Omens with The Ordinary, Extraordinary Cemetery Podcast – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
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Happy Halloween has begun on our show. Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast hosts The Ordinary Extraordinary Cemetery podcast in a conversation around death and omens. Guest podcasters Jennie Johnson and Dianne Hartshorn share their research around burial rituals and animal signs. We discuss how omens and signs are interpreted in different ways by different cultures. Why is death feared by some and celebrated by others? Join us for our first haunted talk of the 2023 spooky season.
[00:00:06] Josh Hutchinson: Hello, and welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:11] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. [00:00:13] Josh Hutchinson: How's your fall going, Sarah Jack? [00:00:15] Sarah Jack: I am so excited it's here. [00:00:17] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, you ready for Halloween? [00:00:20] Sarah Jack: Yes. [00:00:21] Josh Hutchinson: I'm still working on putting my costume together. How are you doing in that department? [00:00:28] Sarah Jack: I have all of it. I'm going all out for Sally this year. [00:00:33] Josh Hutchinson: Sally? [00:00:34] Sarah Jack: The nightmare before Christmas. She's not a witch, but she does have a bad vision, and she needs to warn Jack. So it actually goes with this episode, because she's sees this vision of Christmas and then it goes up in flames. What do you have to get together for your Halloween costume? [00:00:59] Josh Hutchinson: I decided this year I'm going to go as both a pirate and a witch and be a pirate witch. So I need a pirate ensemble and a witch hat and a cape and like a wand and a cutlass and a zombie parrot. [00:01:19] Sarah Jack: That's awesome. [00:01:21] Josh Hutchinson: So now I'm actually thinking of maybe becoming a space witch. [00:01:26] Sarah Jack: Oh, [00:01:27] Josh Hutchinson: honor of Starfield. I definitely want to do something witchy this year. And speaking of Halloween, we're so happy to speak with Diane Hartshorn and Jennie Johnson from the Ordinary, Extraordinary Cemetery Podcast. [00:01:43] Sarah Jack: I had followed their podcast for a year before I had any idea that I could possibly be podcasting myself. So they're one of the first podcasts that I followed on social media. [00:01:57] Josh Hutchinson: That's great. We'll be talking with them about omens, signs, portents. [00:02:04] Sarah Jack: Welcome Dianne and Jennie, co-hosts of the Ordinary, Extraordinary Cemetery, a podcast that explores old cemeteries and the stories of the people buried in them. It's history. It's spooky. And they share great photographs and extra history on their wonderful social media. Be sure to find them today. We're so happy to have you guys visiting with us today. I'd love to hear more about you. [00:02:30] Dianne Hartshorn: I'm Dianne Hartshorne, and it, we've been doing this for two, two, three years on the 8th of October, and how we got together was by sheer accident. Jennie and I were both in this Facebook group in regards to a tombstone restoration class that was going to be taking place up in Leadville, Colorado, and we just started chatting back and forth, but the class got canceled, and this was right at Covid October of 2020, and she just reached out to me and said, "Hey, would you like to do this with me?" And I'm like, "oh my gosh, I have never done this before. I don't know." So I asked another friend, I go, "what do you think?" And she's, "if it doesn't work, you can always not do it." I'm like, "oh, okay." And then, so I don't wanna sound cliche, but the rest has been history. [00:03:25] Jennie Johnson: That's okay. She sounds cliche. I know. I completely threw her off when I had asked her to do our podcast with us, because I didn't even know what I was doing when I first said, "let's do a podcast." So I just wanted to be able to put out more information about cemeteries. I love digging up the stories of the people that are buried in them, especially people that aren't famous. There's a lot of like TikTokers and Instagrammers and stuff that do famous graves, and they talk about who those people are. And so that's easy to find, but there wasn't really anything out there for the stories about just the everyday people, but they had an impact on their communities or their families. And that's what started our podcast. I had been doing a bunch of research about the cemeteries up near Central City in Colorado, and I, so I had all this research that I had done, and I didn't know what to do with it, and I didn't want to write a book about it. So I said, "let's just do a podcast." And because Dianne has a lot more preservation information than I had at the time, and she'd been doing it for a long time, I wanted her to join me so she could talk more on that part of the subject on how we do the preservation and taking care of headstones. And because I was just starting to learn that at the time, so I needed somebody that had more experience with that. And that was Dianne. So that's how we got together and started the Ordinary Extraordinary Cemetery Podcast. [00:04:49] Dianne Hartshorn: Yes. [00:04:50] Jennie Johnson: And yeah, we're super excited. [00:04:52] Sarah Jack: I'm so glad that all came together. You're filling a really important need. [00:04:57] Jennie Johnson: Yes, it and interestingly, like Dianne said, we started our podcast in 2020. It launched in October, and there was one other podcast out at the time that was doing cemeteries, and that was Tomb With a View podcast, but Liz has a different approach generally to how she covers cemeteries. She does a lot more with the architecture, stone carvers, not quite as much about the stories like we do. So we've actually, both podcasts have covered some of the same cemeteries, but from different viewpoints. So that's been really interesting. But, with the exception of that podcast, there weren't any others out there about cemeteries that weren't paranormal related. And I was looking for something that wasn't par I mean, I love a good ghost story, don't get me wrong. And I watch ghost hunters and I watch kindred spirits and all of that, but I wanted something that had more of the history and the real stories about the real people. And since it didn't exist, I decided I should create it. So that's how we got into the whole world of podcasting, creating what wasn't there, which I think you guys have done very well with your podcast, too. There's definitely podcasts where they've done episodes on witchcraft here and there, or they've talked about the same, like we've talked about the Salem Witch Trials, but like the fact that you guys really delve into so many of the stories about witches and all of that is fascinating to me. And you created what wasn't there. [00:06:20] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, there's definitely no other show like it in the States. There is Witches of Scotland. That's the only one that's really, like our format kind of that does witch hunts specifically. [00:06:39] Jennie Johnson: And you've covered some stories that are lesser known, too, for the witch. I mean, you've covered some more well known ones, as well, but there's a lot of, there's a lot of witch stories out there and witch hunting that happened that people don't always realize was part of history, and you guys have covered some of those really brilliantly, which is great because again, it's something people want to know more. I think there's a lot of people that want to know more about it but don't know where to find that information. And you guys have done an excellent job presenting that information. [00:07:10] Sarah Jack: Thank you so much. There was even more out there available for us to share than I had any comprehension of. So I'm so glad, though, that we've created this catalog of experts and researchers, and if someone does want more information, there's just so much. They probably don't even know where to start at this point, 'cause we have so many. But yeah, I'm really glad that all the information has come together and new stuff comes to us every week. I'm sure you guys experienced that as well. [00:07:41] Jennie Johnson: Oh yeah. [00:07:41] Dianne Hartshorn: Yeah. [00:07:41] Jennie Johnson: Dianne has said it time and again, we've learned so much from what we thought we knew when we started, to the things that we've learned, especially from our guests and things. [00:07:50] Dianne Hartshorn: And just. [00:07:51] Jennie Johnson: Blows our mind. [00:07:52] Dianne Hartshorn: In American history, there are so many stories that when we first started this, it was like, I didn't learn this in school. I didn't learn this in school. And it's and it seems and Jennie's really good at finding those stories that we basically weren't taught in school. So we, they're, they're fascinating. It's so much better than what we have been taught. And that's why we love sharing that, because there is just so much more out there that we need to know. [00:08:21] Jennie Johnson: They're nuggets, they're like little gold nuggets that we find and then we can expand on those and, hopefully, our listeners have learned some things, too, but I know, and I know, and I've seen it even on stuff that we post on our social media, because I will post stuff there that doesn't make it into our podcast episodes, but just other interesting tidbits about stuff, and I've had plenty of people comment, "oh my gosh, I never even knew this, didn't know this was there, or I've been to that cemetery, but had no idea that this person was buried there." So that's always a lot of fun to see the impact that what we're sharing with everybody has on them. [00:08:59] Josh Hutchinson: I like that you emphasize the real stories of real people. It's important for people to be remembered for who they really were. [00:09:10] Jennie Johnson: Yes, and it gives us, I think sometimes. And again, this was where the paranormal ones get away from it. And in those podcasters and sometimes shows and stuff, you forget in a cemetery when they're trying to make it creepy and scary and all that, you forget that those people that are buried there lived like lived real lives and they had emotions and they had children and they had jobs and they had good things happen to them and bad things happen to them. And I think people forget that sometimes when they just want to tell a good ghost story and that you lose sight of, what I say, the humanity of it, but these were all real people and I, if we can find their stories and remember them, I think that makes it so much better. And you can still have the ghost story there, too. That's fine, but just put the humanity back in these cemeteries. And when people go to visit, then hopefully that makes them stop and think when they're looking at particular graves about who that person might have been when they were alive and what they might've been doing in their lives. That and certain things that parallel our modern lives, too. So I like having that comparison. So today we brought for you guys, and I was so excited when you reached out about this. So the reason we get to be on your show today is because you had reached out about a post I had made a while back that had a crow in the cemetery, and I had quoted the movie The Crow about crows leading souls to heaven or something. I don't even remember the exact, I should know the exact quote, I've seen that movie a million times, but that's how we got here today. So we did some more digging into death omens, and this was actually good timing for us, because we had talked about doing something similar on our own podcast with this for October, because we do get a little spookier in October than we do the rest of the year. But I went into digging up some omens and some taboos that are somewhat connected to cemeteries, more often connected to death itself. But death means different things around the world. Every culture has its own connection with death, and some cultures actually celebrate it, others fear it. Like, it's interesting when you start to dig into death and burial rites and those kinds of traditions, how different cultures treat death. And then the omens that have come about, which a lot of them, or at least the ones that we looked at for today with you guys, we were able to connect to, in a lot of cases, witchcraft and witches, and that's how certain stories have happened. And then you end up with the big witch trials, especially the further back in history you go. But so we thought we'd start out by defining an omen. I actually went and looked up the actual definition of omen and the actual definition of taboo. So an omen is an event regarded as a portent of good or evil, and it has prophetic significance. So that's an omen. And then a taboo is a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing. Like I said, the one that had interested you was the one about crows, and crows and ravens together, in different cultures, they almost cross over as far as what they signify, but crows often in a lot of cultures can mean illness or death is coming if you spot so many of them together, they're in a certain configuration or whatever, but there are other cultures that think of crows as guiding souls to heaven, like the souls can, or whatever heavenly body. And with ravens specifically, so there's Norse tradition that ravens delivered messages to Odin between the dead and the living. So they And Odin was their biggest god out of all their gods, and so ravens had that significance, but you see it in other things, but the other reason crows and ravens and even vultures get a bad rap, especially when you see them in cemeteries, is because they are scavengers, that's how they eat, so they're attracted to any place where there's going to be dead bodies, because that's going to feed them, and I think a lot of their like scariness of people attached to it is because you've seen them on battlefields after in the past, especially you have all the dead from the battles and those birds come almost immediately and start helping themselves. And cemeteries, I'm sure they can smell things that, even though the bodies are generally buried or in the crypts or whatever, they can still smell death. So they tend to hang out in those places. So they get a bad rap, I think. Unfortunately. [00:13:53] Dianne Hartshorn: And do you think through literature and the gothic romance era that, with our boy Edgar, that he that sort of just warped maybe more of the I don't want to say maybe more the spiritual connection with the crow and then that crow became that omen, that spooky creature that is bad and instead of good. And because in some of the Native American stuff, a crow is not looked upon as evil or foreboding. [00:14:24] Jennie Johnson: Yeah. Especially Native American cultures, crows are generally a kind of a revered animal. It's more of a, from like an English and Irish. So this day and age with people having so much access to the internet and being able to look things up, I think this is where cultures cross sometimes. You get omens that seem really scary or significant from one culture that crosses over to another culture. And I think people will look at that and go, "Oh, that's really interesting." So that's what started all this was the crows. [00:14:56] Dianne Hartshorn: Then you get our precious little black cats in there as well, too, as being omens. And Jennie and I personally know that black cats are freaking awesome. And I think the other thing with death omens and that is learning and respecting and appreciating different cultures and their death and burial practices, because Jennie mentioned here, the Navajos and the Native Americans, they would have their own very specific rituals involved with, death and that. And then since, unfortunately, that some of their practices may have been looked upon as being pagan or primitive, it wasn't really respected by the people who came to settle this land and actually they would take the body and bury it away from living areas. And in a way we followed that, where cemeteries started moving from the churchyard out away from the community. Next, I think a lot of that had to do with, that was valuable land. And I think a lot of it is when we learned a lot through, like, archaeology and all that with burial practices, but then I think when people do that, they have taken away the sacredness when they discover things and then they don't quite understand maybe what was left there that may be looked at as being very primitive, where from the Native American's perspective, it might've been something very, very sacred at now lost because we didn't understand it. [00:16:41] Sarah Jack: Such a devastating point because you mentioned, you know, the lens of the settler, the European settlers, here was we don't understand their culture and their practices, so it's witchcraft or it's evil. Their practices were very sacred to them. It's so unfortunate when cultures don't recognize what is sacred to other cultures just because of fear. [00:17:05] Jennie Johnson: And you have to think, too, so going back like to the Navajos specifically, they actually, and I think it's still true today for, especially for those who've really been able to go back to practicing their own traditions again. They have a fear of death, because they, and it's more, it has to do with like your spirit or your soul getting trapped here in, on earth, rather than moving on to where it's supposed, wherever it's supposed to go afterwards. And so a lot of their burial practices have to do with making sure that soul gets contained or gets sent into the right place, because you don't want that, because if the soul gets trapped, it's not going to be the kind, loving, respectful person that it was in life. It becomes something very twisted and dark. And so you don't want that trapped soul here. So they, one of the things they do that I know the European settlers found very odd and weird, when somebody died, if they died inside their hogan, which is their traditional sort of house, if they died with inside the hogan, they would actually burn the hogans afterwards. Nobody else was allowed to move into them or live in them, because again, you could be trapped in there with an angry spirit that didn't get to move on to where it was supposed to go. So that's one of those kind of practices. And there were other tribes that did that. The Apache did that, as well. If you had somebody who died inside of a place, you got rid of the place, you didn't keep it, you didn't move on and use it again for somebody else, which again, from the European standpoint, when they came, that just was like mind blowing to those people because you would inherit things, and you would move on, and you would move into those places, but that's not how that those cultures thought of that. It became very sacred to help that spirit not be trapped and to move on and go where it was supposed to go, so I find that interesting. But at the same time, there's other cultures. So there are the Malagasy peoples, they are from Madagascar. The Malagasy is like the big term for all these tribes that are in the Madagascar region, and they have African and Asian heritage mixed together. That's what the Malagasy are, because of where they're located, but they have a practice called, and I'm hoping I don't butcher this too much, because it's a kind of a tricky word, but it's Famadihana and it's, which translates roughly into the turning of the bones. Every five to seven years, they have this practice, where they open up their tombs or their vaults, and they actually remove their deceased ancestors, they redress them in fresh burial garbs, and they have them out, and they eat and drink and dance and have this whole ceremony, because they're honoring their ancestors, and then they put them back inside their tomb, but they put them upside down in their fresh garbs. They put them back upside down, so like on their heads quite literally, because it closes the cycle of life and death when they do that, and then they close it all up for another five to seven years, and then they'll do it all over again. But they have a very strong belief that they're the deceased ancestors are that connection, those physical bodies are sort of their connection between the earthly realm and the spiritual realm. And they have a lot of practices that border on Christianity and other practices, because they took up with some Christianity. So they have certain beliefs that they follow a very Christian thing. So they do believe in like God and stuff, but then some other practices can go beyond that. And so this is one of those things where I know people from other cultures would be like, "why are you dancing with your dead relatives?" But it's because they're intervening on their behalf. Those dead relatives are intervening with God on the behalf of the living, and so they have a very close connection with death, and they don't view it quite so fearfully or negatively as like other cultures do. So it's similar to what they do, you know, for Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead celebrations that they have in parts of Mexico and parts of South America where they're honoring their ancestors and the love and the life that they had. It's that same sort of celebration. So again, depending on where you're at in the world, the connections to death are very different. But I think it's really cool. [00:21:28] Dianne Hartshorn: Yeah, because what was, you know, Halloween, became All Souls Day. All Saints Day, we have lost, I think we've lost a lot of that, because I believe All Saints Day and All Souls Day, or I may be saying it backwards is more of a Catholic ritual belief. So when trying to get away from that, then they made that stuff evil, and sort of, I don't wanna say they warped Halloween because, and then I think here in the States, especially with death and mourning, we want to forget it and get over it so, so quickly 'cause and not even put out there that we are in mourning or this you know, whatever around that. Because I have a friend who's, who grew up in the Philippines, and when her mother died, they don't bury in big, elaborate, expensive caskets and that, and her mom was placed in a shroud into a crypt. I mean, she has since moved her mom to another cemetery and that could be part of the reason, but what was interesting was when she was flying back home, and I think, and I didn't know how this came about or how she got her or anything, um, she had mentioned to the stewardess or somebody, it could even have been before that she was, you know, returning home after her mom's death, and somehow she ended up being given a black pin that she could pin to her blouse. So basically it was like you know, going back into the Victorian age of how it was almost an elaborate display of mourning. I don't want to say they turned it into a trend, but you know, it was just like everybody, it was very, I don't know, I don't want to say romantic, but they sometimes took things to the extreme, where I mean, my friend was able to wear that pin home, and they signified that she was in mourning,, and I think she was supposed to wear it for 40 days and she signified that she was in mourning so that way she didn't, people honored that and I think with some of these omens and that they have been warped because either we don't understand them, or we don't, we try to push death so far away that we forget it's basically, unfortunately, an everyday part of life. [00:23:57] Jennie Johnson: Yeah, there's, especially in Western cultures like ours, death is more feared than it is revered. And that's a little scary to people. In creating some of these omens, when it relates to things that people see, to the animals that are around, to all of those things they, I think it tries to help people maybe process death a little bit differently and either to use it as a warning to be like, "hey, stay away from the cemetery, stay away from sick people, stay at whatever, because you're going to die, this could be bad." And then again, a lot of things go back to our fear of witches and witchcraft, especially European cultures, because in Europe, witches were horrible for centuries. Like we were after them for forever. And so there's all these things that relate back. And now I think in a more modern age, I think a lot of people look at these things, and they laugh it off, and it's not as scary or upsetting anymore, but for a long time, that was the warning of if you see this, if you see the crows and the ravens hanging out in the cemetery, you're going to be the next one to die type thing. And there's a lot of those kinds of omens, especially related to animals, which I find interesting. The birds, owls are another one that a lot of cultures are afraid of. It's interesting because with owls, a lot of the fear around those for the omens comes from a lot of South American cultures. If you hear it, if you're hearing the owls hoot, that could mean death within your household immediately. Like if an owl comes and sits on your rooftop and starts hooting, that's an omen of death, like, headed in your direction, which I find so fascinating, because I love when the owls come and hoot. But also, you know, black cats, if they cross your path, you're supposed to die. And well, I would be dead so many times over at this point, because I've had black cats forever in my house. And, uh, that omen has never come true for me, so. [00:25:59] Dianne Hartshorn: No, they're the best cats. I'm sorry. [00:26:02] Sarah Jack: One of the things that popped into my mind is how the finality of death is, like, immediate for a lot of the Western culture here in America, and we're, like, trying to shut the door and move on, mourn privately. We're all still trying to figure out the stages of grief and where we're at, you know. We don't have these practices that walk us through those, and then what I'm learning from you is that a lot of these cultures, it's just like a new phase of the relationship, and they continue their connection to them, even in death. They're not shutting that door. [00:26:36] Jennie Johnson: There's a lot of the cultures, life and death are very intricately connected, and most cultures have some sort of a belief in some kind of afterlife. And it's, and even Christianity, the goal is when you die, you're going to go to heaven or you'll go to hell or where there's somewhere you're going to go and continue on, but a lot of cultures have that sort of afterlife belief or a reincarnation belief is another one that they have. So even if your physical body is no longer being useful, you still have a soul or spirit that's going to go somewhere. And I think for most cultures, the beliefs that they built around that was to help people through the grieving process and not to shut it out and say, "yes, you can be sad that physically this person no longer sits next to you at the dinner table, but we know they've continued on into this other world, and they're doing the things in this other world that they did in life." You go back to the ancient Egyptian cultures and the way they buried their dead with all the grave goods and things they were going to need to continue living their life in the afterworld. They gave them their food and their dishes and their clothing and all those things in the thought that you're going to need it in the next life, and so I do think we as Western society became more fearful of death and a lot of that goes back to certain things, too, like all the different plagues that ran through Europe and the way people died horrible, tragic deaths. The black plague was a nasty disease and it was very scary to watch people die. And it would happen so fast. Somebody would get sick and be gone within a day or two, and it was very terrifying to watch people die like that. And so I think a lot of our traditions in Western culture then stem from things like that. Like we've become fearful. And then there came a time where all of a sudden we had to be very stoic and serious about death. And even still, as you mentioned, people are uncomfortable with the idea of death. And when somebody dies for somebody else, like people don't necessarily know what to say, feel like they should say something or what to do, because there's not necessarily something you can say or do to make somebody feel better about a loss of a loved one. There's not always words there, or there's very empty words. So then people get uncomfortable, then they don't want to be around the person who's just lost somebody because they don't know how to act or what to say. And then the person who's actively grieving then goes into this, "oh, I have to just put it behind me, and I have to move on, because nobody's going to understand this." And again, by creating omens or taboos about death, then in our brains, it gets stuck there that this is, this is wrong and we can't think like this. And we have to just move on, even though we know logically grief can last a very long time. It can take years to get over losing somebody, and there shouldn't be a time limit for how long somebody grieves. You should just be allowed to be sad and still live your life. But if you can make a connection with your deceased loved ones in some way, I think that's very helpful to a lot of people. And like you said, there's a lot of cultures, they, death and life are interconnected and you have to have one to have the other. So yeah, I was having fun researching some of the other ones. So some of the other omens that we came about that have to do with animals, I thought this one was interesting cause I'd never heard of it, but white horses, especially in Europe, this was especially European, but if two white horses are pulling a hearse, hearses when horses still used to pull hearses, a death will occur in the town within a month. Also, if you saw a white horse at night, that could be an omen of death coming for you. [00:30:24] Dianne Hartshorn: I wonder if it's from revelations, because it talks about the white horse. [00:30:30] Jennie Johnson: Oh, it could be. That's true. Snakes are another one that people have a lot of weirdness around when it comes to, because snakes creep people out anyway. [00:30:40] Dianne Hartshorn: Yeah, they don't have to have omens, they're just creepy. [00:30:42] Jennie Johnson: They're just creepy, but a lot of that relates back biblically, though, since Lucifer is said to present himself as a snake, and then, of course, that got tight, so then snakes can bring death and sickness and other curses, and they can be used by witches to do their bidding and be horrible and nasty, so snakes are another one, and bats were the other. Bats I thought were interesting, and of course there's the association with bats because of vampires and Bram Stoker himself is the One who really was like, our vampires turn into bats. That's how they fly around and get around without being noticed. But they've been in other cultures where vampires aren't necessarily a part of their culture. Bats are still considered to be bad luck, especially if you see them flying around in the daylight. Because they're nocturnal creatures. So if you're seeing them during the day, that, oftentimes it means somebody's going to die right away in those kinds of cultures. It's more likely the bat has rabies at this point, or some other illness that bats can get. [00:31:46] Sarah Jack: Did you, in your research, did you see any ways that people believe that they can get out of a bad omen? [00:31:54] Jennie Johnson: You know what? It's weird, because I was trying to look that up, and I wasn't finding a lot on that. There are a few cultures that do have you can cast a counterspell and things like that, or you go visit your shaman or your witch doctor, and they can be the ones to cure you of that omen. In those cases, you have to have some form of payment, though, oftentimes, or something for trade, again, depending on the culture and where you're at. But that's, those were the only ways I was coming up with that could counteract these bad omens. Otherwise, most of them are like, yep, this is going to happen, so prepare yourself. Be prepared. You're dying, or somebody is dying, and I'm sure a lot of that also stems back, you could have seen a bat flying around during the day 300 years ago. And somebody probably died within that week, because people just died more often and at younger ages, because healthcare wasn't as good, so they started making those connections like, "oh my gosh, I saw a bat on Monday and now my grandma's dead on Tuesday, because that bat was flying around in the daytime." But yes, there are a few cultures where there are ways to fix it, but you usually have to have some form of payment or something to get that fixed. [00:33:07] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I was really curious about that, because we've talked about countermagic before and protective magic, how people use amulets and rituals or put things around the house to ward off this and that. But I guess it depends on how you interpret the origin of an omen. I was thinking if an omen is a sign from the gods or God, then you probably can't do a whole lot to counteract God's will through a prayer or something, but maybe for in certain cultures, where you sacrifice to appease a God, maybe that's a way to get out of an omen. [00:33:50] Jennie Johnson: And that does come up in a few of them. The other thing that you'll find more often is what you've mentioned is protective charms. And so there's a lot of charms that people have come up with over the centuries, things to wear, foods to eat, herbs and stuff that you put around your home or across your threshold, using salt is a big one that goes back to a lot of things. Salt protects you from witches and bad spirits and demons. And salt is highly functional for that kind of stuff, in addition to making your food taste better. So there's a lot more of the protective type of charms to prevent things, bad things from happening if you happen to come across one of these animals or whatever. But yeah, it's more of the protective thing rather than the once it's happened. Like you said, if it's the god's will, whether it's the Christian God or any other god, then that's, you just have to prepare yourself and be ready to do what, whatever that god was wanting at that point. They make themselves well known for that. [00:34:51] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, we were reading about omens and portents in colonial New England. In Puritan society, everything basically was a sign of God's favor or displeasure, and if God was angry with you, you're supposed to take your medicine, and, uh, correct whatever you were doing. [00:35:17] Jennie Johnson: And with the Puritan belief in predestination, where God has already decided whether you're going to heaven or hell, you don't know that, God knows that. But yeah, it made it very hard to break away sometimes from the idea of certain things. If you were going to go to hell anyway, why be good? Or, if whatever, but I do find that belief really strong and they did, everything was assigned from God in the Puritan ages. And that, during all their various witch trials, when they, when the accused were being accused, a lot of them had, part of that accusation was whatever familiar that they had. And a lot of times it was either some sort of a bird, a cat, rats were another one I think you would quite often see. So then, those just over time, and even once those beliefs got put aside and we got more scientific about stuff, those types of stories stuck with us as humans. And we, and then you have like our Victorian authors, like Edgar Allan Poe, who used all of those in their stories and in their writings. And so again, in our psyche, that all now sits in our brains as being very scary and dark and or ritualistic, depending on, again, what it is. And we see a lot of that. [00:36:37] Dianne Hartshorn: Especially had those strong beliefs, and they had the the control of church, they, even if it didn't make any sense whatsoever, people couldn't question it, because if they questioned it, then they probably would be accused of being a witch because they questioned it. So it just was easier to perpetuate the story that continues. So yeah, it's easier sometimes just to go along and not say anything than try to make real sense out of some of these omens. [00:37:10] Jennie Johnson: We were talking about protection and stuff, and this kind of goes back to some cemeteries. So something some people would do in cemeteries, and even before cemeteries became cemeteries as we think of them now, trees held a big belief for, certain trees held certain types of beliefs of protection, especially. And so graves were put under certain trees or near certain trees or trees were planted on top of graves for the very reason of protecting against all these other omens that are out there. Yew trees are a big one, willows, the silver birch, all of those trees have a lot of important symbolism in protecting against the evils of death or evil spirits. Yew trees are specifically like a symbol of immortality. And for a long time in European customs, a lot of times they would carry yew branches on Palm Sunday to church instead of having, like now we use palms, but a lot of times they would use yew branches. Or they would carry them during a funeral too. It was part of the funeral ritual. They would have them. In Ireland, yew was the coffin of the vine, wine barrels were often made of yew because it imbibed the wine with good juju, it was good. I don't know if it actually made the wine taste better or not, but it apparently helped protect the wine from bad things. And so they used yew for that. The willow tree, which is one of my favorite trees, it's gone back and forth being a good tree and a bad tree. It depends on the season, a lot of times the Victorians, actually slightly before the Victorians, they started using yew trees as a symbol of mourning, and you will see them a lot on graves and headstones, because they are sad and they're weeping and the weeping willow is what we get from that. But it can also be like, there's other traditions, and if you've ever read any of the Lord of the Rings books, the trees have a lot of issues in there, but the Willow, Old Man Willow in the first Lord of the Rings, in the Fellowship, he's quite sinister and evil and dark and has a dark spirit within his tree, so willows, like I said, they've over time have gone back and forth from being a good tree and a not so good tree, but they are very often associated with death, and you will find them a lot in cemeteries or burials will have been put beneath them. And then the other one I really thought was fun was the silver birch tree, which for a lot of, if you're Wiccan, a lot of them look at that as the Goddess Tree or the Lady of the Woods. And it's associated with light and new beginnings, love, and fertility, so it has a very good symbol. It's a tree that can protect against evil spirits. So you'll find that one sometimes near graves, because it's protecting the deceased from the evil spirits who might come to, to, claim those bodies. And it's a much happier tree than the willow tree. And I didn't find any evil connotations connected with the silver birch tree, other than they used to like to use birch branches for like whipping your children and stuff. Or they would whip, if whipping became your punishment in town for something, because they believed that using the birch branch would help drive out the evil that was making you be naughty. [00:40:30] Sarah Jack: Wow. [00:40:30] Jennie Johnson: I thought was interesting. I do have some stuff about insects. I always think it's interesting, because I know a lot of people will see like butterflies or dragonflies as a good omen, you know, when somebody's died, and then you see it land on their headstone. Or even if you're out somewhere and you see one and somebody has recently passed, a lot of times we will associate those particular insects with like the soul of the person coming back in that. But butterflies, again, this is culture to culture, so different. Some cultures, butterflies, especially if they're black or they have a lot of black in their wings, represent trapped souls that have been trapped within the butterfly, which is not necessarily a good thing to them. But then other cultures look at it, because of the way a butterfly transitions into a butterfly and their cycle of life with the cocoon and going from the caterpillar all the way up to the butterfly. A lot of other cultures use that as a representation of death. The same way our life was sort of our caterpillar phase and then death becomes your butterfly phase, and your soul is free and it can fly away to heaven or wherever as a butterfly. And I thought that was a very beautiful, more poetic way of looking at it. [00:41:48] Dianne Hartshorn: Cause the omens have all been taken as something as being evil for whatever reason, I'm sure it had its purpose at the time for whoever came out with what the omens signified. But what if we took those, all these evil omens, turn them into something positive, like the butterfly? I could see in a way that it was black and that but when I have seen butterflies at the cemetery, it's a sign from the person that has passed. So it'd be interesting to change, to flip the omens into something, but then they wouldn't be omens anymore. [00:42:24] Jennie Johnson: Moths kind of have the same thing. It's funny, cause moths freak a lot of people out more so than butterflies, even though they're related. But they're seen as rebirth, resurrection, changing. And because moths are drawn to light, like actual moths are drawn to actual light, there's a lot of associations where the moth is leading a soul from darkness into light. So the soul, they're like saying, "okay, follow me. Don't get away from the light. Follow me into the light." Unless you're in Latin America, and then they're bad, because moths come out only at night type thing. So then they're a bad omen down there, but a lot of other cultures look at moths as a more positive thing. And, it's, again, the transformation from one form to another when you die. And so I kind of like the whole leading it, leading your soul into the light and it's that guide so you don't get lost along the way. When I was doing our research for this, things are passed down word of mouth, grandparent to grandchild. And a lot of times, because a lot of cultures do revere their elders, like their elder elders, they're the ones that had the wisdom. So these, whether they're omens or whether they're signs of protection or whether they're a good sign, like they help it. It's the older generations that held that wisdom and made sure that it got passed on to the next generation. Their hope was that somebody within that generation would continue on with those beliefs and pass them down again. And of course they change over time, too. [00:43:49] Josh Hutchinson: I was thinking about how there are good omens and signs that people embrace, things like rainbows. I was thinking, and this might blur the line between what's an omen and what's good luck, what's a lucky break, because finding a penny might be interpreted as good luck, or finding a four leaf clover, but, or it could be a sign that, you found this four leaf clover, is that a sign of something? I don't know, but I think we still have a lot of those in our society today. [00:44:29] Jennie Johnson: Oh, for sure. Yeah, and like finding the penny, finding it face up is better luck than finding it tails up, that type of thing. When it comes to coins, there's actually a lot of coins that get left on graves. Most of the time it has to do with the military significance. Each one of those coins has a significance, like if it's a penny, you're just saying thank you for your service. If it's a nickel, you knew the person, and the higher up you go, if it's a quarter, that means you served with them during combat type things. So they have those representations, and so there are a lot of times, especially in military graves, you'll find those coins and it's a sign of respect to leave them. So don't steal the coins off the graves, because then that becomes a bad luck sign if you take the coins away from the graves. Same thing with rocks. Rocks are more of a Jewish tradition. Leaving a rock on a grave symbolizes you were there to visit them. But I have seen plenty of rocks on graves that are not Jewish, because I think a lot of people like that. It's a comforting thing for them to say, "I was here, and I want you to know I was here." Whoever the deceased is, it's your way of saying, "I was here." So again, not removing the rocks that got left on graves. I know it bothers some people, but leave them, leave them. [00:45:44] Dianne Hartshorn: It's a sign of respect. When you know what it is, and you've like laid the coins on the military headstones, or, rocks placed, it's just something, I keep using the word sacred, because for me, a cemetery is sacred, and that's why we don't do paranormal stuff. [00:46:04] Josh Hutchinson: I wanted to point out that we've been back to Salem and at the memorials there, people leave coins, flowers, of course, rocks, crystals, seashells are really popular. Because we don't know where most of those people are buried. So because they weren't allowed in the cemeteries. So people leave these tributes behind. [00:46:32] Jennie Johnson: We had a guest on who was telling us about the cemeteries in Galveston, and there's one particular grave, the woman who's buried there, she was murdered on Mardi Gras, during a Mardi Gras celebration, and it's become the tradition after their Mardi Gras parade, a lot of people will go visit her grave, and they leave all their beads, so her headstone is covered in the beads that people have left over the years, and Kathleen was, our guest, was saying the only time they remove them at this point is if they break, like the actual beads break or whatever, they'll clean up the broken beads, but they pretty much leave all the other ones that get wrapped around her headstone there because it became, and this happened back in the 1880s, but it's been a tradition since then to visit that grave and leave all those beads for her, which I think is really special. Yeah. And she doesn't get forgotten this way. She had come to America from England and married a not so great guy. And she was actually granted a divorce, because the judge was like, yeah, you shouldn't be married to him. He's horrible. And she actually ended up getting custody of his two daughters that were not even hers biologically. And unfortunately his jealousy got the best of him, and he was the one who murdered her later on. But her story could have been one of those that kind of got lost and forgotten, but because of when it happened and where her grave is located, nobody, people go in and they respect it, and they visit her and they say, "hey, we're still thinking about you for 150 years later. We haven't forgotten her." So that is one of the good things about cemeteries is you will see a lot of stuff on and around graves, because people are trying to remember. There, if the Central City cemeteries here in Colorado, those were, the majority of them were mining families or whatever, and there's a lot of children's graves, and there's a lot of people who still, they may not have any actual connection to them, they may not be descendants or whatever, but I will see, especially on the children's graves, people will still leave a lot of toys and other little knickknacks for the kids, because they're just so sad about the idea of losing a child, and so those graves, if you're ever up there wandering around, you'll see a lot of little stuffed animals and toy trucks and things that have been left by people who have zero connection to the families there, but they just are touched by the fact that it's a child's grave and they want to honor that child's short little life, however long it was, which I always find very sweet. [00:48:50] Sarah Jack: And now for a Minute with Mary. [00:49:01] Mary Bingham: Imagine someone living in colonial times who learned differently and simply could not follow the status quo. Imagine the life of Jacob Goodall, Giles Corey's healthy, robust servant who's only downfall was that he was considered to be simple-minded. Instead of exercising patience with Jacob, one fateful day, Giles beat him with the thick end of a stick, striking him harshly about 100 times. A shocked Elijah Kibbe, who witnessed the event, ran to Giles and told him to stop. Not only that, but Giles' son in law, John Parker, struck Jacob with the side of a bed. Soon after, on June 28th, 1676, Jacob Goodall, being bruised and swollen all over, succumbed to his injuries. Giles Corey was not charged with murder, because Jacob did not die right after the initial beatings. The only punishment Giles received was to pay a fine and reimburse the witnesses. What a slap in the face for Jacob, to say the least. John Parker received no discipline by the court for his atrocious actions towards Jacob. Though he may have learned differently or may have other mental health issues, Jacob did not deserve to die such a cruel death. No one does. Rest in peace, Jacob Goodall. Thank you. [00:50:39] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary. [00:50:41] Josh Hutchinson: Now, here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. [00:50:51] Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunts, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), Weekly News Update. Thank you for following along on our weekly news. How's your advocating going? Have you found your platform to share about the modern day witch hunts and sorcery accusation violence crisis happening today in your world? You can start being an advocate by sharing witch attack victim news articles, research, or social media posts. Share your favorite international advocate episode with your circle of influence today. Go back and listen to any of our informative international advocate episodes and then write a post on your social media in your own words about what can be done to help end witch hunts. Keep getting more comfortable with the subject by sharing it and talking about it. Congratulations to writer Laurie Flanigan-Hegge, director Meggie Greivell, and puppet artist Madeline Helling of Light the Match Productions on the new play production Prick. Prick, inspired by the Witches of Scotland campaign, will now be premiering in London this January. This creative play tells the story of folks who were witch trial victims in Scotland. Prick traverses magic and memory, fact and fiction, past and present. Give them a shout out on social media and help spread the word about this exciting news. If you missed it, go back and listen to our conversation with the creators of Prick on episode 47, "Prick, A Play of the Scottish Witch Trials." Congratulations, friends. Get involved. Visit endwitchhunts.org. Learn about the projects. To support us, make a tax deductible donation, purchase books from our bookshop, or merch from our Zazzle shop. Have you considered supporting the production of the podcast by joining us as a Super Listener? Your Super Listener donation is tax deductible. Thank you for being a part of our work. [00:52:40] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. [00:52:42] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. [00:52:44] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [00:52:47] Sarah Jack: Join us all spooky season. [00:52:50] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and drop us a review. [00:52:55] Sarah Jack: Visit us at thoushaltnotsuffer.com. [00:52:58] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell all your friends and family and everybody else you meet about Thou Shalt Not Suffer. [00:53:06] Sarah Jack: Support our effort to end witch hunts, visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more. [00:53:11] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today, a beautiful tomorrow, and a happy Halloween.