Wicked Wednesday: The Pesky Neighbors

wicked witch of the west

It’s basically Halloween, right? I mean everyday is Halloween for me!! But to REALLY get you in the mood, I’ve got some Wicked Wednesday plans.  Watch here for a spell or two or three to try out your witchy powers. Don’t expect a harm-none situation, either. I walk the line, people! Don’t cross it.

This week, I’ll give you two spells from Denise Alvarado’s Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook (used with permission):

To Get Rid of a Troublesome Neighbor

Light a black candle and dress with castor oil. Write the neighbor’s name on a piece of paper along with the word “goodbye.” Place the paper under the candle. Mix powdered mud dauber’s nest with a graveyard dirt and throw it at the neighbor’s front door. Recite Psalms 74,101, and 109 three times each and let the candle burn out. Dispose of the candle remains at a crossroads, along with three pennies.

To Make People Love You

Take nine lumps of starch, mime of sugar, and nine teaspoons of steel dust. Wet it all with Jockey Club cologne. Take nine pieces of ribbon, blue, red, and yellow. I suggest using wide ribbon for the blue and red ribbons, and thin ribbon for the yellow. Take a teaspoonful of the mixture, put it on a ribbon, and tie it in into paket (a small bundle). As you do, call out the name of the person or persons you want to love you. Wrap the paket with yellow ribbon, and as you do so, call out the person’s name. Do this nine times, making nine bags wrapped with yellow thread

Varla Ventura’s Gruesome and Ghoulish Gift Guide for the Holidays

Over the weekend I was haunting my local Haight Street shops and went into one of my favorites: Cheap Thrills. This store is like what Hot Topic wishes it could be. It’s packed full with everything from tiny rubber chickens to Day of the Dead skull dresses. The Baby Ventura (whom I should really start referring to as The Toddler Ventura) LOVES this store almost as much as I do.  The second I walked in the PJ Harvey and Nick Cave duet Henry Lee started playing over the speakers (one of my favorite songs!)  so as I browsed the mermaid tattoo patches and stripey socks, I was feeling pretty good. Imagine the “cheap thrill” I got when I looked over at the books and saw my very own The Book of the Bizarre stacked neatly on top! Like a total nerd, I still get excited over such things, and I exclaimed to the shopkeep, “Hey! I wrote this!” And no, she didn’t ask me to sign the copy but did smile nicely and seemed pretty tickled that I was so tickled. This got me thinking I needed to plug their awesome store, and while I’m at it, I decided to create Varla Ventura’s Gruesome and Ghoulish Gift Guide for the Holidays.

So here are 13 (or so) fun, freaky, and fabulous gifts for every man, woman, beast, and child on your list. (Not necessarily in that order.)

1. Day of the Dead Mirror

I’ll start off with one of the a real cheap and thrilling item from Cheap Thrills. Their online store, http://www.thrillomatic.com/ features such great categories as Bacon Stuff, Cupcake Stuff , Monkey Stuff, Devil Stuff, and Unicorn Stuff. This one is a perfect stocking stuffer, sweet little gift for a girlfriend, babysitter, co-worker, etc. It’s a Day of the Dead mirror, cute, compact and only $2.99!!

2. Aventurine Witch’s Apple

And speaking of magic mirrors, did you get my e-book collection, The Poison Apple and and Other Tales of Magic Mirrors and Wicked Queens? No? Well it’s pretty cheap ($2.99) too. If you are a fan of Snow White here is the perfect gift for every wicked or white witch on you list. A super-charged magical apple charm from one of the coolest purveyors of witchery, White Magick Alchemy. According to the witches at White Magick, Aventurine (the apple in the picture in the gallery is made of Aventurine but other options are available) “promotes relaxation, recovery, and regeneration. You should never buy a lottery ticket without aventurine in your left pocket!”

3.  Skull Decanter

Some of you may be familiar with my other favorite shop on Haight, Loved to Death, thanks to the show Oddiites. This is one of those stores you can basically randomly point in any direction and find the ideal gift for the likes of me, or any other pirate/goth/archeologist in your life (I’m talking bout you, Pirate Chris). But one of the recent stand outs is this gorgeous skull decanter set with glassware. It’s a little pricier at $150 but so divine!

4. Silver Tentacle Jewelry from The Bone Room

Get thee to the Bone Room and purchase me the skull jewelery. Or a gravestone locket. Or a Spider poison ring. Or order up a realistic replica skull for your bookshelf. Or….Just be sure and call the store for availability on the jewelry. It’s artisan fortified and not mass-produced.

5. Sea Monster Collage Kit

For the little adventurer in your life, this awesome collage kit can be purchased from Paxton Gate online or in their real-world kids store (Curiosities for Kids). I mean really, what kid doesn’t love sea monsters? You’ll also find freaky jewelry, terrariums, taxidermy, and orchids.

6. Books! of the Bizarre

Of course I’ve got to add my own books to this list. Both The Book of the Bizarre and it’s sister Beyond Bizarre are cute lil’ 5 x 7 packages with flaps, lots of fun and freaky art, and packed to the gills with bizarre stories, paranormal tales, and things you need to know for your next cocktail party. And for you e-book geeks out there, I have collections of Paranormal Parlor and Magical Creature books too, which are very affordable and fun. Available on Amazon, B&N, and where ever books are sold!

7. Skull Pot Scrubber

Make household chores a little less boring with this amazing purple skull pot scrubber from Plasticland.com. This store, by the way, has a bit of everything cool you could imagine. Dresses, shoes, (I like the Spineless X-Ray shoes) Mermaid Tattoo pillows, and so much more. It’s very affordable, fun, and offers a great flat rate shipping on all orders–so fill up your cart and check it out!

8.  The Overlook Hotel T-Shirt from 6dollarshirts.com

This website offers t-shirts from pop-culture to horror to humor and all for just six dollars! It’s actually $6.50 for a cute babydoll cut shirt for the gals in your life, but still an amazing deal. You can also get 10 shirts for 50! They’ve got a couple Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King themed shirts that I’ve already ordered! But this Overlook Hotel t-shirt, featuring the freaky twins in the center of a maze, is a must have for any fan of the horror movie (or book. Of course nerds like me know it’s not a hedge maze but hedge animals in the book…)

9. Bat Cameo Book Mark

I’ve already purchased a gorgeous cameo and two rings from this amazing website, Starrlightjewelry and Design. She also has an Etsy shop that offers an array of incredible items at incredibly low prices! Seriously, $11 dollars for this gorgeous little bookmark, I can personally attest to the quality of this woman’s work! Plus, she donates money to bat conservation. And she is a cat lover. Oh and runs an animal sanctuary. Word to the wise, her etsy shop is currently closed for the holidays. But you can shop through her website (which is linked above for the bookmark.) Go Lady Starrlight!

10. Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Milk Pirate Onesie

Piratemod are the premier purveyors of pirate themed t-shirts, sweatshirts, doggie shirts, and baby/toddler items with amazing quality and a wide variety of super sweet Pirate themes.  Plus these people are the master minds behind the Northern California Pirate Festival. Check out their online shop and get something for your dog, your baby, and your husband/lover/girlfriend/wife. My other favorite–a black t-shirt with the wise words: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

11. Sacred Heart Print by artist Benjamin A. Vierling

One of the most magnificent artists of our time, Vierling uses old world Renaissance techniques to create a layered depth rare in painting today. His painting Sacred Heart features botanicals and creatures aligned with witchcraft and high magick. This high quality limited edition print  Sacred Heart, has been produced via 6-colour offset lithography and printed on archival coated stock, the 16” x 20” print is strictly limited to 250 copies, hand-signed and numbered by the Artist. It’s reasonably priced (under $75) and makes a unique and incredible gift for the witch, alchemist, lover of the macabre, or art fanatic in your life.  (Check out the image in the gallery to see the splendor.)Vierling offers his original paintings and a limited number of prints through his website here: http://www.bvierling.com/

12.  Dead Sexy Bath and Body

This perfume from Tokyo Milk is described as having hints of  White Orchid, Vanilla, Ebony & Exotic Woods. With a super cute skull and crossbones, the Lady of the House will be delighted with this gothically minded gift. Comes also in a hand cream!

13. Monster High Doll: FrankieThis enchanting alternative to Barbies (the Monster High crew look like they’d carve Barbie, Ken, and Skipper up and eat them for a midnight feast) my personal favorite is Frankie Stein, the daughter of Frankenstein of course.  Her favorite color is black and white stripes, and claims that her biggest pet peeve is that every morning when she comes upstairs her father shouts “It’s alive!”

I’m proud to tell you my nieces are obsessed with these dolls, so be warned. Once you buy one (Draculaura is cute too!) they will want them all.

Check out the gallery below to see pictures of all these fun gift items. And now, as the mommy zombie said to the toddler zombie, go forth and consume!

May Day! May Day!

Happy May Day!

Often associated with the distress when a vessel or vehicle is in trouble, the call “mayday! mayday! mayday!” derives from the French word m’aider which means “come help me.” Lesser known is the call “pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan!” which means there is an urgent situation on board. Though one may think it is a derivation of the word panic it actually comes from the French word panne which refers to mechanical failure or breakdown of any kind.

But May Day is so much more than a distress call. May Day celebrations exist throughout the world, but are especially prominent in the U.K. and Western Europe. In England and Scotland the celebrations around or near May 1st relate directly to the pagan Beltane (in Ireland Bealtaine) and are associated with the Rites of Spring—specifically fertility. The celebration of new life and birth at the time of year when the land is waking up, flowers pushing through the sodden hills, still takes place today with the crowning of the May Queen and the erecting of the may pole. (You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what a giant pole in the middle of a lush field wrapped in beautiful ribbons represents.) Bonfires are lit, merry is made.

Prominent also in Germany, Walpurgisnacht (Witches Night!) celebrations are usually held on the Eve O’ May: bonfires and the wrapping of the Maibaum—the may pole—are included along with dancing, drinking and general MAYHEM! Finns make special donuts and lemonade to mark the occasion.

Many early immigrants from Germany and England as well as other parts of Europe such as France and the Netherlands continued their traditional celebrations in the settlements of Early America. Without the community and established towns of Old Europe their traditions were often more family based and including the weaving of May Baskets and the giving of flowers. If you read this collection of short stories by Charles Montgomery Skinner, which includes the title work The May-Pole of Merrymount, you will gain a bit more insight into how some of these wild nights of fun and mayhem were translated into Puritan settlements of America. A downer? Yeah, a little. But worthy of a May Day read. Plus there are freaky stories of witches and old creepy men in caves that you probably shouldn’t think about, but can’t help yourself.

Charles Montgomery Skinner (1852-1907) was a native New Yorker with a literary palate as diverse as the community I grew up in. Perhaps best remembered for his work on Walt Whitman, “Whitman as Editor” which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1903, his works ranged from urbanization, gardening, the economy, communism, natural history, and folklore. This excerpt from his first collection of folk tales is from the greater work Myths and Legends of Our Own Land which was first published in 1897– a massive volume of stories from across the settled cities and wild plains of America. I have selected a few of my favorites for this collection, stories that I think represent the varied tastes of our author. The legend of a witch in the Catskills to the Maypole of Merrymount, we find a unique view on the lore that founded the United States. Skinner also wrote Myths and Legends Beyond Our Borders and Myths and Legends of Our New Possessions and Protectorate (lands we had pillaged) both of which were published in 1899.