Dark Origins – Nursery Rhymes, Fairytales and Stories: The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe

Overview

I am kicking off Dark Origins 2023 with an analysis of the origins and historical accuracy of The Pit and the Pendulum. This short story by Edgar Allan Poe is set at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.

The story begins with the unnamed narrator being condemned to death. As the judges announce his fate, the narrator focuses on seven tall candles. The light of the candles initially appears to him like angels and he feels comforted. He is soon, however, overcome by horror at his fate and the candles disappear when he collapses into semi-consciousness.

When the narrator awakes, he is initially to scared to open his eyes. When he does open them, he finds himself in complete darkness and spends some time imagining the tortures of the Inquisition. After some time has passed, he musters the courage to start moving and tries to make sense of his surroundings by using his sense of touch. Falling asleep at one point during his navigation of the cell walls, he wakes up to find water and bread which he consumes. After completing his tour of the cell walls, he attempts to walk across the chamber and almost falls into a deep, circular pit. He discovers more bread and water and falls asleep again.

Awaking from his second sleep, he realises that his water is drugged and also that his prison is much smaller than he thought. He also discovers that the walls are made of metal and not stone and that he is now tied on his back to a piece of wood with only his left hand up to his left elbow free. He is very thirsty due to the salty food but the water pitcher has been removed. Looking up at the ceiling, the narrator sees a painting of Father Time holding a large and slow moving pendulum.

The narrator is distracted by rats scurrying about the floor of his prison and when he looks up thirty minutes later, he realised that the pendulum has a razor-sharp blade attached to it and it is moving down towards his body. The author’s intention with this depiction of Father Time holding a deadly weapon is to remind readers that we are all fighting against the clock which ticks steadily towards our inevitable ending.

The narrator devises a clever plan to escape death by being chopped by the pendulum which was designed to cut into his heart.

The pendulum is withdrawn from the room after his escape from his bonds and death by the pendulum, making it obvious that his torturers are watching his every move. The next torture is a mixture of heat and the walls closing around him and forcing him towards the pit. As death gallops towards him, he lets out a piercing scream and there is a blast of trumpets and the walls roll back. The narrator is rescued and the torture of the Inquisition is over.

Photo credit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Pit-and-the-Pendulum-story-by-Poe

Dark Origin

The Pit and the Pendulum is about the torments endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition. It is interesting that Poe made no attempt with this story to be historically accurate and there are three areas where his short story differed significantly from historical facts, as follows:

  1. The narrator’s rescuer – the narrator is rescued by General Lasalle who was a French cavalry general during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars, in particular, the Peninsular War which took place between 1808 and 1814. The Spanish Inquisition was at its height between 1480 and 1530, centuries before this war. The detailed tortures described in Poe’s story have no historic parallels in the activity of the Spanish Inquisition at any time, and particularly not at the beginning of the 19th century when only four persons were condemned under this regime.
  2. The original source of the pendulum torture method is one paragraph in the preface of The history of the Inquisition of Spain published in 1826 by Spanish priest, historian and activist, Juan Antonio Llorente. The paragraph detailed the second-hand account by Llorente of the release of a single prisoner from the Inquisition’s Madrid dungeon in 1820. Llorente included a description by said prisoner of the pendulum torture method. This description has been dismissed as factually inaccurate by modern historians. It is believed that Llorente misunderstood what he heard and that the prisoner was actually referring to the strappado (garrucha), a common Inquisition torture in terms of which the prisoner’s hands are tied behind his back and he is hoisted of the floor by a rope tied to his hands. This method is also called the “pendulum”.
  3. Poe places a Latin epigraph (phrase, quotation or poem) before the story describing it as “a quatrain composed for the gates of a market to be erected upon the site of the Jacobin Club House (the Jacobin Club was the most influential political club during the French Revolution of 1789) at Paris”. Poe did not invent this epigraph as this inscription was composed with the intention of placing it on the site, but the market was not built as intended and did not have any gates and, thus, no inscription.

Summary

Poe’s intention with this short story appears to be to capture the horrors of confinement and torture and the terrible realization by the victim that he is going to die regardless of the choices he makes i.e. the pit or the pendulum. The Spanish Inquisition setting would thus appear to be merely a convenient setting for the tale. Consequently, Poe was not limited by historical accuracy with his descriptions of the torture chamber and methods or the rescue of his hero.

Quotes from The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the Pendulum is one of the most famous of Poe’s works together with The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher and the Masque of the Red Death.

Famous quotes from The Pit and the Pendulum are as follows:

“And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave.”

“I call to mind flatness and dampness; and then all is madness – the madness of a memory which busies itself among forbidden things.”

“In death – no! even in the grave all is not lost. Else there is no immortality for man. Arousing from the most profound slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a second afterward, (so frail may that web have been) we remember not that we have dreamed.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle, is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has two published novels and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories included in several anthologies. She and is also a contributor to the Ask the Authors 2022 (WordCrafter Writing Reference series).

Roberta also has thirteen children’s books and two poetry books published under the name of Robbie Cheadle, and has poems and short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

Roberta’s blog features discussions about classic books, book reviews, poetry, and photography. https://roberta-writes.com/.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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Dark Origins – Myths and legends of the Shona People #Shona #Zimbabwe #stonesculpture

Introduction

The Shona people are part of the Bantu ethnic group native to Southern Africa. The primary home of the Shona is Zimbabwe, where they are the majority ethnic group, as well as Mozambique and South Africa.

There are five major Shona language groupings/dialects as follows: Karanga, Zezuru, Korekore, Manyika, and Ndau.

Creation story

The Shona creation story goes as follows:

“God (Mwari) created the first man, Mwedzi (the moon) in a great depth of water. Mwedzi became lonely and yearned to live on land. Despite Mwari’s warnings, he insisted on being released to the earth. Once there, he found that the earth was indeed a lonely and desolate place and begged Mwari for a partner. Mwari sent him morning star (Hweva / Massassi) and the couple gave birth to all the vegetation on earth. After a period of two years, the lovers were separated, leaving Mwedzi desolate once again. He petitioned for another wife and was given evening star (Morongo / Venekatsvimborume) and together they gave birth to the herbivores and birds of the earth and then to boys and girls. Morongo also gave birth to wild animals and reptiles but then created a great sin when she mated with a snake. This snake eventually bit Mwedzi and made him ill. His illness marked the dawn of all human suffering.

The End.

Read more about the creation story and other fascinating facts about the Shona people here: https://blog.rhinoafrica.com/2018/10/15/5-fascinating-facts-about-shona-people-of-zimbabwe/

Vadzimu, Ngozi and Mashave

The spirits of the ancestors are called Vadzimu and they are very concerned about their living family and their welfare. The most important Vadzimu are those of a person’s father, mother, grandmother and grandfather. If a message is to be passed on to Mwari, the spirit of the father is called upon to pass the message back to his father and so on until it reaches the ears of the deity himself. A Vadzimu of a chief is more powerful that that of a commoner as the ancestor spirit retains the position that the person held in life.

A Ngozi is the vengeful spirit of a person who was harmed during his life by any one of his close relatives. A Ngozi returns after death seeking retribution. A Ngozi is always dangerous and if the presence of one is suspected, his victim is banished from his family clan to do penance for a period of one to two years. On his return, he must offer a goat to the Ngozi in order to bring about a reconciliation.

The Mashaves are spirits of foreigners or of wanderers who died far away from their family clans and did not receive a proper burial. As a result, Mashaves are destined to roam restlessly through the bush until they find a living host in which to reside. If the host is unwilling to accept the Mashave, then s/he will become ill and a diviner is needed to transfer the spirit into the body an an animal and then drive the animal into the wilderness.

Alternatively, if the host accepts the Mashave, the sickness leaves immediately and the individual is initiated via a special ceremony into a cult made up of groups whose members possess similar Mashaves. These cult groups possess special skills imparted to them by the Mashaves such as midwifery and herbal lore.

Spirits in Stone: Sculpture

The art of sculpture has been practiced by the Shona since the 11th century. The first sculptures were based on ancient birds, which eventually became the national emblem of Zimbabwe.

Serpentine stones us used for the sculpture of Shona cult figures. This stone is sedimentary and comes in a variety of hardness’s and colours. Shona sculpturing is a means of expressing the relationship between the physical and the spiritual worlds and is used as a way of exploring legends, ancestry, beliefs and the human condition.

Since independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has become well known for its stone sculpture.

Zimbabwe Sculpture: a Tradition in Stone, Atlanta, USA, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport between concourses T and A
Reconciliation by Amos Supuni

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins – Myths and legends of the Khoikhoi (previously Hottentots)

Introduction

At the time when European settlement began, the Khoikhoi were settled in modern day Namibia, the north-eastern Cape and the south-western Cape. The name Khoikhoi means “real people” or “men of men”. The Khoikhoi are closely related to the San (Bushmen) and are sometimes referred to together as Khoisan. There is a theory that the Khoikho and the San were once the same race. The Khoikhoi broke away to raise cattle, build huts and lead a pastoral life while the San remained true to the wilderness and the elements.

The Khoikhoi were nomadic, moving around in search of grazing land for their animals which consisted mainly of goats, cattle and sheep. They also manufactured animal skins into clothing, bags and blankets and used reeds to make sleeping mats and mats to cover their round and mobile homes. The Khoikhoi also made pottery which could be tied to their oxen or to hut poles when they moved.

All the male children in Khoikhoi families are named after the material side and all the female children after the paternal side. The eldest daughter is highly respected and the milking of the cows is left entirely to her.

God and the afterlife

The Khoikhoi attach special significance to the moon and new and full moons were historically times for rainmaking rites and dancing.

The Khoikhoi deity is called Tsui-Goab and he is believed to be the founding ancestor of the Khoikhoi. He is the creator of the world, of man and of the elements. He provides for man and gives them full bellies and happy hearts. His opposite is Gaunab, who is primarily an evil being who causes sickness or death.

Tsui-Goab lives in a beautiful heaven of light and sunshine while Gaunab lives separately in a dark hiding place. Tsui-Goab, meaning the Read Dawn, bring the light and life to the world. The Khoikhoi always pray in the early morning with their faces turned towards the east where the first light of day appears.

Monsters

According to Khoikhoi legend, a man-eating monster called the Aigamuxa/Aigamuchab dwells among the dunes. The creature is mostly human-looking, except that it has eyes on the instep of its feet. In order to see, it has to go down on its hands and knees and lift its one foot in the air. This is a problem when the monster chases prey, because it can’t see when it runs. Some sources claim the creature resembles an ogre.

Another monster legend is Ga-gorib. This creature sits near a deep hole in the ground and dares passers-by to throw rocks at him. The monster’s intention is for the the rocks to bounce back and kill the passer-by, who will then fall into the hole. According to the myth, when the hero Heitsi-eibib encountered Ga-gorib, he declined the monster’s dare. When Ga-gorib was not looking, Heitsi-eibib threw a stone at the monster and hit it below its ear, causing it to fall into its own pit.

Hai-uri is an agile, jumping creature who is partially-invisible and has only one side to its body (one arm and one leg). It is known to eat humans.

Reading of The Night Walker, a Hottentot myth

I recorded an interesting story about the Hottentot myth, The Night Walker, which you can listen to here:

Here is a picture of a Night Walker with a kerrie taken from the book Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Millar:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins – The Sotho-Tswana and the malevolent Tokoloshe #southernAfrica #myths&legends

The Sotho-Tswana people of southern Africa comprise of the South Sotho (Basuto and Sotho), the West Sotho (Tswana) and the North Sotho (Pedi) people.

Most Sotho people were historically herders of cattle, goats and sheep and growers of grains and tobacco. The Sotho people were also recognised for their metal and leather work as well as their wood and ivory carving.

The Sotho people live largely in Lesotho and South Africa and as a combined group are the second largest ethnic group in South Africa.

Religious beliefs

The Sotho traditionally believe in Modimo who created the world and then withdrew to Heaven. He no longer concerns himself with life on earth. Modimo is not worshipped directly but though the ancestors.

The belief in ancestors is central to Sotho traditional religion. The ancestors are believed to have an influence over the daily lives of their direct descendants. Each family is under the direct guidance of its own descendants while the tribe, as a whole, is under the guidance of the ancestors of the chief.

Cultural differences

The Sotho-Tswana people have several linguistic and cultural characteristics that distinguish them from other Bantu speaking peoples of southern Africa.

  1. In Sotho-Tswana society each member has a totem which is usually an animal. Totems are inherited from the father and are passed down like surnames;
  2. A pre-emptive right for men to marry their maternal cousins;
  3. an architectural style characterized by a round hut with a conical thatch roof supported by wooden pillars on the outside;
  4. Cloaks made of skin;
  5. A preference for dense and close settlements; and
  6. A tradition for large-scale building in stone.

Tokoloshe myth

The Tokoloshe is an evil spirit that shaman create to to torment others as a form of punishment or revenge for a perceived slight. The Tokoloshe is dwarf-like, shriveled and hairy and, in some descriptions, has gouged-out eyes. When called, the Tokoloshe can be used for something as simple as scaring children, or can cause illness or even death to those it is tasked with tormenting.

The Tokoloshe is able to become invisible by drinking water or swallowing a stone.

The myth of the Tokoloshe is believed to have come about to explain why people mysteriously died while sleeping in their rondavels at night. Traditionally, people slept on grass mats on the floor encircling a wood fire during the winter. The fire depleted the oxygen levels in the huts and left behind noxious carbon monoxide with sank to the floor. A connection was eventually made that people who slept in elevated positions escaped the curse of the Tokoloshe. Some people still elevate their beds by placing bricks beneath the legs.

Picture credit: https://www.news24.com/citypress/trending/how-to-get-rid-of-the-tokoloshe-20180827

This is short reading from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Miller called Catching the Tokoloshe:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins – African Myths and Legends: Castle of Good Hope in the Western Cape

The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, South Africa, was built in 1665 and became the scene of many bloody and tragic events. The Castle came about as the result of a ship wreck, a common occurrence at the southern most tip of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet.

On the 25th of March 1647, a Dutch ship called De Nieuwe Haerlem ran aground near present day Milnerton, as it journeyed from Holland to the East Indies. The ship sank and a junior merchant named Leendert Janszen was requested to stay near the site of the wreck, with about 60 crew members, to look after the cargo while the rest of the ship wrecked men boarded other ships and continued to Holland.

While he waited to be relieved of his responsibilities and return home, Janszen and his men grew vegetables, caught fish and bartered fresh fish from the indigenous people in the area. When he returned to Holland, he was requested to compile a report recommending the suitability of the Cape to serve as a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company’s ships travelling to India and back. Janszen was in favour of the idea and so was Jan Van Riebeeck, a member of the crew of the ship that picked up Janszen and his men.

In 1651, Van Riebeeck, accompanied by 79 men and 8 women, set sail for the Cape to establish a refreshment station. Van Riebeeck built the original clay and timber fort, called the Fort de Goede Hoop, which was replaced by a new fort made of stone between 1666 and 1679. The new building which still survives and is the oldest Colonial building in South Africa, has five bastions named after the main titles of William III of Orange-Nassau: Leerdam to the west, the Buuren, Katzenellenbogen, Nassau, and Oranje clockwise from it.

Picture credit: https://castleofgoodhope.co.za/index.php/news/100-news/149-history-of-the-castle

Legends of The Castle

The Castle was used as a prison and numerous prisoners were incarcerated for their sins (real or manufactured) in the ‘Donker Gat’ [Dark Hole]. This windowless dungeon was used as a torture chamber and it sometimes flooded during the winter, drowning any prisoners it contained.

The Castle is, of course, haunted and workers and visitors have reported hearing voices and footsteps in the Donker Gat and in The Castles narrow corridors. The bell in the bell tower sometimes rings of its own accord, despite having been bricked up centuries ago. It is believed that the ghost of a soldier who hung himself by the bell-rope rings the bell.

A vicious black dog is reported to haunt the castles grounds. It lunges and visitors and then disappears.

The most interesting of the ghosts, in my opinion, is that of Governor Pieter Gijsbert van Noodt. He had a reputation for mistreating his servants and the soldiers during his tenure. On the 23rd of April 1728, Governor van Noodt sentenced 7 men to hang for desertion. He was cursed by one of the men while he hung from the gallows and, that very same day, he was found dead in his office. Workers and visitors have seen him prowling the gloomy corridors of The Castle and heard him carousing and cursing in the upstairs rooms.

Do you know of any haunted castles? Share your story in the comments below.

An interesting historical connection

The Zulu King Cetshwayo also spent time as a prisoner at The Castle. This was after he was captured in the Ngome Forest after the defeat of the Zulu Nation by the British at Ulundi in 1879.

Subsequent to the defeat at Ulundi which dealt a death blow of the Zulu Kingdom, King Cetshwayo achieved the greatest victory against the British forces ever achieved by an indigenous army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetshwayo

I have recently written two short stories about this battle, and this is a short extract from my story, written from the perspective of the Zulus, called “Hell Hath No Fury Like an Army Scorned.”

“22 January 1879

The narrow bottom of the gorge was filled with men, women, and boys. The grim, motionless ranks of over twenty thousand squatting warriors set the tone, ensuring that the several thousand uDibi boys, of which I was one, and the women conducted themselves soundlessly. The silence hung heavily, like early morning mist.

In accordance with the orders of King Cetshwayo, the Zulu army had marched the 62 miles from Ulundi at a slow pace.  It was to “attack at dawn and eat up the red soldiers.”

Now, the men were resting and waiting for the ‘day of the dead moon’ to pass. Unless it was unavoidable, the army would not fight on this spiritual day.

“White men are coming!” The young herders appeared at the entrance to the ravine, driving the cattle before them. Their cries of warning echoed off the encircling rockfaces.

Looking up, I saw several white men on horseback starring down at our camp from the top of the overlooking ridge.

CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!

The observers fired down on us, before turning their animals and galloping away.

The dust from their horses’ hooves still hung in a thick cloud over the ridge when the great UNduna sprang into action.

“Prepare for battle, men,” Ntshingwayo kaMahole Khoza ordered. “We must attack now or lose the element of surprise.”

My belly roiled with fear.

The army’s not supposed to fight today. It’s bad khama, I thought.

“I hope the evil spirits in the air won’t bring bad luck,” my mother’s whispered words rang in my head as I set off with the other uDibi boys to prepare for battle.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 11 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins, AFrican Myths and Legends: The Spectral Hitchhiker #Ghoststories #Uniondaleghost #southernafricanlegends

Uniondale is a klein dorpie (small town) in the Little Karoo, Western Cape Province of South Africa. The town was formed in 1856 by the joining of two towns, Hopedale and Lyons. There is nothing remarkable about this agricultural town except its famous ghost story.

On the national road, not far from Uniondale, there is a turn-off that leads to Barendas. It is here that a young women hitchhiker is seen around Easter time. She is dressed in dark slacks and a shirt and has accepted many a lift from unsuspecting motorists. She travels with them for about 17 kilometres until the next turn-off to Barendas, and then she disappears.

The ghost is said to be Maria Charlotte Roux, an administrative clerk, who was travelling with her fiance, Giel Pretorius (some of the articles refer to him as Giel Oberholzer), an army corporal, from Pretoria to Riversdale. The couple were planning to visit Maria’s parents and discuss the wedding.

Picture from https://www.geni.com/people/Maria-Charlotte-Roux/6000000029757000923

Maria is said to have fallen asleep at the first turn-off to Barendas. At the second turn-off to Barendas, her fiance lost control of the Volkswagen Beetle he was driving and the car overturned. Maria was flung out of the car and was killed instantly.

When my family passed through Uniondale during our road trip in January this year, we were given the story to read at the local cafe where we enjoyed lunch.

If you would like to listen to the story, this YouTube video is quite good.

The ghost of Uniondale made her way into my book, Through the Nethergate.

Cover of Through the Nethergate

This is the relevant extract:

“The road between Burnley and Nelson was completely deserted at that time of night and he was alone in his small car.

As he drove along a stretch of the road lined on both sides by tall trees, he happened to glance into his rear-view mirror. In the moonlight he saw a teenage girl sitting in the back of his car.

He assumed she was the daughter of one of the Catholic families who had attended the service and his initial reaction was one of irritation. Why had she stowed away in his car? Was she running away from home?

He swung around to look at the teenager over his shoulder, but there was no one there.

A few seconds later, he looked in the rear-view mirror again and the girl was back. Her skin shone whitely although he couldn’t see her face clearly in the dim light. He swung around for a second time and his annoyance intensified when he saw she was gone again. Why was she ducking down behind the seat when he turned to look at her? It was such a childish thing to do.

He slammed on the brakes and climbed out of the driver’s seat of the car. Marching around to the back door he flung it open, intending to give the girl a good telling off, but there was no one there. The car was completely empty. She couldn’t possibly have jumped out of the car and run away;
he would have seen her.

He shut the back door and walked back to the driver’s door.

Taking his seat, he again peered into the rear-view mirror. The girl was back. She was sitting serenely in the back seat, hands folded neatly on her lap.

He drove off, heart hammering in his chest. When he checked the rear-view mirror again, about a mile further down the road, the girl was gone.

A few days later he learned that there had been an accident on that stretch of the road a few days earlier. A teenage girl, who had been asleep in the back seat of the car, had been killed on impact, together with the driver of the car.

The idea of mythical creatures and ghosts was not new to Father Merton. His mother was from Norway and he had grown up on a diet of Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. It was not difficult for him to accept the idea that he had seen a ghost. This acceptance, and his own keen interest in the topic, paved the way for his new career as an exorcist within the structure of the Catholic Church.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has ten children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends: Stories of the Western Cape – The Flying Dutchman #Ghoststories #FlyingDutchman #TableMountain

In the late Middle Ages, the spice trade from India and the so called Silk Road from China were of economic importance to Europe. After Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1453 the European overland trade routes were disrupted and they needed to find a sea route to India and China.

Christopher Columbus attempted to find a sea route to India by travelling westwards. He discovered the Americas.

Portuguese explorer, Diogo Cão, explored the African coast south to present-day Namibia, and, in 1488, Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, discovered the Cape of Good Hope. In 1498, Vasco da Gama headed an expedition which led to the Portuguese discovery of a sea route to India. This route around the Cape of Good Hope (current day Cape Town) came into use by the European East India Companies.

The Cape of Good Hope was also known as the Cape of Storms because of the treacherous winter storms that resulted in a total of 26 shipwrecks at Cape Point alone.

Legend has it that when Bartholomew Dias rounded this Cape of Storms and saw Table Mountain, he thought he was seeing a gigantic titan of the deep with it’s head veiled in white clouds. He imagined that the tides that foamed around the foot of the great mountain were the titan’s roar. The moment of Dias’ first sighting of this titan was described in the poem, Lusiadas, by Portuguese poet, Camoes. Camoes called the monster Titan Adamastor and depicted him as condemned to dwell imprisoned forever in the ‘furtherest confines of the south’ – the Cape of Storms. According to the poem, this sentence was passed by Jupiter when the Titans were vanquished following a war between these deities that lasted ten years. Adamastor and his brothers were imprisoned in various huge mountains around the world. Adamastor was filled with bitterness at his imprisonment and at losing the love of the queen of the sea, Thetis, and he swore eternal vengeance on all who should approach him and disturb his solitude. He shouted his rage and warnings of doom at Dias when he rounded the Cape.

In 1500, Dias returned to the Cape of Storms on his way to Sofala. As his fleet rounded the Cape it encountered a violent storm. Four of the ships, including the one captained by Dias, disappeared and Adamastor’s warning was fulfilled. From this unfortunate maritime disaster, the legend of the Flying Dutchman came into being.

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship which is said to have never been able to make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever.

According to Wikipedia: “According to the legend, if hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman was said to try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. Reported sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries claimed that the ship glowed with a ghostly light. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom.” You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman

Picture of the Flying Dutchman from Wikipedia

This is my reading on YT of the story of The Flying Dutchman from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Mills:

A picture of Table Mountain from https://www.travelbutlers.com/south-africa/cape-town/table-mountain.asp

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has ten children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins: African myths and legends – The Zulus Part 3 #Zulucreationmyth #sausagetree

The Zulu Creation Myth

The Zulu myth on the creation of mankind and the world is as follows:

The Ancient One, known as Unkulunkulu, came from the reeds and from them he created the people and the cattle. Unkulunkula created the mountains, streams, and all creatures, both wild and domesticated.

He taught the Zulu’s how to hunt, how to make fire, and how to grow food.

You can listen to me read the Zulu myth: The Story of Creation here:

The Sausage Tree and Zulu mythology

When I visited Ghost Mountain in Kwa-Zulu Natal in March 2021, I learned about the iconic Sausage Tree which grows in this area.

This is a picture of Ghost Mountain, doesn’t it look just like a screaming head?

This tree’s incredible sausage-shaped fruit weighs between 5 and 10 kilograms and can get to 3 feet in length. The unripe fruit is poisonous, especially to humans, but the skin is ground to a pulp and used externally for medicine. It is used to cure skin ailments especially skin cancers. The fruit is also burned to ashes and pounded using a mortar with oil and water to make a paste to apply to the skin. The rind of the fruit is also used to aid the fermentation of local brews.

The sausage tree has beautiful blood-red to maroon flowers with an unpleasant (to humans) smell. It’s scent attracts its main pollinator, the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat.

Many animals feed on the flowers when they drop, including impala, duiker, bush pigs, and lovebirds.

Zulu myth about the sausage tree

During our stay at Ghost Mountain Lodge, we went on a game drive to a nearby private game park. The ranger told us that the sausage tree is the subject of an age-old myth that it has the power to enhance libido and sexual prowess in both humans and animals. The sausage tree is also believed to hold the answer to impotence. These ‘cures’ are prepared by traditional doctors and are shrouded in mystery.

Did you know?

Did you know that I have two short stories in the WordCrafter Press anthology, Spirits of the West, that are based on South African history?

If you would like to read and review a copy, please email me at sirchoc[at]outlook[dot]com.

Here is a short extract from my story, The Ghost in the Mound:

“Grasping the baby tightly, Sara clambers out from under the wagon and sits back on her heels next to the wheel. After passing her the baby, Susanna crawls out, followed by Clara. They both kneel beside her.
In front of them, through the smoky haze, the blurred and agitated forms of the adults move frantically; fire, reload, fire, reload. The noise is immense.

Pointing to the huge baobab tree which stands directly in front of them, Sara whispers to the two younger girls.

“You need to run straight past Mama and get behind that tree. Run as fast as you can, I’ll be right behind you. Are you ready? One, two, go!”

The three girls lunge forward and begin to run, their faces drawn and tight with stress and their eyes fixed on the prominent tree. Their swiftly moving feet are accompanied by the crashing of the guns and the shrieks and yells of the enemy.

As the tree draws closer, Sara can see the detail of every leaf and the smooth shininess of its bottle-shaped trunk. The threesome circle behind the great trunk, gasping for breath. Sara drops to her knees;
Kobus is heavy and her chest throbs.

The tree’s heavy, white flowers are already starting to fade, and a few have already turned brown and fallen to the ground. Their sweet fragrance has a cloying smell of decay. Sara looks around, considering their options.

Where can we hide?

Her eyes settle on the termite mound, standing proud and tall, surrounded by veld. The yellowy green grass between their position under the tree and the mound is tall and thick, offering protection from
searching eyes.”

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has two published novels:

* Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy; and

* A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has ten children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written seven publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends – The Zulus Part 2 #Beadwork #Traditionalstory

Last month for Dark Origins, African Myths and Legends, I shared an introduction to the Zulu people of South Africa, the Great Zulu King Shaka and the legend of the Buffalo Thorn tree. If you missed it, you can read it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2022/04/27/dark-origins-african-myths-and-legends-the-zulus-part-1/

This month, I will be sharing information about Zulu beadwork and the messages contained therein as well as a traditional story.

Zulu beadwork

The Zulu people of South Africa have a rich tradition of beadwork. Originally, bone, small horns, shells and small pieces of polished wood and stone were pierced to make beads that were strung together as necklaces and belts.

When the Zulus started trading with the Europeans at the end of the 18th century, glass and ceramic beads were introduced into their beadwork.

Traditionally, both men and women wore beaded belts called umutsha to which a piece of cloth was attached to cover the pubic area. The belts have conical brass buttons that fasten the belt at both ends.

The colours and designs incorporated into Zulu beadwork hold specific meanings. Red beads, for example, signifies intense and jealous passion or eyes that are red from watching for a loved one to return. Yellow signifies contentment, pink or green for poverty or coolness, white for faithfulness and purity and black to indicate a desire to be married.

The main shape used in traditional Zulu beadwork is the triangle where the three corners represent Father, Mother, and Child. The triangle is also used to indicate gender and marital status, for example, if the tip points upwards it represents an unmarried girl. If the tip points downwards, it means an unmarried boy.

Zulu beadwork is used to make traditional dolls and jewelry as well as beaded ostrich eggs and bead coasters.

In summary, beads are an integral part of African history and culture. The serve as a form of money, indicate wealth, are spiritual talismans and form coded messages for the recipient.

Traditional Zulu music:

The South African pre-battle Haka:

Reading of a traditional Zulu story

My reading of The Chief’s Daughter and the Cannibal, a traditional Zulu story from Myths and Legends of Southern Africa by Penny Miller:

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Dark Origins: African myths and legends, The Zulus – Part 1

The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with a population of between 10 and 12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The Zulu tribe originated from the Ngunis who inhabited central and eastern Africa. They migrated to Southern Africa as part of the ‘Bantu Migration’ which occurred centuries ago.

One of the most famous Zulu chief was Shaka (1816 to 1828) who founded the Zulu empire. He is credited with uniting more than one hundred independent Nguni chiefdoms into a formidable fighting force. Shaka armed his warriors with short-handled stabbing spears for close-contact fighting and trained them to move up to their opponents in close formation with the body-length cowhide shields forming an almost impenetrable barrier to long-handled assegai thrown by enemy forces.

This is the theme song from the Shaka Zulu TV show called We are Growing:

The first interesting Zulu cultural belief I want to share is about the Buffalo Thorn tree.

Like many other cultures, the Zulu people believe that a person’s life continues in the spirit world after death. Every person who dies within the Zulu tribe must be buried traditionally or the deceased may become a wandering spirit. An animal is slaughtered as a ritual and the deceased person’s personal belongings are buried with them to help them on their next journey.

Ancestors, known as amadlozi and abaphansi, are believed to live in the spirit world, unKulunkulu, and are regarded as intermediaries between the spirit world and the world of the living. Ancestors make their presence known through dreams, sickness, and snakes. At opportune times like birth, puberty, marriage, and death, the ancestors are asked for blessings, good luck, fortune, guidance and other assistance. Sacrifices of animals are made to appease the ancestors and offerings of home-made beer and other things are given as offerings.

The buffalo thorn blooms in southern Africa from October to Zulu. It is a deciduous tree and sheds its silvery-grey leaves annually. It is unusual in that its thorns grow in pairs with one thorn being straight and the other hooked. This makes this tree an effective perimeter barrier.

In Zulu culture, a twig from the Buffalo Thorn is used to collect the spirit of a deceased person from their place of death, and taken to their final resting place. If the transporter of the spirit travels, the branch will have its own seat in the vehicle.

This is a branch of a Buffalo Thorn. You can clearly see the two types of thorns from each node.

In a traditional Zulu kraal, the beehive hut on the highest point, furthest from the entrance, is occupied by the chief’s mother and is also home to the family’s ancestors. Modern Zulu settlements all have a beehive shaped traditional spirit hut.

This is a random picture of a Zulu home near Fugitive’s Drift Guest Farm. You can see the ancestor hut at the back with the conical thatched roof

It is also common for the Zulu people to plant a Buffalo Thorn tree at the site of a graveyard or mass burial site.

This Buffalo Thorn tree was planted at the burial site of the warriors who fell during the Battle of Isandlwana. You can read my post about this battle here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/01/22/thursdaydoors-isandlwana/
This Buffalo Thorn tree was planted as the site of the warriors who fell at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift. You can read my post about this battle here: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/2021/01/30/thursdaydoors-the-battle-of-rorkes-drift/

About Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.

Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.

Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.

Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.

Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.

Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Blog: https://wordpress.com/view/robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobertaEaton17

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robertawrites

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roberta-Eaton-Cheadle/e/B08RSNJQZ5

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.