MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
The biggest food holiday of the year is coming up, Thanksgiving, where most people end up eating too much or indulging in gluttonous behaviors. We all tend to take the holiday for granted — we have over time counted on having a whole spread of delicious foods that we pile on the potatoes and stuffing, and we have plenty of turkey that is consumed and then left in the refrigerator for sandwiches.
But the first Thanksgiving and the Thanksgivings to follow weren’t always as blessed as people thought– there were superstitions about how meals were tattered by demons as some people would eat grains and become monsters or eat meats and become ravenous.
For example, Thanksgiving kiddie pageants all over the country celebrate the faithful Indian companion, Squanto. But the truth is that Squanto became a victim of bad food tattering.
In fact, when Squanto, the liaison between the Wampanoag Indians and the Pilgrims, died he was eulogized by William Bradford, the Pilgrims’ governor, with these words, “Here Squanto fell ill of Indian fever, bleeding much at the nose, which the Indians take as a symptom of death, and within a few days he died. He begged the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishman’s God in heaven and bequeathed several of his things to his English friends, as remembrances. His death was a great loss.”
Of course, part of his conversion was probably due to the fact that the Wampanoag considered him a traitor, many historians believe he was poisoned by his own people, and even went so far as to assign him a second (a/k/a assistant) for his dealings with the Pilgrims. That was, pretty much, unheard of for Indians.
Yeah, well, given that Squanto was, for reasons unknown, shunned by his tribe, captured and made a slave, taken to Europe, escaped 6 years later to return to America, was shunned again by his people and then taken in, reluctantly by the Pilgrims who offered him the worst eulogy ever. And the eulogy was due to the fact that his own people probably poisoned his food. While a more interesting story than the one you’re used to it makes for a difficult children’s pageant.
There’s something else to consider as well. About 100 years previous there was a colony in Roanoke, Virginia. According to historians the colony disappeared without a trace. Even worse, they left a sign that no human can decipher with the word, CROATOAN, on it.
There are so may theories as to how the Colony disappeared and one of them is that the colony may have been poisoned by Ergot.
Ergotism is a form of poisoning from ingesting grains, typically rye, that have been infected by a dangerous fungus.
I once interviewed the author or World War Z , Max Brooks who theorized that perhaps the colonists were poisoned from eating tainted Rye bread — and the result was something akin to a zombie attack where crazed colonists started killing one another including the Indians and they ate their flesh.
Some historians have also speculated that ergot may have had a hand in possessing women who were accused of being witches during the witch hunts at Salem.
Many people do not know that food poisoning, in general, was such a concern in the past that many religions would say that certain foods were cursed by the devil.
This is why many religions actually speak of certain foods as being forbidden as they are said to be unclean or cursed.
This was known as demonic tattering of the food – some foods were more tattered than others.
Spirits of fatigue, fatigue unto death, tired, overtired, overtired unto death, weakness, and weakness unto death are very common demons. Physicians most often cannot identify the real source of the problem; consequently, they experiment with different medications in an effort to relieve the patient of the embarrassing distress of constant drowsiness, tiredness, fatigue, and sleepiness. Medications often further complicate things by producing adverse reactions that cause additional discomfort.
Even in The Book of John, Chapter 13, we find that the account of the Last Supper reveals that Jesus took a piece of bread and dipped it into animal juices. This bread was called a “sop.” He gave it Judas. The sop was allegedly possessed by Satan.
Jesus answered, “He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, “That thou doest, do quickly.”
It is then that the possessed morsel of food caused Judas to go into a frenzy and he later betrayed Jesus.
Anciently, the waters of the sacrament and the baptism had to be exorcised before the ritual. Also, besides the rendering of thanks, the blessing said over food before meals has been understood since ancient times as a sort of exorcism. In patristic thought, the entire world is under the power of the evil and that the evil surroundings of where the food is prepared could possess the food.
Many Christian families still pray over their food.
Porphyry, called “the most learned of all the pagan philosophers,” says that demons like to attach themselves to the dwellings of men, particularly our food. He writes:
Every house also is full of them, and on this account, when they are going to call down the gods; they purify the house first, and cast these demons out. Our bodies also are full of them, for they especially delight in certain kinds of food. So when we are eating they approach and sit close to our body; and this is the reason of the purifications, not chiefly on account of the gods, but in order that these evil demons may depart.
Most people know of, or have heard of, “kosher food.” This is supposed to be food which, in the case of livestock, is slaughtered in such a way as to be “holy.” However, there are processes that also have to be carried out for drinks as well.
To this day, Jewish rabbis are called in to bless the food we consume.
Demon-tattered food, when consumed, would cause people to becomes beastly. It would be as if they were possessed like a rabid animal.
Many monsters in folklore could very well be the result of scarcity, and the eating of culturally inappropriate foods, drinking unsanitary water, and ingesting poisons that would induce psychosis,
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was written by Robert Louis Stevenson under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug similar to LSD, according to new research.
Doctors believe the Stevenson wrote the classic while being treated with a derivative of ergot.
During the Victorian era, ergotine, a derivative of the fungus, was used by doctors to stop bleeding. Stevenson, who suffered from tuberculosis, was given injections of the drug to stop bleeding in his lungs.
Professor Robert Winston, the chair of the House of Lords select committee on science and technology, and Dr George Addis, a former consultant in medicine and therapeutics at Glasgow University, believe that the injections led to side-effects that created a “Mr Hyde-like” transformation in Stevenson.
We are all told that there are no monsters, that there are no real monsters; however a monster is also a matter of how you think, what you observe. A predator can be just about anything from a mountain lion to a wolf. Their hunger is overwhelming and their need to feed in the winter months is also something to consider.
There are many people who do not believe in things like vile beings, reptilian shapeshifters, or even werewolves, however, historical accounts of their existence are everywhere. There was the widespread pagan belief in Europe that the winter solstice was a significant time for these mythological monsters to appear. The howls you hear outside in the darkest winter may not be those of the wind.
The topic of these so-called cryptid creatures always send a chill down the spine that adds to the apprehension of venturing out into the frigid weather.
I know that there are a lot of people that may be lost on how I like to bring up strange and paranormal metaphors. I know that it may seem like an oddity, but I have read many things about the outside influences that tend to have their way when the cold air intensifies and we tend to remain indoors.
It is said that in the winter months the veil between that which is reverent and that which is profane thins before the storms gather. The winter has always been a time where we can reflect on all of the stories of the ghoulish beasts that may or may not be lurking outside. It is even more of a scare to think that any of these creatures can hide underneath the bed or just outside your window.
The reigning power of the winter months is darkness, as the nights seem long and shadows tend to play tricks on the mind as they are cast away from the flickering fire.
When winter arrives my mind often turns to stories of magic and how the secret powers use their influence to shape our beliefs. I know that there are many people who tend to think that magic is all a fairy tale parlor exercise, but as a man who has witnessed folk magic I am willing to believe that the mind is a very powerful tool.
Magic of course can be written off by those who believe it is fantasy, however there is power in the will, curses and prayers have impact and there is always that fine line between those who witness the power, who utilize the power, and those who abuse their power and fall into a type of psychosis.
It is hard at time to determine the stages and so we must assume that while magic is real, the person who uses it has the potential to abuse it and when this happens the ether can open up and this is when we hear of the arrival of monsters.
Sometimes stories of monsters come from the most mundane of places and include some of the most well known figures of our history.
Charles Darwin, of course. is best known to us today for his 1859 work On the Origin of Species and is thought of by many as the father of Evolutionary theory.
What is not known about Darwin is that he was the violator of one of the seven deadly sins. He was a glutton — and had a ravenous appetite for flesh and fowl– and it seemed that he was willing to try anything.
He was a member of the Glutton Club during his time at Cambridge University; a society which met weekly to “dine upon birds and beasts, which were before unknown to human palate.”
The Glutton Club apparently disbanded after members ate a particularly unpleasant supper of an owl one evening, but Darwin did not lose his appetite.
William Buckland who was thirty years older than Darwin was a competitor at Oxford who also had a ravenous appetite for strange creatures as well.
Buckland was a theologian, geologist, and paleontologist, Buckland is best known today as the first person to write a full account of a fossil dinosaur, giving it the name Megalosaurus.
William Buckland was known to be rather eccentric, conducting all his field research while dressed in full academic gown, as if he were about to give a lecture. When he did give lectures at Oxford – something he did on occasion while on horseback – Buckland was known for his dramatic delivery, and tendency to imitate and “act out” the behaviour of the creatures he was speaking upon.
Buckland became President of the Royal Geographical Society and Secretary of the Society for the Acclimatization of Animals, which allowed him to import all sorts of creatures to England. Unfortunately for the animals in question, Buckland was a man on a self proclaimed mission to taste the flesh of at least one of species animal on Earth.
Both Buckland and Darwin became exocentric over their obsession with eating the flesh of many species including panthers, crocodiles, rhinoceros and Charles Darwin had a insatiable appetite for The agouti – a large, deer-like, burrowing rodent– he claimed that it had the best meat he ever tasted — It was like both Darwin and Buckland were trying top out do each other — But legend has it that Buckland started acting like some of the animals he ate– and when he gave lectures he would emulate the animals that he studied. some even claimed that he would shape shift into animals like wolves, dogs and an unknown predator that no one recognized.
Once, when visiting a cathedral, he was told of a local legend claiming that fresh saints’ blood was to be found on the floor. Buckland, never one to turn down the opportunity to try a new flavor, licked the flagstones and was able to disprove the myth, immediately identifying the mystery liquid as bat urine.
On a visit to Edward Venables-Vernon-Harcourt, the then Archbishop of York, had a conversation with Buckland about the rumors of his shape shifting during his lectures and he immediately changed the subject and wanted to know more about historic relics.
The archbishop brought out a silver box which was said to contain a portion of the heart of King Louis XVII of France. Dr. Buckland, looked at the artifact and exclaimed, ‘I have eaten many strange things, but have never eaten the heart of a king before’, and, before anyone could stop him, he had gobbled it up, and the precious relic was lost forever.
What spirit took over the the body of Buckland — some believed that he was turning into a beast — his ravenous hunger was turning him into a metaphoric werewolf of some kind.
However, there is an old Algonquin legend of a creature that fist the description of the personality of Buckland and that is the Wendigo.
The Wendigo is a creature of pure hunger, greed, and insatiable appetite.
According to first nation tribes in Canada, the Wendigo is described as gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tightly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash-gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Wendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody. Unclean and suffering from suppuration of the flesh, the Wendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.
Wendigos are not merely supernatural creatures however, humans can become Wendigos simply by eating the most forbidden of foods: human flesh.
Folklore records that when a Wendigo ate human flesh, the creature grew in proportion to its prey, thus ensuring that its hunger could never be satisfied.
The Wendigo is, of course, just one of many cautionary myths from across the globe warning what a human may become should they commit the ultimate taboo of cannibalism.
Many today believe that tales of flesh-eaters such as the Wendigo, the ghoul, the vampire, the were-wolf, and their ilk are just that; scary stories told to teach a moral lesson.
In this age of rising awareness of eating less and less meat because of climate change fears the alternatives are leaning towards the outrageous and taboo.
We recently reported that students in Georgia were instructed to consider ‘eating babies’ as a way of solving world hunger. High school students at Richmond Hill were tasked with finding ways of ‘raising and eating of babies to solve the world hunger problem.’
This, of course, was written off as a lesson in satire.
Years ago there was a website that featured a business that sold Hufu – a tofu-based product designed to taste like human flesh, providing an alternative meat source for those who were cannibal curious.
Hufu was originally conceived of as a product for students of anthropology hungry for the experience of cannibalism but deterred by the legal and logistical obstacles,
Polynesian cannibals called human the “long pig,” so the company associated the taste of people with pork.
After studying historical descriptions from cannibal tribes, and a lot of experimenting in the kitchen, Hufu discovered otherwise.
According to the business model “Hufu is designed to resemble, as humanly possible, the taste and texture of human flesh.”
Furthermore, the Business Model continues:
If you’ve never had human flesh before, think of the taste and texture of beef, except a little sweeter in taste and a little softer in texture. Thye opted to give the human tofu the taste that leans closer to chicken than ;pork.
Hufu closed up shop in 2006.
But for a time it was sickly and disgustingly successful.
The spirit of the Wendigo or even the werewolf and dog man is now in the zeitgeist as a new movie is in theaters called “Antlers.”
In “Antlers,” the Wendigo emerges in a small Oregon town that has been depleted and demoralized by the closing of its central industry which is a local mine, environmental havoc, and the rise of drug use, poverty and depression.
Awakened within the depths of the mine, it possesses first a local drug dealer and then one of his two small sons. That leads to a horrific chain of events that a teacher, having just recently returned to the town after fleeing an abusive childhood, attempts to stop.
The film uses the Wendigo as a beast conjured by isolation, and abuses of the environment and the self-abuse that people put themselves through.
We all have our vices, we all have our greedy and glutinous side, whether it is for attention. drugs or even things that are considered unnatural.
It appears that the result of gluttony and abuses of drugs can trigger the beastly natures of mankind — the spirit of the Wendigo.