Hope Diamond

Are diamonds a girl’s best friend? Maybe, maybe not if the diamond we are talking about is the Hope Diamond – a forty-five carat blue diamond that for more than a century supposedly bore a curse that brought death and misfortune to the people who owned it.

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Coming from the Golkonda mines in India, it was bought by the French merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier. According to some Jean-Baptiste removed the diamond from the eye of a Hindu statue sparking the wrath of the gods, who cursed the stone and all those who owned it. Immediately after Tavernier went bankrupt and tried to rebuild his fortune starting from India, but never reached his destination because he died during the trip.

King Louis XIV bought the stone from Tavernier and had it recut in 1673. It was then known as “The Blue Diamond of the Crown” or the “French Blue”. King Louis died of gangrene and all of his legitimate children died in childhood, except for one. Nicholas Fouquet who worked for King Louis XIV, is said to have worn the diamond for some special occasion. Shortly thereafter, he fell out of favor with the king and was banished from France. The Louis changed this sentence to life imprisonment, so Fouquet spent 15 years in the fortress of Pignerol.

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The diamond was then donated to Marie Antoinette and… well, we all know what happened to her and her husband Louis XVIbeheaded during the French Revolution. Eventually the diamond was stolen along with other jewels and precious objects. It then passed into the hands of a jeweler who died of a heart attack as soon as the stone was stolen (according to other sources he died when he discovered that the thief was none other than his son). The son of the jeweler, the alleged perpetrator of the theft,  when he knew he was the cause of his father’s death committed suicide. His friend, who had found the diamond among the property left unattended, died after a short time. 

The gemstone quickly passed from hand to hand and reached London, the English nobleman Lord Francis Hope, VIII Duke of Newcastle, paid an exorbitant amount of money for the gem andbaptize” it with his name, but – if you want to give credit to the supposed curse did he regret it, almost immediately after having received the stone the relationship with his wife gone bad and the pair split up. The woman, Mary Yohe, an American actress and singer of musicals, fell into poverty, while the Lord Francis Hope hastened to get rid of the diamond.

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Evalyn Walsh McLean was a spoiled heiress who lived a charmed life… until she bought the diamond. She happily wore the diamond and there are stories that she would even affix the jewel to her dog’s collar and let him wander around the apartment with it. But wearing the Hope Diamond came at a steep price: first her mother-in-law died, her son died at the age of nine, her husband left her for another woman and later died in a mental hospital, her daughter died of a drug overdose at 25 and she eventually had to sell her newspaper ““ the Washington Post – and died owing huge debts. Evalyn’s surviving kids sold the diamond to Harry Winston. Nine years later, Winston mailed the gem to the Smithsonian for $2.44 in postage and $155 in insurance. The mailman who delivered the diamond to the Smithsonian, apparently had his leg crushed in a truck accident shortly thereafter. He also suffered a head injury in a separate accident.

The Hope Diamond is preserved at the Smithsonian Museum, kept on public display in a glass case. Today the sky-blue gem is worth a quarter of a billion dollars.

I wonder if even writing about the diamond can make you fall under the umbrella of the curse?

I HOPE you’ll be hearing from me again…

Elle. xx

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Witchcraft 101: Witch’s Ladder

As I’m starting a new “journey”, I’ve decided to share all the things I’m learning here on my beloved blog. I’ve always been interested in witchcraft but never really “gave it a go”, so I bought a few books (which I’m reading and I’ll probably review here if you’re looking for basic books) for the absolute beginner, like me! What I’m learning right now is to be more confident about me and the things I can do and achieve,  to stay more in contact with nature and everything that surrounds me. In this new section of the blog I’ll be mainly writing about what I’m experiencing and most of the topics will be focused on traditional witchcraft.

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The first topic and kind of spell I came through is “knot magick” which is a very old form of magic and also requires minimal supplies, it’s mainly about the intention you have while tying the knots. It can be used for protection but it also has an evil dark side, as I wrote before it mainly depends on what your intention is.

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One of the oldest form is known as the Witch’s Ladder, which I found interesting and visually stunning. A Witch’s ladder is a fetish made from knotted cord, yarn or hair and used in witchcraft as a curse but also in any kind of spell work, meditation or ritual working. It typically consists of a rope or cord with (usually) three, nine, thirteen or even forty knots. Feathers, bones or other trinkets are braided into the string, and special chants are spoken during the creation process to empower the talisman to do its creator’s bidding. It can be created a section at a time or all at once. The knots of the witch’s ladder enable a witch to concentrate on repetitive chants or incantation without having to keep count (similar to Christian Rosary beads), and enable the witch to focus will and energy on the desired goal. It was believed that witches of old could cast a death spell over a person by tying the knots and then hiding the cord, and the only way to undo the spell was to find the cord and untie each knot.

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Nowadays the Witch’s ladder is primarily use in healing, binding and wish-granting, knot spells may be created for such diverse purposes as reducing pain, binding love, ensuring safe travel or creating a peaceful environment in the home. The string or cord can be made out of almost any material, but natural fibres (such as hair, wool, hemp and cotton) are preferred.

By knot of one, the spell’s begun.
By knot of two, the magic comes true.
By knot of three, so it shall be.
By knot of four, this power is stored.
By knot of five, my will shall drive.
By knot of six, the spell I fix.
By knot of seven, the future I leaven.
By knot of eight, my will be fate.
By knot of nine, what is done is mine.

Elle. x

Creepy tales

Giambattista Basile‘s tales feature dismemberments, rapes and killings. Far from being the magical, Disney-style fairy tales we imagine, his works inspired a stunning movie that I recently watched called “The Tale of Tales” (Il Racconto dei Racconti), directed by Matteo Garrone.

I remember as a kid to be an avid reader of fairytales, especially the ones by the Grimm brothers, but of course most of the books I used to own back then were a lot “sugarcoated” because the original versions of the most famous fairy-tales we know are NOT very suitable for children. I’m pretty sure that there’s a sort of moral at the end and scarying the hell out of kids might work to make them understand the “message”.

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Let’s start with The Little Mermaid (Hans Christian Andersen), Ariel and her lovely friends having fun underwater (okay, it does sound wrong!). Well, in the original version the little mermaid doesn’t even have a name nor a soul and this is the lesser evil. She falls in love with a charming prince from the human world so she goes to Ursula the Sea Witch so that she can turn her into a human, not only is she voiceless, every step on her feet causes her agony; the sea-witch describes it as “walking on knives.” All this for the prince she loves, who at the end marries another girl. As the little mermaid contemplates dying, her sisters pop out of the water, having traded their hair with the witch for a magical knife so that she can kill the prince but the mermaid throws the knife away and prepares to meet her fate. Her body dissolves into foam, but instead of ceasing to exist she’s rescued by the “daughters of the air,” who tell her that she’s now one of them and that, if she flies around the world doing good deeds for 300 years, she might get a soul after all. What a deal?!

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Now it’s time for Sleeping Beauty, the original version would have terrified even Maleficent! Consider some of the plot devices found in the original story of “Sleeping Beauty” in the days of our distant past: adultery, bigamy, murder, the rape of a comatose woman and even human cannibalism. The young woman is put to sleep because of a prophesy, rather than a curse. And it isn’t the kiss of a prince which wakes her up: the king seeing her asleep decides to rape her. After nine months she gives birth to two children (while she is still asleep). One of the children sucks her finger which removes the piece of flax that was keeping her asleep. She wakes up to find herself raped and the mother of two kids. The king comes back, and despite him having raped her, they end up falling in love. However, another big problem: the king is still married to someone else. His wife finds out and not only tries to have the twins killed, cooked, and fed to the king, but also tries to burn the princess at the stake. Luckily, she is unsuccessful. The king and the princess get married and live happily ever after (despite the fact that he raped her).

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In Charles Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood, included in his 1697 collection Stories or Fairy Tales from Past Times: Tales of Mother Goose, there is no intrepid huntsman. Little Red simply strips naked, gets in bed, and then dies, eaten up by the big bad wolf, with no miraculous relief. In another version, she eats her own grandmother first, her flesh cooked up and her blood poured into a wine glass by our wolfish friend and another version has it that the young girl has sex with the wolf, who was a some sort of a werewolf.

Sometimes I wonder how different would Disneyland be if they stuck to the original endings, I’m pretty sure it would only be a place for some adults fun!

Elle. x

 

Ostara: Spring Equinox

The spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere falls on Sunday March 20 this year, marking the time when the sun passes over the celestial equator. Wiccans and other neopagans observe the day as Ostara, a festival that celebrates the season’s change from dark winter to brightening spring.

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Ostara is personified by the goddess who represents the dawn, the coming of new light and rebirth through many of the rituals, decorations and gifts that we’re familiar with to this day. They include colorful Easter eggs, rabbits, and baskets filled with sweets. Due to the popularity of these symbols in ancient times they were coopted by Christianity from “pagans” into what we know as Easter celebrations. Many of us continue to celebrate the season with a little bit of pagan influenced decor and delights.

Along with Ostara, many Wiccans and neopagans observe Beltane, Litha (or summer solstice), Lughnasadh, the autumnal equinox, Samhain, Yule and Imbolc. For many neopagans, Ostara celebrates the Spring Maiden and the Horned God sometimes envisioned as the god Pan, symbolizes the festive enjoyment of nature through hunting and dancing.
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Many religions celebrate holidays during this time of year, including the Hindu Holi, Jewish Purim, Sikh Hola Mohalla and Christian Easter.
Here– you can read a post that I wrote last year about a place that celebrates Easter a bit like Halloween
Elle. x

Very superstitious

Hello my lovely weirdos! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas time (or whatever event you have celebrated..or not celebrated). During these days I’ve read tons of ancient superstions that I found very interesting, so I’ve decided to gather them in this post. Well, probably I should’ve warned you before Christmas, let’s just hope you didn’t pissed off any evil force.

  • We all tend to spend Christmas Eve with our family, furry friends included, and stay up until midnight, but a legend has it that our feline friends acquire the power of speech at this time so anyone hearing this temporary “cat speak” will soon die.

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  • If you plan on hosting a Christmas dinner at your home, make sure you invite an even number of guests because a table set for an odd number merely invites bad luck or even death in the new year.
  • Those who are born on Christmas Eve turn into ghosts on that day every year while they sleep. If you were born on Christmas Eve and don’t want to have this happen to you, the remedy is to count the holes in a sieve from 11 o’clock on Christmas Eve until morning.
  • If you carry in your pocket a scale from a fish eaten at Christmas, your purse will be full all year.
  • An English superstition says that if you don’t give a pair of shoes to a poor person at least once in your lifetime, you will enter the next world barefoot. This leads to an influx of shoes being donated to charity shops at Christmas time.

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  • It’s unlucky to light a Yule Candle before supper on Christmas. It’s also unlucky to buy your own Yule candle or to snuff it before Christmas Eve ends, it should be left to burn itself out. If the candle is disturbed or snuffed out, back luck will befall the household. A portion of the candle should be kept to light the following years candle for good luck. A candle or lamp must be burned all night on Christmas Eve or there will be a death in the home.
  • The last day to indulge your Christmas time superstition is Candlemas (Feb. 2). Christmas decorations must be entirely taken down before the twelfth night after Christmas or goblins and bad luck will come. But be careful what you burn: it’s unlucky to burn Christmas greenery (except for mistletoe). Every leaf left up after Candlemas will result in either a goblin seen or a death in the house during the year.

Now, as we’re getting closer to New Year’s eve, here’s a list of superstitions that surround this day:

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  • We kiss those dearest to us at midnight not only to share a moment of celebration with our favorite people, but also to ensure those affections and ties will continue throughout the next twelve months. To fail to smooch our significant others at the stroke of twelve would be to set the stage for a year of coldness.
  • Make sure to do — and be successful at — something related to your work on the first day of the year, even if you don’t go near your place of employment that day. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky
  • At midnight, all the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year escape unimpeded. It must leave before the New Year comes in, says popular wisdom, so doors are flung open to assist it in finding its way out.
  • Italian people welcome the New Year in an extremely interesting way, by tossing old things out of their windows! Old things are tossed out in an effort to make room for the new and lucky to enter their households and lives in the year to come.
  • Lucky foods which should be consumed on New Years Eve is lentil soup and pork. Chicken should not be eaten on the first day of the year or you will have financial difficulties for the rest of the year.
  • Whatever a person does on this day will influence his activity for the rest of the year. Therefore to wash clothes will bring a year of hard
    work. Washing may also cause a relative’s death. Certain tasks were not to be done between Christmas and New Year’s Day–among them were knitting, sewing and doing the family laundry.
  • Crying on the first day of the year must be avoided. One must always be happy and in good spirits on New Year’s day. If you cry on New Years’ for a sad reason you will have sadness all throughout the year.

I’m sure I’m missing a few, please let me know if you have some interesting New Year’s eve/New Year’s day traditions that I might have missed. I do hope that you’re going to have a wonderful new year, that you’re going to realize all of your projects and dreams… weird dreams as well! Thank you all for keeping me company during this 2015, not the most exciting year for me, but definitely quite interesting!

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Elle. xx

 

 

…so be good for Krampus’s sake!

Hey! I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted anything during this time but life is getting pretty hectic. I’m studying a lot and Christmas is getting closer so it’s all pure madness. I’ve never really liked this time of the year, I’ve always been the “Grinch” of the situation, who knows why?! But honestly, I can’t wait for this year to be over. Who’s with me?
Speaking of Christmas, with all its traditions around the globe, this year Krampus is having his/its big Hollywood time! I’ve seen Krampus themed things in every social network so out of curiosity I did some research about this all creepy topic.

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The customs of the holiday season, which include St. Nicholas Day, New Years Day, and Epiphany, as well as Christmas, often incorporate earlier pagan traditions that have been appropriated and adapted for contemporary use. Customs that encourage little children to be good, so as to deserve their Christmas gifts from Father Christmas, St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, often come with a dark side: the punishment you’ll receive from a monster or evil being of some sort if you are not good! The legend is part of a centuries-old Christmas tradition in Germany, where Christmas celebrations begin in early December.

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Krampus, whose name is derived from the German word krampen, meaning claw, is said to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology. The legendary beast also shares characteristics with other scary, demonic creatures in Greek mythology, including satyrs and fauns. Krampus night is celebrated on December 5th, the eve of St. Nicholas Day in Austria and other parts of Europe. Public celebrations that night have many Krampuses walking the streets, looking for people to beat. Alcohol is also involved. Injuries in recent years have led to some reforms, such as requiring all Krampuses to wear numbers so they may identified in case of overly violent behavior. The tradition is spreading beyond Europe, many cities in America have their own Krampus Nights including the Krampusfest in Los Angeles!

So, have you been a good kid for this year?

Elle. x

The ghost who walks in the picture.

Here we are with another spooky story. It is quite old but I still find it fascinating, mainly because I have a “thing” for old pictures. Little fact about me: I find old photographs so interesting that I actually collect them!

I’m not 100% sure if this story is real or it is the nth urban legend, but I thought it would have been interesting to share it anyway.

1997. Rory O’Donoghue works at a photo lab in Cork, northwest of Ireland, between green fields, farming villages and industrial landscapes. Rory has a passion for photography so he decides to go it alone and taking over a photo lab that had been closed for years. During the renovation of the store Rory found an envelope with an old roll of film inside. There’s a date wtitten on the envelope “July ’65”. The film was used, so out of curiosity Rory develops itthe film contains a single photo. It is the picture of an old cottage, like the many other you can find in the irish coutryside.

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Anyway, Rory decides to print the negative and do an enlargement of the photograph. The photo wasn’t anything exceptional but its apparent normality had something magnetic. He then placed the picture in an envelope and returned back home.

But around midnight he noticed that something in the photograph is “different”. The picture is no longer the same as a human figure appeared in it. In complete disbelief of what happened runs to take his camera to take some snapshots of the strange effect

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After a few hours he noticed that the figure in the picture moved again assuming the feature of a woman dressed in black. Increasingly amazed, he continued to take snapshots all night. The human figure in the picture kept moving very slowly, stabilizing every hour.

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It’s been a really scary night for Rory, to the point of making him tell everything to his wife and to a few close family members, afraid of not being believed.

Only in 2007, the grandson of Rory D. who was on a trip in the countryside of Cork, next to a Medieval church and an abandoned cemetery saw a building that was somehow familiar. So he asked some questions around and learned that it had been the residence of a very noble family, the Brandville. The last male heir, as an infant, had mysteriously disappeared in the night of his crib. The mother committed suicide in that house while his father, mad, remained in the cottage until his death. The cottage is still there, in the countryside of Cork in a state of neglect and the picture is still in plain view hung on a wall of Rory’s house.

Elle. xx