The Legend of “Stingy Jack” (Where Jack O’Lanterns Came From)

Stingy Jack

Stingy Jack – digital art by Wild Thing

People have been making jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O’Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow’s Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits.

Stingy Jack, a blacksmith by trade, was a miserable old drunk, who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone; family, friends, his mother and yes, even the Devil himself. One night he invited the Devil to have a drink with him. During the evening together, the Devil in his vanity, was showing Jack how he could transform himself into anything he wished, first a barstool, then bird, and so on.

After a time, true to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his wallet next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form.

Oh, how the Devil yelled at Jack. Cursing and telling Jack to let him go. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. Desperate to gain freedom, the Devil agreed. Opening his wallet, Jack let the Devil out.

The next year, the Devil arrived as promised. Jack agreed to follow him if he would only climb up into an apple tree and bring him an apple before he go with the Devil. So, in this way, Jack tricked the Devil into climbing into the tree to pick an apple. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, while upset by the trick Jack had played on him kept his word not to claim his soul, and would not allow Jack into hell.

“But where can I go?” pleaded Jack.

“Return to where you came from!” the Devil snarled.

Windblown and lost in the dark night, Jack pleaded with the Devil to give him a way to light his way. The Devil, wishing to get rid of Jack, threw him a glowing ember from the fires of Hell. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. So, if you see a light in the far off distance wandering here and there on All Hallow’s Eve, tis Stingy Jack roaming the countryside.

The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as “Jack of the Lantern,” and then, simply “Jack O’Lantern.”

In Ireland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. Immigrants brought the Jack O’Lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack-o’-lanterns.

Wild Thing

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Bricks

Crumbling

Crumbling – photo by Wild Thing

Walls built

Brick by brick
Through
Hard lessons
Heartbreak
Deception

Crumbled
In one night

Left down
All sides open
Believing
Trusting

The world
Has not evolved
Deception
False faces
Still exist

Brick by brick
The walls
Are rebuilt
This time
Re-enforced

Stopping
Head rests
Brick pillow

For a moment
A wish

Starting over
Brick by brick

Wild Thing ©May 16, 2017

Spirit Freed

Villagers gathers
All come
Mourning begins

Honoring
That life

No matter
How meager
Or great

Sending it on

Old loves
Grudges, debts
Die with it

The Spirit
Now free
Of pettiness

Through
Laughter,
Song, stories,
Love
Fills
Empty hearts

Wild Thing ©July 29, 2017

Please Vote

The above photo is one of my most popular photos. Currently it is in the World Photography Contest at Viewbug.com . . .

If you like it, I would greatly appreciate your vote on this image. You can click on the caption below the image, or just go here:  “Here I Will Abide” and scroll down. The vote blue button is just below the awards section on the lower left of the page.

Thank you so much . . .

Wildly Yours,

Wild Thing

Body and Soul

Stacked Rust

Stacked Rust – photo by Wild Thing

He saved everything …

Phone would ring
Often as not
It was family
Friend or neighbor
“Jim, my . . .”

It was always something
Car, sink, furnace
What have you
That was broken

He could fix anything
Nine times out of ten
He had the part

Back then
It was always about
Keeping body and soul
Together
Food on the table
Clothes on our back

He’s gone now
The parts rusting away

Wild Thing ©2017

no limits

No Limits

no limits – photo by Wild Thing

the world
safe / asleep
invisible

we drift
side by side

not of day
of dreams

this world

this world
of no limits

Co-written by
Cletis Stump & Wild Thing
©August 18, 2017

The Elemental

The Elements

The Elements – photos by Wild Thing

Wild untamed
Free to roam

Fierce
Both in love
And spirit

Like the wind
Hard to capture

Born of the
Energy of fire

Fluid emotions
Powerful

It’s strength
Of earth, itself

Unobtainable
It only comes
If it chooses

A rare gift
To those it’s
Given

It remains
For as long
As you wish

Send it away
It may never
Come back

Like lightning
It seldom
Strikes twice

Wild Thing ©May 3, 2017

Elemental

3 am

darkness

darkness – photo by Wild Thing

3:00 a.m.
darkness
      . . . truth
               has nowhere
                         to hide

Wild Thing ©2017