Monday, October 10, 2011

Magic Apples?

First off, I'd like to give a shout out to all my readers in Russia and Belgium (Holla!).  I don't know why you're reading my blog (or how you even found it) but KEEP READING! Because it makes me feel special.

Honestly, I think the reason for my international readership is the fact that in the northern hemisphere Samhain is fast approaching; I'm gonna take an educated guess and assume that Google searches for Samhain and Halloween are increasing as we close in on the holiday, no matter what you call it or how you celebrate it.  So, perhaps the hits I'm getting lately are simply a result of a search engine popping me up higher on their search results page.  I don't care, I still think it's cool!

Now, in the spirit of October and Halloween, pretty much all of my posts are gonna be about some aspect of the holiday, and today I've chosen divination (cue the oohs and ahhs here).  Divination has been a part of Halloween for centuries, although the intent and context have both changed throughout history.  I decided to pick out a few divination activities that seem particularly popular (or used to be) as far as American Halloween celebrations.

Let's start with Apple Divination!

Apples have always been popular tools for foretelling the future. Most Halloween divination revolved around match-making and one's "True Love". For many of us, finding out our true love via a peeled apple seems ludicrous, but if nothing else you can try some of these divination techniques for a good laugh on All Hallows Eve. There are a number of traditional methods in folklore for seeing who one's lover might be:

  • Peel the apple, keeping the peel in one long piece. When the peel comes off, drop it on the floor. The letter it forms is the first initial of your true love's name.  Another method of apple peel divination was used if someone had an important question: he apple was peeled very carefully so that the questioner ended up with a long, unbroken peel. The question was asked and the peel was thrown over the shoulder. The answer was "no" if it fell in the shape of a "U" or an "O," and it was "yes" if it was anything else.  
  •  Wait until midnight at Samhain, and cut an apple into nine pieces. Take the pieces into a dark room with a mirror (either hanging on the wall or a hand-held one will do). At midnight, begin eating the pieces of apple while looking into the mirror. When you get to the ninth piece, throw it over your shoulder. The face of your lover should appear in the mirror.  
  • If a girl has more than one potential lover, peel an apple and pull out the seeds. Place a wet seed on your cheek for each boyfriend. The last one left stuck to the skin represents the suitor who is the true love
  • Another very popular form of peeling prediction was one that allowed a girl to find out who her future husband would be. The apple was peeled, again in one long continuous piece, and thrown over her left shoulder. If the peel remained unbroken, it would fall in the shape of the initial of her future spouse. If the peel broke, she would remain unmarried

Does anyone bob for apples anymore?!  I don't recall bobbing for apples in my short life, but I was curious as to how that tradition got started here in the states.  This is what I found:

  • Traditionally, girls were to polish, mark and then float an apple in the tub of water. The boy that retrieved her apple with his bite would be her spouse. There is another apple game for boys called Snap Apple. Apples are hung from the ceiling on strings, then the boys leap and try to sink their teeth into them. The first boy to bite into an apple would be the first to marry.

Hazelnuts were tossed into divination patterns by the Druids and then buried to honor the old gods:  Draw a small circle about one foot in diameter on the ground in front of you.  Take thirteen nuts and shake them around in your cupped hands while concentrating on your question.  Gently toss the nuts in front of you.  Those that land directly in the circle have the most bearing on you.  If more land in the circle than out of it, you have a right to be concerned about the question you asked.  Study the nuts for patterns which you can interpret.  For example, if the nuts are all pointing in one direction this could be an indication of a direction you need to take your problem.  If they appear in the form of a familiar object, use that information to apply to your question.  Occasionally they might fall to appear as letters of the alphabet which you can relate to your question.

Alright, you'll have to wait for more divination tools and explanations because I'm smack-dab in the middle of midterms.

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