Welcome to Awakenings

Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Happy Halloween

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
This is a story of the origins of Halloween from olden times up to the present.

Strange shadows dart stealthily across sparely lit streets, as dusk settles heavily on quiet neighborhoods of tree-lined sidewalks and cheerful well-kept homes. The eerie scream of a screech-owl, more likely the brakes of a passing car, echoes deep into the night. Looming ominously from nearly every window is the menacing glare of smirking Jack-o-lanterns, while the often nervous refrain of "Trick or Treat" rings out in repetitious peals. Halloween is here, and with it the shivery remembrance of things that go bump in the night.
Halloween, a holiday once favored second to Christmas, is not as much fun as it used to be. The last few Halloweens have brought tampering scares, such as finding razors in apples and poisoned candy. A sick segment of society has forced many parents to hold neighborhood parties, instead of allowing their children to trick or treat. The tricks have been turned on the children, ruining an a once magical evening.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
Gone are the days when children, dressed up hideously, or gaudily beautiful, could enter the home of a stranger, and be offered chilled apple cider with cinnamon stick straws, and homemade gingerbread, or cupcakes with orange icing and candy corn faces. No longer can mischievous children creep up on neighborhood porches to toss corn kernels against the front door, or generously soap window panes, without triggering house alarms and angering guard dogs kept behind locked fences. The mystical lure of Halloween is becoming a commercial enterprise for the sale of candy, costumes and decorations.
Celtic Warriors - Halloween CelticWarriors_HappyHalloween.jpg photo
Photo Credit: photobucket.com

Halloween is a Christian name meaning All Hallows, or All Saint's Day, but the custom of Halloween dates back to the Celtic cult in Northern Europe. As the Roman conquest pushed north, the Latin festival of the harvest god, Pomona, mingled with the Druid god, Samhain. Eventually, the Christians adopted the Celtic rites into their own observances.
Halloween signified the return of the herds from the pasture, renewal of laws and land tenures, and the practice of divination with the dead, presumed to visit their homes on this day. For both the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons, Halloween marked the eve of a new year. The Britains were convinced that each divination concerning health, death and luck, were most auspicious on Halloween. The devil, himself, was evoked for such purposes.

The Druid year began on November first, and on the eve of that day, the lord of death gathered the souls of the dead who had been condemned to enter the body of animals to decide what form they should take for the upcoming year; the souls of the good entered the body of another human at death. The Druids considered cats to be sacred, believing these animals had once been human, changed into cats as punishment for evil deeds.

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Photo Credit: photobucket.com
The Druid cults were outlawed by the Romans during their reign in Great Britain, but the Celtic rites have survived, in part, to the present day. By the time these ancient rites migrated to America, the mystic significance was lost, and all that has remained is an evening when children can dress in outrageous costumes, and collect candy from obliging neighbors; yet a tiny part of every child still believes in witches, ghosts, and the nameless entities that creep about on Halloween, relatives, to their young minds, of the monster that lives under every child's bed.

In the ancient days, it was believed that Halloween was the night chosen by witches and ghosts to freely roam, causing mischief and harm. Witchcraft existed before biblical times, believed in by ancient Egyptians, Romans and American Indians. The Christian Church held varying opinions on witchcraft, at one time accrediting it to be an illusion, later accepting it as a form of alliance with the devil. As late as 1768, disbelief in witchcraft was regarded as proof of atheism.

Halloween customs varied from country to country, but all were related to the Celtic rites. Immigrants to this country, particularly the Scotch and Irish, introduced some of the customs remaining today, but there were many more that are unfamiliar. On Halloween in Scotland, women sowed hemp seed into plowed land at midnight, repeating the formula: "Hemp seed I sow, who will my husband be, let him come and mow." Looking over her left shoulder, a woman might see her future mate.

Glowing Apples AppleBobbing.jpg photo
Photo Credit: photobucket.com
Apples and a six-pence were put into a tub of water, and whoever succeeded in extracting either of them with his mouth, but without using his teeth, was guaranteed a lucky year. In the highlands of Scotland in the 18th century, families would march about their fields on Halloween, walking from right to left, with lighted torches, believing this would assure good crops. In other parts of Scotland, witches were accused of stealing milk and harming cattle. Boys took peat torches and carried them across the fields, from left to right (widdershins), in an effort to scare the witches away.

The Scots strongly believed in fairies. If a man took a three-legged stool to an intersection of three roads, and sat on it at midnight, he might hear the names of the people destined to die in the coming year. However, if he tossed a garment to the fairies, they would happily revoke the death sentence.

Scotland's witches held a party on Halloween. Seemingly ordinary women, who had sold their souls to the devil, put sticks, supposedly smeared with the fat of murdered babies, into their beds. These sticks were said to change into the likenesses of the women, and fly up the chimney on broomsticks, attended by black cats, the witchs' familiars.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
(Click thumbnail to enlarge.)
In Ireland, a meal of callcannon, consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and parsnips, was solemnly served on Halloween. Stirred into this concoction, was a ring, a thimble, a coin, and a doll. The finder of the ring would marry soon, the finder of the doll would have many children, the thimble finder would never marry, and the one fortunate enough to find the coin would be rich. Jack-o-lanterns originated from Ireland, where according to newspaper editor and writer, George William Douglas, "a stingy man named Jack was barred from Heaven because of his penuriousness, and forbidden to enter Hell because of his practical jokes on the devil, thus condemned to walk the earth with his lantern until Judgement Day."

A more serious custom was the holding of the General Assembly (Freig) at Tara, in Celtic Ireland, celebrated every three years and lasting two weeks. Human sacrifices to the gods opened the ceremonies, the victims going up in flames.

England borrowed many of the Scotch and Irish customs, adding them to their own. 
Photo Credit: Google Image
Young people bobbed for apples, tied a lighted candle to one end of a stick and an apple to the other. The stick was suspended and set spinning, the object of the game being to bite the apple without getting burned by the candle. This custom was a relic of the fires lighted on the eve of Samhain in the ancient days of the Celts.

The only customs bearing no relation to the ancient rites is the masquerade costumes of today, and Halloween parades. But the custom of masked children asking for treats comes from the seventeenth century, when Irish peasants begged for money to buy luxuries for the feast of St. Columba, a sixth century priest, who founded a monastery off the coast of Scotland.

From the north of England comes the activity known as "mischief night", marked by shenanigans with no particular purpose, or background. Boys and young men overturned sheds, broke windows, and damaged property. Mischief night prevails today, but is mostly limited to throwing eggs, smashing pumpkins, and lathering cars with shaving cream. The custom of trick or treat is observed mainly by small children, going from house to house. The treat is almost always given, and the trick rarely played, except by teenagers, who view Halloween as an excuse to deviate from acceptable behavior.

Children today, knowing little or nothing of the history and myths behind Halloween, still get exited over the prospect of acting out their fantasies of becoming a witch, ghost, devil, or pirate. It is still pleasurable for an adult, remembering Halloweens past, to see the glow on a child's face as he removes his mask and assures you that he's not really a skeleton. Watching the wide-eyed stares of young children warily observing flickering candle-lit pumpkins, is an assurance that even today, thousands of years beyond the witch and ghost-ridden days of the Druids, a little of the magic of
Halloween remains. Children need a little magic to become creative adults; adults need a little magic to keep the child in them alive. So if, on this Halloween, you notice a black cat slink past your door, trailing behind a horde of make-believe goblins, it probably belongs to a neighbor. And the dark shadow whisking across the face of a nearly full moon is only the wisp of a cloud, not a witch riding a broom... probably.

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By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!

Happy Halloween, my pretties!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Heaven Was Needing a Hero

bleeding heart Bleeding_Heart.jpg photo
Photo Credit: photobucket.com
At some point in time, you have had or perhaps will have your heart pierced by the loss of a loved one. While you may not bleed outwardly as those inflicted by daggers of war, the pain and sorrow weigh heavily on your heart and mind as you pass through this mortal life on Earth.

Freedom is not free, it comes at a price, a very high price of sacrifice: personal sacrifice, sacrifice of family and friends, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Set aside a few moments now, tomorrow and every day thereafter in recognition and appreciation of those who sacrifice every day ensuring the rights and freedoms in America will be protected for generations to come. The fight to maintain freedom is not just for today, it is for America's future.

We have come far; suffered much; gained, lost, regained;
let it not all be in vain.

 Support our Troops! They support America, do you support them?

It's up to you! Stand up for America!
The 2012 Presidential Election is on Tuesday, November 6.

Be sure you wear the button. . .

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Gateway to America

This Day in History: October 28, 1886

The Statue of Liberty celebrated her 100th birthday on October 28, 1986.  On that same day in 1886 she was officially accepted by the president of the United States as a gift from the people of France. Opened on January 1, 1892, Ellis Island became the nation's premier federal immigration station. The statue was to be a symbol of welcome for all immigrants coming to America, as well as a universal symbol of freedom.

"For the vast majority of immigrants, Ellis Island truly was an "Island of Hope" - the first stop on their way to new opportunities and experiences in America. For the rest, it became the "Island of Tears" - a place where families were separated and individuals were denied entry into this country."

Statue of Liberty
Photo Credit: photobucket.com
 From 1892 to 1924, over twelve million immigrants entered
the United States through the portal of Ellis Island.
This small island in New York Harbor lies
within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty.

Photo Credit: photobucket.com

Gateway to America
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Open portal to liberty
An island so small
Its gateway to America
Heeded freedom’s call…
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A call to come in
Away from daily strife
Where bloodshed ruled
Under blade of the knife…
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Where bondage and chains
Were left far behind
No more tears and scars
Only peace of mind…
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Where heart and mind
The spirit’s retreat
Welcomed those who came in
To rest and replete
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But not without toil
Labor nor skill
For freedom’s not free
Just the free will…
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The will to be better
The will to overcome
To honor and pledge
The beat of her drum
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The heartbeat of America
Standing guard, proud and strong
The Statue of Liberty
Embodied a daily song
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A song about courage
To stand up and fight
On that you could see
By her very might
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In New York Harbor
Lady Liberty still stands tall
Her torch ever burning
A beacon of liberty for all
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Open portal to liberty
Ellis Island so small
Its gateway to America
Beckons freedom for all

©2012 Awakenings
Sharla Lee Shults
Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.com
Related Articles:


Test your knowledge:

  • Official dedication ceremonies were held on ____________________________
  • Total overall height from the base of the pedestal foundation to the tip of the torch is ____ feet, ___ inches
  • Height of the Statue from her heel to the top of her head is _____ feet, ___ inches
  • The face on the Statue of Liberty measures more than ___ feet tall
  • There are _____ steps from the pedestal to the head of the Statue of Liberty
  • A tablet held in her left hand measures ___' __" tall and ___' __" wide inscribed with the date _____________________
  • The Statue has a ___-foot waistline
  • There are _____ rays on her crown, one for __________________, each measuring up to _____ feet in length and weighing as much as _____ pounds
  • Total weight of the Statue of Liberty is _________________
  • At the feet of the Statue lie _____________________________
  • During the restoration completed in 1986, the new torch was carefully covered with thin sheets of _____________
  • The exterior copper covering of the Statue of Liberty is _____________ thick and the light green color (called a patina) is the result of ____________________________

[Answers may be found at http://statueofliberty.org/Fun_Facts.html]

America was founded on the premise of freedom: liberty and justice for all! Let us not forget the sacrifices made, as well as those still being made today, to maintain that freedom.
Do you know who was President of the United States in 1886?
Do you know who will be President of the United States in 2012?
It's up to you! Stand up for America!
The 2012 Presidential Election is on Tuesday, November 6.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Shootout at the OK Corral

This Day in History: October 26, 1881

The Cowboy
Taken in 1888 by Grabill, John C. H., photographer

This Day in History

What is it about the early days of the American West that people find so facilitating? Killing in the streets occurred regularly and hangings were public displays of capital punishment. The law and the lawless constantly battled over cattle, sheep, horses, water rights and land. Bandits or nortorious outlaws were as common as bandaids along with Old West Scoundrels, Outlaw Gangs and Vigilantes.

Cowboys, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp were destined to collide and by the spring of 1881, it was apparent they were already on that collision course. The most famous gunfight showdown in history featured thirty shots fired in thirty seconds leaving three cowboys dead along with Virgil and Morgan Earp wounded.



Wyatt Earp starring Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid & Gene Hackman (1994)

Related articles:

Wyatt Earp: Tombstonian http://www.tombstonetimes.com/stories/wyatt.html

PROFILES OF THE "COWBOYS" http://www.bignosekates.info/history5.htmlv

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wine Whiskey and Women

Drawing on the Past:
What is it about blues music that tears at the soul? Perhaps it stems from the sounds of the laborers in the cotton fields of the South bringing home the rhythm to the drudgery of their plight and servitude. Such work songs brought to life by "field hollers" served as the foundation for all blues music to come.

Of course, at the heart of 'blues' is the human voice. After all, that is where it got its start. It's unique slow sound embedded the emotion and personal expression of life's hard times. As it evolved, the guitar became the 'second voice' closely followed by the harmonica

There are several recurring themes enveloping blues music. These encircle the life and times of love, loss, death, tragedy, and oppression. The music is of low tone, which digs at the heart with compassion as it bleeds of sadness.

So why the emphasis on wine, whiskey and women? While blues music may have started in the fields, it extended beyond the plantation into smokey backroom juke joints. Crap games and card games took over the back room, brawls were common and the whiskey flowed. Women frequented the joints looking for a good time and excitement outside the home. Infidelity was not uncommon as witnessed in the lyrics of blues songs where the man stayed home with the kids while the wife was out clubbin'!

While the era may have faded away, blues music is undoubtedly here to stay!  

Papa Lightfoot: Wine Whiskey and Women

 Papa George Lightfoot
(March 2, 1924 – November 28, 1971)
Born Alexander Lightfoot, an American blues singer and harmonica player 

Lonnie Johnson - No More Troubles Now (1930)
Gimme my good whiskey, women, wine, and song
I'm goin' to have my fun until I'm dead an' gone
Dr. Feelgood - Wine Women Whisky
Wine women and whisky
Goin' be the death of me
A dictionary of blues terms, words, phrases, etc.
...a rich, powerful history of people who helped build America and created one of the most influential genres of popular music.
Are you into the 'blues'? Who is your favorite blues artist of all time?
Mine is . . .
but I cannot leave without a visit to . . .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Your First Sweetest Day?

October 20th: Today's Reason to Celebrate. . .

"Sweetest Day" originated in Cleveland, Ohio on October 8, 1921 – it’s original purpose was to offer something “sweet” to orphans, hospital patients, the elderly and the less fortunate residents of Cleveland. Later on it became an event similar to Valentine’s Day but is not designated solely to romantic love. This day celebrates all things sweet: it serves as a reminder that a thoughtful deed makes life a whole lot sweeter.

Although Sweetest Day is most popular in the Great Lakes region, the holiday is gaining recognition nationwide. It is celebrated on the third Saturday of October each year.

To celebrate Sweetest Day, share a meal with a loved one, send thoughtful greetings in a free eCard, and remember to do a good deed for someone in need!

The joy of living is the joy of giving, and Sweetest Day gives you the opportunity of spreading happiness to strangers as well as those you love. Share the joy!
Related Articles:
Sweetest Day - October 20, 2012

Sweetest Day 2012

What is your favorite confection?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Real or Art?

Click HERE!
Artistic talents come in many forms and are seen through varied lens, the most important being the human eye. Free Tag Zone introduces us to a new perspective on graffiti. The term, graffiti, colors itself as scribbling, scratches, or illicit displays found on walls or other surfaces generally in public places. A natural reaction to graffiti is negativity for its first impression is normally an act of defacement.
BUT not to Eric Vandersteenen (Director - General Administrator) & Monique Deveen (Artistic Director /Main Photographer) at Free Tag Zone. . .
The workshop photographic expression Free Tag Zone (Inventory of ephemeral conducted since September 2011 by Monique Deveen) is constantly on the lookout for any form of expression of urban art in Louvain-La-Neuve: street art, graffiti, tags, murals, etc..

To restore ephemeral art to all its nobility ...

"Around the world, dive into the ephemeral street art in all its forms of expression, from the simplest to the most elaborate, even in the most unusual places ...

Enjoy the photographic negative of the time ... today, it still allows us to appreciate what has existed for a fleeting moment and remind ourselves of the richness and diversity of expression and passion of talented artists ...

A tribute also and especially to the "collectors" memory, these passionate photographers who allow the ephemeral to forever persist in our memories ... "
Street art photography exposes graffiti in a totally different light. It brings to life art in its purest form found all over the world, in the countryside, in small towns, in capital cities, some in plain view, others hidden waiting to be discovered. This type of photography will change your view the next time you see doodles, scrawls and scribbles on a wall or anywhere for that matter. And, watch out for those murals – think about the detail involved in an oil painting on canvas when you focus on awe-inspiring scenes that invite you to "walk right into the picture."
Is it real or art? You decide. . .

When I first saw this one, I had to look twice to validate it as art, instead of a real-life scene. The horse appears to be stepping outside the doorway. The manner in which the actual street meets the building makes it very realistic.
Date taken: September 7, 2012
Location: St Stephen st Geoirs - Isère (France)
Photographer: Orépuk

In this next one, look closely at the sky. Hard to discern which part is real and which is actually painted on the building. Can you tell which people or which street lights are real and which are not?

Date taken: September 21, 2008 (Car Free Day)
Location: Musée Magritte - Place Royale
Photographer: Michele Lemoine

The painters in this picture appear to be working very hard to complete their project. Of course, they are not really painting. The artist painter painted the painters painting the building. Whew!

The Painters”
Date taken: October 02, 2012
Location : The building is at Higgins and Maple – Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada)
Artist: Charlie Johnston (2011)
Photographer: Resa McConaghy -
Recipient of FTZ Great Photographer Tribute Award

This one is a real teaser testing your perception. Is that a real appartment complex? Some of the people are real and some are simply part of the painting. Can you tell the difference? What about the person standing on the balcony or the car on the street - real or art?

Date taken: July 26, 2012
Location: Biarritz - France
Photographer: Gilles Mézierre
Ah-h-h! This last one makes you want to caution the painter about stretching too far when on a ladder. Guess he wants to be sure he is out of the way of the door. Quite a unique perspective highlighting the number of the address on the storefront. Bet you wouldn't miss this address?

"The Painters"
Date taken: October 2, 2012
Location: The building is at Higgins and Maple
(North side) - Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada)
Artist: Charlie Johnston (2011)
Photographer: Resa McConaghy

They certainly look real, don't they? Hard in some instances to discern where the picture ends and real life begins. Before leaving be sure you took a deeper look into this world of art, how it all got started and the actual locations of the murals. Clink the links embedded within the text and captions of the images. Be sure to visit Free Tag Zone where there is more, so mu-u-u-uch MORE to this world of street art . 
My Invitation and Contributions

Free Tag Zone invited me to become a member of the Voyage en éphémère international project. My passion is writing, poetry and blogging, which has opened a new door to the world of photography. Two blogs currently running are Awakenings and catnipoflife. Awakenings invites you to journey through a flashback time. It allows you to embrace your past, empower the present, enrich your future. Through catnipoflife, you are led to observe life at its best, listen to life’s songs, embrace life’s bounties, breathe the breath of life and savor life to its fullest. Visions for these writings or any writing – fiction, non-fiction or poetry – are heightened through the world of photography for in this world, the art comes to life.

D’ici et d’ailleurs … “Inspired Art in the World Around You” (USA)
What are your thoughts on grafitti? Did the art portrayed above change your perspective and perhaps lead you to seek street art anywhere, any time, any place?
Share your thoughts. . .