Samhain, All Hallows Eve and Ghost Stories – Halloween Special!

Some of my close friends will know, Halloween is my favourite holiday! It’s the one time of year that the majority of people dress up as something ‘scary’ and in a way celebrate the dead and all things weird yet wonderful. Why do I like this? Well, only a select few will know that not only have I got a few ghost stories of my own, as well as been able to predict a few things, but I have a fascination with parapsychology.

For those who don’t know, or probably think they know but are a little misinformed, parapsychology is a study of paranormal psychological phenomena (such as telephathy, psychokinesis and clairvoyance). It’s not to be confused with paranormal investigators! (But ghosts and spirits can be a part of it). And, as far as I am concerned, parapsychology is a little more ‘science’ based than paranormal investigators. There are even legitimate research laboratories set up around the world for the study, one of my favourites is the Koestler Parapsychology Unit based here in Scotland, at Edinburgh University (link at the bottom of the blog post). I am interested in one day completing at least the online course for interest, but have also been considering a PhD and conducting real research (plus, wouldn’t it be a cool talking point to say that my PhD was in parapsychology? I’ll call myself Dr Spooks!)

Continue reading and there might be a few spooky stories of my own!

Where did Halloween Originate from?

Halloween is an annual holiday celebrated each year on October 31st. This year it falls on a Thursday. Many people around the world celebrate it; United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, even China and Japan.

Some people believe Halloween originated from the pagan religious festival ‘Samhain’, others, however, believe that Halloween is a solely Christian celebration.

Samhain

Let’s start with Samhain.

the-festival-of-samhain-is-celebrated-in-glastonbury

Photo from: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/samhain

Samhain (pronouced “sow-in”), is a Gaelic word for “summer’s end”. It is a typically ancient Celtic spiritual tradition, possibly originating in Ireland 2,000 years ago (the Celts also lived all over the United Kingdom and parts of northern France), celebrated from the 31st October to 1st November (the mid point between autumn equinox and winter solstice) to usher the “dark half of the year” and to welcome the harvest. The Celtic New Year was November 1.

After the harvest, the community began celebrations around a wheel that, due to friction, would create sparks and flames. This is said to represent the sun. Cattle were sacrificed and people would take a flame back to relight their fire in their own homes.

The Celts also believed that a barrier between worlds was breachable during Samhain, believing that this time of year was associated with death and also believed the dead would cross over during this time.

By 43 A.D., the Celtic territories were conquered by the Roman Empire, and over 400 years, two Roman festivals (Feralia, a day in late October for commemorating the dead and day to honor Pomona, the goddess of fruit and trees – probably where the tradition of bobbing for apples came from) were combined with Samhain.

It’s possible that Samhain was merged with these two days to eradicate the original pagan festival, as there was a Persecution of paganism under Theodosius I in 381 A.D., who reigned as co-emperor of the Roman Empire. Theodosian created “Theodosian decrees” which meant practicing paganism was banned, visits to temples forbidden, and remaining pagan holidays were abolished, among others. He also declared that pagan feasts that had not yet been rendered Christian ones to now be workdays.

Christian Halloween

The name “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ eve”, which, “hallows” means saints. November the 1st was a day to celebrate all the saints and martyrs, originally called All Saints’ Day. October the 31st just so happened to be the eve, which, of course, was also important day of celebration.

But, All Saints’ Day was originally on the 13th of May, originally to celebrate Martyrs, but Pope Boniface IV changed it to the 1st of November and incorporated a celebration for all saints.

In 1000 A.D. the church also made November the 2nd “All Souls’ Day” a day to honor the dead. It was celebrated similarly to Samhain.

All three days are collectively called Allhallowtide.

Pumpkin Carving

On Halloween, pumpkin carving is a tradition, sometimes called Jack O’Lanterns in America. This is where a pumpkin is hollowed out, a face calved into it’s side and then a candle being placed inside to light it up.

This tradition originated from Ireland, but it wasn’t pumpkins that were originally used, as they weren’t native. Originally turnips, potatoes and other root vegetables were used, it wasn’t until Halloween made it’s way to America that pumpkins were used, as it was found they were easier to calve than root vegetables.

images

Original Jack O’Lantern, Turnip Carving.
https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/jack-o-lantern-turnips-ireland

The name ‘Jack O’Lantern’ is also from an Irish folktale. According to the story, a man called Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, but Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so Jack could use to buy their drinks. But Jack decided to keep the money and put it in his pocket, next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing.

The Devil was eventually freed, under the condition he would leave Jack alone for one year, and should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing a tree, Jack carved a cross into the tree so the Devil could not come down until he promised Jack he would not bother him for another ten years.

When Jack died, God didn’t allow Jack into heaven for his actions, but the Devil also didn’t allow him into Hell. Instead, Jack was sentenced to roam Earth with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and became a ghostly figure called ‘Jack of the Lantern’, which eventually was shortened to ‘Jack O’Lantern’.

Trick or Treating

It is suggested that the practice of trick or treating originated from the custom of “Souling”, baking and sharing soul cakes for all christened souls. Groups of poor people, often children, would go door-to-door during Allhallowtide, collect soul cakes in return for a prayer for the dead.

Soul cakes, or soulmass cakes, were often market with a cross, much like the Easter/Lenten hot cross buns.

FDS8G00JN3HULF7.LARGE
Picture from: https://www.instructables.com/id/A-Witchs-Afternoon-Tea-Celtic-Style/
(includes a receipe if you’d like to recreate them yourself!)

Of course, the phrase ‘Trick or treat’ wasn’t used back then, the first mention of this phrase can be dated back to 1951 from a Peanut Comic Strip, but the actual origins are unclear.

Now, trick or treating has become a tradition for children to go knocking on local doors in exchange for sweets, usually dressed up as something scary!

Dressing up

The act of dressing up on Halloween can probably be dated back to Samhain, where villagers would disguise themselves in costumes made of animal skins to drive away unwanted visitors/spirits.

It was also a tradition shared with Christians, who believed Allhallowtide was the last day for the dead to seek vengeance on their enemies before moving on. People would dress up to avoid being recognised from being a target of this vengeance.

Now, the act of dressing up is left to parties and children who take part in trick-or-treating.

My Own Spooky Experiences

Something doesn’t feel right

A few years ago, probably around 2013, I took a trip to Conwy, Northern Wales (home to the smallest house in Britain) with my partner at the time. We both lived in Warrington so getting to Northern Wales was easy.

It was a cold day, which made for a good day exploring as there weren’t many people about, and so we took a trip to have a look around Conwy Castle.

conwy01
Photograph from www.castlewales.com/conwy.html

At first, it was great, hardly any tourists, because it was the wrong time of year, it was cold but dry and I always love my little days out visiting new sites, so I’m happy exploring too. We had just seen the smallest house in Britain and now we were having a wander around the castle, I was snap happy with my camera. As always.

But as I got closer to one of the towers, I had a very unsettling feeling towards it. I hadn’t had that feeling anywhere else so far in the castle except that one tower. I told my partner I couldn’t go near it and he just looked at me oddly. He was a sceptic (I didn’t hold it against him, but I did hate the looks he used to give me). But he started to read out the board next to the tower, and told me why couldn’t go near…

…it was the prison tower.

Imaginary Friend

This is a story that I will be turning into a book eventually, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will explain a little about it.

My experiences with all things paranormal started when I was a child. When I was very young, probably still at primary school (ages 5 to 7), my brother and I had an imaginary friend; Sammy.

I don’t remember much about this because I was still quite young, so most of my memories have gone, the only memories I do have was remembering telling my mum that my missing hairbands were probably lost because Sammy hid them.

My mum told me that this imaginary friend, Sammy, used to live in the corner of our ceiling and would hide things for fun.

My mother at the time was a sceptic, and she believed my brother and I were just blaming things going missing on an imaginary friend, not wanting us to get into trouble. My brother also had a very vivid imagination when he was young, mum would get teachers from school worried about some of the stories he used to tell. Mum still to this day remembers the story about the Tiger in the backgarden. I’m suprised my brother never followed in my footsteps and became a writer!

But her scepticism quickly vanished after what she thought my brother and I had outgrown our imaginary friend became a lot more than just an imaginary friend…

She used to work at the primary school my brother and I went to, and because of such, became friendly with a few of the other mothers. One lady had approached my mum asking her for advice, asking if my brother and I ever had imaginary friends. After my mum gave her advice that “don’t worry, they grow out of it.” The mother proceeded to tell my mum that her son had an imaginary friend…

…called Sammy…

…who lives in the ceiling…

…and hides things.

My mum told me this a few years ago, and I can’t say I was surprised, after all the other things that had happened to me over the years… she also explained that the other mother’s son told her that Sammy was looking for his parents. Somehow we figured out that Sammy had died in an accident, car accident or something similar.

But I have tried to search for information on such an accident in the area I grew up (near Laws Woods/Park, in Swindon, Wiltshire) and I couldn’t find anything in any records. Although, a lot of locals have had ghostly encounters in Lawns Woods, my mother and I have heard a few stories in the area, a woman in white searching for something, ghost animals, even amature ghost hunters went to the area and believe they saw a woman in white being carried.

Lawns Woods used to be home to the Goddard Family, with remains of an old church and graveyard apparently for the family’s pets, an old ice house up on the hill, remains of an old sunken garden, a site where Tutor Mansion used to sit, then an 18th Century Mansion, both no longer there. But with so much history in the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few ghostly goings on in the area. Including the ghost of Sammy that used to haunt the children in the area. I just wish I could find more information about it.

References:

Here are a few links if you’re interested in reading more about some sites I mentioned in this blog post:

Koestler Parapschology Unit

Lawn Park

Goddards in Swindon

Paranormal activity in Lawns Park

History of Halloween

History of Samhain

~~~

Keeping in theme of the spooky, check out these links below.

New Story idea! – Butterfly House
Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue
New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”
My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

If you’re interested in my other travel/historical posts, check these out:

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November…
Douglas, South Lanarkshire – A Hidden Gem
Best places to visit in South Lanarkshire
Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

Don’t forget to like this post and follow me!
And feel free to comment with any of your spooky stories!

Happy 3 Year Anniversary – Sorry I’ve been quiet!

Hey guys,

So, I logged into my Word Press account today with the intention of writing a post, seeing as my last post was Halloween, I figured I ought to write another one!

But I logged in and realised it’s my 3 year anniversary on Word Press today! Yay!

I much apologise for the lack of posts, if you have been following me on Word Press and/or on my social media sites, you’ll know I am completing a Master’s Degree and it is extremely demanding. That, and I finally have a social life again… it’s difficult to keep up with anything writing related. Although I have promised myself to get Rose Garden Sanatorium finished this year! Might even do a bit of editing today.

So? What’s new? Other than the string of reports I have to write for this Master’s Degree, I have managed to sell a few copies of my currently published books (in e-book format on Smashwords). Both were ‘accidentally’ put up for free on Smashwords, it was supposed to be a New Year sale, but on Smashwords, they were free… although I think on the other sites Smashwords put them up for sale, they weren’t free, so I did get a bit of money from the sales. I let it run anyway, as it’s nice to get some more readers and hopefully some new reviews!

They’re both currently on sale (e-book). It’s My Mistake is currently at $0.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

I Fell in Love with a Psychopath (e-book) is: $1.50: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044

If you’re more into paperbacks, then you can buy them both here:

It’s My Mistake: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

I Fell in Love with a Psychopath: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1722710365/

I also got a new review for I Fell in Love with a Psychopath, my first one on Amazon, and it’s a 5 star. Although the reviewer said “A fantastic 1st novel”, which isn’t true, it’s my second. 😛

Oh, and I won another award! This time for my Short Story “My Normal”
https://www.wattpad.com/650286458-%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8Fsolstice-awards-winners-2018%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8F-%E2%98%80%EF%B8%8Fshort-story

Also, click here for a sneak peak of my book Rose Garden Sanatorium

And if you like videos, check this out!

Follow me on WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/penny_bones16
Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PennyRHooper/

Halloween Special – Rose Garden Sanatorium Sneak-Peek

Prologue

*
Sam Chaudhary

A large swarm of pigeons suddenly flew up in a panic, disturbing the long since settled dust. Their wings echoed as they clapped in the vastness as if they were applauding the perpetrator that spooked them. Most vanished out through the large hole in the roof. A few others nestled elsewhere; atop of an old door, or the other side of the room bobbing along the floor in fear.

They were originally hiding safely in a derelict building. A building that many years ago once held many people; doctors once walked around in white coats, holding patient records and stethoscopes hanging around their necks looking important. Nurses would have rushed around with bed pans and other equally rudimentary items, wearing aprons with large red crosses on them and with their hair pinned back into tight buns. Patients would be seen in straitjackets screaming at the top of their lungs when they were due for more sedatives.

The building now, however, was eerily silent—yet if you listened close enough you would swear you could hear a distance ghostly scream. There were scattered red bricks from the broken walls, broken windows boarded up from the outside and graffiti clinging helplessly on the peeling walls. It was obvious the building was no longer in use.

The pigeons made the boy jump as he walked into the open hall, he had accidentally spooked them while he side stepped past a weed, a bit of nature that had decided to reclaim the area, his foot knocked a loose brick which had caused a loud noise to echo. He stopped to regain his breath and slow his beating heart.

The boy was young, his round slightly tanned Asian face still had a hint of baby fat lingering in his cheeks and his short dark hair complimented his dark brown eyes. He stood holding the zipper on his jacket, close to where his beating heart sat pounding in his chest. His jacket was slightly dirty from months of use and not seeing the inside of a washing machine. It was his favourite and deemed lucky jacket, it was dark red with black trim around the collar and cuffs, contrasting with the blue in his jeans, which were slightly too long for his legs, evident from the fraying at the bottom, where his brand new Nike trainers would catch them when he walked.

It’s just an old building, he thought to himself, hoping to calm his nerves as he looked nervously around himself. There are no monsters! he added, sighing deeply.

He remembered what his mother would say to him every night when she would tuck him into bed. That was when he was younger, of course. He was far too big now to be tucked in at night. He was twelve and a half, thank you very much. But his mother’s sweet voice automatically filled his head; ‘Monsters aren’t real, beta,’ she would say. ‘Beta’ being the Hindi word for ‘son’. She would do that occasionally, adding in Hindi words into sentences, she didn’t want him to lose his Hindi roots.

After composing himself a little, feeling a little more confident no monsters were going to jump out and eat him, he decided to continue moving onwards and through the vastness of the open hall.

The quicker I get it, the quicker I can get out, he thought to himself as he climbed over a fallen wall, the broken red bricks threatening to pierce the skin on his legs.

He walked quietly and as quickly as possible to the other side of the hall to another corridor, the smell of urine potent in this part of the building. As he neared a door separating the hall from the corridor ahead, he also noticed another smell lingering in the air, yet he didn’t think much of it; he had a job to do.

The door, mould threatening to consume it from the bottom upwards, was leaning awkwardly against the corridor wall, one hinge still attached, the other not. Although he was sure his friend told him he’d have to open a door at the other end of the hall? Maybe it just fell down since his friend had been there?

The boy looked down the corridor to another door at the far end. The street light that was originally illuminating his way wasn’t reaching this far, but he could see the last door he needed to go through… he was nearly there.

He walked slowly, stepping over some broken glass and side-stepping past an old chair left discarded and lonely in the corridor, while feeling proud of himself for getting this far.

But something made him stop; a sound. He could hear someone muttering, and it was coming from that room beyond the door. He realised that strange smell was stronger here too. He certainly wasn’t imagining it. He couldn’t place what the smell was, but he knew it was some sort of incense, it reminded him of his Aunt Mysha.

He stood still for a few seconds, in panic. He knew if he ran away now, he’d have his friend telling him he was a wimp for not getting the item he was supposed to get; that damn brick. But if he stayed where he was, and whoever was on the other side of the door was a murderer or something, he’d be dead.

The muttering started to get louder as he stood there, the person was talking louder now, and the boy realised it was a woman’s voice. Spiked with curiosity, he couldn’t help but walk towards the door slowly and quietly. Maybe, if he got close enough, he could hear what she was saying.

The closer he got, the louder the voice got, but not just because he was getting nearer, she was getting louder. Now able to hear her, he started to realise that she was repeating something, although he could not work out what she was saying, she was speaking a foreign language. The only word he picked up was ‘mammon’ or something similar.

What is she doing? he thought. And what language is that?

He crept closer to the door, his curiosity getting the better of him. He was now right by the door, if he just peaked through the gap, he’d be able to see into the room. He could already see shadows dancing across the walls and floor, there was some kind of light and a waft of that strange incense smell too.

The boy shifted his weight slightly on one leg, so that he could peer round the corner of the door, the room slowly came into focus. There was indeed a woman; she was dressed in all black, had one hand up in the air as if she was waving to someone and the other held something burning. She was now shouting, which the boy was grateful for as he was worried she would have heard him by now otherwise.

He saw a brick laying in the middle of the room on the floor, it had a very delicate carving of a strange symbol on its side. It was the brick he was tasked to get. It was right next to strange criss-cross of white lines and circles markings on the floor, directly in front of the woman. He knew there was no chance he was going to be able to go in the room and get it without being noticed. But before he could turn around and leave the building empty-handed, a strange cloud like object started to form before the woman.

Transfixed on the sight, he watched as it swirled and swirled, getting bigger and bigger, until suddenly it somehow imploded and vanished. But it didn’t vanish into thin air, it vanished into a crack, a crack that had formed in thin air. The woman stopped shouting now, the room fell eerily silent. The boy found himself going rigid, not just out of terror, but worried about making a sound.

Suddenly, the crack started to open up from the other side, it was as if something was trying to come through, like a rip in fabric. But he could see the other side, where the room was beyond it, there was nothing there. The crack started to get wider and wider and a terrifying clawed red hand reached through. The boy’s eyes went wide and he held his breath as he saw the red hand tear the crack open up in one swift movement and the whole red body attached to the hand climbed through, horns, tail and black leathery wings included.

The boy let out a squeak of terror accidentally and covered his mouth with his hand, but it was too late, the monster and the woman turned round, both staring right at the boy, both with the same horrifying pitch black eyes.

Monsters were real.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
If you’d like to read some more, here is the link to WattPad: https://www.wattpad.com/…/124077410-rose-garden-sanatorium

P.S. This is the book that won the Earnesty Writer’s Awards Paranormal Genre.

1. Rose Garden Sanatorium NEW (2)

Halloween Special! 35% off my e-books!

Halloween Special!

Both my e-books are 35% off! For one day only! Sale ends tomorrow!

Happy Halloween / Happy Samhain!

I fell in Love with a Psychopath: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/893044
It’s My Mistake: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/744287

If you’d prefer the paperback, you can get them both here:
I fell in love with a psychopath: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1722710365/
It’s My Mistake: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-My-Mistake-Penny-Hooper/dp/1985376709/