Saturday, November 28, 2009

No I am not Bored


Andrew Newburg, University of Pennsylvania - Several recent brain-scan studies have shown that yawning evokes a unique neural activity in the areas of the brain that are directly involved in generating social awareness and creating feelings of empathy. One of those areas is the precuneus, a tiny structure hidden within the folds of the parietal lobe. According to researchers at the Institute of Neurology in London, the precuneus appears to play a central role in consciousness, self-reflection, and memory retrieval. The precuneus is also stimulated by yogic breathing, which helps explain why different forms of meditation contribute to an increased sense of self-awareness. It is also one of the areas hardest hit by age-related diseases and attention deficit problems, so it's possible that deliberate yawning may actually strengthen this important part of the brain. . .

If I were to ask you to put this magazine down right now and yawn 10 times to experience this fabulous technique, you probably won't do it. Even at seminars, after presenting the overwhelmingly positive evidence, when I ask people to yawn, half of the audience will hesitate. I have to coax them so they can feel the immediate relaxing effects. There's an unexplained stigma in our society implying that it's rude to yawn, and most of us were taught this when we were young.

But yawning doesn't just relax you-it quickly brings you into a heightened state of cognitive awareness. Students yawn in class, not because the teacher is boring (although that will make you yawn as well, as you try to stay focused on the monotonous speech), but because it rids the brain of sleepiness, thus helping you stay focused on important concepts and ideas. It regulates consciousness and our sense of self, and helps us become more introspective and self-aware. Of course, if you happen to find yourself trapped in a room with a dull, boring, monotonous teacher, yawning will help keep you awake.

Yawning will relax you and bring you into a state of alertness faster than any other meditation technique I know of, and because it is neurologically contagious, it's particularly easy to teach in a group setting. One of my former students used yawning to bring her argumentative board of directors back to order in less than 60 seconds. Why? Because it helps people synchronize their behavior with others.

Yawning, as a mechanism for alertness, begins within the first 20 weeks after conception. It helps regulate the circadian rhythms of newborns, and this adds to the evidence that yawning is involved in the regulation of wakefulness and sleep. Since circadian rhythms become asynchronous when a person's normal sleep cycle is disturbed, yawning should help the late-night partygoer reset the brain's internal clock. Yawning may also ward off the effects of jet lag and ease the discomfort caused by high altitudes. . .

Dogs yawn before attacking, Olympic athletes yawn before performing, and fish yawn before they change activities. Evidence even exists that yawning helps individuals on military assignment perform their tasks with greater accuracy and ease. Indeed, yawning may be one of the most important mechanisms for regulating the survival-related behaviors in mammals. So if you want to maintain an optimally healthy brain, it is essential that you yawn. It is true that excessive yawning can be a sign that an underlying neurological disorder (such as migraine, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or drug reaction) is occurring. However, I and other researchers suspect that yawning may be the brain's attempt to eliminate symptoms by readjusting neural functioning.

Yawn as many times a day as possible: when you wake up, when you're confronting a difficult problem at work, when you prepare to go to sleep, and whenever you feel anger, anxiety, or stress. Yawn before giving an important talk, yawn before you take a test, and yawn while you meditate or pray because it will intensify your spiritual experience.

Conscious yawning takes a little practice and discipline to get over the unconscious social inhibitions, but people often come up with three other excuses not to yawn: "I don't feel like it,"� "I'm not tired,"� and my favorite, "I can't."� Of course you can. All you have to do to trigger a deep yawn is to fake it six or seven times. Try it right now, and you should discover by the fifth false yawn, a real one will begin to emerge. But don't stop there, because by the tenth or twelfth yawn, you'll feel the power of this seductive little trick. Your eyes may start watering and your nose may begin to run, but you'll also feel utterly present, incredibly relaxed, and highly alert. Not bad for something that takes less than a minute to do. And if you find that you can't stop yawning-I've seen some people yawn for thirty minutes-you'll know that you've been depriving yourself of an important neurological treat.

Advent is the new year

Advent is the new year of the Christian Church and the church season that leads to Christmas Day.

Advent is the time when Christians remember that Jesus came into the world in Palestine 2000 years ago and that Jesus also promised one day to return in all His glory.

Clergy typically wear royal purple or royal blue vestments during Advent. Many churches also include an advent wreath (sometimes called an Advent ring or crown) in their Advent services.

The Seasons of the Church Year

Dennis Bratcher

We keep track of time and seasons of the year by using calendars that provide us opportunities to observe, commemorate, and celebrate certain events or occasions. The changing seasons of the year also provide us with recurring opportunities to celebrate the Christian Faith in worship. The Christian church, following earlier Jewish tradition, has long used the seasons of the year as an opportunity for festivals and holidays, sacred time set aside to worship God as the Lord of life.

While Jewish celebration revolves around the Exodus from Egypt, the Christian Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. The sequence of festivals from Advent to Resurrection Sunday becomes an annual spiritual journey for worshippers as they kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, and witness the resurrection! The rest of the church year provides opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus and his commission to his people to be a light to the world.

Many churches in the Protestant tradition do not celebrate in any deliberate or sustained way the various seasons of the church year beyond Christmas and Easter. However, the observance of the seasons of the church year has a long history in the life of the Christian Faith. When most of the people in the church were poor and had no access to education, the church festivals and the cycle of the church year provided a vehicle for teaching the story of God and his actions in human history. Even in the Old Testament, the concept of sacred time became a vehicle for teaching the faith (for example, Exodus 12-13). Planned and purposeful observance of the Christian seasons and festivals can become an important tool for education and discipleship in the Faith, as well as a vehicle for spiritual growth and vitality.

As a congregation moves through the church calendar, they are presented in an organized way with the opportunity to talk about, reflect upon, and respond to the entire range of faith confessions that lie at the heart of the Christian Faith. This is important, not only for the vitality of the whole community, but especially for children to become aware in the context of community celebration those things that are important to their Faith (Deut 6:20-25).

The Christian calendar is organized around two major centers of Sacred Time: Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany; and Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, concluding at Pentecost. The rest of the year following Pentecost is known as Ordinary Time, from the word "ordinal," which simply means counted time (First Sunday after Pentecost, etc.). Ordinary Time is used to focus on various aspects of the Faith, especially the mission of the church in the world. Some church traditions break up ordinary time into a Pentecost Season, (Pentecost until the next to last Sunday of August) and Kingdomtide (last Sunday of August until the beginning of Advent).

Some Protestant churches also celebrate other days not specifically tied to these cycles, such as Reformation Sunday and All Saints Sunday. These are becoming increasingly popular ways to flesh out the themes of the Church in the World during Ordinary Time by focusing on heritage and the faithfulness of those in the past. A few churches are beginning to observe some of the feast days for saints, such as the Sunday nearest October 4 for Francis of Assisi, in order to call attention to particular emphases throughout the year. It is an attempt to allow the Church and its history rather than secular culture to set the agenda for the Church's teaching and ministry.

Following the church year is more than simply marking time on a calendar or a note in the church bulletin. Every effort should be made to use the various aspects of the church year as an opportunity to tell the story of God's redemptive work in the world.

Many churches have relied almost solely on the spoken word to carry the burden of proclamation. However, even in the Old Testament the services of worship involved all of the senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, as well as hearing. Modern learning theory also indicates that the more senses are involved in an experience, the more impact it makes, especially for children. This suggests that the worship experience should be concerned with more than just preaching and music (see Word and Table: Reflections on a Theology of Worship).

One simple avenue that can assist in tracking the seasons of the church year for worshippers, as well as providing a visual context for worship, is the use of Colors of the Church Year in the sanctuary. Different colors are associated with different seasons, and the changing colors of communion table and pulpit coverings (called paraments), or wall banners, provide visual clues for the seasons.

The exact time of the seasons, and even some of the seasons themselves, differ within various traditions, especially in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. This is due both to various historical emphases, different ways of calculating the days, as well as using different calendars.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Beefeaters sacked from Tower of London for bullying first female Yeoman

By Sophie Borland and David Wilkes

Two Beefeaters have been sacked for bullying the first woman to join their ranks.

Colleagues said Mark Sanders-Crook and Bob Brown had been dismissed and would have to leave their grace-and-favour homes in the Tower of London after being found guilty of harassing Moira Cameron.

Tower authorities started the internal investigation last month following allegations that Miss Cameron's entry in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia had been tampered with, 'nasty' notes were left in her locker and her uniform defaced.

The case against a third Yeoman Warder - the Beefeaters' official title - was not proven.

Bullied: Two male Beefeaters have been sacked following an investigation into allegations of harassment by the first female Beefeater Moira Cameron

Former Grenadier Guardsman Mr Sanders-Crook, 44, was the first Yeoman Warder in the Tower's history to follow in his father's footsteps when he was sworn in to his job in 2005. His father Ray worked there from 1983 to 2000.

Last night Mr Sanders-Crook's mother Maureen accused the Tower authorities of blowing the incident out of proportion and claimed her son was being punished simply for not talking to Miss Cameron.

She said: 'He spent 22 years in the Army and he was the most decorated soldier at the Tower.

'He has been charged with not talking to her outside working hours. How is that harassment? He has been absolutely stitched up - and all just for keeping himself to himself.

Fired: Mark Sanders-Crook will have to leave his grace-and-favour home in the Tower of London

'They don't understand what it's like to live in a tight-knit community like all the Beefeaters do at the Tower. To put a single woman in that community was wrong in the first place.

'It was Mark's dream to be a Beefeater since he first visited the Tower when he was 17. He is very upset at what's happened. He went there for the honour and loyalty of the job and they have treated him like dirt.

'This has now made him homeless. He has a wife and has two children at school. What Moira Cameron's done by complaining will affect all of them.

'The whole thing could have been avoided if someone senior had just told Mark and Moira to sort it out by talking things through.'

Mr Brown, 57, is believed to have worked at the Tower for around three years.

Like Mr Sanders-Crook, he is understood to be a family man with children and to live in accommodation at the Tower.

Miss Cameron, 44, is said to have lost her hair through stress-related alopecia during the alleged hate campaign.

Last night she was on guard outside the Tower of London. She refused to be drawn on the sackings, saying: 'I'm afraid I can't say anything about it.'

But a friend, who would not be identified, said: 'We're very happy about this. It's justice and they deserve to go. They made her life very miserable. I believe the two of them just conspired between themselves.'

A Tower of London spokesman said the two sacked men have the right to lodge an appeal within a week, and the third will return to work shortly.

Miss Cameron, from Argyll in Scotland, joined the Army at the age of 20 and served in Northern Ireland and Cyprus, rising to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2.

She qualified to be a Yeoman Warder in July 2007 after completing the required minimum 22 years in the armed forces.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Susan Boyle on the Today Show, Nov. 23, 2009

Singing outdoors in the wind in NY in November is brave. The singers on the floats in the Thanksgiving parade mostly lip sink with recordings because this is so very hard to do.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If you have a daughter or grandaughter please watch this?

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls

by Mary Pipher

Dr. Mary Pipher is a clinical psychologist and best-selling author. Dr. Pipher's work combines her training in both the fields of psychology and anthropology, examining how American culture influences the mental health of its people. She has received two American Psychological Association Presidential Citations. Dr. Pipher has appeared on the Today Show, 20/20, The Charlie Rose Show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and National Public Radio's Fresh Air.

This is the groundbreaking work that poses one of the most provocative questions of a generation: Why are American adolescent girls falling prey to depression, eating disorders, suicide attempts, and dangerously low self-esteem? Dr. Pipher posits that it's America's sexist, look-obsessed "girl-poisoning" culture-one in which girls are constantly struggling to find their true selves. In Reviving Ophelia, these girls' uncensored voices are heard from the front lines of adolescence. Personal and painfully honest, this is a compassionate call to arms, offering strategies with which to revive these Ophelias' lost senses of self.

A therapist who has worked extensively with young girls reveals firsthand evidence of the damage that can be caused by growing up in a "girl-poisoning culture, " raises a call to arms, and offers parents compassion and strategies for survival. A perfect book to commemorate "Take Your Daughter to Work Day."
Publishers Weekly

From her work as a psychotherapist for adolescent females, Pipher here posits and persuasively argues her thesis that today's teenaged girls are coming of age in ``a girl-poisoning culture.'' Backed by anecdotal evidence and research findings, she suggests that, despite the advances of feminism, young women continue to be victims of abuse, self-mutilation (e.g., anorexia), consumerism and media pressure to conform to others' ideals. With sympathy and focus she cites case histories to illustrate the struggles required of adolescent girls to maintain a sense of themselves among the mixed messages they receive from society, their schools and, often, their families. Pipher offers concrete suggestions for ways by which girls can build and maintain a strong sense of self, e.g., keeping a diary, observing their social context as an anthropologist might, distinguishing between thoughts and feelings. Pipher is an eloquent advocate.

Complaint Box | Picky Eaters

November 20, 2009, 10:38 am


P.C. Vey

Having friends over for dinner used to involve a minimal and fairly unremarkable to-do list: There were groceries to buy, along with flowers and a couple of bottles of semi-respectable wine. I would put out some guest towels and a collection of fancy soaps that were off limits to blood relatives, and then — voilà! — dinner was served. Preparing for a dinner party these days is far more complex, thanks to a vast and bewildering array of dietary needs that seem to have suddenly overtaken everyone I know.
Complaint Box

Dish out the peeves. Send your essays — no more than 500 words, please — to:

An unscientific survey of family and friends turns up one acquaintance who is kosher, two who are more like kosher-style, in addition to two vegans, a smattering of lacto-vegetarians and a couple who cannot digest gluten of any kind. Accommodations must be made for my mother-in-law, who is lactose intolerant, and a friend who is dangerously and inconveniently allergic to peanuts. I must know at least a dozen women who have declared lifelong war on complex carbohydrates. And then there’s my daughter, a wispy and tender-hearted flower child who prefers not to eat “anything with a face” (although she will sometimes make random and completely unreasonable exceptions for hot dogs and pepperoni).

Just thinking about feeding this crowd makes me want to lie down in a darkened room for several uninterrupted hours. The head chef at Beth Israel Medical Center would be hard-pressed to meet the dietary needs of this particular group.

Being a hostess also requires me to navigate the tricky political ramifications of dinner, which means keeping the menu free of veal, foie gras and a host of endangered sea creatures. There are, I have found, an astonishing number people who are breezily neutral on the subject of Kim Jong-il, but consider an entree of Chilean sea bass the moral equivalent of grand-scale marine genocide.

Because of these restrictions, having a simple dinner with the people I love now requires a nutritionist, an Excel spreadsheet and considerably more patience and culinary skill than I possess.

The very last straw was a friend who called before her family came for dinner and — without a hint of shame — presented me with a detailed list of their food requirements: Her husband doesn’t care for shrimp, her son requires a pasta side dish with every meal, and none of them eat the dark meat of chicken, which she dismissed savagely as “dreck.”

I have had enough with people who want to have it their way, and I am done catering to the quirks of food-obsessed numskulls. If you eat in my home, I will grudgingly respect medically diagnosed allergies, since it puts a pall on conversation when a guest goes into anaphylactic shock at the dinner table. But beyond that, I expect you to eat what you can, ignore the rest and not make trouble. On Thursday, 15 people are sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and with God as my witness, I promise you this: There will be dark meat.

Susan Goldberg is a freelance writer and editor and a consultant on college admission essays who lives in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

US Senator says Lockerbie bomber should return to jail

A US senator has written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling for the Lockerbie bomber to be returned to prison.

Democrat senator Charles Schumer said Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi was released early on the assumption he only had three months to live.

Mr Schumer questioned the severity of Megrahi's prostate cancer given that the three months had now passed.

The Scottish government stood by its decision to release Megrahi.

Mr Schumer, who represents the State of New York in the US Senate, said there was "speculation" that the severity of Megrahi's condition had been exaggerated. The bottom line is Megrahi should have never been released in the first place.

In his letter to Mr Brown, he said the UK should seek the "immediate" return of Megrahi to jail.

He said: "The bottom line is Megrahi should have never been released in the first place but it would be even more outrageous if he were to be able to live a long and free life after his release.

"The victims of Pan Am Flight 103 didn't get a second chance at life and neither should Megrahi.

"Justice in this case was life in prison, no exceptions."

Megrahi, who has terminal prostate cancer, was freed from Greenock Prison on 20 August before being flown home to Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

He was serving a life sentence for the 1988 Pan Am jumbo jet bombing which claimed 270 lives and his early release was greeted with anger by American relatives of those killed, many of whom were students at Syracuse University in the State of New York.

'Reasonable estimate'

The decision to release him was taken by Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who said at the time: "There are no fixed time limits but life expectancy of less than three months may be considered an appropriate period."

In a statement issued in response to Mr Schumer's letter on Friday, a Scottish government spokesman said Mr MacAskill's decision was based on recommendations by the parole board and prison governor, and was supported by a medical report.

The clinical assessment by the Scottish Prison Service health director was that a three-month life expectancy was "a reasonable estimate for this patient".

The spokesman said: "Mr Megrahi has terminal prostate cancer and was sent back to Libya to die.

"As Mr MacAskill said when he announced his decision, he may die sooner or may live longer, given the nature of his terminal disease."

Talent star Susan Boyle's debut album goes on sale in UK

Susan Boyle will appear on NBC's Today Show to promote her debut album

Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle's debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, is to be released later.

The recording has already become the biggest CD pre-order in the history of global online retailer Amazon.

The Scot is set to appear on America's premier breakfast TV programme, the Today Show, and is favourite to have the Christmas Number One album.

Boyle became a star after her April appearance on Britain's Got Talent. She eventually finished runner-up.

'Incredible achievement'

The 12-track album was named after the song from the musical Les Miserables that made her famous.

The record is a mix of pop covers such as You'll See by Madonna and The Monkees' Daydream Believer, as well as Christian stalwarts including Amazing Grace and Silent Night.

Bookmaker William Hill said it was so sure Boyle, from Blackburn, West Lothian, would achieve sales of one million by Christmas it would only offer an even money bet.

The album is hot favourite to be Christmas Number One

And the firm has installed her 6/4 favourite to have the Number One album at Christmas, ahead of stars such as Leona Lewis, Rihana and Take That.

After an appearance on Sunday night's X-Factor on ITV1, Boyle was set for a tour of the US, starting off in the NBC studios for the Today Show.

Amazon said Boyle's album was the biggest CD pre-order in the 14-year-history of its website.

Julian Monaghan, head of music buying at, said: "Just eight months ago, no-one was aware of the talents of Susan Boyle.

"Now, she has generated more Amazon pre-order CD sales globally than any other artist.

"That is an incredible achievement and is testament to the fact that she has captured the hearts of people all over Britain, America and the rest of the world."

Steve Barnett, chairman of Boyle's record label, Columbia Records, part of Sony Music, said: "One of the things that is so unique about Susan Boyle is her ability to touch people around the world.

"We're excited that I Dreamed A Dream holds the new record for global pre-orders and that Amazon's customers have supported her album in this way."

Friday, November 20, 2009

A History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day in the United States evokes a number of rich traditions, most notably the Thanksgiving Day feast. The food is, itself, a symbolic display with roots both in the New World’s early interaction between European settlers and indigenous people and in conventions that are more recent. In addition to the food, Thanksgiving calls to mind a range of traditions revolving around the family: parades, football, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, travel, and shopping, to name a few. In America, Thanksgiving’s modern uniqueness as a holiday lies in its somewhat less commercial identity between Halloween and Christmas.

The Thanksgiving Day holiday, however, is considered the official launch of the “Holiday Season,” as schools let out for a celebration that can be simultaneously deeply religious yet secular. To whomever thanks is given, Thanksgiving Day is a time designated for offering a word of thanks for the gifts of one’s life, no matter how troubling the times. Evolving from fast to feast, Thanksgiving Day’s origins are not clearly cut from the annals of American history.

The First Thanksgiving

The tradition of Thanksgiving in the United States is now four centuries in the making. The first Thanksgiving Day is considered by most to have been celebrated as a result of the first bountiful autumn harvest in the Plymouth Colony of modern-day Massachusetts. The Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic landed into a bleak November winter and saw half of their numbers perish during the course of the cold season, as food was in short supply after the long journey. Having had better luck through the subsequent summer, the grateful people “established a day of thanksgiving and invited the local Indians to share their bounty” (Appelbaum 1984).

In Charles Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973), the familiar story is succinctly told by Linus Van Pelt in a Thanksgiving dinner blessing: “In the year 1621, the Pilgrims held their first Thanksgiving feast. They invited the great Indian chief Massasoit, who brought ninety of his brave Indians and a great abundance of food. Governor William Bradford and Captain Miles Standish were honored guests. Elder William Brewster, who was a minister, said a prayer that went something like this: ‘We thank God for our homes and our food and our safety in a new land. We thank God for the opportunity to create a new world for freedom and justice.’”

While Brewster’s tidy benediction is apocryphal, it nevertheless captures the sentiment and religious spirit of the holiday. It is true that the pilgrims shared a celebratory harvest meal with the natives that included New World crops planted with the assistance of the interpreter Tisquantum (or Squanto, who also helped negotiate a peace treaty that lasted for 50 years). The traditions of that meal also remain embedded in the modern sense of Thanksgiving, but they are not the only ones that belong, and that day of harvest celebration was not a day of thanksgiving in the Puritan and Protestant Separatist sense—but it has been appropriated as one, the first one (Appelbaum 1984).

Governor Bradford was quick to call days of thanksgiving when they were warranted. In the first three years, the pious colonists used these “holy days of solemn prayer” to try to inspire divine grace for the struggling colony. The first proclamation came with the first autumnal harvest, and another followed a day of fasting and prayer that was called in a subsequent summer to try to supplant the devastating drought with life-bringing rain. Bradford called a day of Thanksgiving on that June 30, 1623, a day sometimes cited as the first Thanksgiving, given its appropriately reverent quality.

Other “first Thanksgivings” that occurred throughout the New World contribute to the tradition, though these days were usually not intended to be annual, let alone a day late in November. The Massachusetts Bay colonists similarly arrived too late to properly prepare for the winter. They, however, had the opportunity to send a ship back to England for supplies. When the ship was delayed, the colonists feared the worst. After many difficult months, Governor John Winthrop “convert[ed] grim necessity into an act of piety” by declaring a day of fasting and prayer for the already starving colonists (ibid). By chance, on that twenty-second day in February set aside for the fast, the ship returned and the day was changed to one of thanksgiving.

Elsewhere in the New World, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado offered a thanksgiving service on behalf of abundant supplies of food and water in western American territory as early as 1541, while French Huguenots in present-day Florida “sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God” in 1564. Days of thanksgiving were also offered in the early Maine settlement of the Plymouth Company charter, as well as in the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown early in the seventeenth century. But the most clearly articulated intent of early settlers to celebrate an annual Thanksgiving came at the Berkeley Hundred colony in Virginia where Captain John Woodleaf included in their charter a designation for the day their ships safely arrived to “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god.” Alas, that colony was devastated by an Indian attack and abandoned within three years of the charter (ibid).

The Old World Harvest

Thanksgiving as a harvest festival may be the most enduring tradition, not just because of its relevance to the struggling colonists in the New World, but because the celebration of a good harvest is a time-honored tradition around the world. In the ancient world, the Greeks honored Demeter, their harvest and fertility goddess, while Romans honored Ceres, their goddess of agriculture (especially cereal grains, which shows the etymology of the English word). Even the Old Testament is ripe with allusion to the harvest festivals, and ancient mythology is rich with tradition honoring the Earth Mother and her bountiful offerings (Linton and Linton 1949).

More recently, a primary example of a harvest festival from the Old World is Saint Martin’s Day, celebrated throughout Europe since the Middle Ages. In the Netherlands, the Sint Maarten feast on November 11 occurs during “the season when cattle are slaughtered, new wines are tasted, and geese are fat.” Mortensaften, or Saint Martin’s Eve in Denmark also celebrates the harvest with a family dinner, often including the traditional roast goose. Similar festivals, fairs, dinners, and parades of the harvest occur on this day throughout the continent in remembrance of the canonization of the benevolent fourth-century bishop Martin of Tours and, in some countries, the birth and baptism of Martin Luther (Spicer 1958).

While strictly religious tones characterize the early American days of thanksgiving (holidays all too often were connected to an unacceptably pagan past and the contemporary “popish” religion), long-standing harvest traditions on the continent translated to the New World where, as the colonial era gave way to American independence, a country began forging an identity simultaneously distinctive and rooted in its diverse past.

The Emergence of a National American Holiday

In the seventeenth century, a synthesis of developing New England traditions helped mold the modern sense of Thanksgiving. Along with the several proclamations of religious thanksgiving and prayer, civic thanksgiving, elements of Christmas, and the “Harvest Home” became integrated into Thanksgiving. The spirit of English Christmas and the tradition of gathering the last grains of harvest to take home crept back into the tradition of the season, and many colonies began adopting annual Thanksgiving Day celebrations over the course of America’s pre-Revolutionary history. But following the Revolution, the Continental Congress declared a day of thanksgiving in December 1777. It was “the first such celebration ever proclaimed by a national authority for all 13 states” and continued the custom of pausing for a day of thanksgiving in all aspects of American life, even as the country proceeded on its course of manifest destiny and the traditions of the original colonies traveled westward (Appelbaum 1984).

Various congressional representatives pushed the adoption of a legal holiday through the end of the eighteenth century, but debate broke out about the resolutions, from its legitimacy as a distinctively American holiday, to concerns over federalism, and finally the actual date. President Washington issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation on November 26, 1789, but it did not become a national holiday with the proclamation. During Thomas Jefferson’s administration, the holiday gained little ground, for Jefferson viewed national proclamations of the kind as too monarchical (Linton and Linton 1949). Jefferson stated that “Civil powers alone have been given to the President…and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents” (Appelbaum 1984).

Later presidents in the early nineteenth century issued further proclamations for days of national fast and thanksgiving, but while no national date was solidified, New Englanders continued to celebrate the highly anticipated autumnal day of Thanksgiving. Indeed, throughout the growing United States, Thanksgivings were held variously from September to January.

The final push to a unified national holiday came from Sarah Josepha Hale, who strongly advocated for a specific day like the Fourth of July to set aside for Thanksgiving. Her first treatise on the subject appeared in a chapter of her novel, Northwood; or Life North and South, which lauded the virtue of the New England manner of living over the decadence of the south. The success of her novel launched a career for Hale as a periodical editor, eventually landing the job for the widely circulated Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine. Hale used the magazine as a platform to launch her campaign (on the heels of a similar declaration by the Governor of Pennsylvania) “to make the last Thursday in November a national Thanksgiving Day” (ibid).

Combining editorials with persistent letters to governors of every state, Hale’s campaign rose in the wake of religious fervor from the Second Great Awakening, especially as the Presbyterian Church (and manifest destiny) helped move Thanksgiving into new territories and states. Hale continued her campaign even as the United States was torn by Civil War, but the difference in northern and southern convictions prevented even the possibility of a unified national holiday for a few more years.

Still, days of thanksgiving were proclaimed on both sides of the battle such that by the time of the North’s victory, President Lincoln could effectively invoke unifying religious rhetoric in a national Thanksgiving Day proclamation on the third of October (ibid). “By having Lincoln as a midwife,” Elizabeth Pleck writes, “Thanksgiving… celebrated the blessings of American nationhood as well as its domestic ideals” (1999). But thanks to an almost thirty-year campaign, the determined Sarah Hale got her wish, and the last Thursday of November, 1863, became the first legal, national Thanksgiving Day (Crager 1986).

The Evolution of Diverse Traditions

The nineteenth century, however, was not devoted solely to determining the date of Thanksgiving. It also saw the emergence of many of America’s now deeply revered Thanksgiving Day traditions. While the Western turkey hunt may have largely fallen out of favor, the more secular feel of the holiday, from sporting events to parades, developed over the course of the century and into the early twentieth century.

New York City “Fantasticals” were groups of cross-dressing young men parading merrily about the streets—often drunk and outwardly ridiculing authority, all while masquerading door-to-door for alms or treats (the tradition, now tied to Halloween in the United States, is still practiced in some European countries in connection with the St. Martin’s Day harvest festival, while Thanksgiving has also emerged as a time for charity) (Pleck 1999). The Fantasticals have been variously suggested to have their origins in an American-transplanted Guy Fawkes Day observation or a “celebration of the final evacuation of British troops from New York” (Appelbaum 1984).

Though the Fantasticals disbanded in the 1910s, elements of that general merriment carried over, perhaps most directly into a bigger, more organized parade. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving became a “festival of the home,” a domestic occasion of the kind of which Sarah Hale would have been proud. On the one hand, from the Progressive Era through the 1920s, American education focused the holiday on the home and community. But as the old traditions moved into the home, so too did transforming aspects of technology and commercialization. So, on the other hand, the evolving traditions were not precisely as Hale had imagined (Pleck 1999).

The modern-day Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade is known for its colossal balloons, astonishing floats, and marching bands. The first official parade was held in 1924, having been organized by a group of Macy’s employees who were mostly recent immigrants to the United States looking to re-create harvest festival celebrations of their home countries. In the first parade, “employees dressed as clowns, giants, cowboys and cowgirls, knights in armor, and sheiks.” The Central Park Zoo provided live animals and floats and bands became a part of the tradition that first year, and the parade has gone on to be held every year except for three years during World War II (Crager 1986). Yet the department store also had an eye on Christmas and, early on, the connection was made explicit when “Macy’s at first called its November spectacle a ‘Christmas parade.’” Commercialization had touched Thanksgiving—and ever since, the following day has kicked off a fervor of holiday-inspired shopping (Pleck 1999).

But it was the afternoon football game that most forcefully carved out its niche among Thanksgiving Day traditions. As Diana Appelbaum puts it, “The dinner hour, once set to coincide with the return of the faithful from morning church services, was now scheduled to avoid conflict with the football game” (1984). Football entered into the home in the 1920s with extensive radio broadcast, and for many families it became indispensable after-dinner ritual. Football games were televised by the 1950s, maintaining afternoon kickoffs so as not to conflict with the Macy’s parade (Pleck 1999).

As Thanksgiving began to incorporate elements of the harvest feast, some of the day’s more secular connotations began to emerge. When turkey, parades, football, and shopping came to rule the holiday, its religious aspect waned and “thanksgiving was rudely demoted to serve as the official opening day of the Christmas shopping season” (Appelbaum 1984). Thanksgiving may be the onset of the holiday season, but even with football and parades on the television, many families—those not participating in these events—have nevertheless gathered to pause and give thanks, if not for good football, for the time of having gathered together, for better of for worse.

With so many qualifiers, it is difficult to imagine a Thanksgiving feeling even remotely like the “old-fashioned” Puritan ideal. But the spirit of the holiday, like many holidays, is a flowing current of American tradition.

The Feast of Tradition

Ralph and Adelin Linton’s 1949 book, We Gather Together: The Story of Thanksgiving, epitomizes the traditional sentiment of Thanksgiving as “a gathering,” and one undertaken frequently by means of travel, whether near or far. Their first chapter invokes the familiar American holiday song in its title, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” (the next lyric: “To grandmother’s house we go”) to suggest the importance of family to the holiday. The Lintons suggest that “even more than Christmas, [it] is the holiday which brings scattered kindred together. The head of the family, or the member with the biggest house and the longest tablecloth, calls a gathering of the clan.” While the longest tablecloth may not be necessary, the gathering of family, whether physically or the mind, is an integral part of the tradition.

The dinner, meanwhile, may be “a national institution,” but the traditions that guide them are often as individual as the family, whose belief in the proper way to stuff a turkey, among other traditions, is passed down through the family lineage (Appelbaum 1984). Pumpkins, corn, and cranberries were certainly present at the earliest feast, though without molasses or flour, pumpkins were likely boiled and plain (later, indigenous people showed the colonists how to obtain maple syrup, which would have been a welcome addition to the Thanksgiving Day table). If they were lucky, wild honey could have sweetened the bitter native American cranberries prepare in a simple sauce to accompany the meat—which would have been venison hunted from the environs and mollusks gathered from the bay.

Later Thanksgiving dinners began to include smaller game, such as ducks, geese, or turkey, while New England cooks began to develop a variety of dishes based on pumpkin and the women began preparing various versions of cranberry sauce. These two traditions of the feast, the pumpkin and the cranberry,are the longest-running traditions of Thanksgiving—aside, of course, from the traditions inherent in the name of the holiday (ibid).

Thanksgiving is easily reducible to the sum of its parts: “the giving of thanks,” the unity of which the Online Etymology Dictionary dates to 1533. And whatever the range of traditions celebrated by individual families, Thanksgiving Day is as welcome a time today as was the bountiful harvest that first summer in Plymouth, or at any autumnal harvest celebration around the world. So give thanks and eat up, for winter is right around the corner.


Appelbaum, Diana Karter. 1984. Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History. New York, NY: Facts on File Publications.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, DVD. Directed by Bill Melendez and Phil Roman. Written by Charles Schulz. 1973, CBS Television. Paramount Home Video: 2000.

Crager, Meg. 1986. Macy’s Thanksgiving Book. Naomi Black ed. New York, NY: A Quarto Book.

Linton, Ralph and Adelin. 1949. We Gather Together: The Story of Thanksgiving. New York, NY: Henry Schuman.

Pleck, Elizabeth. “The Making of the Domestic Occasion: The History of Thanksgiving in the United States.” Journal of Social History. 32:4 (Summer 1999): 773-789.
Spicer, Dorothy Gladys. 1958. Festivals of Western Europe. New York, NY: The H. W. Wilson Company.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Catching some Rays

Maggie my dear pet in the Novemeber sun.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Prince of Peace

"The hatred of all religion is the new religion. It's zealots are as angry and hate filled as the the Grand Inquisitor. It's practitioners think they are in fact saving humanity. The world has never needed the Prince of Peace so much, methinks."
-Beth Maxwell Boyle

Friday, November 13, 2009

White deer hind caught on camera in Scotland

Follow this link for a video!

The hind's location has been kept secret to protect it against poachers

A rare white deer hind has been filmed by a wildlife cameraman for the BBC Landward programme.

The animal's location in the central Highlands has been kept secret in an effort to protect it from poachers and trophy hunters.

Cameraman Philip Lovel said the colouration was caused by a genetic condition that reduces the pigment in hair and skin.

Last year, a white stag was spotted on the west coast of the Highlands.

Mr Lovel said of the hind: "This white deer is very rare.

"I know of only one other wild white red deer at present in Scotland.

"Unfortunately their rarity can make them a target for poaching trophy-hunters, especially the stags."

'A secret'

It was thought the hind was 10-years-old and deer stalkers have said her colour has got lighter with age.

Last February, a white stag was observed on the west coast of the Highlands.

The animal had been seen with other red deer by a member of the John Muir Trust, which kept its location a secret to protect it from poachers.

White deer are often mistakenly thought to be albinos.

Their unusual appearance is caused by a condition called leucism.

Unlike albinos who characteristically have red eyes, deer with leucism have normal colouring in their eyes.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
`Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!' he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.II.
`Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.III

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.IV

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.V

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.VI

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

Alfred Lord Tennyson

painting by Richard Caton Woodville.


This poem I dedicate to all the men and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. I feel such deep sadness these wonderful soldiers have to be in wars that make absolutely no sense at all.


Science Daily - A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure according to a paper being presented at the American Society of Nephrology's 42nd Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in San Diego, California. The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup may help prevent hypertension.

Over the last 200 years, the rate of fructose intake has directly paralleled the increasing rate of obesity, which has increased sharply in the last 20 years since the introduction of HFCS. Today, Americans consume 30% more fructose than 20 years ago and up to four times more than 100 years ago, when obesity rates were less than 5%. While this increase mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension, studies have been inconsistent in linking excess fructose in the diet to hypertension.

Diana Jalal, MD (University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center), and her colleagues studied the issue in a large representative population of US adults. They examined 4,528 adults 18 years of age or older with no prior history of hypertension. Fructose intake was calculated based on a dietary questionnaire, and foods such as fruit juices, soft drinks, bakery products, and candy were included. Dr. Jalal's team found that people who ate or drank more than 74 grams per day of fructose (2.5 sugary soft drinks per day) increased their risk of developing hypertension. Specifically, a diet of more than 74 grams per day of fructose led to a 28%, 36%, and 87% higher risk for blood pressure levels of 135/85, 140/90, and 160/100 mmHg, respectively. (A normal blood pressure reading is below 120/80 mmHg.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Doubts cast on Chessmen origins

Calls have been made for the pieces to be returned to Lewis

New research has cast doubt on traditional theories about the historic Lewis Chessmen.

The 93 pieces - currently split between museums in Edinburgh and London - were discovered on Lewis in 1831.

But the research suggests they may have been used in both chess and Hnefatafl - a similar game that was popular in medieval Scandinavia.

It also casts doubt on the traditional theory that the ivory pieces were lost or buried by a merchant.

The research was led by Dr David Caldwell of the National Museum of Scotland, who believes the Lewis chessmen were more likely to have belonged to a high-ranking person who lived on Lewis.

Dr Caldwell told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that many of the pieces could have doubled for Hnefatafl, another conflict game which also pitted a king against pawns or warriors on the other side. It is much more likely that the horde is in Lewis because it belonged to somebody who lived there rather than being abandoned by a merchant who was passing through
Dr David Caldwell
National Museum of Scotland

The ancient game has not survived into modern times.

For the first time, they also tried to work out which pieces were made by the same groups of craftsmen by measuring the chessmen's faces, looking at their clothing, and studying details of the workmanship.

Dr Caldwell added: "We certainly still believe the pieces are Scandinavian in origin, perhaps made in a workshop by several masters in a city like Trondheim.

"But one of the main things I think we are saying in our research is that it is much more likely that the horde is in Lewis because it belonged to somebody who lived there rather than being abandoned by a merchant who was passing through.

"To take a relatively easy example, there is a praise poem written in the middle of the 13th century to Angus Mor of Isla, and the poem says that he inherited his ivory chess pieces from his father Donald - that makes Angus the very first Macdonald, and the poem also makes him the king of Lewis.

"Now you of course you would be foolish to implicitly believe everything in a praise poem, but nevertheless it gives you some idea that we are dealing with a society in the west of Scotland - great leaders like Angus Mor, bishops, clan chiefs - who really valued playing chess and saw it as being one of their accomplishments."

He said that the analysis tried to recognise the work of different craftsmen, and home in on pieces which may be replacements for ones which had been broken or lost.

They used a forensic anthropologist, Caroline Wilkinson based at Dundee University, to do a photogrammetric analysis of the faces as they believed individual craftsmen would have given their faces different characteristics, just like a modern-day political cartoonists.

Plenty of mystery

Dr Caldwell said the chessmen suggested that there was a reasonable amount of wealth in the western Isles in the 13th century, perhaps because the medieval economy placed greater value on fairly barren land that could be used to raise cattle.

He added: "It was certainly leading men there, people who could make a lot of money either by raising cattle or frankly by going raiding - there was still in some ways a Viking way of life surviving into the 13th century."

Despite the extensive research, Dr Caldwell said he still believed there was plenty of mystery surrounding the chessmen.

"I would be very disappointed if we have written the last word on the - what I hope we have done is opened up the debate and shown it is possible, even with something very well known, to discover new things," he said.

The research will be published this week in the journal Medieval Archaeology.

Of the 93 pieces found, 82 are kept at the British Museum, with 11 held by the National Museum of Scotland.

Calls have been made for all of the pieces, which were made from walrus ivory and whales' teeth, to be returned to Lewis.

Salmond in Afghan withdrawal call

The BBC poll showed that most Britons thought the war was "unwinnable"

Scotland's first minister has called on the UK government to consider pulling British troops out of Afghanistan.

Alex Salmond's comments came as a BBC poll suggested 64% of Britons believed the war was "unwinnable".

But Prime Minister Gordon Brown told BBC Scotland the mission was vital in dealing with the threat of terrorism.

Meanwhile, thousands of people across the UK honoured the men and women killed in conflicts past and present with a two-minute silence.

In a poll for the BBC's Politics Show, 42% of the 1,009 adults surveyed said they did not understand the purpose of Britain's mission in Afghanistan.

Some 63% of those surveyed felt UK troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible, and 52% agreed that levels of corruption in Afghanistan's government meant the war was "not worth fighting for". POLITICS SHOW/COMRES SURVEY
I feel I have a good understanding of the purpose of Britain's mission in Afghanistan
Agree 54%, disagree 42%, don't know 4%
All British forces should be withdrawn from Afghanistan as quickly as possible
Agree 63%, disagree 31%, don't know 6%
The war in Afghanistan is unwinnable
Agree 64%, disagree 27%, don't know 10%
The levels of corruption involved in the recent Presidential election show the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting for
Agree 52%, disagree 36%, don't know 12%
Sample: 1,009 adults polled by phone on 4 and 5 November

Paper calls for UK's Afghan exit

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland's Politics Show: "I'm not surprised by the findings, because what you've got among the public is a combination of great support for the troops on the ground, as you would expect, but no confidence whatsoever in the government's strategy in pursuing the conflict."

He went on: "There has to be the fundamental reassessment of the role, mission, strategy - nothing should be off the table, that should include the possibility of a withdrawal."

But Mr Brown defended the reasons for having soldiers in Afghanistan, telling BBC Scotland: "It's our duty on every occasion that people ask, as they're entitled to do, the question, 'why are we in Afghanistan and what is the future for our venture in Afghanistan?'

"It's right that we explain there is a chain of terror that links Pakistan and the Afghan-Pakistan border to the streets of our cities in Britain and, if we do not take action in Pakistan and Afghanistan, then al-Qaeda would be plotting more and more chaos in the streets of our country."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the UK government had to be much clearer about what it expected of the Afghan government, adding: "It is the case that we cannot have our British troops in Afghanistan unclear as to what the ultimate democratic mission is and that's got to be spelled out by the Afghan government."

Former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy said the objectives at the start of the mission in Afghanistan seemed well-defined and carried broad support.

"The problem has been that, in the intervening years, as the death toll has mounted the objectives have kept changing," he said.


I agree with Mr.Salmond 100% and think the US also needs to get out now!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When I was a kid in the early 1960s, the autumn social calendar was highlighted by the Halloween party in our church. In these simpler day, the kids all bobbed for apples and paraded through a spooky "haunted house" in homemade costumes -- Daniel Boone replete with coonskin caps for the boys; tiaras and fairy princess wands for the girls. It was safe, secure and innocent.

The irony is that our church was a Congregational church -- founded by the Puritans of New England. The same people who brought you the Salem Witch Trials.

Rooted in pagan traditions more than 2000 years old, Halloween grew out of a Celtic Druid celebration that marked summer's end. Called Samhain (pronounced sow-in or sow-een), it combined the Celts' harvest and New Year festivals, held in late October and early November by people in what is now Ireland, Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe. This ancient Druid rite was tied to the seasonal cycles of life and death -- as the last crops were harvested, the final apples picked and livestock brought in for winter stables or slaughter. Contrary to what some modern critics believe, Samhain was not the name of a malevolent Celtic deity but meant, "end of summer."

The Celts also saw Samhain as a fearful time, when the barrier between the worlds of living and dead broke, and spirits walked the earth, causing mischief. Going door to door, children collected wood for a sacred bonfire that provided light against the growing darkness, and villagers gathered to burn crops in honor of their agricultural gods. During this fiery festival, the Celts wore masks, often made of animal heads and skins, hoping to frighten off wandering spirits. As the celebration ended, families carried home embers from the communal fire to re-light their hearth fires.

Getting the picture? Costumes, "trick or treat" and Jack-o-lanterns all got started more than two thousand years ago at an Irish bonfire.

Christianity took a dim view of these "heathen" rites. Attempting to replace the Druid festival of the dead with a church-approved holiday, the seventh-century Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints' Day to honor saints and martyrs. Then in 1000 AD, the church made November 2 All Souls' Day, a day to remember the departed and pray for their souls. Together, the three celebrations --All Saints' Eve, All Saints' Day, and All Souls Day-- were called Hallowmas, and the night before came to be called All-hallows Evening, eventually shortened to "Halloween."

And when millions of Irish and other Europeans emigrated to America, they carried along their traditions. The age-old practice of carrying home embers in a hollowed-out turnip still burns strong. In an Irish folk tale, a man named Stingy Jack once escaped the devil with one of these turnip lanterns. When the Irish came to America, Jack's turnip was exchanged for the more easily carved pumpkin and Stingy Jack's name lives on in "Jack-o-lantern."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Old Witch in the Copse

by Barry Cornwall

I am a Witch, and a kind old Witch,
There's many a one knows that--
Alone I live in my little dark house
With Pillycock, my cat.
A girl came running through the night,
When all the winds blew free:--
"O mother, change a young man's heart
That will not look on me.
O mother, brew a magic mead
To stir his heart so cold."
"Just as you will, my dear," said I;
"And I thank you for your gold."
So here am I in the wattled copse
Where all the twigs are brown,
To find what I need to brew my mead
As the dark of night comes down.
Primroses in my old hands,
Sweet to smell and young,
And violets blue that spring in the grass
Wherever the larks have sung.
With celandines as heavenly crowns
Yellowy-gold and bright; All of these,
O all of these,
Shall bring her Love's delight.
But orchids growing snakey green
Speckled dark with blood,
And fallen leaves that curled and shrank
And rotted in the mud,
With blistering nettles burning harsh
And blinding thorns above;
All of these, O all of these
Shall bring the pains of Love.
Shall bring the pains of Love, my Puss,
That cease not night or day,
The bitter rage, nought can assuage
Till it bleeds the heart away.
Pillycock mine, my hands are full
My pot is on the fire.
Purr, my pet, this fool shall get
Her fool's desire.

Witches Chant

by William Shakespeare

Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.--
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangl'd babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,--
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

The Witches Song

by Ruth Bedford

"Hoity-toity! Hop-o'-my-thumb!
Tweedledee and Tweedledum!
All hobgoblins come to me,
Over the mountains, over the sea:
Come in a hurry, come in a crowd,
Flying, chattering, shrieking loud;
I and my broomstick fidget and call ---
Come, hobgoblins, we want you all!
I have a pot of a mischievous brew;
You must do what I tell you to;
Blow through the keyholes, hang to the eaves,
Litter the garden with dead brown leaves;
Into the houses hustle and run,
Here is mischevous and here is fun!
Break the china and slam the doors,
Crack the windows and scratch the floors,
Let in the cockroaches, mice and rats,
Sit on the family's Sunday hats;
Hiding and stealing everything little,
Smashing everything thin and brittle;
Teasing the children,
Tickling their heels ---
Look at them jumping! Hark to their squeals!
Pinch their elbows and pull their hair,
Then out again to the gusty air!
Flutter the birds in their sheltered nests,
Pluck the down from the ducklings' breasts,
Steal the eggs from the clucking hen,
Ride the pigs round and round the pen!
Here is mischief to spare for all ---
Hoity-toity, Come at my call!
Tweedledum and Tweedledee,
Come at my summons --- Come to me!"
Thus said a witch on a windy night,
Then sailed on her broomstick out of sight.

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