Demons

To finish out October, here's an extra special Halloween edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Special Collections.  Today's featured beast is the demon, which is usually defined as an evil spirit or fiend.  Nearly every religion has a form of demons that populate whatever version of Hell that particular religion believes in, often trying to influence the people of our world into committing evil acts and causing general chaos.  Mephistopheles (pictured above) is one of the more well-known demons and is the one that Faust sells his soul to in the legend of Faustus, recorded most famously by Goethe.

In other classic literature, this edition of Dante's Inferno illustrated by Gustave Dore beautifully shows some of the residents of Hell that Dante and Virgil encounter on their journey through the nine circles of Hell.

This image depicts a scene from the Russian folk tale The Soldier's Midnight Watch, in which a soldier hides on top of the stove while an undead witch summons a crowd of small demons to search him out.

In more modern media, demons have taken on other roles as well, such as in the comic Fray by Joss Whedon, in which the demon Urkonn plays trainer to a futuristic vampire slayer named Melaka Fray.

A more light-hearted take on a demon occurs in The Demon of the Eiffel Tower, an English translation of a French comic in which Adele Blanc-Sec solves mysteries and has grand adventures in a fantasy version of the 1900s.  (Spoiler Alert:  in true Scooby-Doo style, the demon is eventually revealed to be a woman with a nefarious plot in a costume.)

 

Switching from comics to poetry, the above image is from Arthur Rimbaud's collection of poems entitled A Season in Hell.  With several photographs like this by Robert Mapplethorpe, this edition of Rimbaud's poetry certainly takes an added turn for the creepy.

 

Speaking of creepy, these terrifying creatures are from Leonard Baskin's work Demons, Imps, and Fiends.  The rest of the book is filled with drawings of demons you definitely wouldn't want to meet on the street at night, much less enter into any form of agreement with.

Happy Halloween everyone!  If you need help getting into the spirit of the holiday, come see us in Special Collections.  Our stacks are haunted by books with all kinds of creatures guaranteed to help.

Vampires Suck

(Your blood, that is.)  How does one even begin to write about vampires with any sort of completeness?  Every culture's got one – some version of a creature that rises from the dead and preys on the life force of the living (either the blood or something more abstract, such as energy or the soul) to sustain itself.  Reflecting this, Dracula and his brethren abound on the shelves of Special Collections – particularly our comics collection where the dramatic nature of the vampire lends itself perfectly to a graphic medium.

While vampires have been around for ages, it was Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula that made them much more prevalent in literature and popular culture.  In more modern times, vampires' popularity has spiked again with television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and bestselling book series like Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, and the Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlene Harris.

Let's start with Dracula then, shall we?

This 2004 adaption of Stoker's Dracula presents the comic in a dramatic black and white contrast that plays up the drama of the story.

Another series featuring the Count is Apple Comics's Blood of Dracula, where each issue contains an installment of three different stories featuring Dracula in his own time, in the future, and anywhere in between.  This issue even comes with a record of songs composed to supplement the stories!

Not to be outdone, Warp Graphics (which later turned over most of its titles to Apple Comics) pitted Dracula against Jack the Ripper in its 1986 mini-series Blood of the Innocent.

In addition to its large spread in comics, the story of Dracula has also been taken to the stage over the years, as seen in these scenes from a 1978 production of Dracula starring Frank Langella as the titular feind and famous illustrator Edward Gorey designing the scenery and costumes. 

Stoker wasn't the only one to write about vampires, though.  Folk stories teemed with different versions of the vampire.  This image from a book of Russian folk tales shows the warlock from the tale "The Soldier and The Vampire" who comes back from the dead each night to terrorize a town by cursing a newlywed couple and drawing their blood until he is outwitted and killed by a clever soldier.

In modern vampire culture, many vampires choose to live among us and forgo the drinking of human blood for that of animals.  Two such "vegetarian" vampires are main characters in Vertigo's series Blood + Water.  Adam Heller, a man slowly dying of AIDS finds out his friends are actually vampires when they turn him into one to cure him and save his life.

Men aren't the only ones to play large roles in vampire stories.  Vampirella, the vampire superheroine from the planet Drakulon, fights evil vampires on our world in an effort to save her own.  She appears in a number of comic series and a direct to video movie.

Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series was adapted by Marvel in 2006.  The leading lady, Anita Blake, lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri as a professional zombie raiser, vampire hunter, and consultant for the police's supernatural department.

Including the scores of other stories both modern and old as Dracula himself, it's clear that no matter what way you slice it, vampires have a powerful prescence in cultures throughout the world.  So this Halloween if you're finding yourself going batty for vampires, come see us at Special Collections.  We've got plenty of vampire stories you can really sink your teeth into.

Ghosts, Friendly and Otherwise

While sometimes our stacks can certainly feel like they're haunted, the only ghosts we know live here are the ones in our books!  From Casper the Friendly Ghost to the Headless Horseman, our shelves are inhabited by a large variety of spirits.  We even have books claiming to be written by ghosts, such as the Ghost Epigrams of Oscar Wilde, and collections of ghost stories spanning the years.

Automatic writing allows a person to channel the supernatural to produce written words without consciously writing.  In this case, allowing the figure of Lazar to write pages worth of witty epigrams from the spirit of Oscar Wilde.

In this pamphlet, a speech is recorded from the ghost of Lord Haversham, who was so disturbed by some of the carrying-ons of the Parliment that he returned as a ghost after his death to give this speech to the House of Lords in 1710.

Even Holmes and Watson join the fray in the fight against evil spirits in these crossover comics that pit the famous consulting detective and his biographer against the opera ghost, or the Phantom of the Opera.

One of the more well-known ghosts in American literature is that of the Headless Horseman from Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  Also a terrifying figure in other European folktales, a common theme among all depictions is that, where this spirit shows up, death usually follows.

So if these books make you want to take up ghosthunting this October, you know who to call.  (Hint: it's us, Special Collections!)

Bats, Rats, and Spiders

Oh my!

Throughout October the Fantastic Beasts series will be taking a turn for the creepy as each week in October we feature spooky creatures and things that go bump in the night.  For the first week we'll start with some of the tamer creepy-crawlies that lots of us see on a daily basis: bats, rats, and spiders.  Each of these are commonly featured in tales of terror, and are associated with death, disease, or mystery, among other things.  They can also serve as familiars to witches and sorcerors, which is where they picked up a lot of their negative associations.  Truth is, many of these fears are largely unfounded, as bats, rats, and spiders are important parts of any ecosystem and for the most part are either scared of or not a threat to humans.  Giant versions of any of these (such as those pictured below) are, of course, another matter entirely.

  

Halloween Hoodoo

"To catch a spirit, or to protect your spirit against catching, or to release you caught spirit – this is the complete theory and practice of hoodoo."

The above quote opens the five volume set of books entitled Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork : beliefs accepted by many Negroes and white persons, these being orally recorded among Blacks and whites by Harry M. Hyatt that can be found in Special Collections.  Published in 1970, these books represent the culmination of years of interviews conducted by the author over a large portion of the Southern United States.

Not to be confused (as it commonly is), with voodoo or vodou, which are both religions derived from West African religions with a dash of Christianity thrown in, hoodoo is often classified as folk magic and is practiced mainly in the Southern United States.  The difference between hoodoo and voodoo and vodou is similar to the distinction between Wicca and witchcraft.  Also similar to Wicca and witchcraft is the fact that people often use all these terms interchangeably, though they have different meanings. Thus, one can belong to the voodoo religion and practice hoodoo, but they don't have to, and vice versa.

In hoodoo, a practitioner draws upon the spiritual power residing within them to perform a ritual to bring about power or success.  Today's mainstream culture often portrays hoodoo as a negative thing because of the common misconception that all who practice it are greedy or corrupt.

Hoodoo–conjuration–witchcraft–rootwork is a record of people's interactions with hoodoo, containing many accounts about how the interviewee was affected by a conjure or how someone they knew was affected.  One woman relates the experience she had when her neighbor put a conjure on her by burying a bottle containing  sulfur, hair, a bluestone, and roots of some sort.  According to her, this was the reason she was unable to stay up past ten o'clock each night.  She proceeds to relate how she destroyed the bottle and its contents and was able to stay up much later the following night while the next day the woman next door had to go to the hospital due to a major problem with her leg.  Another interviewee tells the author about a common practice of putting sulfur and ashes from the fireplace in a bag and keeping it in your pocket to ward off those that would do you harm.

Whether or not you believe that hoodoo works, these books make for interesting reading and are a comprehensive relation of a common practice here in the United States that most of us are largely unfamiliar with.  So if you get a chance between your Halloween celebrations, come see us at Special Collections where you can find the books mentioned here along with many others!

 

"Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo." Difference Between Hoodoo and Voodoo | Difference Between | Hoodoo vs Voodoo. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/culture-miscellaneous/difference-between-hoodoo-and-voodoo/>.
"Haitian_Vodou." Reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Haitian_Vodou>.
"Louisiana_Voodoo." Reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. <http://www.reference.com/browse/wiki/Louisiana_Voodoo>.

 

home Resources and Services, Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books Halloween Costume Ideas in Special Collections

Halloween Costume Ideas in Special Collections

Are you tired of wearing that same old zombie costume year after year?  Fed up with being lost in the crowd of witches and ghouls?  Special Collections is here to help, with costume inspiration by the book!  Here are a few ideas for Halloween inspired by our collections.

Go Medieval or Go Home

If you're limited on time or materials, you can't go wrong with the Middle Ages.  All you need is a long bathrobe, a large scarf or sheet, a pair of pointy-toed shoes, and a pageboy wig.  Voila!  Tell all your friends you're a character from the Roman de la Rose.  Add a red hat, a fake beard, and a book, and you could be St. Jerome.


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Find a New Trade

Forget dressing up like a doctor, firefighter or astronaut.  How about a Victorian butcher, milkman or baker – or better yet, a cat'smeat-man, park-keeper or waterman?  You could be dressed as a sixteenth-century German piscator or a French marchande de poissons.  The numerous books of occupations and street cries in Special Colllections are a field guide to the merchant and artisan classes from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries

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Be a Fashion Plate

Halloween and Homecoming are less than a week apart this year, so party like it's 1839.  Fashion magazines like Allgemeine Modenzeitung can give you an idea of what was in style back then. 

Dapper gentlemen from Allgemeines Modenzeitung, 1839

Dapper gentlemen from Allgemeines Modenzeitung, 1839

Dress like a Peasant…

Special Collections has numerous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century ethnographic studies of the native dress of Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Little did those ethnographers know they were creating a treasure trove of obscure Halloween costume ideas for us early 21st-century folk.  Here are a couple of examples of Italian peasant dress.  Choose your time and place; with our collections, the possibilities are endless. 

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…or like Royalty

Of course, if you're more ambitious, you could impersonate a famous king or queen for the day.  How about Elizabeth I?  Or maybe someone from the court of Marie Antoinette

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Embrace the Surreal

Perhaps you're looking for something more, shall we say, fanciful? The work of illustrators like J. J. Grandville and Walter Crane should provide ample inspiration for weird and wonderful costumes of all kinds.

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Or Dress Like your Favorite Author

How about Leonhart Fuchs?  Or Charles Darwin!  Of course, here in Missouri, we're partial to Mark Twain.

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Mark Twain 

We can't guarantee you'll win any costume contests, but it's a pretty safe bet that you'll be the only one dressed as a sixteenth-century botanist or French fishwife at your Halloween party this year.  Happy Halloween!

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Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli

Halloween at Special Collections

Among the bonny winding banks,
Where Doon rins, wimplin’ clear,
Where Bruce ance ruled the martial ranks,
And shook his Carrick spear,
Some merry, friendly, country-folks,
Together did convene,
To burn their nits, and pou their stocks,
And haud their Halloween
Fu’ blithe that night.

Hallowe’en by Robert Burns

Although Halloween has its roots in the pagan practices of Scotland and Ireland, its name comes from the Scottish phrase “All Hallows’ Even”, the night before the Christian holiday, All Hallows’ Day.  The word, Hallowe’en was first used in the 16th century.  Halloween is most closely linked with the Celtic holiday, Samhain, the day, it was thought, in which the natural and supernatural realms were nearest to each other and the dead could revisit the living.

The Reformation brought Halloween rituals under attack, although the customs still flourished in most of Scotland and Ireland.  Furthermore, the popularity of Guy Fawkes Night on November 5th every year also put a damper on Halloween in England.  The Puritans who sailed to America did not bring the Halloween traditions with them and Halloween was largely ignored until the 19th century influx of Scottish and Irish immigrants.  By the early 20th century, the popularity of Halloween in America had taken hold of the majority of the population.

Today, Halloween is a huge commercial enterprise.  In the U.S., Halloween generates $2.4 billion in sales.  More candy is sold on Halloween than Valentine’s Day and more parties are held on Halloween than on New Year’s Eve.  In terms of gross sales, Halloween is second only to Christmas.  Almost every television show and cartoon has a Halloween episode at some point and every comic has a Halloween theme as well.  The two comic books, Batman’s “The Long Halloween” and “Garfield in Disguise” are two such examples.

At Special Collections, such spooky tales like The Night Hag and Dante’s Inferno might tickle your fancy this time of year.  Come on by our Reading Room at 401 Ellis to take a look at our Halloween themed books and comics.  Have a safe and happy Halloween!

The Night Hag, a Halloween Romance

Title page for The Night HagIn honor of Halloween, we're posting an excerpt from one of the horror stories in the rare book collection, The Night Hag; or, St. Swithin's Chair: A Romance, which was published in the form of a small pamphlet by J. Bailey in the early nineteenth century (the pamphlet is undated).  There are only two three copies reported in WorldCat, and Special Collections has the only reported copy of this text in the United States (2014 update: there's another copy reported in the U.S. now, at the University of Pittsburgh).

He who dares sit on St. Swithin's chair…

The star of the romance is Fergus Campbell, "a captain in the Scotch service then stationed in Edinburgh, in the reign of James the Sixth."  Fergus' aunt is the wealthy Lady Margaret Mucklethrift, and Fergus is second in line after his cousin to inherit all of her money and property.  Thirsty for riches, Fergus decides to rob his aunt of her riches and depose his cousin as her heir. After a series of failed plots, Fergus decides to seek supernatural help.

"It was now Hallow mass E'en, and Fergus thought of the ancient spell of St. Swithin's applicable to that season, that then the Night Hag, delighting in scenes of blood and murderous deeds, has full power.

He who dares sit on St. Swithin's chair,
When the Night Hag rides the troubled air,
Questions three, if they speak the spell,
They may ask, and she must tell."
Fergus sits on St. Swithin's Chair, from The Night Hag

Fergus asks his three questions and finds that he will indeed gain his aunt's incredible riches, with the Night Hag's treacherous help.  After stabbing his aunt to death, with the household on the alert, Fergus hides in her iron-clad strong box.  Will he be discovered?

No spoilers here!  Of course, there's much more to the story: an innocent man framed for murder, a pair of star-crossed lovers, and a reformed criminal with a critical decision to make.  Read more about it in Special Collections!

The Scott Connection

The end of The Night HagThis pamphlet purports to be "a romance, on which is founded the popular drama now performing with unbounded applause at Astley's Amphitheatre."  Several plays were produced under this title in the early nineteenth century, featuring Fergus Campbell, his unfortunate aunt, and the rest of the characters in the romance.  Indeed, the first of these plays was performed at Astley's Amphitheatre and ran in September and October 1820.  The playbill for this production said "The Idea from which the Subject is arranged [is] taken from the Interesting Legend of St. Swithin's Chair, in Walter Scott's Popular Novel of Waverly."

The problem? The interesting legend of St. Swithin's Chair, as far as it pertains to Fergus Campbell, isn't in Waverley.  The novel includes a poem entitled "St. Swithin's Chair", based on an old Scottish legend, but that's all.  In his 1992 catalog of playbills and scripts based on Scott's works, H. Philip Bolton notes the difficulty in relating The Night Hag to Waverley, judging the play "doubly apocryphal."

How does this pamphlet relate to the Night Hag plays of the nineteenth century?  When was it published?  And, perhaps most importantly, who was its author?

At this point, we don't know.  If you're a researcher in this area, come finish the story, and help us find out.


Bolton, H. Philip.  Scott dramatized. London ; New York : Mansell, 1992.

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Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen is a librarian in the Special Collections and Rare Books department. She teaches information sessions in Special Collections, does reference work, and maintains the department's digital presences. Contact Kelli