Weekly Features

The Weekly Shaman

From ghoulies and ghosties, and long leggety beasties. 

And things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us!

A. Cornish

Prayer for Halloween,

 One of my favorite pieces of folklore concern those uncanny intersection known as crossroads. Here Appalachia they were once commonly rereferred as ‘spook roads’. The concept of crossroads being an uncanny place of supernatural mischief goes all the way back to antiquity and likely beyond. Among the ancient Greeks it was the favorite haunt of the three faced goddess known Hecate. With her three faces she could stand at one road and watch the other three. She was said to travel over these intersections with two hellhounds and a screaming host of evil spirits. Possibly at one time she was less evil triple form goddess who was later transformed into an evil witch like figure. At this point she became such frightful apparition that many referred to as “the Nameless One”. To speak her name was considered to encourage her wrath. But the crossroads was also a universal of uncanny and supernatural phenomena. In India the triple faced elephant headed God Ganesha is associated with these intersections. In many of the Afro-Caribbean religions such as voodoo, Santeria, and Brazilian Candomblé also see the crossroads as a place to their spirit gods. In the hoodoo faiths of the southern United States these spook – roads were also aces of magic and conjure. For me the crossroads as a popular meeting place for vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, ghost, fairies and many supernatural characters. I throw werewolves because in folklore there is no distinction between the vampire and werewolves since some superstitions hold that vampires are also deceased werewolves as well as dead heretics, and dead sorcerers as well. Anyone suspected of heresy were buried at a crossroads to keep the dead from coming back as vampire, or some other type of undead from coming back to pester the living. The four directions of the crossroads was said to confuse the ghost or undead spirit from finding easy prey. A spook road was an easy place to get lost and one could easily take the wrong road home. This leads us to the term coming to a crossroads is coming to an important decision. Crossroads have obvious connections to thresholds and the need to the right path. Similar attention is place doorways and windows as well as threshold times like the midnight hour or New Year’s Eve when the proper rituals would be observed and practiced. Places such as crossroads or doorway are ambiguous places, and the midnight hour and New Year’s Eve are ambiguous times that betwixt and between not being one time or the other. This is a likely source of the belief that vampires can only enter someone’s home through invitation. Back to the crossroads these spook roads are a place of no obvious road being four places at once and were confusing weary travelers who could easily get lost, may becoming a snack for some hungry monster lurking nearby. And so, it goes.