Hooters and Goddess Worship?

Here’s the deal folks, I like Hooters. The restaurant, not the anatomy. However I think we can all agree that Salma Hayek’s are quite magnificent. Much the way people say they read Playboy for the articles (and let’s all admit that occasionally they do have great articles), people say they go to Hooters for the food. And you know what folks? Holy crap is their chicken delicious! I never had an aversion to Hooters, but I had just never found the reason to go there to eat. Then one weekday afternoon while out and about with my boyfriend (who became my husband) it was suggested that we go to Hooters for lunch. We had a pretty waitress, who honestly was lacking a little in the hooter department, that I kept thinking must be freezing in her outfit. It was also a touch odd to realize I was the only woman that was a customer. I had their Buffalo Chicken Sandwich and proclaimed that it was in fact the finest Buffalo Chicken Sandwich I’d ever had. It was good enough that I’m actually bummed that there is no longer a Hooters restaurant in the area. Sigh….

Anyway, my affection for Hooters is why I was so intrigued when I found an article called “Hooters and Goddess Worship?” on the Surohorus website. (Update: The site is now found here.) Despite admitting to never going to a Hooters (a bit of honesty I appreciate), Suroh makes some interesting points with regards to some of the symbolism associated with the restaurant chain. And although I doubt that by frequenting the establishment you run the risk of “eating something inedible and dying”, I am amused to now associate Hooters with Athena. When you consider the level of influence some of those waitresses have on their customers, perhaps them embodying a bit of the divine isn’t as far off as previously thought.

Hooters and Goddess Worship?

By Suroh
(Article was originally published on 11/28/10 at http://thesurohorus.tk/ and is used with the author’s permission.)

Introduction

Hooters restaurant is a standard sports bar aside from one thing, the wait staff is primarily made up of extremely attractive women usually scantily clothed. I myself have never been to a Hooters before but I am more than sure most males growing up in North America have heard about the chain on TV or in the movies. The attractive women are more than capable to keep everyone minds occupied for the time within the doors of a Hooters restaurant as the “Customers” are kept in a daze fantasizing about the waitresses. Little do the men know they are taking part in an ancient rite of goddess worship.

Sexual Innuendo

The name Hooters is a term originally used to refer to an Owl. In the modern age it has been known to take a quite a different meaning…or is it just understood too simply?

Hooter
•One that hoots, especially an owl.
•hooters Vulgar Slang. A woman’s breasts.

Sex sells right? It is common practice for advertising and marketers to veil sexual innuendo to keep the prospective customers attention. Proof is this is the complete disconnect of commercials themselves and the actual product they are actually selling. It’s the old magicians trick. Occupy the mark (person) with something trivial that will draw them in order to manipulate them better towards your real goal. It happens every day. For example buy one get one free, 20% Off*On Selected Merchandise only. Almost always it comes with a catch where the deal is no where near as good as what was claimed. In my experience utilities (Phone and Internet) companies are the worse known for this. But that’s a whole article in itself.

The Symbol of the Goddess

The logo for the Hooters chain is an Owl. Owls have been identified with many ancient gods, for example Athena in Greek mythology the goddess of war, civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, crafts, justice and skill. Hera, another ancient Greek goddess, is also associated with the Owl.

Hera (HEE-ruh or HER-uh), Roman name Juno.
Hera was the goddess of marriage, the wife of Zeus and the Queen of the Olympians. Enemy of Heracles, she sent snakes to attack him when he was still an infant and later stirred up the Amazons against him when he was on one of his quests. On the other hand, Hera aided the hero Jason.

In Greek mythology, Hera was the reigning female goddess of Olympus because she was Zeus’s wife. But her worship is actually far older than that of her husband. It goes back to a time when the creative force we call “God” was conceived of as a woman. The Goddess took many forms, among them that of a bird.

Then when we take a look at the symbol from a global perspective of all beliefs/symbolism about the Owl, a much different pattern is discovered. In many cultures including the Aztecs, Africa, and Arabia the owl is considered a unbalanced symbol or a “negative” omen as it is a creature of the night and thus darkness. In essence the Owl represents unbalanced Male force. This again supports the exact environment existing when inside a Hooters restaurant.

Conclusion

Almost every public place we go has currents of metaphysical energy brought about and utilized to create and encourage certain types or styles of behavior. In most cases this is not negative or positive, it just is, but most importantly in order for it to remain neutral it is good to be aware of the influences being pressed upon you just as you monitor the types of things you eat in order to not eat something inedible and die.

To see more articles like this, visit http://suroh.tk/.

Touched by His Noodly Appendage

As you know, I have been publishing my old “Letters from the Publisher” from back when The Magical Buffet was a monthly e-zine because the letters didn’t migrate over to the new blog format. Most of my letters aren’t worth republishing. However there are a few that share some of my more personal thoughts that I wanted new readers to have access to. With that said, here is my “Letter from the Publisher” from May 2008.

What defines a religion? What is the nature of faith? Does religion require genuine faith or can it get by on a set of rituals and a community that acts in sync? Guess what? I can’t answer those questions! I think everyone has their own opinion to those sorts of questions, so I can’t, and won’t, pretend that my thoughts on such topics are answers. But what’s great is when something happens that makes people ask themselves these kinds of questions. Which brings me to the subject of this month’s Magical Buffet Mythology, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It’s true that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created out of an act of annoyance by founder Bobby Henderson. Specifically a letter of protest that he wrote to the Kansas State Board of Education, that he then also posted on the website www.venganza.org. Essentially it was a sarcastic piece explaining that he fully endorsed the idea of intelligent design being taught as a science, but if they were going to do that, he needed to stress the importance of the inclusion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster creation theory, which is certainly as valid as intelligent design. (Do yourself a favor and read it on the website, my sum up doesn’t do it justice at all.)

This has led many to say that Henderson is mocking faith, and to sum up most of the hate mail on the website, that he’s a jerk. Obviously, I don’t agree. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and its adherents, Pastafarians, serve a vital purpose. They force people to examine their beliefs and the double standards that exist in a country that is supposed to believe in a separation of Church and State. In March 2008, Pastafarians in Crossville, Tennessee successfully won city approval to place a Flying Spaghetti Monster statue next to the Courthouse, and proceeded to do so. If it’s good enough for the Ten Commandments, then it’s good enough for the adorable Flying Spaghetti Monster. They make schools ask themselves, what is science, and what is spiritual? And, they do it all with a wonderful sense of humor and a pirate’s accent!

Is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster a “real” religion? Well, they have a definite belief system, a rich mythology, and academic endorsements. People say they are Pastafarians, and are subject to harassment and threats, like many other religious groups. They do not have a not-for-profit status like most religions, but since many religions profit greatly from their followers anyway, I can’t hold that against the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The American Academy of Religion hosts discussions of the Pastafarians at their annual meetings.

I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I for one have been touched by His Noodly Appendage!

~Rebecca

I wrote this letter for the month I decided to feature the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the deity for the Magical Buffet Mythology. I wanted to explain its inclusion, and use it as a touchstone to discuss the nature of faith. In reading this letter now, and the profile I wrote up for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I realize I really didn’t do the FSM, or it’s church, justice. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do any better now. The thing with the Flying Spaghetti Monster is, either you get it or you don’t.

I love how the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has taken on a life of it’s own. Pastafarians challenge the idea of what makes a religion a religion, work tirelessly to uphold America’s separation of church and state, and endeavor to maintain the integrity of science. All of that awesomeness comes wrapped in an adorable little ball of spaghetti with a bunch of followers who talk like pirates.

What’s not love about this?

I still remain touched by His Noodly Appendage!

By the way, that awesome illustration of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was done by Will Hobbs back when I first published the Flying Spaghetti Monster article. It’s so adorable I couldn’t resist featuring it again here.

Magical Buffet Mythology: Phryne

Illustration by Will Hobbs

I frequently say that I love people who hustle. It’s a hard thing to define since I don’t necessarily mean “to earn one’s living by illicit or unethical means,” as Random House Dictionary says. When I say I love the hustle, or people who have got their “hustle on”, I’m generally talking about “to proceed or work rapidly or energetically, to push or force one’s way; jostle or shove, to be aggressive, esp. in business or other financial dealings,” as the rest of the 2010 Random House Dictionary entry states. Kathy Griffin? Hustle. Perez Hilton? Hustle. David Pitkin? Hustle. However there is one lady who I put above all others when thinking about the hustle. Is it Oprah? Nope, it’s a woman whose hustle was so potent that she, despite being an actual person, has become entwined with the Gods themselves.

Phryne arrived in ancient Athens, Greece at the age of thirteen during the time of the hetaerae, sophisticated female escorts. The hetaerae of the era wore see through gowns, blond wigs, extensive makeup and extravagant jewelry. All things that Phryne, coming from work in the caper fields, could not compete with. Instead of competing with these women head on, she changed the game entirely. That’s right, she got her hustle on.

Phryne created an air of mystery. She dressed in opaque robes and wore no makeup or wigs, often time fully covering herself in veils. Phryne insisted on making love in the dark and charged huge fees for her companionship that she adjusted as she liked. At the annual Festival of Poseidon she would perform a striptease at the holy temple and then walk naked through the crowds to the sea shore where she would reenact the birth of Aphrodite from the sea.

These things turned Phryne into a superstar, commanding unheard of prices for an evening. Poets and painters honored her as the goddess made flesh. The sculptor Praxiteles used her as the model for his Cnidian Aphrodite.

Perhaps that was the tipping point. As any celebrity that has shot to superstardom can tell you, there is always a backlash. In Phryne’s case, the city fathers charged her with blasphemy (Some say that Phryne asked too large a payment from one of the city’s officials who took revenge by indicting her on a charge of impiety). However, when the case seemed lost, her lawyer took a new approach. One only made possible by Phryne’s beauty and her skillful hustle. Her lawyer ripped open her gown and exposed her breasts for the court. In ancient Greece physical beauty was deemed to have been given to someone from the gods themselves. Phryne’s bosom was so beautiful that the court voted to release her as a prophetess and priestess of Aphrodite.

Now granted with divine immunity, Phryne was able to continue her life as the most exclusive of courtesans, living to a ripe old age and amassing a fortune. So vast was her wealth that she offered to rebuild the wall of Thebes after Alexander the Great destroyed it, on the condition that the Thebans agreed to inscribe on the new wall “destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the courtesan”. They declined her offer.

And that my friends is what I call a hustle of mythological proportions.

The Hero’s Journey: A Solid Kick to the Groin

Last month I published one of my old “Letters from the Publisher” from back when The Magical Buffet was a monthly e-zine because the letters didn’t migrate over to the new blog format. As I said then, most of my letters aren’t worth republishing. However there were a few that shared some of my more personal thoughts that I wanted new readers to have access to. With that said, here is my “Letter from the Publisher” from August 2007.

In folklore, mythology, history, and religion you will find instances of the “hero’s journey”. Much like Jung’s archetypes, the hero’s journey is universal regardless of culture. The basic, bare bones telling of the hero’s journey is as follows:

A member of a tribe, through fate or choice, becomes exiled by their fellow tribesmen, thrown out, or leaves the tribe. Thus begins the hero’s journey, where the hero learns of a different purpose separate of the tribe, has their purpose tested, and inevitably they return where they are welcomed back as one who has gifts to share with the tribe.

Does that sound familiar to you now? How about, an independent blind girl in an isolated village in old Pennsylvania suddenly must leave her family and village to travel through a dark alien forest inhabited by horrible monsters to get medicine for her dying true love? Yes, that’s the plot for the film “The Village”, and it is a marvelous example of the hero’s journey.

It sounds so brave, so noble, the hero’s journey. Down right epic. Doesn’t it just seem like everything should just fall into place? You know your purpose, you’re to lead the Jews out of Egypt, you’re to find the shard (do you know what that one is from?), you’re to do whatever “it” is. It just seems like once the hero steps on the path, each step is surely predestined to land exactly where it should be. On the surface, it would appear to be a place where there is no doubt or fear.

Of course, life has the tendency to kick you in the groin. Heroes suffer, physically and I am sure, emotionally. To paraphrase a thought from Carolyn Myss’s book “Sacred Contracts”, if Buddha could occasionally wonder if he’s on the right path, well then EVERYBODY has got to wonder from time to time, no matter how certain the path seems. There you are, certain that this is it, the path to take. Each of your steps fall exactly as you feel fate would have it. But just as every hero on the journey encounters obstacles that make them wonder, life kicks us average Joes square in the groin, and let’s face it, that makes anyone wonder.

We don’t all have epic hero’s journeys to take, but all of us want to find a path to follow. I consider these to be “average Joe” journeys. None of us want to start our own religion or feel we’re going to end up in circumstances where the fate of the known world is in our hands. “Average Joes” want to know they’re doing right for themselves, their families, and their communities. Just because we’re “average”, doesn’t make our “average” journeys any less scary, painful, or difficult. As I have said, and will say again, life will sometimes just kick you in the groin. Occasionally, while you’re crunched in the fetal position, rolling around on the floor, life will gut kick you, just to make sure you felt it. The thing that makes the journey heroic is when you get back up and start on the path again.

This month’s issue features lots of wonderful people who in my opinion are undertaking extraordinary journeys: Lisa McSherry, who is helping us explore nature based spirituality online; the editorial staff of Hinduism Today, that helps hopeless bumblers like me understand what Hinduism is; and the folks at Pagan Troop Support, that insure that Pagan and Wiccan soldiers are supplied with the tools necessary to practice their faith. I’d be comfortable knowing that the fate of the world was in their hands.

~Rebecca

This one resonates with me more today than it did a few years back. At the time I wrote this, the extent of my “Average Joe” journey was working on my Bachelors in Metaphysics and figuring out how to make The Magical Buffet work. As I’ve alluded to a few times, I’ve been having prolonged health issues. These have made everything harder, much harder. Although I rarely find it the case, my husband assures me that despite what I think I handle my unpredictable health and bevy of doctors and appointments well. Honestly, I don’t see it. However, in looking this old letter over, I see it staring right at me. “The thing that makes the journey heroic is when you get back up and start on the path again.”

It’s true that no matter how many times I’ve been given false hope, how many times I’ve exhausted the limits of allegedly the greatest health care system in the world, the plans that I’ve had to cancel, and the times I’ve tried to play through the pain only to fail, despite every time I want to just drop out and let life happen around me, my body refuses to stop and I get up the next day and do it all over again. And before you think, oh how heroic, trust me, it’s not. It’s ugly and trying and essentially devoid of any triumph. That said, I can perhaps now see, from the outside looking in, how it might not be heroic, but it could certainly be an “Average Joe” journey.

Also, I still stand by referencing “The Village”. I liked that movie, okay? Sure, the “big reveal” may not have been that shocking, or whatever else people seem to like to grouse about, but I liked it. If you have a heart in your chest how could you not have loved at least 85% of that movie? Was it “Unbreakable”? No. Was it “The Sixth Sense”? People, get over that, you can’t make “The Sixth Sense” twice. Could I have used “Alice in Wonderland” or “The Wizard of Oz” as examples? Yes, but by my calculations it would have made this post 75% less cool. Although if I were to write this one again today, I probably would drop “The Village” in favor of a “Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List” reference. The same calculations show this would have made the post 120% cooler.

Religion and Mythology

For those of you who are new to The Magical Buffet, you may not be aware that in October 2006, when we launched The Magical Buffet, it was actually a monthly e-zine. Once a month our subscribers would have all the content emailed to them. Since it was trying to follow a magazine-like format, I decided there should be a letter from the publisher, like most magazines have.

When we relaunched The Magical Buffet into it’s new blog format, all of the old e-zine articles migrated over. This means even if you’re new, with a little time you could read all the content you may have missed from the “old days”. However my opening letters to my readers did not make it over to the new blog. I didn’t worry about it because they’re “just letters”, they’re not “real writing”. But as time passed I started to wonder, was something missing by them not being here on the blog?

So recently I started to read them again. In truth, as a new reader you’re probably not missing out on too much. The letters were generally just filled with gratitude. Thank you letters of the most earnest kind, published in response to the surprising outpouring of support and faith that I received, and continue to receive today. I’ve always prided myself on loyalty, and it made me happy to see that many of the people who I thanked in those letters are people and organizations that I still interact with today. It felt good to think that maybe I’ve done all right after all.

That said, there were a few letters that stood out. These were letters that I found offered up a piece of who I am and what I believe to my readers. Things that I thought I would like anyone who reads The Magical Buffet at any point to know about me, the person behind the keyboard.

This is one of those letters……

“Religion without myth not only fails to work, it also fails to offer man the promise of unity with the transpersonal and eternal.” C.G. Jung

“BETHANY (rubbing her temples): Two thirds of me wants to forget about this and go home. You know, yesterday I wasn’t sure God even existed. And now I’m up to my ass in Christian Mythology.

RUFUS: Let me let you in on a little inside info. God hates it when it’s referred to as mythology.” Kevin Smith’s film Dogma

What is religion? What is mythology? Is there a difference? Not to me. They say history is written by the winners and it’s safe to say that Judeo Christian beliefs won over let’s say for example the pantheonic beliefs of the ancient Romans. That which is generally considered mythology, at one point was fervently believed in as religion, as much as Christianity or Judaism is today. Is it fair to say that just because a mythological deity isn’t actively worshipped in the mainstream that it’s mythology, while the epic stories of The Bible are most assuredly religion? Absolutely not, and I reckon that there are some Goddess worshippers reading this that will tell you that straight up! An individual’s faith and belief are what makes a group of mythological tales a religion. It’s in the stories of a faith that its tenants are demonstrated. A religion that is a rule book doesn’t work. It has to incorporate stories, myths if you will, to transform a set of rules into a living breathing creation.

So what is “Magical Buffet Mythology”? It’s where I retell some of the definitive stories of various deities, and perhaps events, etc. Last month was Artemis, this month is Kuan Yin. For most, Artemis is considered myth, for over half the global population Kuan Yin is considered religion. Both are called “Magical Buffet Mythology”. Why? Because for one, it’s safe to say that my particular interpretations shouldn’t be considered the definitive versions of these tales! I’m a sarcastic person and it’s in these columns that I let my snarky flag fly! Also, a myth is just one believer away from a religion in my book. Who am I to decide which one is which?

I hope that everyone continues to enjoy the “Magical Buffet Mythology” columns. I certainly enjoy doing them. I also hope that everyone keeps an open mind about religion verses mythology and that no one takes offense to my personal views on the topic. After all, it’s just one opinionated dish along the buffet line.

Until next month,
Rebecca Elson
Publisher, The Magical Buffet

This was the second letter from the publisher that I wrote. Everything was new, and much like l am in real life, I just wanted everyone to like me. I feared that a column known as “Magical Buffet Mythology” that I was planning on using to discuss all kinds of noteworthy and little known deities had the potential of insulting someone about their personal beliefs. That would be the exact opposite of what I was hoping to do with my newly founded e-zine. When I decided to follow up my Artemis article with an article about Kuan Yin, a personal favorite of mine and a deity actively prayed to by probably half the global population, I grew concerned. This letter was written to express my personal views on mythology and religion. Since I didn’t lose any subscribers, it must have done the trick. Or perhaps even better, my readers didn’t have those kinds of hang ups.

With the new blog format you see that I do in fact have a category for religion and for mythology. To be honest, I’m sure how what I call mythology or religion these days. Most of the time, I categorize the articles as both. However, when I write about a deity, even in this new format, I still title every one “Magical Buffet Mythology”. And hopefully my new readers also don’t have those kinds of hang ups.

Russian Magic

It’s not that I never think of Russia, except that honestly I don’t really think about Russia. Nothing against the country, just for some reason, they never really cross my mind. That’s why I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review “Russian Magic: Living Folk Traditions of an Enchanted Landscape” by Cherry Gilchrist. I was hoping that I would come away with a refreshing understanding of a country that I had obviously overlooked. I was right.

“Russian Magic” is everything a book of its type should be, potential authors of folkloric books take note. The book is engaging and covers a surprisingly large swath of Russian traditions, religious practices, folklore traditions, and more. It is well researched but also filled with first hand accounts from the author brushing up against these practices.

There were the “standards” such as Baba Yaga and Matrioshka (those adorable nesting dolls). However I was also introduced to a colorful cast of characters like Father Frost, Mokosh (Damp Earth Mother), and Perun (Lord of Thunder). I learned about various divination practices, dates of unique celebrations, the landscapes, and even the significance of the architecture of the traditional village house! Better still, whereas most books of this type would only look at these things from the perspective of their significance in the past, the author takes all of that history and shows you its influence on modern society in Russia.

I also need to tell you that I couldn’t help but be pleased when the domavoi made an appearance. Some readers may remember that WAY back in 2006 I wrote an article about these helpful and potentially harmful house guests. What I didn’t know then, but do now (thanks to “Russian Magic”) is that the domavoi’s birthday is February 10th! If you have one of these guys in your home, that’s the day to really kiss up to him! And now you know.

And if you’re looking to know more, I highly suggest picking up this entertaining and enlightening book.

Magical Buffet Mythology: Tlazolteotl

by Rebecca
illustrated by Will Hobbs

I like duality deities. I don’t know why, I just do. Perhaps it’s just true, opposites attract. All those creation/destruction deities just float my boat. So you can understand how excited I was when I discovered Tlazolteotl.

Tlazolteotl is the Aztec goddess of purification and filth. She gets you dirty, she gets you clean. Dirty, as in disease, dirt, and vices like gambling or adultery, and clean, as in steam baths and forgiving disease caused by misdeeds, particularly of a sexual nature (wink, wink). Tlazolteotl is a patroness of adulterers and midwives. I like this lady, she’s loaded with opposites! She inspires desires and forgives you when you indulge in them. Nice, right?

Tlazolteotl is sometimes depicted wearing the skin of a human sacrifice, a headdress that has a spindle of cotton, and carrying a grass broom. Other times she is naked and squatting, as if giving birth.

Through a priest you can confess your sins to Tlazolteotl, who will forgive them (she is known as She Who Eats Sin). There is a catch, unlike in other faiths that feature confession, you can only confess to Tlazolteotl once in your life. So you had better save it for a real doozey or when you’re very old!

The Harpy

By Rebecca
Illustration by Will Hobbs

Generally when we say harpy, we’re referring to, as Random House Dictionary states, “a scolding, nagging, bad-tempered woman; shrew, or a greedy, predatory person.” Perhaps it’s that innate fear or repulsion that leads to so much trouble when trying to learn about the mythological creature the harpy.

Let’s start with appearance, one source tells me that harpies started out as beautiful goddesses but over time were morphed into nasty creatures, and then others say they started out down right hideous, but have been toned down to the creatures we generally think of when considering the harpy. Therefore, what are we looking at here? Obviously it varies based on artistic interpretation, but at the most basic it’s a woman who from the torso down is bird and has wings large enough to carry her in flight. Sometimes the face is less human in appearance, with bulging eyes and tusks, other times the face is the only human component and the body is entirely bird. (For the record, for me the harpy will always look like the harpy from the movie “The Last Unicorn”.)

Everyone seems to agree that in Greek mythology the harpies were the daughters of Thaumas and Electra. Of course, how many were there? A few sources say two to three: Aello and Octpete, with Celaeno as a later addition. One source goes so far as to say three to four: Aello, Octpete, Celaeno, and a possible extra to make four! No matter the number, harpies make appearances throughout Greek myth, generally harassing, stealing, or killing anything they feel like.

In the Middle Ages an image of a harpy was used on coats-of-arms. It was referred to as the “virgin eagle”. I have many exciting theories on why the harpy was a virgin, all of them would be inappropriate for me to say, and many of which you can guess for yourself.

In an interesting, and more all age appropriate side note, the largest raptor found in North and South America is the Harpy Eagle. Yup, named after the mythological creature. It’s certainly cuter than any version of the mythological harpy I can imagine. On the other hand, it still totally gives me the creeps.







The End is Near!

It’s true. The awesome Disinformation Company gave me a copy of their documentary “2012: Science or Superstition” to review. I’m very excited, not only is this the first DVD I’ve ever reviewed, but it came from the folks at Disinfo.com, AND I’m interested in the subject matter. Obviously the end times are upon us.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the whole 2012 thing, let me sum up. The ancient Mayans created a very complex, advanced, utterly bad ass long calendar. The calendar ends on December 21, 2012. Everyone has an opinion as to what this means, and most of them seem to have a book.

“2012: Science or Superstition” is an hour and a half of opinions from a variety of sources, most notably Graham Hancock, author of “Fingerprints of the Gods”. I don’t want to sit here and outline it for you because I would probably flounder horribly at presenting their research. The introduction to the documentary explains in more detail the Mayan long count calendar and that the end date of December 21, 2012 is generally interpreted to mean one of two things: a date for the beginning of the apocalypse or the beginning of a time of renewal and rebirth of conciousness. (For the record, my theory is that by the time the Mayans realized that their formula for the calendar broke down the last date was so far away that they figured hey, let’s just forget about it. I mean, they were advanced, but they were still just people, and people are more than happy to not deal with annoying and tedious problems that could later be address hundreds of thousands of years later.)

The rest of the film has various authors and scientists presenting their thoughts, theories, and research. My favorite of these individuals was Dr. Anthony F. Aveni, Professor of Astronomy and Anthropology at Colgate University. His insights were razor sharp, laced with skepticism, yet surprisingly thoughtful and considerate in regards to other people’s beliefs. Oddly, it was his insights that are making me reconsider my “The Mayans Got Lazy” theory.

The best part is that you can get the movie on iTunes for only $9.99! You can buy it on Amazon for just a tiny bit more, and it retails at the reasonable price of $19.99.

To learn more, visit the website!

Pukwudgies: Myth or Monster

By Christopher Balzano
(originally appeared on Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads website; used with permission)

In the Southeastern corner of Massachusetts lies Bristol County, an area known locally as the most haunted place in New England. The energy that sleeps there has been rumored to cause haunted schools, ghostly armies and unexplained suicides and murders. Forested areas of the county have long been known to contain a litany of unexplained animals, from Bigfoot and thunderbirds to large snakes and odd bear-like monsters. For the past forty years cults have flocked there, and their activities, often criminal, have filled the blotters of local law enforcement. Of all the unknown horrors that live in Bristol County, the most feared is not a animal or a ghost or the members of Satanic cults that walk the forests, but a demon only two feet high, and if the history of the area represents the history of our America society, these Pukwudgies are the gatekeepers of our darker side.

The Pukwudgies have haunted the forests of Massachusetts since before the first European Settlers ever thought about setting out for a new land. For centuries they tormented the local Native Americans and crept their way into their creation myths and oral history. They could easily be passed of as legend, and in fact, their physical description is much like mythological creatures from other cultures in other times. The difference is these demons jumped from the page and evolved as the people around them changed, changing from reluctant helpers to evil tormentors. The difference is these demons are still seen by people today.

Most cultures’ mythology has some reference to small monsters that have a strained relationship with humans. In many ways it makes sense. While large monsters have their place in our fears, diminutive creatures find their way into the shadows of our rooms and under our beds. Their names and nature change, but there are always common threads that link them together. Some are called monsters and roam the land looking for human food and kidnapping anyone they can find. Other are called demons, foul spirits that feed of the negative and expose the sins of man. When referring to one, its classification gets blurred and these two words become interchangeable, perhaps showing us how closely associated these monsters are with evil.

Veterans returning home after World War II talked of gremlins tearing apart their planes or getting into jeep engines and causing havoc. The Hindus speak of the Rakshasas or the “Night Wander” who eats human skin and jumps into the dead to possess them. Africans tell stories about the Eloko who lure people with beautiful music only to devour them after they have been bewitched with an ever expanding jaw.

Although passed off as works of fiction and imagination, trolls and dwarfs have existed in people’s fears for centuries. They have become lovable and noble now, but the original stories recorded of these monsters are anything but fairy tales with happy endings. Trolls were notorious for ambushing travelers and destroying whole families on a whim. While some are described as giants with humps and one eye, many older cultures, especially in Scandinavia, described the being as the size of a plump child.

Dwarfs have always been small and their manners much better, but the end result seems to be the same. Like the troll, they are known as metal and stone workers, but unlike their flesh-eating counterparts, dwarves seem to avoid human contact. While they would prefer to be left alone, if impeded upon their work, they become like caged dogs. One variation of the dwarf is the Tommy-Knocker who lives in mine shafts and is sometimes said to be the ghost of miners who have perished in the line of duty and are doomed to work for eternity. They are known to cause cave-ins and fires in the shafts.

Perhaps the most famous of the small nightmare are seen by the Irish. Fairies patrol the roads in Ireland causing problems for any traveler who strays from the path. They live in hills or mounds and dance around fires. If a human comes across their mound or sees their dancing, they are caught and held captive. Even the beloved leprechaun was once a malicious spirit before he was Americanized and transformed into the gold keeper he is today.

Exposure to nature seems to feed these tales, and the more a society depends on the earth for its needs, and the closer the relationship a people have with the natural world around them, the more these stories pop up. In this country, the people the first settlers found had a close, if not friendly, view of small dangers around them. The Cherokee have a mirror image demon known as the Yunwi Djunsti, or little people, that look and talk like Cherokee but are only a few feet high and have long hair that touches the ground. Although most people cannot see them, they are known to throw objects, trip up hunters and abduct people who wander off. In Canada they are known as Mennegishi and look much like the classic alien grey.

The Wampanoag Nation, the dominant Native America tribe in Massachusetts and Southern New England, had a monster who still dominates the landscape they once roamed. The Pukwudgie made its first appearance in the oral folklore of the people of Cape Cod, but recent sightings have forced people to rethink this mythological creature. Standing between two and three feet tall, the Pukwudgie looks much like our modern idea of a troll. His features mirror those of the Native American in the area, but the nose, fingers and ears are enlarged and the skin is described as being grey and or washed-out, smooth and at times has been known to glow.

What makes these monsters dangerous is the multitude of magical abilities they use to torment and manipulate people. They can appear and disappear at will and are said to be able to transform into other animals. They have possession of magical, poison arrows that can kill and can create fire at will. They seem to often be related to a tall dark figure, often referred to in modern times and shadow people. In turn the Pukwudgies control Tei-Pai-Wankas which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed. They use these lights to entice new victims in the woods so they may kidnap or kill them. In European folklore these balls of energy are know as Will-o-the-Wisps and are said to accompany many paranormal occurrences. Modern paranormal investigators call them orbs, and catching one on film is the gold standard of field research.

Legends of the Pukwudgie began in connection to Maushop, a creation giant believed by the Wampanoag to have created most of Cape Cod. He was beloved by the people, and the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Natives had for him. They tried to help the Wampanoag, but their efforts always backfired until they eventually decided to torment them instead. They became mischievous and aggravated the Natives until they asked Quant, Maushop’s wife, for help. Maushop collected as many as he could. He shook them until they were confused and tossed them around New England. Some died, but others landed, regained their minds and made their way back to Massachusetts.

Satisfied he had done his job and pleased his wife, Maushop went away for a while. In his absence, the Pukwudgies had returned. They again changed their relationship with the Wampanoags. They were no longer a nuisance, but began kidnapping children, burning villages and forcing the Wampanoag deep into the woods and killing them. Quant again stepped in, but Maushop, being very lazy, sent his five sons to fix the problem. The Pukwudgies lured them into deep grass and shop them dead with magic arrows. Enraged, Quant and Maushop attack as many as they can find and crush them, but many escape and scatter throughout New England again. The Pukwudgies regroup and trick Maushop into the water and shoot him with their arrows. Some legends say they killed him while other claim he became discouraged and depressed about the death of his sons, but Maushop disappears from the Wampanoags mythology.

Pukwudgies have been seen at the Ledge in Freetown, Massachusetts.

The Pukwudgies remained however, but something odd happens. The timing of the tales of the monster are a map through the history of the Native Americans relationship with the European settlers. The death of the five sons lines up with the very first settlers, and the flight of Maushop is told along side the changing of attitudes about the new neighbors. The Pukwudgies, always seen in a negative light, become the foot soldiers of the Devil, which may explain their modern connection to shadow people. As more Native Americans began to convert to Christianity, their myths evolved, until the Pukwudgies were responsible for the evil in the village, and the hand of Satan on the tribe.

People who spend time in the forest of New England will tell you Pukwudgies are not symbols, but a real horror that still stalks people. They continue to see them, and as the world develops around them, the monsters remain unchanged and as dark as ever.

Joan was walking her dog through the state forest in Freetown, Massachusetts, on a cold Saturday morning in April when she saw the monster. As she and her dog, Sid, walked down the path, Sid became anxious and strayed a few feet into the woods. Joan followed him in, and stopped short. Her dog was lying completely flat in the leaves, and on a rock ten feet away was a Pukwudgie. She described him as looking like what she would describe as a troll; two feet high with pale gray skin and hair on his arms and the top of his head. The monster seemed to have no clothes, but it was difficult to tell because his stomach hung over his waist, almost touching his knees. His eyes were a deep green, and he had large lips and a long, almost canine nose.

The Pukwudgie stood watching her, staring straight at her with no expression, almost like it was stunned to see her. Joan froze and remembers thinking the air in her lungs had been pushed out. Sid finally came to and ran back towards the trial, dragging Joan who was still holding the leash tightly.

Although the whole exchange took less than thirty seconds, it remains with Joan ten years later. She has not gone back to the forest, but feels that might not be enough. Three times since the event she has woken up to find the demon looking in on her. It has never attacked her or spoken to her, she has merely seen it looking through her bedroom window, staying just long enough for her to notice him. All three times she claims she was fully awake and could move if she had to.

Another man in Framingham, Massachusetts had a experience that forced him to remain away from the woods. Tim was in a forest when he saw a bright orb in front of him. Having investigated the paranormal he was excited and tried to snap a photo with his digital camera. The ball of light disappeared and reappeared a few feet further into the woods. Tim followed, losing the spirit several times before he realized he had traveled more than thirty feet off the path into a thickly wooded area. He became scared and slowly made his way back to the path, only to find a two foot man standing there, walking towards him. He turned and ran, and looking back saw the figure move back into the woods.

Tim reported that what he saw had walked upright and had used its arms to push something aside when he fled to the forest. He had moved with a slight limp, but “like a human”.

The second time Tom saw the Pukwudgies was a few years later in a parking lot near the same forest. He was listening to the radio at almost a whisper and checking his rear view mirror for the friend he was waiting for when he saw the same small figure of a man. Every detail was identical, and the Pukwudgie just stood there watching him. The car turned on by itself and his radio began to get louder. Tim pulled out of the parking lot and took the long way home to try and stop his hands from shaking.

Although the monster seemed content to only frighten Joan and Tim, there are still physical attacks happening. Several people have been assaulted and one person came down with a mysterious illness after seeing them in a cemetery in New Hampshire. Another woman suffered scratches on her arm after following an orb in a forest in Taunton, Massachusetts.

The most disturbing reoccurring attacks might be taking place at the Pukwudgies favorite hunting ground. In the Freetown State Forest there is an hundred foot cliff overlooking a quarry known as the Ledge. There have been many hauntings at this sight, but the most frequent experience is an overwhelming feeling to jump to the rocks and water below. In the folklore of the Wampanoag, the Pukwudgies were known to lure people to cliffs and push them off to their death. There have been several unexplained suicides at the Ledge, often by people who had no signs of depression or mental disease before entering the forest.

Author Bio:
A teacher and folklorist living in the Boston area. He has been investigating the unknown for twelve years and running Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, a website dedicated to the paranormal and local folklore of Massachusetts, for more than five. His writing has appeared in such respected publications as “The Haunted Times” and “Mystery Magazine” as well as “Unexplained Paranormal Magazine.” His investigations have been covered by “The Boston Globe”, “The Boston Herald”, “The Standard Times” and “Worchester Magazine” and he has been asked to speak about urban legends and the paranormal at conferences throughout New England. He is a regular on several paranormal radio shows, including “The Ghost Chronicles” and “Spooky Southcoast” and has appeared in documentaries and television specials on the supernatural. He was one of the featured writers in Jeff Belanger’s Encyclopedia of Haunted Places and contributed to the collection Weird Hauntings and the soon to be released, Weird Massachusetts. His writing and research have also been featured in Thomas D’Agostino’s Haunted New Hampshire and Haunted Massachusetts and the recently released Ghostly Tails from America’s Jails.

You can learn more by visiting: Massachusetts Paranormal Crossroads, Ghost Village where he is the news editor, and ParaRelations.