The Treat (Perry Bible Fellowship)

“Concerning the Dead” — Zora Neale Hurston

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“Concerning the Dead”

by

Zora Neale Hurston

from Mules and Men


There are many superstitions concerning the dead.

All over the South and in the Bahamas the spirits of the dead have great power which is used chiefly to harm. it Will be noted how frequently graveyard dust is required in the practice of hoodoo, goofer dust as it is often called.

It is to be noted that in nearly all of the killing ceremonies the cemetery is used.

The Ewe-speaking peoples of the west coast of Africa all make offerings of food and drink ?particularly libations of palm wine and banana beer upon the graves of the ancestor. It is to be noted in America that the spirit is always given a pint of good whiskey. He is frequently also paid for his labor in cash.

It is well known that church members are buried with their feet to the east so that they will arise on that last day facing the rising sun. Sinners are buried facing the opposite direction. The theory is that sunlight will do them harm rather than good, as they will no doubt wish to hide their faces from an angry God.

Ghosts cannot cross water?so that if a hoodoo doctor wishes to sic a dead spirit upon a man who lives across water, he must first hold the mirror ceremony to fetch the victim from across the water.

People who die from the sick bed may walk any night, but

Friday night is the night of the people who died in the dark who were executed. These people have never been in the light.

They died with the black cap over the face. Thus, they are blind. On Friday nights they visit the folks who died from sick beds and they lead the blind ones wherever they wish to visit.

Ghosts feel hot and smell faintish. According to testimony all except those who died in the dark may visit their former homes every night at twelve o’clock. But they must be back in the cemetery at two o’clock sharp or they will be shut out by the watchman and must wander about for the rest of the night. That is why the living are frightened by seeing ghosts at times. Some spirit has lingered too long with the living person it still loves and has been shut out from home.

Pop Drummond of Fernandina, Fla., says they are not asleep at all. They “Sings and has church and has a happy time, but some are spiteful and show themselves to scare folks.” Their voices are high and thin. Some ghosts grow very fat if they get plenty to eat. They are very fond of honey. Some who have been to the holy place wear seven?starred crowns and arc very “suscautious” and sensible.

Dirt from sinners’ graves is supposed to be very powerful, but some hoodoo doctors will use only that from the graves of infants. They say that the sinner’s grave is powerful to kill, but his spirit is likely to get unruly and kill others for the pleasure of killing. It is too dangerous to commission.

The spirit newly released from the body is likely to be destructive. This is why a cloth is thrown over the face of a clock in the death chamber and the looking glass is covered over. The clock will never run again, nor will the mirror ever cast any more reflections if they are not covered so that the spirit cannot see them.

When it rains at a funeral it is said that God wishes to wash their tracks off the face of the earth, they were so displeasing to him.

If a murder victim is buried in a sitting position, the murderer will be speedily brought to justice. The victim sitting before the throne is able to demand that justice be done. If he is lying prone he cannot do this.

A fresh egg in the hand of a murder victim will prevent the murderer’s going far from the scene. The egg represents life, and so the dead victim is holding the life of the murderer in his hand.

Sometimes the dead are offended by acts of the living and slap the face of the living. When this happens, the head is slapped one?sided and the victim can never straighten his neck. Speak gently to ghosts, and do not abuse the children of the dead.

It is not good to answer the first time that your name is called. It may be a spirit and if you answer it, you will die shortly. They never call more than once at a time, so by waiting you will miss probable death.

“hist whist” — e.e. cummings

“hist whist”

by

e.e. cummings


hist      whist
little ghostthings
tip-toe
twinkle-toe
little twitchy
witches and tingling
goblins
hob-a-nob     hob-a-nob
little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
tweeds
little itchy mousies
with scuttling
eyes    rustle and run     and
hidehidehide
whisk
whisk     look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she’ll do to yer
nobody knows
for she knows the devil     ooch
the devil     ouch
the devil
ach     the great
green
dancing
devil
devil
devil
devil
        wheeEEE

“All Hallow’s Eve” — Dorothea Tanning

“All Hallow’s Eve”

by

Dorothea Tanning


Be perfect, make it otherwise.
Yesterday is torn in shreds.
Lightning’s thousand sulfur eyes
Rip apart the breathing beds.
Hear bones crack and pulverize.
Doom creeps in on rubber treads.
Countless overwrought housewives,
Minds unraveling like threads,
Try lipstick shades to tranquilize
Fears of age and general dreads.
Sit tight, be perfect, swat the spies,
Don’t take faucets for fountainheads.
Drink tasty antidotes. Otherwise
You and the werewolf: newlyweds.

 

Three Books

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Complete Tales & Poems by Edgar Allan Poe. Fat trade paperback by Vintage; most recent date indicates 1975 but that can’t be right. No designer credited.

You know Poe.

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Tell My Horse by Zora Neale Hurston. 1983 trade paperback edition from Turtle Island. Neither designer nor photographer are credited.

A wonderful and weird trip to Jamaica and Haiti…and zombies!

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From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell. 2004 irregular-big trade paperback from Top Shelf. No designer/artist credited, but it’s clearly Campbell’s work.

One of my favorite scary novels ever. I reviewed it like a decade ago on this site. I found this postcard in it, a collage by the surealist Jacques Prévert:

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The postcard, from James Cooke, included this text, a quote of Cormac McCarthy’s horror novel Blood Meridian:

They entered the city haggard and filthy and reeking with the blood of the citizenry for whose protection they had contracted.

James won a postcard-based contest on this site like a decade ago, god love him.

 

 

Jack O’ Lanterns 2018

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Happy Halloween!

Halloween — Julio Larraz

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Halloween, 1973 by Julio Larraz (b. 1944)

Untitled (Mask) — William Eggleston

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Untitled (from Los Alamos), 1966-74 by William Eggleston (b. 1939)

Halloween Carnival — Henrik Martin Mayer

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Halloween Carnival, 1938 by Henrik Martin Mayer (1909-1972)

Halloween Carnival (detail) — Henrik Martin Mayer

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Detail from Halloween Carnival, 1938 by Henrik Martin Mayer (1909-1972)

Halloween Party — Philip Guston

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Halloween Party, 1942 by Philp Guston (1913-1980)

Pumpkinhead Visits the Lighthouse — Jamie Wyeth

Pumpkinhead

Pumpkinhead Visits the Lighthouse, 2000 by Jamie Wyeth (b. 1946)

Fantasy. You’re imagining things again.

Jack O’ Lantern, 2016

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Make Your Own Animal Mask

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Halloween — Bo Bartlett

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“How Jack O’Lanterns Came To Be” — Zora Neale Hurston

From Zora Neale Hurston’s novelization of folklore, Mules and Men:

It was slavery time, Zora, when Big Sixteen was a man. They called ‘im Sixteen  cause dat was de number of de shoe he wore. He was big and strong and Ole Massa looked to him to do everything.

One day Ole Massa said, “Big Sixteen, Ah b’lieve Ah want you to move dem sills Ah had hewed out down in de swamp.

“I yassuh, Massa.”

Big Sixteen went down in de swamp and picked up dem 12 X 12’s and brought ’em on up to de house and stack ,em. No one man ain’t never toted a 12 X 12 befo’ nor since.

So Ole Massa said one day, “Go fetch in de mules. Ah want to look ’em over.”

Big Sixteen went on down to, de pasture and caught dem mules by de bridle but they was contrary and balky and he tore de bridles to pieces pullin’ on ’em, so he picked one of ’em up under each arm and brought ’em up to Old Massa.

He says, “Big Sixteen, if you kin tote a pair of balky mules, you kin do anything. You kin ketch de Devil.”

“Yassuh, Ah kin, if you git me a nine-pound hammer and a pick and shovel!”

Ole Massa got Sixteen de things he ast for and tole ‘im to go ahead and bring him de Devil.

Big Sixteen went out in front of de house and went to diggin’. He was diggin’ nearly a month befo’ he got where he wanted. Then he took his hammer and went and knocked on de Devil’s door. Devil answered de door hisself.

“Who dat out dere?”

“It’s Big Sixteen.”

“What you want?”

“Wanta have a word wid you for a minute.”

Soon as de Devil poked his head out de door, Sixteen him over de head wid dat hammer and picked ‘im  up and carried ‘im back to Old Massa.

Ole Massa looked at de dead Devil and hollered, “Take dat ugly thing ‘way from here, quick! Ah didn’t think you’d, ketch de Devil sho ’nuff.”

So Sixteen picked up de Devil and throwed ‘im back down de hole.

Way after while, Big Sixteen died and went up to Heben. But Peter looked at him and tole ‘im to g’wan ‘way from dere. He was too powerful. He might git outa order and there wouldn’t be nobody to handle ‘im. But he had to, go somewhere so he went on to hell.

Soon as he got to de gate de Devil’s children was playin’ in de yard and they seen ‘im and run to de house, says, “Mama, mama! Dat man’s out dere dat kilt papa!”

So she called ‘im in de house and shet de door. When Sixteen got dere she handed ‘im a li’l piece of fire and said, “You ain’t comin’ in here. Here, take dis hot coal and g’wan off and start you a hell uh yo’ own.”

So when you see a Jack O’Lantern in de woods at night you know it’s Big Sixteen wid his piece of fire lookin’ for a  place to go.