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

Advertisements

Finding My Voice

Finding My Voice

Finding My Voice – by Wild Thing

I am proud to share with you, the announcement of my first book: Finding My Voice. It’s a Collection of what I consider to be my best poems, paired with some of my photos that have been digitally altered by me.

It’s printed on white paper and the art is full color that has a slight gloss to it. It was my goal to create something unique that would be at home on your bookshelf or your coffee table.

The poetry is some works that have appeared here as well as some that is new. It is my hope that you enjoy it as much as I did putting it together for you.

Get your copy today: Finding My Voice by Wild Thing

Wild Thing

Swamp Witch

Swamp Witch Dwelling - photo by Wild ThingDeep in fog
Surrounded by water
A silent
Dwelling tilts
On rickety stilts

Broken steps
Lead to a missing
Front porch
While flotsam
And jetsam
Float underneath

One thinks
It is empty
Legend says not

They say
In these parts
Go when
The moon is full
You will find
The Swamp Witch

But beware
You must know
The secret signal
Else nothing
Will change

Two barn owls
Their clicks
And screeches
Warn her
And tell you
To go away

Should you
Still go forward
Without the
Magick signal
You will regret it

For then
The witch’s
Most powerful
Protector appears

Toads, crickets
All, go quiet
Owls on a branch
Air heavy
Even the moon
Seems to hide

As the dark
Becomes black
Two blazing eyes
Will freeze
Your blood

Final warning
A loud roar
Last chance
Give the signal
Or . . .

Wild Thing ©May 7, 2017

Be Different . . .

Horrible first day
No friends
Everyone
Made fun of her 

She came home
Went right upstairs 

Grandma waiting
Saw her
Tear stained face 

Mamma too busy
Making supper
Didn’t look up 

In her head
She heard Grandma
   “What’s the matter honey?” 

They always spoke
Telepathically
Mamma said it was rude 

“Nothing Grandma …”

   “Don’t you nothing me” 

“I’m sorry … “ 

   “Now tell me, what’s wrong.” 

“They made fun of me Grandma.” 

   “Why ever for?” 

“You know why … I’m different.” 

   “You don’t look different. 
    You look just like them!” 

“OH Grandma you know what I mean!” 

   “I certainly do not!” 

“They know what we are Grandma.” 

   “What we ARE? And what are we dear?”

“That we’re witches … “ 

   “Oh that, so what of it? 
    It’s not a bad thing.” 

“They called me awful names Grandma and 
 they spit on me.” 

Anger
Not at her
At them
Just as quickly
It was gone 

   “That’s their ignorance honey, their fear talking.
    You see, they just don’t understand how wonderful 
    you are … how gifted … one day they will. Then you 
    will see … they will come to you … asking you for 
    your help … when they can’t help themselves … 
    they will forget how they treated you today … 
    they will only remember that you are different … 
    that you can help them … it will be your 
    difference that will make you irreplaceable 
    to them.” 

“Grandma that’s so old fashioned.” 

   “Child, it may be old fashioned, but as Rhett 
    told Scarlett ‘that is the one unforgivable 
    sin in any society. Be different and be damned!’ 
    And we have always been different dear, BUT 
    we have never been damned. We have always been 
    blessed. Tomorrow will be a better day and the 
    day after that even better. By the end of two 
    weeks you’ll make a friend or two who won’t 
    care who you are. Just be who you are … 
    be yourself, your beautiful self my dear.
    Now wash your face and come down it’s time to 
    learn your other lessons … I believe it’s 
    herbs today isn’t it?” 

“Yes Grandma… I will, and it is herbs today.”

Wild Thing ©2016

Written for Writing Rebels
Prompt #42
Writing Rebelsm