls where actually placed on mats and floated down rivers until it began to negatively impact fishing practices.

Mothman: Behind Red Eyes

…I thought that I had accidentally posted twice yesterday. And yet it’s not there.  Weird. I’m not complaining. I hate double posts.

I admit, we all have our hobby horses. I have a thing for fae lore. Lest not judge.

But I have to say, I really can’t get into the mothman legend.

The story goes that in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, a creature was spotted with some frequency in the 1960s that seemed to warn of disaster. At one point, this creature (dubbed the mothman for its odd appearance) was said to have been spotted just before a major bridge collapsed.

Mothman has a place in American culture, showing up everywhere from blogs to episodes of the Xfiles. The creature has never been identified and attempts to identify the creature range from snowy owls to aliens. It is interesting to note that folklorists have suggested that the mothman may be a case in which an urban legend developed over a very short time- a lot of the ‘facts’ of the cases seem to have been pulled word from word from fiction, where they were first mentioned.

Mothman: Behind Red Eyes is a documentary on the sightings. I will give the writers credit, the documentary is much less sensentionalized than I thought it would be. However, it almost veers too far into the other end of the spectrum. The documentary sometimes feels overly dry and something that I would have been forced to watch in a sociology course.

It’s also way, way too long. Coming it at over 2 hours, the documentary could easily have been half the length and still have been effective. While parts of it are interesting, the sheer amount of detail in the piece is overwhelming and almost boring. I think you really need to be interested in the mothman or American folklore over all to be able to get through the entire piece.