Elvira

 

With a blog like mine, which in some reguards is like Halloween all the time, I was hard pressed to try and come up with something speical I could do for the occasion and step out of the ordinary, while still staying on topic with the nature of this blog, and the thought occured to me. What would Halloween be without Elvira? Her imagery for as long as I can remeber just about always pops up around this time of the year. TV Commericas, Card Board Cut Outs, Amusment Park Decour. So who is this Halloween Pop Idol?

Elvira, is the alter ego of Cassdandra Patterson. Her first cliam to fame was when she appeared on an Los Angels TV Station for Movie Macarbe.  Which was a weekly Horror movie presentation. In which she appeared in which her wickidly vamperish presentation was off set by her quick witted humur.

Elivra is largely based off of a character that Cassandra created for an improve troupe called The Groundlings, before she was hired to host Moive Macabre.  She adutitioned against 200 other poetential hosts for the part and the producers left it largely up to her to create the image of Elvira, though originally she wanted to create her to look like Sharan Tate from The Fearless Vampire Killers.  After that her and a friend of hers came up with thie image for a sexy punk vampire

The Elvira character rapidly gained notoriety with her tight fitting, low cut black gown which showed more cleavage than had ever appeared on local Los Angeles television before. The movies featured on Elvira’s Movie Macabre were always B-rate or lower.  Elvira reclined on a red Victorian couch, introducing and often interrupting the movie to lampoon the actors, the script, and the bad editing. Adopting the flippant tone of a California valley-girl, she brought a satirical, sarcastic edge to her commentary without ever being crass or mean-spirited. And like a macabre Mae West she revelled in dropping risque double entendres as well as making frequent jokes about her eye-popping display of cleavage. Her campy humor, obvious sex appeal, and good-natured self-mockery endeared her to late-night movie viewers as her popularity soared. At the same time Elvira was embraced as an icon of the waning 1980s punk movement as well as the emerging Goth subcluture.

The Elvira character rapidly evolved from obscure cult figure to lucrative brand-name and “Mistress of all Media”, spawning countless products throughout the 1980s and 1990s  including Halloween costumes, model kits, callenders, perumes, dolls, and she is well known for her appernace in ads for Coors Light Beer.  She has appeared on the cover for Femme Fatales 5 times.  Her popularity reached its zenith with the release of the feature film, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (cowritten by Peterson) in 1988.

Even still today her image appears and is well known and she is still reverered as the Queen of Halloween. Who could forget Elvira? She is perhaps the model of the mondern day vampire. For those have have read my article, The Woman and the Vampire, I see Elvira almost as a mockery of these typical female vampire sterotypes, for in many ways she takes them to the excess and over the top. Perhpas this was never her intention with the role.

Elivra also straddles the line between what society and people can really accept as an appropriate icon, and thier love affair with the vampire. So in Elvira while the air of mystery and darkness is still suggested and touched upon enough to intrigue, the sinsister asepct is off-set by her campy humur, and valley girl speach and over the top outrageousness.

It would not have done to have an Elivra, who was sophisticated, serious, and sullen. As much as people love to love the vampire, they are not yet truly ready to accept the vampire for what he or she is. A vampire that is to be taken seriously as a vampire, is almost instantly cast into the role of Villain.

The Painter

 

Lena grumbled to herself as she scrubbed the rag against the stones of the porch.

There was always something to be done, not a moments break, and for such meager pay, but what was she to do if she wished to sleep and eat? Her fingers were beginning to rub raw from the work as the water dripped around her against the gray cobblestone. Left upon her hands and knees which were growing sore, her back aching hunched over as it was, and her neck starting to strain while she had to keep her head down. The dark tresses of her hair were now hidden away under the cap upon her head to keep them from getting in the way. The sleeves of her dress rolled up to her elbows. She still had her youth and most found her to be attractive but fate had dealt her a cruel hand. She never had dreamed she would find herself so lowly, but then whoever did end up where they wanted to be in life?

           

 She was startled as a resounding thud came just against the stones in front of where she was working, and a scowl of irritation creased her features. Was the fool blind she thought as slowly her head lifted. Her blue eyes flashed upon the odd creature of a man that stood just in front of her. He was shorter then she standing upright, and had a dignified yet old look to his face which was worn smooth, but made with fine strong features. His hair was kept in neat order and seamed more silver than gray, and his fingers were clasped around the knob of a walking cane made of crooked wood.

          

  He brought the cane up to rest just under her chin and tilted her head up more, so much to her great agitation as with one fell swoop her cap was knocked from her head and her hair spilled down around her face. “Ah, yes, you will do quite well.” He said as if musing to himself.

           

Lena could hold her tongue no longer. “Excuse, but I have a good deal of work to do, and I do not have time for games”

          

  “Oh yes forgive me” The curious elderly man said and gave a remarkably charming smile. “Wherever are my manners? I am Randle in the servitude of the great Master Vadick.” Everyone knew Master Vadek, he was a painter that lived on the hill, though know one ever saw him in town. There was much rumor and gossip about him, but then people always talk, particularly most about things of which they know nothing about it, and is it not the right of the artist to be eccentric? Lena pushed herself up to sit upon her knees as the rag dropped from her hand and fell to the stone while the odd Randal continued. “He is looking for a new model for his latest work, and you are just the type he would like.”

           

 What could Lena say? A lavish life, of lounging in a soft bed, and feasting on fine foods and good wine, when all she had to do for it, was sit still a few hours and let herself be painting, who was she to worry about what the others said. “A carriage will come at sunset to take you to the manor, you will be ready to go when it arrives and you will take nothing with you, the Master, has some particularities, and all you should want or need will be provided when you arrive, though Lena had yet to say anything, the matter seemed to be settled altogether. Randal bowed with surprising elegances and with that he was gone. He moved with curious swiftness as he disappeared down the streets leaving Lena behind upon the stoop.

          

  The days work was done, and the sun began to sink behind the horizon, when Lena would hear the sound of wheels against the ground, accompanied with the sound of horse hooves. Lena looked out the window and saw the dark carriage pull up, though as the day had progressed she had begun to wonder if perhaps she had dreamed it all up, or if it had all just been a joke upon her, but now here it was. She would make her way quickly outside with nothing but the dress she was currently wearing. The coach man was tall, and rail thin with pale features that made him appear almost sickly, as his dark eyes were sunken in, and yet he was dignified in his tailor made suit, with long black tails at the end of his coat. Silently he opened the couch door and gave a hand to Lena to help her and then mounted the carriage to take the rein and she felt the carriage move under her. The seats in side were really quite comfortable, as she had in fact never ridden on such a transport before. She watched out the window the scenery fade away into the night.

           

 The carriage would come to a stop before the great, dark house, and the carriage door would be opened, Lena stepped out to be greeted by Randal whom came moving out, quickly to meet them. “Ah yes, good, good, you came. Come I will bring you inside and go over a few things with you.”

           

 Lena would follow Randle up the cobblestone pathway which led up to the doors, though looking upon the manor; it was almost hard to imagine that anyone actually still lived there. Strange indeed she thought to herself. Inspire of its outer appearance, inside was really quite grand, and warm, with an intricate rug thrown across the floor within the parlor, and a fire burning, there was yet no sign of Master Vadek.

          

  “Please sit down” Randal gestured to the couch and Lena moved to have a seat on the big comfortable cushions, while a girl not yet quite a woman had approached from where Lena did not know, but a glass of wine was filled and offered to her. She looked to the young girl curiously for a moment, as she took the wine, when the girl slipped away back into whatever shadowy corner she had come from. Lena had to admit the wine was wonderful, like nothing she had ever tasted. Not like the watered down stuff they sold within the taverns.

           

“Master Vadek prefers to work by night, it is when he is most inspired, and he sleeps during the day, so during the daylight hours, you will have run of the place. You may help yourself to anything you like and there is a library supposing you know how to read. You just must never disturb the Master while he sleeps, for no reason, and you must not enter his private chambers, which will be kept lock. You are also not to leave the grounds of the property, you see the Master is a man of certain suppressions and precautions, and he would hate to think something has happened to you while he was still in the middle of his work. If you should need anything the servants will gladly assist you, but I myself am a very busy man and prefer not to be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. Do you understand? Lena could do little more but nod while she tool all this in.

          

  “Very good, well then I will leave you to get ready” Randal said before he turned to make his way out of the room, to disappear somewhere within the house. Leave me to get ready? Lena thought to herself, what was she suppose to do? Her question would seen be answered as if her thoughts were read as the young girl reappeared from her dark corner. “If you would come this way” She said with a small curtsy. Lena was somewhat disappointed about not being able to finish her mind, but she thought best of keeping Master Vadek waiting, and she was overcome with curiosity to see the great Master. She rose from the couch to follow behind the girl. She was lead up a great winding stair case and down the hallway. It was strange how there was no sign of life anywhere within the manor. Her eyes scanned around. There were grand paintings upon the wall and what she thought must have been family portraits. Grave looking figures frozen forever in time. Until the girl came to stop before a grand wooden door. A key was produced and slipped into the lock and turned when there was a clear click the door was pushed open and she made her way inside. Lena followed. The room was surprising immaculate, almost as if they had been expecting her. It was a grand room with an immense bed with a heavy wooden frame.

           

There was even a hearth within the room, with a fire already going, so it would be warm, in  addition the girl would light a few candles about the room to offer more warm light. “Ivana and Rebecca will be here shortly” she said before slipping out of the room, leaving Lena to have a few moments to explore her new room, before a rap would come at the door and two women would step inside. One of them was a tall young woman, with bright red hair and pale features of thin frame. The other was shorter and a little more lush in figure with midnight hair. They both seemed to take her in with a critical eye. Lena had never suspected that a painter would have so much household help. “Come, come, we do not wish to keep the Master waiting, you must get ready.” Lena had no idea what she was suppose to do, but before she had a chance to inquire or say a word the two women, of whom she would learn, the tall one was Rebecca, and the shorter, Ivana, came forward and began to unlace the strings of her bodice and slip the dress from her body until she was left standing in her bare flesh. “Here!” Ivana said thrusting a robe within Lena’s hands. “Put that on.”

           

 Lena slid the robe on and the soft silk material fell against her skin, it was absolutely luxurious though she would not have much time to savor it. The two women would soon be leading her out of the room and down the hall, and she would be brought into a grand marble wash room.

           

Once inside the grand washroom Rebecca and Ivana slid the robe from her shoulders, making Lena wonder if it really was necessary to wear the robe at all, as from what she could see the halls were deserted. Lena was led to the bath which already was prepared and she had to admit that the hot water felt fabulous as she sunk down into it. It soothed her muscles that were sore from her work and eased her mind. Such a thing was a rare luxury for her. A soft sigh escaped her lips while the waters wrapped around her. Within the rising steam she caught a sweet sent of flowers. The bath waters were perfumed. It was absolutely heavenly. This is the life Lena thought.

           

 Rebecca and Ivana would begin to scrub Lena clean while she rested within the waters. The wet cloth would be brought of her body, and scented soap would wash her flesh clean of the dirt, grim and dust of her labors. Her skin would glisten in a way it never had before and smelled so sweetly divine. Lena would have loved nothing more then to stay within these waters a time and just luxuriate within the warmth of it and savor every moment, but her two assigned maids would have none of it. Once she was cleaned, every inch of her, to their satisfaction, she was urged up out of the waters. “Come along, we must get going, he waits to see you.”

           

Lena reluctantly stepped out of the waters, and the robe was brought around her form once more, and she would be escorted back to her room again. Led to a sit before the great vanity in her room, Rebecca went to work upon Lena’s hair, running a pearl handled com though the now wet strands and now and then telling Lena to hold still.

           

Once her hair was groomed, and dried, and groomed again, until it was to the content of Rebecca she came to stand back, and Lena was shocked to find her dark hair now in magnificent lush curls which fell around her face in a cascade, making her appear even younger then she was. Soon she was drawn up from the stool and the robe slipped off her body. Ivana came forward to dress her. Lena was slipped into the most beautiful dress of red silk that she had ever seen. The material seemed to float around her body and accentuated all of her best assets. She was truly taken aback. She never thought so much would go into being a painter’s model. She could not help but to wonder, where had he gotten all these wonderful clothes, could a man, even an artist truly understands a woman so well? Or was all this the doing of his servants whom he entrusted to know his taste? “You will be summoned shortly” Lena’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Rebecca’s voice and soon enough the two women slipped out of the room before she could say another word.

           

A tapping came at the door and Randal would reappear, and even he at first seemed shocked by Lena’s new appearance. He gave a step back and that charming smile of his sprang upon his lips. “That is much the improvement, Master Vadek will be truly pleased, speaking of which, we best be going now.” Lena was escorted down a long hallway until coming to another set of wooden doors. Randal used his cane to tap a knock upon the door before she would push them open and step inside. Lena followed close behind. Her gaze swept around taking in the studio when at last her eyes fell upon the Master himself, and she was taken aback to see just how young he was little more then herself, it was not at all what she had expected from the painter. He was quite breathtaking really. “I will leave you two” Randal said and began to back out of the room.

           

 Vadek would take Lena in as he stood back just to admire her before his arms swept out in front of him as if to catch her within a frame. “Marvelous! I do not know how the old man does it, but he is without fail.” He began to approach Lena as he placed one of his hands just against her arm to bring her forward. “Come, come, there is so much work to be done.” He said, though not without some gentleness to his exhilarating smooth voice. Lena was lad to a rather comfortable chair in which she lowered herself to sit. Master Vadek would make several adjustments here and there. Tiling her head just so, repositioning her hands, shaping the material of the address around her, so it fell this way or that, until he would at last be satisfied with everything. “There, perfect, now don’t move.” He said as he moved to stand behind the easel with the waiting canvas and his brush would begin to move in smooth long strokes.

          

  By the end of it Lena was surprised by how much effort it took to sit so still for so long, but it was still better then what she normally had to do, and afterwards she was treated to the most succulent feast of such delicacies she never before would have known. This was the life, and the pay off was certainly better then she ever had before. So the nights and days would pass as such. Each night it was the same, she would be attended to by Rebecca and Ivana, and they would get her ready, always in a new dress and then she would be taken to Master Vadek, and when he was done for the evening, which was unusually just before sunrise she was treated to a great feast and then passed out in her bed to awaken some time the next day.

           

One mid-afternoon Lena awoke surprised to see just how late it had grown, and she realized that it seemed she was waking later, and later with each passing day. Why was she so tired all the time? She thought to herself, for what did she do all day? During the daylight hours she spent most her time just wandering the grounds of the manor, or within the library, and at night all she did was sit in pose though it could be tiresome to hold the body still so long, it was not truly strenuous, and yet it seemed no matter how well she slept in the early morning hours, she woke up feeling wears. She was aware she had less energy then she use to, even when she spent her days on her hands and knees scrubbing floors. Lena thought she felt like a woman twice her age, and yet she was completely pampered and had not to lift a hand to do a single thing.

           

Slowly she pushed herself out of bed as her feet came against the floor and she rose to stand. A sudden strange thought came to her. Did this manor have no mirrors? She did not know why she had not noticed before, but she could not recall having ever seen one. The reason she thought of it now, was because she had the sudden desire to see her reflection for she felt, that surely she must be ill to be feeling the way she did. She walked up to the vanity where she was prepared each night, and it was strange enough that the mirror was absent from it. She began to open various drawers thinking perhaps she might find a small hand held ladies mirror that had been left about, but there was now. “How strange” She said to herself, and how had she not noticed such a thing before? Perhaps she was just too caught up in everything.

           

She would make her way out into the hall, not bothering to dress, wearing only her long flowing nightgown, as in all her time here, during the daylight hours, she never encountered a single soul anyway, she thought if she pleased she could wander the halls naked and none would know. She would make her way to the washroom and slipped inside, and to her disappointment discovered there was indeed not a single mirror to be found within, yet somehow she was not surprised by this. “Don’t be silly” She told herself. “You are just not feeling well and all alone, letting your imagination run away from you” She convinced herself that surely there must be a mirror somewhere here, and that she would feel the perfect fool once she found one and discovered she was perhaps just touched with a bit of fever though she did not feel feverish.

           

 Lena’s self-assurance was fading quickly as her search continued, and yet she still found no mirror, whispers of rumors she heard upon the street started to creep into her mind. “Stop it!” She told herself firmly. Had not everyone been marvelous to her? Perhaps Rebecca and Ivana were a bit strange, but she could really speak nothing against them, and Master Vadek had been nothing but a gentleman, he had not in the slightest bit tried to take advantage of her, and she was given all she could possibly ask for. Of course she was told he was a man with oddities and an artist, it could just be one of his eccentricities was a dislike for mirrors. As Lena was trying to reason everything out with herself she would come to stop as she came upon a set of doors of which she had not seen before. It must be Master Vadek’s personal chambers she thought to herself, and yet she felt compelled some reason to enter the room. Her hand reached up and she curled her fingers around the handle and pushed the door, of course it did not budge it was locked.

          

  Suddenly she screamed and all but jumped out of her skin feeling a hand grip against her shoulder. Quickly spinning around relief flooded over her when she saw it was only Randal, and yet she had to wonder, where did he come from? The halls had been deserted when she walked through them.

           

“Did I not make myself clear when I told you the Master was not to be disturbed” Randal declared as the hand slid away from her shoulder. Suddenly Lena felt quite silly about the whole thing and she could only imagine what Randal would think when she told him. “I am sorry….I know….I just, well I realized that there were not any mirrors and I came to look for one” A rather peculiar look crossed Randal’s face.

 

“Mirrors?” He said as if he did not understand what she meant.

 

“Yes, I would like a mirror” She said though an unease feeling was starting to creep over her now seeing his reaction.

           

 Randal began to laugh quite suddenly as if what she just said was in fact a great joke. “Mirrors” he repeated again, but this time as if it was indeed the funniest thing he ever heard and he shook his head. “Do not be silly, now come away from there.” Lena stepped away from the door, though before she could say much anything else Randal was already making his way off down the hall. She could not help now to feel that something was very wrong here, and somehow, what lay behind those doors was the key, but how could she get in? There was nothing she could do about it now she knew.

           

 Lena had spent the light hours of descending nightfall, pacing within her room, and trying to decide just what her plan was, and what she was to do when the knock came at the door. She made her way quickly to slip within the bed beneath the covers just before the door could be opened to allow Rebecca and Ivana in the room. “I am very sorry,” Lena began in the most pleading and apologetic voice she could manage. “I do so hate to disappoint Master Vadek but I am not at all feeling will, I just don’t think I can sit for him tonight.” The two women exchanged looks but would not say anything in argument to Lena’s words and would bow their heads, though she thought she depicted something grim about them, perhaps it was just the play of the shadow she told herself.

         

   “Very well” Ivana would state simply before the two filed out of the room leaving her alone, but what was to happen now? She knew there was a chance that Vadek might not leave his chamber if he was not to be working, or what if he came to see her himself? Or if Randal had ratted her out what would happen? Questions began to tumble into her mind each one more drastic then the last, though she tried to tell herself that it was all fool nonsense after all, nothing had happened to her sense she had been here, no one tried to harm her. They were just a little odd is all, but still she could not rid the feeling that something was not right, and she knew no matter what she needed to get into that room, as if something was calling to her.

           

 For a time Lena just waited, for what she was not certain, perhaps just to give Rebecca and Ivana time to go, well wherever they went when they were not with her, as she could not be seen slipping out of her room after she had just told them she was ill. She waited to see if something might happen, but all remained still and she remained undisturbed. Slowly she began to slip out of bed and made her way to the door. Pulling the door open a crack she peered out into the darkened hallway, she saw nothing as usually and she stepped just out of her room closing the door softly behind her. She stood a moment and watched and waited, still nothing she turned to make her way down the hallway. She looked around her carefully and constantly, as the last thing she needed was Randal, or anyone else, just appearing out of nowhere behind her again, but both in back of her and in front of her the hall appeared lifeless with out a hint of movement or a sound.

           

At last she made it to the camber door, knowing full well that it could very well still be locked, or she could find Vadek inside, but this was her only chance, and all she had to go on. Her hands gripped the door hand and she pushed, the door opened and she stepped into the darkness of the room, closing the door behind her. It was dark at first and Lena could hear her heart drumming in her ears. Carefully she felt her away around the room, and lit a few candles setting the room aglow in light. At first she could only stand there, feeling paralyzed, as she was shocked at what she saw. It could not be she thought at first. Her eyes roved over, portrait upon portrait all of women, women that were about her age at first, but she noticed, in each portrait, the same woman would appear slightly older then in the last, until her image would appear no more, and a new girl would be presented. What did this mean? She moved closer to the one of the portraits as she studied it with grave curiosity when something caught her eye and gave her pause. In all of the portraits the women were depicted in the most luxurious and fissionable of dresses, much as the own she wore, but she began to notice a trend. The style of the dresses was constantly changing as if with the fashion of a new Era. Her eyes stopped before one particular painting. No one wore anything like that anymore, except in plays. It had to be more then 50 years old, but even if he had started painting and a particularly young age that would be impossible. Slowly she began to back away. None of this made any sense.

           

“You really should not be in here” A voice spoke smoothly from behind her. Lena screamed and spun around. Her eyes fell upon Vadek, with his impossibly handsome, smooth and incredible young features. Her body was trembling in fear. What would happen to her now? “I want to see a mirror.” She said with surprising strength and conviction. She knew not where it came from.

           

 Vadek sighed. He had been hoping to avoid this, everything had been going so well, but he knew there was nothing to be done for it now. He turned to Randal whom had come in at his side. “Please, get the woman what she requests” He said in a tried drawn voice that did not match his appearance at all.

           

 “But sir…” Randal began, but stopped in his tracks seeing his master’s look and he merely bowed and began to back out of the room. “As you wish” he resigned.

           

 It was only a short time later when Randal would energy with a small silver hand held mirror and he walked up to Lena and handed it to her. With a shaking unsteady hand Lena reached out for the mirror, her fingers gripped around it and she lifted it up. At the sight that met her eyes, she screamed.

           

She had been here for lest then a month, but she looked already like a woman in the middle ages of her life, past child baring years. Wrinkles formed around her once smooth skin, which now appeared heavy and had lost their former shine and glow. Her hair now was showing in streaks of gray and loosing some of its luster. No wonder she was feeling tired all the time. The mirror dropped from her hand and shattered onto the floor at her feet. “What did you do to me?” She cried, “Who are you? What are you?”  Her body dropped to her knees in despair.

           

Vadek watched her with the slightest touch of pity, it was always better when they did not find out. “She can no longer stay here” He said stoically to Randal. “Take her away and find me another.” With that he turned and left the room.

           

 “I told you, you should never come into this room” Randal said. “The carriage will be waiting for you. You are to leave only with the dress you came here in.” And with that Lena was left alone.

          

  Slowly she began to pick herself up to her feet. She felt as if she were in a daze, as if none of this were real, yet she knew that it was. There would be no waking up from this nightmare. How had it all happened? She drifted out of the room and made her way back down the hall. All her dreams were now lost forever to her, all her hopes and wishes mattered nothing. She came to her room and would step inside. Though the dress would be tight upon her now and not fit as well as it use to. From all her lavish feasting without the labor to compensate she thought to herself as she stuffed into it as well as she could before she would descend the stairs and was taken away within the carriage.

           

Lena lived out the rest of her dies, humbly on the outskirts of town, Randal had left her with a small fortune of gold to get by on, but what was that compared to all she had lost? Her youth, her vitality, her beauty, all had been sucked out of her. She was nothing now but a spinster, forgotten and unwanted. She never told a single soul about what happened, who would have believed her anyway? Who was there to tell? No one knew who she was, or cared. She was a cast away.

 

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Bridget Bishop

 

Bridget Bishop, “a singular character, not easily described,” was born sometime between 1632 and 1637. Bishop married three times.  Her third and final marriage, after the deaths of her first two husbands, was to Edward Bishop, who was employed as a “sawyer” (lumber worker).  She appears to have had no children in any of her marriages.

Although Bishop had been accused by more individuals of witchcraft than any other witchcraft defendant (many of the accusations were markedly vehement and vicious), it was not so much her “sundry acts of witchcraft” that caused her to be the first witch hanged in Salem, as it was her flamboyant life style and exotic manner of dress. Despite being a member of Mr. Hale’s Church in Beverly (she remained a member in good standing until her death), Bishop often kept the gossip mill busy with stories of her publicly fighting with her various husbands, entertaining guests in home until late in the night, drinking and playing the forbidden game of shovel board, and being the mistress of two thriving taverns in town. Some even went so far as to say that Bishop’s “dubious moral character” and shameful conduct caused, “discord [to] arise in other familes, and young people were in danger of corruption.” Bishop’s blatant disregard for the respected standards of puritan society made her a prime target for accusations of witchcraft.

In addition to her somewhat outrageous (by Puritan standards) lifestyle, the fact that Bishop “was in the habit of dressing more artistically than women of the village” also contributed in large part to her conviction and execution. She was described as wearing, “a black cap, and a black hat, and a red paragon bodice bordered and looped with different colors.” This was a showy costume for the times. Aside from encouraging rumors and social disdain, this “showy costume” was used as evidence against her at her trial for witchcraft. In his deposition, Shattuck, the town dyer mentions, as corroborative proof of Bishop being a witch, that she used to bring to his dye house “sundry pieces of lace” of shapes and dimensions entirely outside his conceptions of what would be needed in the wardrobe of a plain and honest woman. Fashionable apparel was regarded by some as a “snare and sign of the devil.”

On April 18, 1692, when a warrant was issued for Bishop’s arrest for witchcraft, she was no stranger to the courthouse. In 1680 she had been charged (but cleared) of witchcraft, and on other occasions she had ended up in the courthouse for violent public quarreling with her husband. Bishop had never seen or met any of her accusers until her questioning. While several of the afflicted girls cried out and writhed in the supposed pain she was causing them, John Hathorn and Jonathan Corwin questioned her, although there was little doubt in either of their minds as to her guilt:

Q: Bishop, what do you say? You stand here charged with sundry acts of witchcraft by you done or committed upon the bodies of Mercy Lewis and Ann Putman and others.

A: I am innocent, I know nothing of it, I have done no witchcraft …. I am as innocent as the child unborn. ….

Q: Goody Bishop, what contact have you made with the Devil?

A: I have made no contact with the Devil. I have never seen him before in my life.

When asked by one of her jailers, Bishop claimed that she was not troubled to see the afflicted persons so tormented, and could not tell what to think of them and did not concern herself about them at all. But the afflicted girls were not Bishop’s only accusers.  Her sister’s husband claimed that “she sat up all night conversing with the Devil” and that “the Devil came bodily into her.” With a whole town against her, Bishop was charged, tried, and executed within eight days. On June 10, as crowds gathered to watch, she was taken to Gallows Hill and executed by the sheriff, George Corwin. She displayed no remorse and professed her innocence at her execution.

Bishop’s death did not go unnoticed in Salem. The court took a short recess, accusations slowed down for a time, more than a month passed before there were any more executions, and one of the judges, Nathaniel Saltonstall resigned, having become dissatisfied with the court’s methods. Even Governor Phips had doubts about the methods of the court and went to Boston to consult the ministers there as to what should be done with the rest of the accused. Unfortunately for the eighteen others who would be hanged as witches (in addition to the one pressed to death and the several who died in prison), the ministers decidedly and earnestly recommended that the proceedings should be “vigorously carried on,” and so they were. Less than a year after her death, Bishop’s husband married Elizabeth Cash, and several of those who had testified against her, in deathbed confessions claimed that their accusations were “deluted by the Devil.”

Merrow

 

The Merrow, or in Gaelic Moruadh or Moruach is a uniquely musical speicies of sea fairy that is beleived to have been ancestor to certain human families living today on the Westren and Southren costs of Ireland.

Like many water creatures, it has a strong attachment to mortal men, and in come ways can be seen as being simillar to the Greek Siren. Like the Siren the Merrow uses its music to enchant men.  Merrow are always seen wearing red caps covered with feathers, which somehow endows them with the ability to dive to thier undersea homes. Thier music can be heard coming from the depths of the ocean or at times it floats upon the surface. They can be seen dancing to it on the shore or in the waves.

By nature they are charming and sedcutive but can be extremely vengeful if crossed. They are all the daughters of kings who live beneath the waves.

The male Merrow is quite deformed and unshapely. He has green hair and a red nose, and tiny eyes.  They males normally stay underwater where they keep the spirits of drowned fishermen and sailors in cages at the very bottom of the sea.  Females prefer human loves to the male Merrow.  

Peter of Abano

Petrus de Abano (later anglicised to Peter of Abano) was born in 1250, in a small village situated approximately four miles away from Padua, in Italy. After studying in Paris, he gained doctorates in both philosophy and medicine, and was a renowned philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and physicist. Gabriel Naude, in his Antiquitate Scholæ Medicæ Parisiensis said he believed that his knowledge was “destined to free Italy from its barbarism and ignorance, as Camillus once freed Rome from the siege of the Gauls“.

Perhaps his great life’s work was the Conciliator Differentiarum (1476), an attempt to create some crossover between the very opposite arts of physicians and philosophers. He has also been attributed with the previously unknown knowledge that air possesses weight, and it is said that he calculated of the length of the year to be three hundred and sixty-five days, six hours, and four minutes. He was one of the first writers to claim that the brain was the source of the nerves, and the heart the source of blood vessels.

Unfortunately for both Peter and his native Italy, during the height of the Inquisition, his knowledge of physics and philosophy was mistaken for witchcraft and magic, and he was incarcerated, and placed on trial. His captors charged him with false accusations, and made wild and unfounded claims about his practises and personal beliefs; mainly that with the aid of the devil, he recovered all the money he paid away, and that he possessed a philosopher’s stone, which he used as the source of all his knowledge.

It was highly likely that he would have been found guilty of his non-existent crimes and burnt alive, had he survived his trial. In 1316 he died, aged sixty-six, alone in his cell. His apologists moved his body from location to location to save it from being burnt by his witch hunter captors. Its final resting place is St. Augustin’s Church, where he was finally buried without a marker or epitaph.

The case of Pierre Burgot and Michel Verdun

 

The trial of Pierre Burgot and Michel Verdum, two French peasants in 1521 got wide spread notoriety. Nineteen years ago when Burgot was desperately trying to gather his storm frightened sheeps, he came across three mysterious black dressed horsemen. One of them assured him the future protection of his sheep and gave him some money. In return the stranger asked Burgot to obey him as the Lord. Burgot accepted the offer and agreed to meet them again. In the second meeting the so-called Lord announced the full conditions of the deal; Burgot must denounce the God, the Holy Virgin, the Company of Heaven and baptism.

As year passed Burgot became reluctant to maintain the pact. Then he was called by Michel Verdum. Verdum ordered him to strip naked and rub a magic ointment on his body. When Burgot had followed as instructed he found his arms and legs had become hairy and his hands reshaped into paws. Verdum transformed himself into werewolf too and together they ran through the surrounding countryside. They committed various awful crimes. They tore to pieces a seven-year-old boy, killed a woman and abducted a four-year-old girl. The unfortunate girl was fully eaten up by two of them. When they were caught they were duly put to death. Their picture was hung in the local church as a reminder of all the evil deeds that men could commit under the influence of Satan.

The Pappenheimer Trial

 The Pappenheimers were an incredibly unfortunate family from Bavaria in the late 1500s. Sometimes going by the last name P䭢, the Pappenheimers were a vagrant family who took seasonal employment as privy-cleaners and beggars.

Anna G䭰erl was the mother of the household, Michel G䭰erl was her husband, and H䮳el, Michel (also known as Jacob), and Gummprecht were their three sons.

The following information is treated more fully in Michael Kunze’s wonderful book Highroad to the Stake: A Tale of Witchcraft

Reasons Behind the Trial

The trial arose because the Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria believed it necessary to have a show trial. This trial would basically become an extreme lesson in how “crime does not pay.”

The Pappenheimer case “was meant to set an example and to serve as an allegory. As many as possible of the unsolved crimes of the past few years were to be put down to the account of the accused, and to be disposed of and atoned for in this one great cleansing conflagration.” (Kunze 154) Ironically, during the public trial, pickpockets ran amok amidst the crowds of gawking spectators.

The Pappenheimers were the chosen scapegoats primarily because they were from the lowest of the low class of peasants, and there had already been an accusation of murder levelled against them. That this accusation was given by a hardened criminal and known liar just before his own execution did not matter. That the Pappenheimers did not associate with people like this criminal meant nothing. It was enough that the accusation had been made.

The Inprisonement

The hapless family were pulled from their slumber and taken to jail. Ten-year-old H䮳el was left behind with the Pappenheimer’s landlords. The next day, not knowing what else to do with him, the landlords took little H䮳el to the jail to be with his parents.

The Pappenheimers were kept in the custody of a man by the name of Alexander von Haslang zu Haslangsreut, Grosshausen und Reid. Haslang had the responsibility of turning the Pappenheimer family into an example of extreme justice. After their capture, Haslang arranged for the interrogation and torture of the Pappenheimers. He accused the family of multiple crimes and of practicing witchcraft in league with the Devil. Although the Pappenheimers declared their innocence of crime and of witchcraft at first, a bit of carefully used torture made them change their plea.

Fundamentally, Haslang was not terribly interested in the case, and thought that an accusation of witchcraft would remove the Pappenheimers from his custody. His assumption proved correct, and the Pappenheimers were shipped off to Falcon Tower in Munich (Kunze 15-16).

Falcon Tower

In Falcon Tower, the family were tortured repeatedly. The strappado, squassation, rope burns, and torch burnings were used against them. H䮳el was beaten with a cane, as that was the typical torture imposed upon children. At first, all pleaded innocence, but after repeated torture sessions and leading questions, the Pappenheimers weakened.

After intense torture sessions, all but H䮳el revealed the following about their Satanic indoctrination: on seperate occasions, after succumbing to sexual intercourse with the Devil, they promised to aid the Devil in return for money and worldly possessions. They gave to the Devil hair from their head, from their armpit, and their private parts–from the left side, in every case. “Also a piece of nail from the big toe” of their left foot, “and powder of children’s hands.” Then the Devil scratched them on their left side, drawing blood, “which he collected in a little box; took out a sheet of paper, which he placed on his knee; and put a pen into” their hand, so they could sign the pact. Because they were illiterate, the Devil guided their hands as they wrote. “Then he wrapped up in the paper all the things that” they “had given him, and took them with him (Kunze 221)”

After prolonged torture, the Pappenheimers had been forced to admit to a ridiculous amount of crimes. They claimed to have committed almost every unsolved major and minor crime of the last decade. Over four hundred other people were implicated by the Pappenheimers, including people who did not appear to exist.

The Trial

When the trial was finally conducted, the official charges went as follows:

  • “Of Paulus G䭰erl is was said that he had ‘crippled and slain one hundred young children and ten old people by dint of vile sorcery.’ The crowd also heard how ‘he had entered the cellars of innkeepers and other folk, shamelessly devouring such victuals and drink as he might lay his hands on.’ He had further confessed to having ‘committed ten robberies from churches, violently slain forty-four persons by his hand alone, set fire to homes or barns eight times, broken into houses by night fourteen times, pillaging and robbing the tenants, robbed wayfarers on the highway five times, and committed four other thefts'” (Kunze 399).
  • “In like manner, his wife…Anna G䭰erl, being sixty years of age, has assailed one hundred infants and nineteen old people with her spells, crippling them and killing them in godless fashion; she has entered cellars on eight occasions, has committed one murder by her own hand, set fire twice to the homes of others, has caused four gales and hailstorms, and has poisoned meadows and afflicted cattle so often that she herself cannot tell the number” (Kunze 399).
  • “The elder of her two sons, called Gumpprecht,…has caused the death of thirty children and adults by means of sorcery: has entered cellars on twelve occasions, burgled and robbed nine churches, committed twenty-four murders, set fire to nine homes, broken in by night and robbed fold six times. He has four times committed highway robbery, poisoned and ruined fields and cattle without number, and caused strife between God-fearing spouses on four occasions” (Kunze 400).
  • “The other, her son Jacob, aged twenty-one years, has slain sixty-five infants and five adults by sorcery, has ten times entered cellars, has committed five thefts from churches, has put to death and murdered thirty-three persons by his own hand, set five fires, broken in five times by night, committed four other thefts, caused ten gales and hailstorms, poisoned fields and beasts twenty-six times” (Kunze 400).
  • H䮳el P䭢 was to be a spectator to his family’s execution.

Two other men were tried at the same time on similar charges. Ulrich Sch?and Georg Schm䬺, a farmer and a tailor, were also to be murdered in the name of justice.

The Tearing of Flesh

After the official charges were read out, the Pappenheimers were taken to their final place of torture and of their execution. Commissioner Wangereck instructed that H䮳el was to watch his family’s execution. Somehow, this was to have a salutary effect on the little boy.

When the prisoners were taken out of Falcon Tower, H䮳el was handed over to the sheriff of Munich. The sheriff put the boy onto his horse and rode off to the marketplace. There, he mingled with the crowd, all the while paying strict attention to H䮳el’s behaviour. The sheriff was under orders to note everything H䮳el said.

For a long time, H䮳el did not say anything. He did not even appear to be upset; “on the contrary, in the sheriff’s opinion, he appeared ‘lively enough'” (Kunze 406).

Soon, the final torments began.

The executioner took a pair of red-hot pincers from the brazier and approached Paulus Pappenheimer. Six gaping wounds were torn in Paulus’s arms and body, and he screamed in agony.

Next, the executioner had moved to Gumpprecht with a new set of tongs where he issued the same terrible punishment. One by one, each of the men were ripped in the same way.

Then the executioner made his way to Anna and cut off her breasts.

This harsh and repulsive punishment imposed on women was obviously intended to degrade the victim. At that time it was rarely carried out. In the most comprehensive manual of the itme, which deals with all the customary ‘punishments to life and limb,’ it is mentioned only as a historical item–a form of torture practiced in the days when Christians were being persecuted. ‘Anatomists unanimously agree that the female breasts are extremely sensitive, on account of the refinement of the veins, of which the heathen tyrants duly took note in their persecution of Christians, inflicting agonizing wounds to the breast of those females that did stand by their Christian faith, ripping and tearing the same, and in the end even cutting them off.’ In Duke Maximilian’s Bavaria, this punishment seems nevertheless not to have been altogether unusual. The regulations for the duke’s executioner, drafted by Georg Hund in 1601, provide for it.

According to the reports of the chroniclers, Anna’s severed breasts were rubbed around her mouth and around the mouths of Gumpprecht and Michel (Kunze 407). This was a savage parody of breastfeeding. The brutal irony could hardly be missed by the spectators.

A Brief Respite

The Pappenheimers and the other condemned prisoners were put in two carts and taken away in the midst of a procession. Anna, Gummprecht, and Michel were in the first cart, and Paulus Pappenheimer, Ulrich Sch? and Georg Schm䬺 were in the other. The prisoners sat on planks which had been nailed onto the carts. Two priests sat with the prisoners on the planks (Kunze 407).

H䮳el and the sheriff rode up to just behind the dignitaries at the rear of the procession. Just as they reached the Fair Tower, where most of the spectators had gathered, H䮳el exclaimed happily to the sheriff, “Look, look! What a grand wedding for my father and mother! They’ve got so many men-at-arms–the duke doesn’t have as many himself!”

The sheriff was horrified. However, instead of regarding the words as those of a much-abused child in shock, he saw them as the work of the Devil, and as highly suspect. He noted H䮳el’s words for inclusion in the report he later filed (Kunze 409).

While this was taking place, the prisoners were taken to a cross by the Neuhaus gate. “On the righthand wall of the gateway hung a wooden cross adorned with flowers. According to ancient custom, criminals being led to the place of execution were supposed to say a prayer in front of the cross.” The condemned were led to the cross, and “on their way back to the carts, the party was delayed, in keeping with ancient custom, by two municipal officials, who offered the chained prisoners wine from capacious bottles. The poor wretches presumably gulped it down eagerly” (Kunze 409).

The Wheel and Worse

The prisoners were finally transported to their place of execution. “A shout of ‘Silence! Silence!’ rang out over the place of execution. The tumult of the crowd, the shoutingk singing, laughing, murmering died down, and the attention of everyone present was focused on the summit of the gallows hill, which could be seen clearly from all sides. Christoph Neuchinger moved away from the group of horsemen waiting to the right of the stakes and guided his horse to the center of the hill. ‘I order the executioner to carry out his duty,’ he called in a voice that reached the very outskirts of the crowd, ‘and I warrant him peace and safe conduct, whatever may befall him!’ With these words he placed the executioner under the protection of the court, in case he were to commit some blunder in carrying out the execution. It had been known for the frenzied spectators of a bungled execution to lynch the executioner. It was to forestall this kind of thing that the assurance of safe conduct was given” (Kunze 411).

“‘Look! Now they’re bringing my father!’ cried H䮳el to the folk standing around the sheriff’s horse. The executioner and one of his assistants dragged Paulus Pappenheimer to the wooden grating, laid him on it, and bound his arms and legs. Then the executioner took up the wheel with his brawny arms and let it fall, first on the right arm, and then on the left arm of the condemned man. The bones snapped with a loud crack, and the victim groaned aloud. ‘Look how they’re thumping my father’s arms!’ cried the horrified child on the sheriff’s horse” (Kunze 411).

“The other criminals suffered the same treatment. Although in some regions, women were broken upon the wheel, for reasons that lie buried deep in the mystic symbolism of penal practices, Anna was spared this punishment. Possibly this punishment, which was usually continued until the battered victim died, was thought too cruel to be inflicted on the weaker sex. ‘Here in Germany,’ ran the general opinion, breaking on the wheel ‘is, apart from burning alive, the worst and most dreadful penalty, being imposed on murderers and highwaymen…, those who steal from churches and all who aid and abet them…, those who slay their parents or children…, assassins or hired killers…, witches and ogres, such as have committed barbaric crimes.’ In our case, in fact, the breaking on the wheel was not carried through to the end, for there was a risk that the victims might expire in the process when they were supposed to suffer to the bitter end the whole catalogue of penalties embodied in the sentence. The tearing of their flesh with red-hot pincers had already weakened the condemned criminals–full-scale breaking on the wheel would have put a premature end to their sufferings” (Kunze 411-412).

“The executioner had been instructed to proceed with moderation. In order to set a sensational, terrifying example, the agony was piled on carefully to the utmost limit of what could be done to men without killing them outright. In the case of Paulus Pappenheimer, who was seen in some sense as the instigator and ringleader of the gang, they had thought of something even more appalling: impalement. This was one of the most revolting punishments ever devised by the human imagination and even in those days was hardly ever used. The penal code of Charles V did not make provision for it. In the manual Punishments of Life and Limb…, we find the following: ‘In barbaric regions, particularly in Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Salee, where inveterate pirates dwell, if a man is thought guilty of treason, he is impaled. This is done by inserting a sharply pointed stake into his posterior, which then is forced through his body, emerging through the head, sometimes through the throat. This stake is then inverted and planted in the ground, so that the wretched victims, as we may well imagine, live on in agony for some days before expiring. . . . It is said that nowadays not so much trouble is taken with impalement as once the case, but such crimnals simply have a short spit thrust into their anus and are left to crawl thus upon the earth until they die.’ We may well imagine that such a barbaric punishment was calculated to arouse sympathy for the tormented victim among the spectators of an execution. This was no doubt the reason it was not generally employed. But Paulus Pappenheimer was forced to suffer it–apparently the authorities could think of no other way of enhancing the brutality of the proceedings (Kunze 412).

The Execution

“Two brawny retainers seized the victim as he writhed groaning on the ground and dragged him up the wooden planks that formed the ramp leading up to one of the central stakes. There they left him bound on top of the heap of brushwood. Then Anna was pulled up onto the pile alongside and tied to a wooden chair that had been secured among the bundles of faggots. Gumpprecht, Michel, Sch? and the tailor were thrust onto the four other heaps of brushwood, where they were chained to the wooden stakes. Then the executioner’s assistants dragged the gangways off the pyres. Pitch torches were lighted and thrust rapidly, one after the other, into the dry brushwood. Flames crackled and darted up to catch twigs and branches. Acrid smoke rolled up, blinding the victims, snatching their breath. The spectators’ view of the culprits was increasingly obscured by smoke and leaping flames. The poor wretches could be dimly glimpsed, choking and writhing in the heat, as far as their bonds permitted. H䮳el, on the sheriff’s horse, burst into heart-rending cries. ‘My mother is squirming!’ he cried in despair” (Kunze 412, 413).

“Because it was such an uncommonly cruel punishment, burning alive was rare. The screams of the suffocating victims, their appalling death agonies, had on similar occasions led to expressions of anger among the onlookers and to violent threats to the executioner. That is why William V’s instructions regarding witchcraft recommended in cases of ‘execution by fire’ that the poor sinner should ‘first be put to death by the rope, and then burned, unless there be special, momentous, and weighty reasons why the judges see fit to have the culprit punished and executed by burning alive, as an example and deterrent to others.’ This was precisely the reason in the case we are dealing with” (Kunze 413).

Aftermath

After the execution, H䮳el was taken by the sheriff back to his cell. On November 26, 1600, he was burned to death at the stake (Kunze 414).

Of all the crimes accused of the Pappenheimers,

the court was never to find a single convincing proof of these alleged crimes, in spite of an intensive search for evidence–not even in terms of the legal theory current at the time, which…required that a confession of guilt should be supported by some circumstance that could be known only to the criminal. For example, the discovery of the body of a person hitherto missing, in a location stated by the author of the confession, or the discovery of a stolen object in a hiding place named by the thief. Such proofs were totally lacking in the case brought against our vagrants. Everything they confessed to could have been a matter of common knowledge: that someone had been murdered, that someone else had been robbed, that a church had been plundered here, a farm set on fire there (Kunze 153).

Tituba

Tituba was an Indian woman, not (as commonly believed) a Negro slave. She was originally from an Arawak village in South America, where she was captured as a child, taken to Barbados as a captive, and sold into slavery. It was in Barbados that her life first became entangled with that of Reverend Samuel Parris. She was likely between the age of 12 and 17 when she came into the Parris household. She was most likely purchased by Parris from one of his business associates, or given to settle a debt. Parris, at the time, was an unmarried merchant, leading to speculation that Tituba may have served as his concubine.

Tituba helped maintain the Parris household on a day-to-day basis. When Parris moved to Boston in 1680, Tituba and another Indian slave named John accompanied him. Tituba and John were married in 1689 about the time the Parris family moved to Salem. It is believed that Tituba had only one child, a daughter named Violet, who would remain in Parris’s household until his death.

Tituba made herself a likely target for witchcraft accusations when shortly after Parris’s daughter, Betty, began having strange fits and symptoms, she participated in the preparation of a “witchcake” (a mixture of rye and Betty’s urine, cooked and fed to a dog, in the belief that the dog would then reveal the identity of Betty’s afflictor). Parris was enraged when he found out about the cake, and shortly thereafter the afflicted girls named Tituba as a witch. Parris beat her until she confessed.

Tituba was the first witch to confess in Salem, and she likely did it to avoid further punishment. In her confession she apologized for hurting Betty, claimed she never wanted to hurt Betty, and professed her love for the child. She also wove a lively tale of an active community of witches in Salem. She named Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne as witches. By confessing early on, Tituba avoided the ordeal of going to trial, joining with the afflicted girls in providing key evidence against accused witches. Her husband, John, would also fall into fits, and become afflicted.

When public sentiment towards the accusers and the trials began to change, Tituba recanted her confession. This further enraged Parris, who in retaliation, refused to pay the jailer’s fee to get Tituba out a prison. As a result, she spent thirteen months in jail until an unknown person paid the seven pounds for her release and bought her. It is likely that the same person bought her husband, John, because Puritans were not inclined to split up married couples, even slaves. It is unknown what happened to her after she began her life with her new owner.

Paracelsus

His Youth

Auroleus Phillipus Theostratus Bombastus von Hohenheim, immortalized as “Paracelsus,” was born in 1493. He was the son of a well known physician who was described a Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, and it was from him that Paracelsus took his first instruction in medicine. At the age of sixteen, Paracelsus entered the University at Basle where he applied himself to the study of alchemy, surgery, and medicine. With the science of alchemy he was already acquainted, having previously studied the works of Isaac Hollandus. Hollandus’ writing roused in him the ambition to cure disease by medicine superior to those available at that time to use, for apart from his incursions into alchemy, Paracelsus is credited with the introduction of opium and mercury into the arsenal of medicine. His works also indicate an advanced knowledge of the science and principles of magnetism. These are just some of the achievements that seem to justify the praise that has been handed him in the last century. Manly Hall called him “the precursor of chemical pharmacology and therapeutics and the most original medical thinker of the sixteenth century.”

His Travels

The Abbot Trithermius, an adept of a high order, and the instructor of the illustrious Henry Cornelius Agrippa, was responsible for Paracelsus’ initiation into the science of alchemy. In 1516, Paracelsus was still pursuing his research in mineralogy, medicine, surgery, and chemistry under the guidance of Sigismund Fugger, a wealthy physician of the Basle, but the student was forced to leave the city hurriedly after trouble with the authorities over his studies in necromancy. So, Paracelsus started out on a nomad’s life, supporting himself by astrological predictions and occult practices of various kinds.

His wanderings took him through Germany, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, and Russia. In Russia, he was taken prisoner by the Tartars and brought before the Grand Cham at whose court he became a great favorite. Finally, he accompanied the Cham’s son on an embassy from China to Constantinople, the city in which the supreme secret, the universal dissolvent (the alkahest) was imparted to him by an Arabian adept. For Paracelsus, as Manly Hall has said, gained his knowledge “not from long-coated pedagogues but from dervishes in Constantinople, witches, gypsies, and sorcerers, who invoked spirits and captured the rays of the celestial bodies in dew; of whom it is said that he cured the incurable, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the leper, and even raised the dead, and whose memory could turn aside the plague.”

His Return to Europe

Paracelsus ultimately returned to Europe, passing along the Danube into Italy, where he became an army surgeon. It was here apparently that his wonderful cures began. In 1526, at the age of thirty-two, he re-entered Germany, and at the university he had entered as a youth, took a professorship of physics, medicine, and surgery. This was a position of considerable importance that was offered to him at the insistence of Erasmus and Ecolampidus. Perhaps it was his behavior at this time that eventually led to his nickname “the Luther of physicians,” for in his lectures he was so bold as to denounce as antiquated the revered systems of Galen and his school, whose teachings were held to be so unalterable and inviolable by the authorities of that time that the slightest deviation from their teachings was regarded as nothing short of heretical. As a crowning insult he actually burnt the works of these masters in a brass pan with sulfur and nitre!

The Hermetic Heretic

This high-handed behavior, coupled with his very original ideas, made him countless enemies. The fact that the cures he performed with his mineral medicines justified his teachings merely served further to antagonize the medical faculty, infuriated at their authority and prestige being undermined by the teachings of such a “heretic” and “usurper.” Thus Paracelsus did not long retain his professorship at Basle, but was forced once again to leave the city and take to the road in a wanderer’s life.

During the worse of his second exile, we hear of him in 1526 at Colmar and in 1530 at Nuremburg, once again in conflict with the doctors of medicine, who denounced him as an impostor, although once again, he turned the tables on his opponents by his successful treatment of several bad cases of elephantiasis. which he followed up during the next ten years by a series of cures that were amazing for that period.

In his book Paracelsus, Franz Hartmann says: “He proceeded to Machren, Kaernthen, Krain, and Hungary, and finally to Salzburg in Austria, where he was invited by the Prince Palatine, Duke Ernst of Bavaria, who was a great lover of the secret art of alchemy. But Paracelsus was not destined to enjoy the rest he so richly deserved. He died in 1541, after a short sickness, in a small room at the White Horse Inn, and his body was buried in the graveyard of St. Sebastian. At least one writer has suggested that his death may have been hastened by a scuffle with assassins in the pay of the orthodox medical faculty, but there is no actual foundation for this story.

What is odd is that not one of his biographers seems to have found anything remarkable in the fact that at sixteen years of age, Paracelsus was already well acquainted with alchemical literature. Even allowing for the earlier maturity of a man in those times, he must still have been something of a phenomenon in mental development. Certainly, few of his contemporaries either could or would grasp his teachings, and his consequent irritation and arrogance in the face of their stupidity and obstinacy is scarcely to be wondered at. Although he numbered many enemies among his fellow physicians, Paracelsus also had his disciples, and for them no praise was too high for him. He was worshipped as their noble and beloved alchemical monarch, the “German Hermes.”

The Legend of the Mbulu

Once there was a widow who tragically lost all her childern, but for one, and so she lost her will to live. She have her only remaining daughter a stick and sent her off to her uncle’s house, instructing her  to tap the ground outside his house with the stick. The mother promosied if she did so all her possessions would rise from the ground. So she bid farewell to her daughter and planned to end her own life.

The girl relutantly left home. Whne she had gone a little way she looked back and saw her mother’s house burning and she knew her mother set fire to the house in order to kill herself, and there was nothing she could do to help. So she continued walking. She kept upon the bank of the river and would encounter what she thought was a man sitting on a rock. When she apporached he said “Whoever got wet when walkling near the water must go in and bathe.” His hidden tail then thrashed in the water so hard it splashed the girls face.  Obediently, she went in the river to bathe. While she was in the water, the man whom was really Mbulu took her clothes and put them on. When the girl came out she polisled asked “Can I have my clohtes”  The Mbulu told her at first “I will return them when you are dry” So trustingly the girl continued to walk with him and once more asked “Can I have my clothes back?” This time he responsed, “I will return them when we have arrived at the next village”

Upon arriving at the village the girl begged once more for her clothes and sill the Mbulu refused and told her to tell everyone she was his servant. Now the girl was afraid of the Mbulu for the realized she was dealing witha powerful and strange being. She obeyed him and so people imagined Mbulu to be an imporant woman with fine clothes and her his servant girl. They did wonder why his voice was so deep for a woman, but he said he had been quite ill.

After a while the Mbulu married a man from the village, while the poor gilr was sent to work in the fields. While working she regained her voice and began to sing about her enslvavement and adventures. A woman working near her heard her songs and made a plan to see if they were true.

Since it is know that the tail of a true Mbulu is alwyas hungery, always hidden, and has a will of its own, the woman set a trap to expose the creature. She dug a hole and filled it with milk and then demanded everyone in the village jump over it. The Mbulu was reluctant, but sense everyone else was doing it, he had no choice, so he tried to jump quickly, but the tail was out of control and could not pass up the milk. Comming out of hiding the tail began to drink the milk. Outraged the villagers killed the Mbulu and burried it in the hole.

The man whom mistakenly married the Mbulu married the girl whom had been the Mbulu’s servent. She had a child and one day while it was playing a pumpkin which grew from the ground where the Mbulu had been burried tried to kill the child. The villagers hacked the pumpkin to pieces and burned it, then threw the ashes in the river.

Finally rid of the threat forever the girl regained her courage and set out with her huaband and child and the stick her mother gave her, to visit her uncle. When they reached his house, she tapped the stick on the ground and all her possessions rose as promoised, which she shared with her family.