Witchcraft in Southern Italy

Witchcraft in Southern Italy

In southern Italy, belief in witchcraft  has a long history, much of it centering on the town of Benevento, about 30 miles east of Naples. From a 1428 testimony by accused witch Matteuccia da Todi, we have the first mention (anywhere in Europe) of witches flying to their sabbats — their gathering spot, in this case, being …

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Halloween Bonus Episode

Halloween Bonus Episode

As a short holiday bonus, we’re offering this special episode examining some obscure aspects of Halloween as manifested in our lives today. Forgotten traditions associated with the holiday arise in surprising forms many of us may not initially recognize. Simple occurrences perceived as nothing more than an everyday nuisance come into focus during our holidays …

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Spook Shows

Spook Shows

Midnight Spook Shows featured stage illusions borrowing from techniques used in fraudulent seances alongside vaudeville-style comedy and burlesque. Performances were staged in movie theaters, paired with a film screening, usually but not exclusively from the horror genre.  The tradition began in the mid to late 1930s and ran into the early ’70s, reaching its heyday in …

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The Gibbet, Hanged in Chains

The Gibbet, Hanged in Chains

The gibbet was a hanging iron cage used to display the corpses of criminals in 18th and early 19th-century England. To be thus “hanged in chains,” in the judicial jargon and thinking of the day, subjected the criminal to an extra measure of postmortem shaming and offered the general public a rather extravagant cautionary example. Naturally, …

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Marvelous and Rare

Marvelous and Rare

We’re doing something different this time out. Bone and Sickle is taking off the rest of September to allow time for Mr. Ridenour’s research and Mrs. Karswell apiary maintenance. To fill the gap, we’re offering listeners a sample of the short bonus episodes all our $4-and-up Patreon subscribers hear every month. We hope you enjoy this …

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Gallows Lore

Gallows Lore

We examine the lore of the gallows, focusing on the British Isles, encountering hangmen as figures straddling history and myth, strange histories and folk-tales, as well as superstitions and magical practice associated with the hanged man’s rope and body. We begin, of course, with a bit of gallows humor, provided in the sea shantey, “Hanging Johnny,” …

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The Frankenstein Method

The Frankenstein Method

The method Frankenstein employed to create life is left mostly a mystery in Mary Shelley’s 1818 book. How then did the notion of stolen body parts stitched together and animated by lightning become so firmly entrenched in popular imagination? Our episode begins with a clip from Universal’s pattern-setting 1931 production, Frankenstein, in which Henry Frankenstein …

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Bottled Spirits: Imps, Devils, Ghosts

Bottled Spirits: Imps, Devils, Ghosts

Western tales of bottled spirits, imps, devils, and even ghosts are largely borrowed from the Islamic and Jewish legends of jinn captured by King Solomon.  In this episode, we explore how this is expressed in folk tales, demonological treatises, and literary borrowings. We begin with a nod to the Assyrian god Pazuzu (and a clip from Exorcist …

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The Jinn

The Jinn

They Arabic mythology of the jinn is, not surprisingly, quite different than what you might glean from Western pop culture. Films such as 1940’s The Thief of Baghdad and 1958 Ray Harryhausen classic, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, which we hear sampled in our opening might have you believe these creatures function as nothing more than wish-granting …

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Patreon Updates and Additions

Patreon Updates and Additions

We’re freshening up the rewards offered via our Patreon page.  Beginning in July, we’re adding additional streaming podcast content for certain levels — a short extra episode — as well as some alternatives to the physical goods mailed to our top-level supporters, including this candle, which is  available for the $18 monthly level an alternative …

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