Tag Archive | "lycanthropy"

Read My Palm

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Throughout my twelve years of Catholic school, I’d been taught to avoid fortunetellers like the plague, for some were thought to do the work of the devil.  But, like the length of my uniform skirts and the friends with whom I hung out, I didn’t give much credence to what the nuns had preached.  From the time that I could read fluently, I had researched — through books and whenever possible, personal experiences — palmistry, tarot card readings, phrenology, ghosts/spirits, seances, Egyptology, the Loch Ness monster, UFO’s, lycanthropy, vampirism, astral travel, meditation, tea leaf readings, and Eastern theosophy.


Imagine my astonishment when, a few years ago, my research uncovered the fact that the gift of prophesy is not only mentioned in 38 of the 66 books of the standard Bible, it is deemed to be a gift from the Holy Spirit!   While the Bible differentiates between the practice of consulting charlatans versus those who demonstrate true psychic ability, and issues warnings against the former, it is sometimes difficult, in this life, to discern the between the two.


As a child, I remember reading that virtually every human being is born with a sixth sense, the capacity to predict future events with a reasonable degree of accuracy.  The general consensus was that psychic ability was a type of survival mechanism, and that it could be cultivated if one removed from one’s self, as much as possible, from negative events and persons.


Later, I learned that the discipline of meditation enhanced one’s clairvoyance.  By meditation, I refer to focused and frequently practiced spiritual meditation, not the type designed simply to reduce one’s stress level.


I had my first, unplanned reading as a young woman in her early twenties. I’d been seeing two young men at the same time, and was very much interested in the one we’ll call Dave; in fact, Dave and I wound up getting formally engaged.  Romping through New York City’s East Village one Saturday night with friends, including Sam, the other guy I’d been seeing, we stumbled upon a storefront card reader, replete with the headscarf, gold hoop earrings, and crystal ball.  Everyone thought would be fun to consult her.


Approaching this as a lark, I was shocked to discover that the woman who was not much older than myself saw me with the two men: one blonde (Sam) and one dark (Dave).  She finished the reading almost in shock, saying that although I’d come far in my career for one so young and otherwise had a good head on my shoulders, I’d insisted upon falling in love with Dave, who would “bring me to ruin.”   Well, I was far from ruined, but Dave and I did split up and the schism, at the time, was deeply painful.


For years, this experience haunted me.  How had she known?  She had to have been very gifted, I’d supposed.


But further investigation enabled me to understand that “all of the information is already out there” and it’s just a matter of tapping into it.  Also, a psychic can read a subject more accurately if that subject approaches him or her with an open mind or at least, a generally positive mindset.  Not all clients do, despite their strong desire to be read.  Against my better judgment, and because I’d been pestered to do so, I had once referred a very difficult person to an excellent psychic.  Thoroughly exasperated, the clairvoyant later told me, “He’s enough to make you want to throw away your cards!”


The second reader into whom I ran — quite literally — was sitting, oddly enough, at a little card table on a quiet corner just off New York’s Little Italy.  She, too, had the scarf and the gold hoops, but no crystal ball: just a pack of regular playing cards and a very quiet, slightly amused air, as if she’d known I was about to barrel right into her.


I’d gone to the Feast of San Gennaro with the man I would eventually marry, and remembering well the incident with the first psychic, refused her offer to read my cards!   However, my future husband was very much interested.  His was a short reading, and all I remember was that she’d told him that he had an honest woman in his life, a very honest woman, and that she wasn’t sure if he could handle her.  Considering that the woman was me and that my husband is still wondering, after all these years, what to do with me, I’d say that reader was also dead on!


The next reader and I crossed paths like ships in the night, and this, she foretold, was through destiny (and thereby hang tales too long for this article).  She nailed every physical ailment in my body in the first few seconds — though I had not thought to consult her about those — and then she picked up the brochure of my realtor that I’d brought for her to see.  I was in the process of moving to Jersey and the reader, whose name was Christie, intoned, “There is a job for you across the other side of a covered bridge.”  Neither one of us understood what this meant (yes, spirits do move through genuine psychics), but months later, the light dawned.  My realtor’s office was located at the foot of a sort of covered bridge … one that enabled foot traffic over a busy highway … directly across from the writing job I’d landed!   This was just one of the many things that Christie had predicted, that later came to pass.


Bonnie, whom I met next and befriended, added to my education.  She was the first one I’d known to use a tarot deck other than the original Waite deck familiar to most of us.  The deck she used was called The Rose Deck; it was dark and beautiful, with intricate artwork.  The Rose Deck was but one of many different designs that I would later access through other readers.  Bonnie explained that she used the tarot only as an icebreaker, as some clients were not comfortable with her just pulling their most intimate secrets out of the ether.


This lady explained that when her beloved grandmother had passed on, she was a young child of four.  On the night of the day that her grandmother was laid to rest, Bonnie’d dreamed that her gran had appeared to her, advising her that, at the age of twelve, the young girl would come into the gift of prophecy.  As foretold, that is exactly what happened to Bonnie.  Fascinated with the planets and their influences, she studied astrology and was gifted in this form of reading as well.


Eventually, the accuracy of her work came to the attention of law enforcement agencies in both New York and New Jersey … and I’m talking about both State and local levels.  Often grudgingly by Bonnie, who abhorred violence, her talents were utilized in cracking major cases.  To protect her privacy, I’ll just tell you that these cases all made the headlines in their day: murder, kidnapping, and theft of a large fortune.


Bonnie also had the uncanny ability to simply touch an object and “read” its owner.  One night over dinner in a restaurant, she’d admired an emerald bracelet my husband had given me and reached across the table to stroke it.  Immediately, she got that glazed look in her eye that I’d come to know and began telling me very personal things about a certain in-law that I had never shared with her!  An in-law that had only touched that bracelet once!


Kit, a.k.a. Katherine, was another lovely reader, an older, deeply spiritual woman lauded by the Catholic Church for her continuous contributions to the community.  Kit, in my experience, was an anomaly in that she was a devout Catholic who also practiced as a psychic.  Among the many things that this wife and mother foretold in two readings, she saw me following a certain musician, approximately two years before I’d ever heard his name.  She also spoke of the wonderful friendships, travels, and experiences that my following him would bring me.


A few years later, Trish saw me journeying to the city of that musician’s birth, and the adventures — and great music — that awaited me there, and the good friend with whom I’d traveled.


Most recently, a very nice lady named Robin, who shares my love of music, foresaw me being asked by Sneak Attack, The Counting Crows’ media representatives, to cover one of their recent concerts.  She did not name the band by name but intimated that it was a large, well-respected, well-known act.


If your curiosity is peaked and you wish to consult a psychic, I have but two bits of advice to give you, which I myself have followed.   Seek a psychic, please, through the recommendation of someone that you trust.  And then feel that psychic out.  As I’d learned long ago, we are all indeed born with at least a modicum of clairvoyance, so use yours.  You want a reader who is spiritual; one who believes in a Higher Power, and a positive power.  Anyone who gives you another sort of vibe, avoid at all costs.

Bad Moon Risin’

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Werewolf

As a kid born on Halloween, devil-eyed Dracula did not frighten me.  Neither did Frankenstein’s monster, that conglomeration of corpses that stalked the countryside in search of victims.  But one look at the Wolfman on the small screen or even as a Halloween mask would raise the shivers right up my spine and send me diving beneath the covers.   To this day, I can’t explain why his particular monster struck the fear of God into me.  But I can explain a bit about lycanthropy: the process by which a human being is transformed into a vicious half-man, half-wolf.

 

Lore surrounding lycanthropy first sprang up in old Eastern Europe, home of the Caucasian and Carpathian mountains.  Wolves numbered among the creatures that inhabit these dark, gorgeous, and often foreboding ranges; they are, in fact, the territories’ most efficient predators.   Travelers were warned against venturing off the roads and into these rugged places, where they might encounter wolves.  Who first transmogrified the ancient Greek Minotaur into the Wolfman, I don’t know, but it was a successful adaptation.  In Greek mythology, a bloodthirsty creature named the Minotaur was imagined to have the body of a man and the head and shoulders of a bull.  This monster would trap its victims in its lair: a labyrinth from which none but a lucky hero escaped.  Once trapped, the Minotaur would then make a meal of his victims.  Gulp!

 

The Wolfman is, as his name suggests, a being with the head of a wolf and the body of a man, albeit an unnaturally furry, wolf-like body.   Under the curse of one who trucked with Satan, a man would be doomed to turn into a lycanthrope, also known as a werewolf, as the moon rose full in the night sky.   Under this celestial orb, a normally rational human would grow fangs, hair all over his body, and long, sharp nails. Worse, he would lose his mind, seized with the urge to kill until the sun began its blessed rise.   Strange as it may seem, there is some truth behind this legend.

 

The full moon affects a great number of living things on Earth, as well as the environs that support life.  It commands the tides and smaller bodies of water.   Female crabs, for instance, ovulate during the full moon and are thus prized by hunting sea creatures and gourmands alike for their roe.   Comprised of 70% water, the human body also feels the effects of Earth’s sole natural satellite.   A gentleman I once knew claimed he could not sleep during a full moon, even when his windows were draped with black curtains.  Worse, he suffered from terrible headaches during this lunar phase.  Years later, his doctor discovered that he had more than the usual amount of water behind his eyes.  Under the moon’s influence, these pools would swell and cause intense cranial pressure.

 

Before modern medicine, people who suffered with similar migraines during the full moon, who ran around holding their heads, howling with pain, and generally frightening the dickens out of their communities were institutionalized.  When the link with the full moon was discovered, the term “lunatic” was coined.   Now, some of these people were, unfortunately, deranged in the genuine sense of the term; some of these had been born with a murderous bent (think: the triple X chromosome discovered by modern science as the cause behind much violent criminal behavior in men).

 

Escaping from the institutions, some of these lunatics took refuge in the forests, where it was relatively safe and where they were forced to live off the land.  Without benefit of barbers, haberdashers, or other modern comforts, the lunatics lived like animals, their hair, beards, and fingernails growing long and unkempt and their clothing torn into shreds on shrubs and low-hanging branches.  Upon occasion, they would stumble upon and attack hapless souls who’d lost their way.  Those who escaped spread tales of the ferocious “wolfmen.”

 

Lycanthropy, however, is not limited to stories of this nature.   There exist people who are truly convinced that, under the light of a full moon, they are transformed into wolves.  The annals of psychology and law enforcement include many such cases, in which persons thus convinced have attacked and killed, in the most brutal manner, innocent souls.   Wolfmen seem to have a particular fondness for a certain type of human victim, but you will never drag it out of me, at least, in print.  It is far too horrific to relay.

 

In the 1950’s, some enterprising fiend in Hollywood remembered well the popularity of the ’30’s films, Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy, whose spin-offs continued to pump box office coffers.  Perhaps this person was spurred on by the growing threat of McCarthyism, which promulgated that some men and women were not what they seemed on the surface, posing threats to our society (alleged Communism).  Seeking a new-fangled monster that would pique and hold the public’s interest, the Wolfman was thus born.

 

Of course, every evil phantasmagorical being had to have its Achilles Heel.  In the Wolfman’s case, it was a silver bullet.  Shot straight through his heart, a bullet fashioned of pure silver would chase the demon from the werewolf’s soul and return him to a state of normalcy.  Of course, the bullet also killed him but hey, those were the breaks … and interestingly enough, a warning for those who, under the yoke of McCarthyism, broke from the norm.

 

Cursed by an evil gypsy, Lon Chaney, Jr. portrayed, in my estimation, the most compelling Wolfman on film.  From the 1970’s on, Hollywood enjoyed a resurgence of werewolves dodging silver bullets on the silver screen.  Perhaps the most jarring of these films was An American Werewolf in London.  In the then-new genre of film that was neither comedy nor tragedy, but lying somewhere in that uncomfortable “gray area,” the gore in this movie was graphic and the soundtrack pure camp.  In the opening sequence, where the lycanthrope rips the throat out of his victim to leave the poor man to bleed out his life, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s rousing hit, Bad Moon Risin’, warns the viewer to beg, borrow, or steal a pistol loaded with silver bullets.

 

As a genus, wolves also got a bum rap from folklore, which no doubt laid the foundation for the public’s buying into the legend of the Wolfman.  Fairy tales of old warned of the cunning and viciousness of wolves; Little Red Riding Hood was the most famous of such tales.  The story was a handy device for warning children against inimical strangers.  And this author also believes it to be a morality tale, cautioning young girls against “wolves” of the human variety.

 

In our own time, there are those who spread the notion of wolves as creatures to be feared and obliterated from the Earth.  By nature, wolves are neither blood thirsty or sneaky … or rather, no less blood thirsty or sneaky than any other predator created by the hand of God.   As canines, they are highly intelligent.  Because they live in packs, they are social in nature; each pack boasts a dominant Alpha male as well as a matriarch.  The primary function of the adults of both sexes is to produce the most viable offspring and ensure the survival of the pack by protecting its members, strengthening its borders (territory) against other predators, and hunting for sustenance.

 

The previous Republican administration has worked systematically to annihilate wild wolves from America’s landscape.  President George W. Bush signed as well as renewed sanctions through which aerial hunters, in helicopters and small planes, were empowered to pick off as many wolves as they wished in Yellowstone National Park — including nursing mothers and young pups.  Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin continued this heinous practice within the boundaries of her native State.

 

The excuses for this horrific slaughter include the grossly inflated claims that wolves prey upon the cattle of wealthy ranchers who, not so coincidentally, have historically been major contributors to Republican political campaigns.   Although wolves hunt cattle because mankind destroys more and more of the predators’ natural territory and thereby, robs them of their more natural prey such as deer and rabbits, the numbers of cattle taken by the canines is minimal.

 

Defenders of Wildlife, a peaceful, well-established environmental group whose name pretty much says it all, recently offered the latest crop of outraged cattlemen a monetary sum for each steer or cow taken by wolves: the exact same sum paid out by the cattlemen when they’d purchased the animals.  This group consisted of all of eight cattle ranchers.  Only one came forth to collect his money, leading those of us who respect wildlife and who question uncaring authority to wonder about the veracity of the cattlemen’s claims.

 

As for wolves attacking humans, these cases are extremely rare and have usually involved a rabid wolf.  By and large, wolves shy away from human beings, perhaps through racial memory.  Perhaps they remember the days of the great fur trade that went unchecked in our Northern territories and extended into Canada, in which their kind were hunted mercilessly for their warm, thick pelts that fetched a pretty price.   

 

The intelligence and social nature of wolves was driven home to me several years ago when I had the good fortune to pet a fully-grown she-wolf at a Native American pow-wow in Northern New Jersey.  From a distance, I mistook her for a large German shepherd and loving that breed, I approached her only to receive a delightful little shock.  The wolf was on a leash, just like a dog, sitting quietly by her master’s side.  With reverence, I asked if it would be all right to pet the animal, which the man explained had taken two years for his permit to “own her” to be validated.  From the many nature documentaries I’ve seen over the years, I knew not to look directly into her eyes, for to do so is to challenge the wolf: a creature far more powerful than I.  And yet, I was compelled to look as I stroked the beautiful creature’s coarse, silver and white coat.

 

In the golden eyes that gazed back at me, I read tolerance and mutual respect.  I may have read amusement as well, but my vision was blurred; I found myself crying, for the experience was unexpected and profound.  The animal’s ears were larger than my hands; her clawed paws seemed enormous.  And when she smiled, I saw her sharp white fangs.  She could have overpowered me easily.  And yet, she sensed in me no malice and graciously allowed me a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I will never forget.  Not bad for a kid who once had the stuffing scared out of her by the brutal Wolfman — and who no doubt will again, this Halloween!

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