Dark Origins – The shockingly dark original story of Pinocchio

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The Adventures of Pinocchio is a children’s fantasy novel by Italian author, Carlo Collodi.

The story was originally published as a serial called The Story of a Puppet in the Giornale per I bambini, one of the earliest Italian weekly magazines for children starting from 7 July 1881. Originally, the story stopped after 8 episodes (published over 4 months) at Chapter 15. Due to popular demand, the episodes were resumed on 16 February 1882 and the following year, the story was published as a single book.

The storyline

In Tuscany, Italy, a carpenter named Master Antonio finds a block of wood which he immediately plans to carve into a table leg. The log cries out when he cuts it. Master Antonio falls to the floor as a result of shock and just at that moment his extremely poor neighbour, Geppetto, knocks on the door. The piece of wood instigates an altercation between the pair, but after a minor fisticuff, Geppetto receives the log as a gift. Geppetto is delighted and carves it into a marionette with the plan of making a living as a travelling puppeteer.

Quote: “On hearing himself called Polendina for the third time, Geppetto lost his head with rage and threw himself upon the carpenter. Then and there they gave each other a sound thrashing.

After this fight, Mastro Antonio had two more scratches on his nose, and Geppetto had two buttons missing from his coat. Thus having settled their accounts, they shook hands and swore to be good friends for the rest of their lives.

Then Geppetto took the fine piece of wood, thanked Mastro Antonio, and limped away toward home.”

As soon as Geppetto sets about carving the wood it becomes obvious that the puppet, called Pinocchio, will not be of good character.

Quote: “As he was about to put the last touches on the finger tips, Geppetto felt his wig being pulled off. He glanced up and what did he see? His yellow wig was in the Marionette’s hand. “Pinocchio, give me my wig!”

But instead of giving it back, Pinocchio put it on his own head, which was half swallowed up in it.

At that unexpected trick, Geppetto became very sad and downcast, more so than he had ever been before.

“Pinocchio, you wicked boy!” he cried out. “You are not yet finished, and you start out by being impudent to your poor old father. Very bad, my son, very bad!”

And he wiped away a tear.

The legs and feet still had to be made. As soon as they were done, Geppetto felt a sharp kick on the tip of his nose.

“I deserve it!” he said to himself. “I should have thought of this before I made him. Now it’s too late!””

Geppetto teaches Pinocchio to walk and he immediately runs away. The ungrateful puppet is caught by a law enforcement officer who, acting on the erroneous belief that Geppetto has mistreated the puppet, arrests Geppetto and puts him in prison.

Pinocchio returns to the empty house and meets the talking cricket which warns him of the perils of disobedience. In retaliation, Pinocchio throws a hammer at the cricket and accidentally kills it.

Picture caption: Pinocchio, a wooden puppet, throws a hammer at the cricket. https://www.historydefined.net/original-pinocchio/

Having tried unsuccessfully to obtain some food, the puppet settles down to sleep on a stove. When he wakes up, his feet have been burned off. Luckily for Pinocchio, Geppetto is released from prison and returns home. He makes Pinocchio new feet. Caught up in short lived gratitude, Pinocchio agrees to attend school and Geppetto sells his only coat to buy him a schoolbook.

Pinocchio never makes it to school on that first day and his disobedience gets him into significant trouble. He narrowly escapes being used as firewood to cook a hungry puppeteer’s dinner. A fisherman coats him in flour and tries to fry him. As punishment for refusing to study, he is transformed into a donkey and thrown into the sea.

The worse of all his violent adventures is when Pinocchio is lynched from a tree by his recurring enemies, the Fox and the Cat. This is the point when Collodi ended his original Pinocchio magazine series. It was only popular demand by his readers that resulted in the Collodi reviving his puppet hero and finding a way out of this scrape for him.

Picture credit: Pinocchio hanging by his neck while the two assassins’ watch on. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-birthplace-of-pinocchio/

Quote: “Happily for him, Pinocchio was made of very hard wood and the knives broke into a thousand pieces. The Assassins looked at each other in dismay, holding the handles of the knives in their hands.

“I understand,” said one of them to the other, “there is nothing left to do now but to hang him.”

“To hang him,” repeated the other.

They tied Pinocchio’s hands behind his shoulders and slipped the noose around his neck. Throwing the rope over the high limb of a giant oak tree, they pulled till the poor Marionette hung far up in space.

Satisfied with their work, they sat on the grass waiting for Pinocchio to give his last gasp. But after three hours the Marionette’s eyes were still open, his mouth still shut and his legs kicked harder than ever.

Tired of waiting, the Assassins called to him mockingly: “Good-by till tomorrow. When we return in the morning, we hope you’ll be polite enough to let us find you dead and gone and with your mouth wide open.” With these words they went.

A few minutes went by and then a wild wind started to blow. As it shrieked and moaned, the poor little sufferer was blown to and fro like the hammer of a bell. The rocking made him seasick and the noose, becoming tighter and tighter, choked him. Little by little a film covered his eyes.

Death was creeping nearer and nearer, and the Marionette still hoped for some good soul to come to his rescue, but no one appeared. As he was about to die, he thought of his poor old father, and hardly conscious of what he was saying, murmured to himself:

“Oh, Father, dear Father! If you were only here!”

These were his last words. He closed his eyes, opened his mouth, stretched out his legs, and hung there, as if he were dead.”

After this, Pinocchio’s story then continues its series of bleak set-pieces until finally our hero learns not to run away from his responsibilities. He begins to study hard and becomes a ‘good little kid’ and, at last, a real boy.

The dark origin of Pinocchio

It is clear from the narrative above the Pinocchio is a very dark story filled with violence, hunger, and illness. To understand how this story came about, the childhood of the author needs to be considered. According to https://metro.co.uk/, the house where Carlo Collodi was born in Florence in 1826, was on a long, narrow residential street which did not allow for any natural sunlight. He was the oldest of ten children and, to ease the burden on his parents, was sent away to live in a village with his mother’s family for much of his childhood.  

While he was away, his family suffered a series of tragedies. Six of his nine siblings died before reaching adulthood. Some passed away as babies, while others lived long enough to become established parts of the family only to die later into childhood. The bleaker aspects of ‘The Adventures of Pinocchio’ are informed by the lasting impact of this pain on the author. 

Themes

The themes of hunger, illness, and death are prevalent throughout the story.

Quotes:

“Are you not afraid of death?’

I am not in the least afraid!… I would rather die than drink that bitter medicine.’

At that moment the door of the room flew open, and four rabbits as black as ink entered carrying on their shoulders a little bier.

What do you want with me?’ cried Pinocchio, sitting up in bed in a great fright.

We are come to take you,’ said the biggest rabbit.

To take me?… But I am not yet dead!…’

No, not yet: but you have only a few minutes to live, as you have refused the medicine that would have cured you of the fever.’

Oh, Fairy, Fairy!’ the puppet then began to scream, ‘give me the tumbler at once… be quick, for pity’s sake, for I will not die–no… I will not die….”

***

“That puppet there,’ continued the Talking-cricket, ‘is a confirmed rogue. …’ Pinocchio opened his eyes, but shut them again immediately. ‘He is a ragamuffin, a do-nothing, a vagabond. …. Pinocchio hid his face beneath the clothes. ‘That puppet there is a disobedient son who will make his poor father die of a broken heart! …’ At that instant a suffocated sound of sobs and crying was heard in the room. Imagine everybody’s astonishment when, having raised the sheets a little, it was discovered that the sounds came from Pinocchio. ‘When the dead person cries, it is a sign that he is on the road to get well,’ said the Crow solemnly. ‘I grieve to contradict my illustrious friend and colleague,’ added the Owl, ‘but for me, when the dead person cries, it is a sign that he is sorry to die.”

***

“A boy’s appetite grows very fast, and in a few moments the queer, empty feeling had become hunger, and the hunger grew bigger and bigger, until soon he was as ravenous as a bear.

Poor Pinocchio ran to the fireplace where the pot was boiling and stretched out his hand to take the cover off, but to his amazement the pot was only painted! Think how he felt! His long nose became at least two inches longer.

He ran about the room, dug in all the boxes and drawers, and even looked under the bed in search of a piece of bread, hard though it might be, or a cookie, or perhaps a bit of fish. A bone left by a dog would have tasted good to him! But he found nothing.

And meanwhile his hunger grew and grew.”

Moral of the story

The moral of the story is that hard work, being good, and studying hard are the keys to success and it is only when Pinocchio devotes himself to the achievement of these three things that he transforms from a wooden puppet to a real boy with modern comforts. However, the author never lets the reader forget that disaster is always waiting to happen.

Quotes:

“I was just saying,” whined the Marionette in a whisper, “that it seems too late for me to go to school now.”

“No, indeed. Remember it is never too late to learn.”

“But I don’t want either trade or profession.”

“Why?”

“Because work wearies me!”

“My dear boy,” said the Fairy, “people who speak as you do usually end their days either in a prison or in a hospital. A man, remember, whether rich or poor, should do something in this world. No one can find happiness without work. Woe betide the lazy fellow! Laziness is a serious illness and one must cure it immediately; yes, even from early childhood. If not, it will kill you in the end.”

These words touched Pinocchio’s heart. He lifted his eyes to his Fairy and said seriously: “I’ll work; I’ll study; I’ll do all you tell me. After all, the life of a Marionette has grown very tiresome to me and I want to become a boy, no matter how hard it is. You promise that, do you not?”

“Yes, I promise, and now it is up to you.”

***

“Poor Pinocchio huddled close to the doghouse more dead than alive from cold, hunger, and fright. Now and again he pulled and tugged at the collar which nearly choked him and cried out in a weak voice:

“I deserve it! Yes, I deserve it! I have been nothing but a truant and a vagabond. I have never obeyed anyone and I have always done as I pleased. If I were only like so many others and had studied and worked and stayed with my poor old father, I should not find myself here now, in this field and in the darkness, taking the place of a farmer’s watchdog. Oh, if I could start all over again! But what is done can’t be undone, and I must be patient!””

If you would like to read the original The Adventures of Pinocchio, you can find it for free on Gutenberg here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/500/500-h/500-h.htm

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 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 – The creepy true story behind Alice in Wonderland #DarkOrigins #AliceinWonderland

Cave background lighted with colors Text: Dark Origins - Nursery Rhymes, Fairytales and Stories Hosted by Writing to be Read and Robbie Cheadle

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite childhood books. I love it so much, I have seven different copies, one of which is vintage.

The book, Alice in Wonderland, starts with a young girl, Alice, sitting on a bank and watching her sister read a boring book with no pictures or conversations. Seeing a white rabbit passing by, she follows it down a rabbit hole. The rabbit walks and talks and has a pocket watch. Alice falls down and down the rabbit hole, all the while having an interesting conversation with herself, and ends up in a large entrance hall. There is a small door beyond which is a beautiful world, but Alice is to big to pass through it. She experiments with eating and drinking various items until she is finally small enough to gain entry to Wonderland.

Wonderland is a strange and mysterious world filled with unusual creatures and people. It is summed up by this quote: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would.”

You can obtain a free copy of Alice in Wonderland from Gutenberg here: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/11

Picture credit: A smartly dressed and standing White Rabbit checking his pocket watch from the Project Gutenberg e-book, The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, available here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/114/114-h/114-h.htm

About the author

Lewis Carroll was a pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, who was born in England in 1832. At the age of 18, Dodgson left home to attend Oxford University, where he studied and worked for the next 20 years. He was a student and then a professor and a mathematician.

Dodgson created the Lewis Carroll pseudonym while he was at Oxford, in order to write children’s books that would not be connected to his academic career. He was well known for developing close friendships with children but very few relationships with adults. He befriended the children of his colleagues and acquaintances and spent a lot of time with them, even writing them letters.

“Extra thanks and kisses for the lock of hair,” he wrote to a 10-year-old girl. “I have kissed it several times — for want of having you to kiss, you know, even hair is better than nothing.”

When Henry George Liddell became the Dean of Christ Church at Oxford, Dodgson became friends with his three young daughters: Lorina, Edith and Alice.

The story, Alice in Wonderland, came into existence in 1862 when Dodgson and a colleague took the three girls out on a picnic and rowing trip along the Thames. In order to keep the trio entertained, Dodgson started telling the story that would become Alice in Wonderland which was published in 1865.

Picture credit: A picture of Edith, Ina and Alice Liddell on a Sofa from https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/306206

Dodgson was also a keen photographer and it is known that he took photos of nude and semi-nude children – including a full-frontal nude shot of Alice’s sister Lorina.

Dodgson wrote:

“I confess I do not admire naked boys in pictures. They always seem to me to need clothes: whereas one hardly sees why the lovely forms of girls should ever be coverd [sic] up!”

In 1863, Dodgson’s friendship with the Liddell family came to a sudden end and he never again spent time alone with their daughters.

There’s no record of why Dodgson’s relationship with the family ended, but there is a theory that he proposed marriage to Alice. This wasn’t that unusual in the mid 1800s as the age of consent was 12 years old and some men did marry young girls.

Before even examining the deeper meaning and themes of Alice in Wonderland, its author and the creation of this story are cast in rather a creepy light.

Deeper meaning and themes of Alice in Wonderland

The Tragic and Inevitable Loss of Childhood Innocence

The theme of growing up is central to Alice in Wonderland. The author is credited with enjoying the innocence with which children approach the world. The multitude of physically changes Alice goes through in Wonderland are believed to be symbolic of puberty and the many changes that take place during that period of a person’s life.

Alice finds these changes disturbing and traumatic and she struggles to find a comfortable size, reverting eventually to her original size.

Relevant quotes:

“I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night. Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I’m not the same, the next question is ‘Who in the world am I?’ Ah, that’s the great puzzle!”

“It was much pleasanter at home,” thought poor Alice, “when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits. I almost wish I hadn’t gone down the rabbit-hole–and yet–and yet–…”

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.”

Alice is also confused about who she is and her role in the world around her, namely, Wonderland.

“It’ll be no use their putting their heads down and saying “Come up again, dear!” I shall only look up and say “Who am I then? Tell me that first, and then, if I like being that person, I’ll come up: if not, I’ll stay down here till I’m somebody else”–but, oh dear!’ cried Alice, with a sudden burst of tears, ‘I do wish they WOULD put their heads down! I am so VERY tired of being all alone here!”

Life as a Meaningless Puzzle

As Alice travels through Wonderland, she encounters a series of situations and circumstances which she cannot make sense of and which have no clear solutions. This is symbolism for how life throws frustrating curveballs and problems that cannot be solved or unraveled in the expected way. Often, lateral thinking is required to circumvent issues and, sometimes, problems have no solution in life.

Relevant quotes:

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

“Mad Hatter: Would you like a little more tea?
Alice: Well, I haven’t had any yet, so I can’t very well take more.
March Hare: Ah, you mean you can’t very well take less.
Mad Hatter: Yes. You can always take more than nothing.”

“The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea, and looked at it again: but he could think of nothing better to say than his first remark, ‘It was the best butter, you know.’ Alice had been looking over his shoulder with some curiosity. ‘What a funny watch!’ she remarked. ‘It tells the day of the month, and doesn’t tell what o’clock it is!’ ‘Why should it?’ muttered the Hatter. ‘Does your watch tell you what year it is?’ ‘Of course not,’ Alice replied very readily: ‘but that’s because it stays the same year for such a long time together.’ ‘Which is just the case with mine,’ said the Hatter. Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. ‘I don’t quite understand you,’ she said, as politely as she could. ‘The Dormouse is asleep again,’ said the Hatter, and he poured a little hot tea upon its nose. The Dormouse shook its head impatiently, and said, without opening its eyes, ‘Of course, of course; just what I was going to remark myself.’ ‘Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again. ‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘what’s the answer?’ ‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter. ‘Nor I,’ said the March Hare. Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, ‘than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ ‘If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, ‘you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.”

Picture credit: Mad Hatter tea party from the Project Gutenberg e-book, The Tenniel Illustrations for Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, available here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/114/114-h/114-h.htm

Death as a Constant and Underlying Menace

Over and over again, Alice finds herself in dangerous situations that suggest that death is lurking just around the corner. Although death never manifests in the book, the reader senses it and so does Alice. At the end of the book she comes to realise that despite the ridiculous circumstances in Wonderland, death could be a very real outcome and that is when she wakes up and the reader comes to understand the entire book is a dream.

Relevant quotes:

“Well!” thought Alice to herself. “After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down-stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!” (Which was very likely true.)”

“The executioner’s argument was that you couldn’t cut of something’s head unless there was a trunk to sever it from. He’d never done anything like that in his time of life, and wasn’t going to start now.

The King’s argument was that anything that had a head, could be beheaded, and you weren’t to talk nonsense.

The Queen’s argument was that if something wasn’t done about it in less than no time, she’d have everyone beheaded all round.

It was this last argument that had everyone looking so nervous and uncomfortable.”

Characterisation

Alice meets a plethora of characters that have become well known. It is believed that many of these characters, including Alice herself, suffer from mental health disorders. This is a list of some of the most famous characters with a description from Spark Notes (https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/alice/characters/)

The White Rabbit – “The frantic, harried Wonderland creature that originally leads Alice to Wonderland. The White Rabbit is figure of some importance, but he is manic, timid, and occasionally aggressive.” The White Rabbit suffers from an anxiety disorder and is in a constant state of panic.

The Queen of Hearts – “The ruler of Wonderland. The Queen is severe and domineering, continually screaming for her subjects to be beheaded.” The Queen of Hearts is completely self absorbed and has a narcissistic personality disorder.

The Cheshire Cat – “A perpetually grinning cat who appears and disappears at will. The Cheshire Cat displays a detached, clearheaded logic and explains Wonderland’s madness to Alice.” The Cheshire Cat is schizophrenic.

The Caterpillar – “A Wonderland creature. The Caterpillar sits on a mushroom, smokes a hookah, and treats Alice with contempt. He directs Alice to the magic mushroom that allows her to shrink and grow.” The Caterpillar is a drug addict who smokes a hookah and gives Alice a mushroom with mind and body-altering capabilities.

Picture credit: Illustration of the caterpillar sitting on a mushroom smoking a hookah with Alice looking up at him with wide eyes from the original editions in 1865 (left) illustrated by John Tenniel

The Mad Hatter – “A small, impolite hatter who lives in perpetual tea-time. The Mad Hatter enjoys frustrating Alice.” The hatter is simply mad.

Have you read Alice in Wonderland? Did you spot these underlying themes and meanings?


Dark Origins – The Chimes, A Goblin Story: a novella by Charles Dickens

I have been participating in a Dickens Readathon which is being hosted by by Marsha Ingrao from Always Write blog (this is her latest post for the challenge: https://alwayswrite.blog/2023/02/13/dickenschallenge-novella-4-the-battle-of-life/); Trent McDonald from Trent’s world (https://trentsworld.blog/2023/02/07/the-third-annual-dickens-challenge-a-triple-threat/) and Yvette Prior (https://priorhouse.wordpress.com/2023/02/09/five-novella-descriptions-2023-dickenschallenge-read-one-novella-by-june-9th-post-2/).

I have recently read The Chimes, a Dickens novella which was first published in 1844, one year after the well known A Christmas Carol. It’s social critisism perfectly suited my criteria for Dark Origins posts and I decided to share my thoughts and research on this novella for my March Dark Origins post.

The story involves the disillusionment of Toby “Trotty” Veck, a poor working-class man who works as a casual messenger or ‘ticket-porter’. Dickens goes to great lengths at the beginning of the story to detail Trotty’s poverty as per the following description:

Making, with his leaky shoes, a crooked line of slushy footprints in the mire; and blowing on his chilly hands and rubbing them against each other, poorly defended from the searching cold by threadbare mufflers of grey worsted, with a private apartment only for the thumb, and a common room or tap for the rest of the fingers; Toby, with his knees bent and his cane beneath his arm, still trotted.

Picture credit: Public domain picture: Trotty Veck 1889 Dickens The Chimes character by Kyd (Joseph Clayton Clarke)

The story commences on the afternoon before New Year’s Day. Trotty is waiting for work outside the church. Work has been slow for a few weeks despite his willingness to work hard. He is depicted as being a cheerful man despite his lot in life, but on that cold winter’s afternoon he reads a newspaper which includes a number of scathing reports about the poor. He embarks on a train of thought that the working classes are unworthy and their poverty is a result of this unworthiness. Trotty wonders whether the poor are born corrupt and are incapable of redemption.

His lovely daughter, Meg, arrives, bringing him a meal of tripe she has cooked. Meg tells her father that she is going to marry her childhood sweetheart, Richard, despite the fact they are both poor. She makes it clear that she accepts their poverty and does not expect their situation to ever change. These are her words:

“‘He says then, father,’ Meg continued, lifting up her eyes at last, and speaking in a tremble, but quite plainly; ‘another year is nearly gone, and where is the use of waiting on from year to year, when it is so unlikely we shall ever be better off than we are now?  He says we are poor now, father, and we shall be poor then, but we are young now, and years will make us old before we know it.  He says that if we wait: people in our condition: until we see our way quite clearly, the way will be a narrow one indeed—the common way—the Grave, father.’”

Dickens intention with this depiction is to highlight the terrible plight of the poor who are trapped in a capitalist system where the wealthy always abuse the poorer. He is also demonstrating Meg’s and Richard’s passive acceptance of their situation. Dickens believed this passive acceptance of the status quo by the working classes to be wrong.

Trotty has misgivings about the marriage, but hides it and they are happy until they encounter the proud and wealthy Alderman Cute and two other gentlemen. The gentlemen succeed in making Trotty, his daughter, and her fiancé feel as if they have no right to exist, never mind to marry and have children who with perpetuate the cycle of poverty. Alderman Cute degrades and humiliates Trotty and the working classes in general.

‘You see, my friend,’ pursued the Alderman, ‘there’s a great deal of nonsense talked about Want—“hard up,” you know; that’s the phrase, isn’t it? ha! ha! ha!—and I intend to Put it Down.  There’s a certain amount of cant in vogue about Starvation, and I mean to Put it Down.  That’s all!  Lord bless you,’ said the Alderman, turning to his friends again, ‘you may Put Down anything among this sort of people, if you only know the way to set about it.’

Cute gives Trotty a note to carry to Sir Joseph Bowley MP, who gives charity to the poor but is another arrogant and hypocritical man. Trotty’s encounter with Bowley leave him feeling even more humiliated and disillusioned.

‘What man can do, I do,’ pursued Sir Joseph.  ‘I do my duty as the Poor Man’s Friend and Father; and I endeavour to educate his mind, by inculcating on all occasions the one great moral lesson which that class requires.  That is, entire Dependence on myself.  They have no business whatever with—with themselves.  If wicked and designing persons tell them otherwise, and they become impatient and discontented, and are guilty of insubordinate conduct and black-hearted ingratitude; which is undoubtedly the case; I am their Friend and Father still.  It is so Ordained.  It is in the nature of things.’

Later that evening, Toby reads some sad and depressing news in the evening paper. He believes he hears the church bells chiming his name and he sets out to climb the church tower and hear what they have to say to him. This is the beginning of the supernatural part of the story that leads to Trotty realising that the poor are not born bad but that many of them end up in bad situations due to their terrible circumstances.

Picture credit: The Goblins of the Bells by Charles Green (p. 84). 1912. 7.5 x 9.9 cm. Dickens’s The Chimes, Pears Centenary Edition

Passage illustration:

He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfin creatures of the Bells. He saw them leaping, flying, dropping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw them, round him on the ground; above him, in the air; clambering from him, by the ropes below; looking down upon him, from the massive iron-girded beams; peeping in upon him, through the chinks and loopholes in the walls; spreading away and away from him in enlarging circles, as the water ripples give way to a huge stone that suddenly comes plashing in among them. He saw them, of all aspects and all shapes. He saw them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he saw them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw them grim; he saw them dance, and heard them sing; he saw them tear their hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them. He saw them come and go, incessantly. He saw them riding downward, soaring upward, sailing off afar, perching near at hand, all restless and all violently active. Stone, and brick, and slate, and tile, became transparent to him as to them. He saw them in the houses, busy at the sleepers’ beds. He saw them soothing people in their dreams; he saw them beating them with knotted whips; he saw them yelling in their ears; he saw them playing softest music on their pillows; he saw them cheering some with the songs of birds and the perfume of flowers; he saw them flashing awful faces on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted mirrors which they carried in their hands. [“Third Quarter,” pp. 83-85, 1912 edition]

Dickens uses the goblins in the bells as his instruments for social criticism and to make his points about the unjust treatment of the poor who are often wrongly accused an imprisoned for any reason due to the government’s attitude of ‘to jail with them’. The goblins also expose the social inequality innate in Victorian society and the hypocrisy of the politicians and aristocrats of the time.

Conclusion

Of the four so called Christmas novellas written by Charles Dickens I have read so far (A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Battle of Life and The Cricket on the Hearth, a Fairy Tale of Home), this is the one that brought the snobbery, hypocrisy, and arrogance of the Victorian gentry home to me the hardest.

The impact of the social inequality on the psyche of the working classes represented by Trotty and his daughter, Meg, and the injustices of the legal system presented by the treatment of Will Fenn, are truly heartbreaking as is the misguided attitude of the philanthropist represented by Sir Bowley.

How easy it is to judge others from a position of wealth and privilege.

You can read The Chimes for free here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/653/653-h/653-h.htm

Have you read The Chimes? What did you think of its message?

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 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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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 dark origin of Valentine’s Day and its link to Chaucer

Modern Valentine’s Day is celebrated as the day of lovers. People give each other chocolates and flowers as gifts and often do something special with their partner.

Valentine’s Day did not start off as the cutesy day filled with candy and cuddles we know, it’s origins were dark and bloody.

Lupercalia

The date of 14 February coincides with the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia which was celebrated annually on the 15th of February. The aim of the festival was to purify Rome and promote health and fertility and certain rites or observances were undertaken to achieve this aim.

These rites took place in the Lupercal cave, the Palantine Hill (the centremost of the seven hills of Rome which has been called “the first nucleus of the Roman Empire”) and the Forum. All of these locations were central to Rome’s foundation myth about the founding of Rome and the earliest history of the city.

At the Lupercal altar, a male goat/s and a dog were sacrificed by one of the members of the priesthood called the Luperci (“brothers of the wolf”), undr the supervision of the high priest of Jupiter (flamen Dialis). An offering was also made of salted mealcakes prepared by the Vestal Virgins, priestesses of Vesta, virgin goddess of Rome’s sacred hearth and its flame. After the sacrifice, two Luperci had their foreheads anointed with blood from the sacrificial knife. The knife was then wiped clean with wool soaked in milk and the two Luperci were expected to laugh. The two colours of Valentine, red and white, come from the blood from the sacrifices and the milk used to clean the knife.

A sacrificial feast then took place, after which the Luperci cut throngs from the hide of the animals and ran naked or near-naked with these through the city, striking people they met with the thongs. Many women of rank presented themselves to the Luperci with their hands held out to be struck, as they believed being struck would help a pregnant woman deliver a healthy baby and a barren woman to become pregnant.

During Lupercalia, the men randomly chose a woman’s name from a jar to be coupled with them for the duration of the festival. Often, the couple stayed together until the following year’s festival. Some elected to remain together and married.

Andrea Camassei, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons / Andrea Camassei, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

St Valentine

St Valentine’s Day was added as a feast day to the Catholic liturgical calendar around 500 AD. The day was commemorated for martyred saints named Valentine.

There are several legends around who Saint Valentine was. The first was that Saint Valentine refused to convert to paganism and was executed by Roman Emperor Claudius II. Before his execution, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer who converted to Christianity, along with his family.

The second legend is that Saint Valentine was a bishop called Saint Valentine of Terni who was executed.

The third legend is that Saint Valentine was a Roman priest who performed marriages for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry in terms of a Roman emperor’s edict which stated that married men did not make good soldiers and forbade young men to marry.

Chaucer and Valentine

Some time between 1381 and 1382, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a 699 line poem in the form of a dream vision of a narrator called The Parliament of Foules (Fowls). This poem is the first one to reference the idea that St Valentine’s Day was a special day for lovers.

The poem is a bout a narrator who dreams that he passes through a beautiful landscape, through the dark temple of Venus and on to the bright light. Dame Nature oversees a large flock of birds which have gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. In the end, none of the three male eagles wins the female eagle. The dream ends with the welcoming of the coming spring.

“The Parliament of Fowles by Geoffrey Chaucer:

The life so short, the craft so long to learn,

The assay so hard, so sharp the conquering,

The fearful joy that slips away in turn,

All this mean I by Love, that my feeling

Astonishes with its wondrous working

So fiercely that when I on love do think

I know not well whether I float or sink.”

Carry on reading Modern English translation here: https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/English/Fowls.php

Karl Wilhelm de Hamilton – https://www.meisterdrucke.uk/fine-art-prints/Carl-Wilhelm-de-Hamilton/95822/The-Parliament-of-Birds.html https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-parliament-of-birds-carl-wilhelm-de-hamilton.html https://www.sellingantiques.co.uk/521025/carl-wilhelm-de-hamilton-1668-1754the-parliament-of-the-birds/

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 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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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 – 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

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

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 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

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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.