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Picturing a World

Cincinnati witches

Well, I meant to post this image at Hallowe'en. Having no inspiration to start off Thanksgiving week, I'll toss it out for any giggle it might bring you. And who knows? Maybe it will prompt somebody to write a holiday story—something about party ideas in a turn-of-the-century American magazine? maybe a fantasy story about a fashionable coven in an alternative universe? What's your fancy?

Image via Tumbler. For the article in which the original appears, click here.

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Witch dovecote

Blog post alert: Here on All Souls' Day, a glance back at witches via Barbara Wells Sarudy's Hallowe'en post, About Those Female Witches - 1607 Jesuits Suspect Lutheran sect of Witchcraft. I first learned about dovecotes in relation to gardening history and became fond of them, while crones, witches, bats, dogs, and owls are longtime favorites. Inquisitional Jesuits? Not so much. I don't know how I'll use this (if at all) or what it may inspire, but I'm tickled to have run across it.

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Klages’ Franny Travers

I'm having fun. One by one, at intervals to stretch it out, I'm reading stories in Jonathan Strahan's anthology, The Book of Dragons, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Recently, I read "Pox" by Ellen Klages, an author new to me. I loved it, and what a great pleasure to find that one of the delightful characters, Franny Travers, also appears in Klages' novella, Passing Strange.

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Hallowe’en cats

Blog tips: Vintage Halloween postcards at the Toronto Public Library is an archived post with lots of images of Halloween cards from ca. 1910 and links to the library’s collections. Usually I’d choose a witch to offer as a treat for Hallowe’en, but there’s something weirdly imaginative about these menacing Jack-o-lanterns and their panicked cats that tickles my fancy this (and there is a witch in the upper right-hand corner). A different card at the American Antiquarian Society, moreover, makes clear that the gauzy bows could be perceived as witches’ bodies. For it and another set of vintage Hallowe’en cards, click here.

And whether you trick or treat or celebrate Samhain as the pagan new year, have a happy, safe Hallowe’en—with just a touch of the spooky or wild! Read More 

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Blog tip: I have begun collecting images in a category I call “Crones.” A recent birthday post by Greer Gilman has a dandy. I won’t violate copyright law by reproducing it, but do click here and enjoy.
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Witches’ interiors

Blog post alert: I’ve just finished my annual rereading of Greer Gilman’s Moonwise. The interior of Malycorne’s cot in all its iterations in the novel is pure enchantment, my favorite witch’s hut in literature. But isn’t this one dandy? It makes me want to invent  Read More 
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Hallowe’en witches

The questions of when did witches become identified with any old crone and when did people start believing they rode brooms are not answered by this one image, but mid 15th C is about right. For more on the picture, click here.

It is worth noting, incidentally, that although belief in witchcraft is ubiquitous in time and across cultures, during the late middle ages and early modern period the anxieties that led to witch-hunting were specially strong in Europe and colonial America. For an interesting interview with historian John Demos on this topic, click here.

Happy Hallowe’en! Read More 
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Hallowe’en 2016

Today’s image comes via It’s About Time, but could equally have come from Liberty Puzzles. As the 2016 election spirals down, I regret not having ordered one for distraction!

For a wealth of holiday postcards from the New York Public Library, click here.

And I’ve just discovered a book that bears looking into, American Holiday Postcards, 1905–1915. Addendum: For a helpful review, click hereRead More 
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