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Saturday, 9 May 2015



Hi dear friends and followers, I am pleased to see you here today. Well after a couple week of absence we have Frizzy Lizz back in action again. Enjoy the story, thank you  

Hello, Everyone! There are those who would swear that I was never a child and that I was probably born 18 years old. Sometimes I feel like they are right. I always tried to do what was the “right” thing and seldom got into trouble with anyone and that made people think that I was born old. I assure you that I was once a child. Trust me.

Earlier today I had coffee with a close friend and we got into the topic of things that we did as children. Within a few minutes, I was transported from that coffee shop on May 9, 2015 to my hometown in 1954.

I was born in a town in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. It was the largest city of many, with names like Carbondale, Olyphant, Taylor, Old Forge, Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, and Hazleton. I grew-up in the city of Scranton.

Everything there revolved around a substance known as anthracite coal. Men went into the deep mines to blast, dig and remove it from under the Lackawanna Valley. Huge power shovels tore into the earth to get to coal seams that were closer to the surface. Coal mining was life in Scranton.

The black stuff that is anthracite coal is vastly different from bituminous coal. Anthracite, also called “hard” coal burns much cleaner and hotter than bituminous, or “soft” coal. It has less moisture and leaves less ash after burning. Anthracite also has a shiny appearance in contrast to the dull look of bituminous coal. Since it makes a lot less smoke than soft coal, it was used by the Lackawanna Railroad to power its steam locomotives. In the late 19th and early 20th century the Lackawanna Railroad boasted of travelers arriving at their destinations cleaner because they were riding on “the road of anthracite.”

It was shipped from Scranton to the rest of the nation to heat homes, apartment houses, and public buildings. I knew that most people in Scranton were using coal to heat their homes. I could tell by the smell of sulfur in the air on the first cold morning of fall. But I digress.

Every home had a coal bin, a place in the basement, near to the furnace, where coal for heating the house was stored. It was usually about 3 meters square with a wall that went up to the ceiling and a doorway that had boards across it that could be added or subtracted depending upon the amount of coal in the bin.

When coal was needed, a coal distributor was called and an order for coal in pieces of the right size for the boiler to be fired was placed. A usual order was 5 tons or more.

The distributor, also called a coal man, brought the coal in a large truck with a big box on its back that held the coal. I would stand and watch in wonder as the driver backed the gigantic truck close to the house, pulled the levers that made the big box full of coal go up in the air on a scissors lift, and attach the steel chutes to the hatch on the back of the truck. He would then place the chute in the opening on the house that went into the coal bin and pull a handle that opened the hatch on the box.

And the coal came flying out of the box, way up in the air, sliding out of the truck box, down the chute, making such a din as I cannot describe, and into the house!

More often than not, a piece of coal would fall off the chute. I would pick it up and put it in my pocket like it was a treasure, and it was a treasure!

A piece of coal was great for drawing pictures on sidewalks. No one had chalk, so we would draw our hopscotch on a sidewalk using whatever stones we could find. But you couldn't draw on a concrete sidewalk with a stone. For that you needed coal and draw we did! We did not care upon whose sidewalks we drew because we were 3 years old, going on 4, and everything we did was fun as long as we stayed close to our homes.

The front and back yards were huge to me, but then, everything was big when I was small, and everything was new and needed exploration.

I remember the day I found my way under the front porch of our house. It was like an entirely new world to me. I had to open the hatch through which the coal man would place the chute to deliver coal into the coal bin. I did that, climbed up the lattice work, and fell into the world of under the front porch.

The place was damper than the rest of the yard. There were a few blades of grass growing there as well as a misplaced maple seedling and a few little flowers of some kind. It was as long as the front of the house was wide, and tall enough for me to stand up as I explored.

After a time, I suppose that I saw everything there was to see under the porch. It was then that I found a hatch in the concrete wall of the foundation of the house. There were chestnut-sized pieces of coal on the ground in front of the hatch. I lifted myself up to look into where the hatch went and the next thing I knew, I went head-first into the coal bin!

Wow! What fun that turned out to be! Under the porch was fun, but this was even more fun! I could not walk without sinking into it. If I fell down, it was slow and I did not get hurt. That was a grand improvement over the scraped elbows and knees that I was getting. I walked in that coal as though I was on another planet, savoring every moment, every movement, every sound. It was almost pitch dark in the coal bin, but I was having too much fun to be afraid!

This might have gone on for a few minutes when I heard my mother call me. I shouted back that I was in the dark. She heard all the commotion in the coal bin and came down to the basement to fish me out. She was not at all impressed with my exploration.

My recollection is that I came out of that coal bin and my mother got me by the ear because the rest of me was covered with shiny, black, anthracite coal dust. She gave me a good lecture about playing in the coal bin and how it was a dangerous place for a little girl (I never understood that part) and how it made such a mess of my clothes (I understood that part).

She made me undress down to my underwear while I was still in the basement, then she held up my little girl's pants and shirt so I could see that it wasn't dust from the Midnight Fairy on my clothing and shoes.

Then she marched me upstairs to the bathroom and lifted me up so I could see what I looked like. The little girl in the mirror had coal in her hair, on her face, her arms, chest, legs, well, you get the picture. And into the bathtub I went!

I don't really know why I never went under the front porch or into the coal bin again. Both places were there but they lost their “fun factor” for me. Maybe it's because the family next door had a little girl who was a year older than me and we started to be friends and used coal to draw things on the sidewalk, and have footraces, and play games.

And so it was for a little girl in Scranton, Pennsylvania on a day in late 1954 or early 1955. I really was a child. Now I remember it.

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. Have a great day.
ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

My Friend Ella

My Friend Ella

Hi, dear friends and followers. I am pleased to see you here today. I have a wonderful pleasant little story for you about a garden fairy

By Charlotte Brooks

Sssh…May I tell you a secret?

I have a friend; her name is Ella.

She is a fairy who lives at the bottom of our garden.

Do you believe in fairies?

I was ten years old when I came across Ella. Thinking back now, I believe she probably lived in our garden for a very long time before I met her. You see, when I think about it, there was a lot of evidence to prove her existence there, way before I even met her.

I would find flowers with brightly coloured sparkles on them.

There once was a little fairy house in the garden too.

My mother would take me on fairy adventures with my elder brother, to instill some magic into our childhood. She would take us into the woods behind our house and discreetly drop glitter on trees and paths. We had some magical adventures with her.

When I turned ten, my brother was convinced that maybe it was our mother who was responsible for the fairy evidence. I was a little sad but grateful, too. How many children that you know of ever had this type of adventures? I held onto a glimmer of hope that maybe fairies did exist somewhere.

One day I was playing in the garden when I heard a tinkling on the wind. I thought it may have been a friend’s garden toy, but I listened again, this time more closely. I could hear a faint whispering; someone was calling my name.


I didn’t meet Ella that day.

It wasn’t until a couple of months later, during midsummer. I thought back to the books my mother had read to me, telling me the best times and places to meet fairies. Of course, I never met one. My brother would say that the fairy was our mother.

But one evening, just as it was starting to get dark, I was about to be proven wrong.

Again there was a faint whispering on the wind. “Isobel”.

I walked to the bottom of our garden and I crouched down by the fence. To my amazement, there was Ella!

She was a beautiful little fairy with sparkling wings. Her hair was long and as fair as freshly fallen snow. Her eyes were a piercing blue. She was wearing a pretty little turquoise dress with sparkles glitter all over it.

“Hello Isobel," she said plainly, "I`m Ella, your garden fairy.”

I'm sure that I looked extremely surprised to see her, for she giggled in excitement.

“I have come to see you because you have never lost your belief in fairies; for only those who truly believe in us will ever get to see our magic”.

I smiled in amazement. All those times my lovely mother had set out adventures for us, my elder brother stopped believing very quickly, but I held onto hope that someday, somewhere, I would get to meet a fairy!

“Can I go and find my brother? He needs to see you! He doesn’t believe in you!” I exclaimed.

“I am afraid not, dear Isobel, for only those who truly believe can see us,” Ella replied.

I was saddened by this, but excited, too, for I now had a little friend of my own to play with.

With that, my mother called out to me to come in.

“Don’t worry, lovely Isobel, I will still be here tomorrow. I am your fairy friend, here to stay”.

The next day, after school, I ran straight to the garden and, sure enough, there was Ella waiting for me. We talked for what seemed like hours. She told me all about where she came from and what it was like to live in fairyland.

“Perhaps you would like to come to fairyland one day?” Ella asked.

“Oh yes, please, I would like that so very much!” I replied.

We would play with each other every day. She would tell me so many stories about the fairies she lived with, and how they all had important jobs to do during the year. The autumn fairies would gather all of the berries ready for the harvest festival. The winter fairies would help the frost fairies to decorate the lands and even bring snow! The spring fairies would sprinkle their fairy dust to help to bring the new flowers into bloom. And it was the summer fairies who were responsible for delivering the longer days and shorter nights. Midsummer was the highlight of the fairy calendar, for every midsummer's day there would be a gigantic fairy festival that would go on into the night, with dancing, singing and general merriment.

Oh, how I longed to visit fairyland!

Then one day Ella invited me along. “It’s time for you to come and meet my fairy friends. would you like to come with me to fairyland?” she asked.
I was so excited!

“I will be back for you when the moon is out. I can take you only when there is a full moon, and there is one tonight. I will knock three times on your bedroom window. When you hear me, come to the back door, whilst everyone else is sleeping,” were Ella’s instructions.

I could hardly sleep that night. I listened intently for the knocks on my window. When the darkness had fallen and the moon was out, there came three gentle knocks on my window. I tiptoed down the creaky stairs and headed for the back door.

When I stepped outside under a beautiful moonlit sky, Ella was waiting for me by the fence that went out onto the woodland.

“Are you ready?” she asked.

“I am ready!” I squealed.

She took my hand and sprinkled some fairy dust over me. Before I knew it, we were flying high above the trees, using the beams of the moon to guide us. As I looked down I could see deer creeping through the woods and foxes rustling in the leaves.

As we flew over the hills, I could see bright lights beneath us. As we descended towards the ground I could hear singing and laughter.

“Isobel, welcome to fairyland!” Ella shouted excitedly.

I could not believe my eyes! What a beautiful place! Lush green fields where unicorns grazed; rainbows with pots of gold at their ends; dewdrops on the trees that the fairies collected to take back to their young families, they were all there.

“It really is magical!” I declared.

“Well, of course, this is fairyland, after all,” Ella replied.

We seemed to spend hours playing in the waterfalls with the water sprites. We helped to collect berries and flowers for the fairy queen, and I even got to touch a unicorn. Ella took me to show me where her fairy friends lived in the trees, with little doors for them to fly in and out of. She showed me where the fairies send their letters from. I didn’t want to ever go home.

“Can I stay, please?” I asked gingerly.

“I am afraid not”, she said quietly. “Only fairies can live here, but we love having visitors and you can come any time you want to.” she said with a smile.

It was time to go home. We said goodbye to her fellow fairy friends as I was showered with fairy dust once more. We soared high in the sky once more under the crystal clear moonlight. It felt like we had been gone for hours but when we returned and I climbed back into bed I could see that the time on the clock had not even changed. I dreamed all night of our adventures in fairyland.

Our adventures did not end there. I visited many times with Ella through my teenage years; we had become best friends and I could not imagine my life without her.

On my sixteenth birthday I saw Ella for the very last time.

I went to the bottom of our garden as I always did, but this time she seemed sad.

“Isobel, I am sorry, my dear friend, but it is time for you to grow your own fairy wings for I must leave you this special day”.

I could feel the tears gathering in my eyes.

“But why must you leave me today? You are my best friend and you cannot go” I cried.

“You are older now, dear Isobel, and my guidance is needed elsewhere,” came her tender reply.

“ There is a little girl not far from here who is herself questioning her belief in we fairies, just as you did all those years ago. My job then was to come and show you that to see magic, you have to believe. I came to you when you needed me and spread some magic. Now it is time for someone else to have that sprinkling of fairy dust. “

Tears were rolling down my cheek; I knew I had to let her go but I was about to lose my best friend.

She held out her hand and gave me a little bottle of my own fairy dust.

“For when times are tough and you need a little bit of love and reassurance,” she whispered.

With that she flew off, high above me, and all that was left was little me and a tiny bottle of fairy dust.

Years passed, and I often thought of dear Ella. I wondered whether she was still with the little girl she left me for or had she moved on.

I married my sweetheart and went on to have two children of my own, a little boy and a little girl. For some time, we had our own fairy adventures, searching for them wherever we went, in forests, by streams, even under a moonlit sky.

Then my children became of an age in which my son, the elder of my children, no longer believed in fairies and my little girl was not sure anymore.

“They aren’t real, you know,” he would taunt her.

“Yes, they are; tell him mummy,” would come her reply.

Then one day during midsummer, when my little girl was ten, she came running into me after playing in our garden.

“Mummy! Mummy! I have just met a fairy!” she squealed.

I looked at her and smiled. “Well I am sure you will become the best of friends, my darling,” I replied.

I thought back to my fairy friend, the adventures we had, and the friendship that developed. I hoped that my darling little girl could have the same adventures.

“Does your friend have a name?” I asked with anticipation.

“Of course, mummy. Her name is Ella”.

Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. Have a great day.

ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend

Pocahontas: Her Life and Legend

Hi, dear friends and followers. I am pleased to see you here today. This is the closest correct account to the legend Pocahontas on record, take five and enjoy, thank you.

Detail of the map showing the various towns in the Powhatan Chiefdom. Jamestown and Werowocomoco (Powhatan's capital) are underlined in red.

John Smith's Map of 1612

Not much is known about this memorable woman. What we do know was written by others, as none of her thoughts or feelings were ever recorded. Specifically, her story has been told through written historical accounts and, most recently, through the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi. Most notably, Pocahontas has left an indelible impression that has endured for more than 400 years. And yet, many people who know her name do not know much about her.

The Written History

Pocahontas was born about 1596 and named "Amonute," though she also had a more private name of Matoaka. She was called "Pocahontas" as a nickname, which meant "playful one," because of her frolicsome and curious nature. She was the daughter of Wahunsenaca (Chief Powhatan), the mamanatowick (paramount chief) of the Powhatan Chiefdom. At its height, the Powhatan Chiefdom had a population of about 25,000 and included more than 30 Algonquian speaking tribes - each with its own werowance (chief). The Powhatan Indians called their homeland "Tsenacomoco."

As the daughter of the paramount chief Powhatan, custom dictated that Pocahontas would have accompanied her mother, who would have gone to live in another village, after her birth (Powhatan still cared for them). However, nothing is written by the English about Pocahontas' mother. Some historians have theorized that she died during childbirth, so it is possible that Pocahontas did not leave like most of her half-siblings. Either way, Pocahontas would have eventually returned to live with her father Powhatan and her half-siblings once she was weaned. Her mother, if still living, would then have been free to remarry.

How a young Pocahontas might have looked.

Unknown British Museum

As a young girl, Pocahontas would have worn little to no clothing and had her hair shaven except for a small section in the back that was grown out long and usually braided. The shaven parts were probably bristly most of the time as the Powhatan Indians used mussel shells for shaving. In winter, she could have worn a deerskin mantle (not everyone could afford one). As she grew, she would have been taught women's work; even though the favorite daughter of the paramount chief Powhatan afforded her a more privileged lifestyle and more protection, she still needed to know how to be an adult woman.

Women's work was separate from men's work, but both were equally taxing and equally important as both benefited all Powhatan society. As Pocahontas would learn, besides bearing and rearing children, women were responsible for building the houses (called yehakins by the Powhatan), which they may have owned. Women did all the farming, (planting and harvesting), the cooking (preparing and serving), collected water needed to cook and drink, gathered firewood for the fires (which women kept going all the time), made mats for houses (inside and out), made baskets, pots, cordage, wooden spoons, platters and mortars. Women were also barbers for the men and would process any meat the men brought home as well as tanning hides to make clothing.

Another important thing Pocahontas had to learn to be an adult woman was how to collect edible plants. As a result, she would need to identify the various kinds of useful plants and have the ability to recognize them in all seasons. All of the skills it took to be an adult woman Pocahontas would have learned by the time she was about thirteen, which was the average age Powhatan women reached puberty.

Captain John Smith.

Unknown Artist

When the English arrived and settled Jamestown in May 1607, Pocahontas was about eleven years old. Pocahontas and her father would not meet any Englishmen until the winter of 1607, when Captain John Smith (who is perhaps as famous as Pocahontas) was captured by Powhatan's brother Opechancanough. Once captured, Smith was displayed at several Powhatan Indian towns before being brought to the capital of the Powhatan Chiefdom, Werowocomoco, to Chief Powhatan.

What happened next is what has kept the names of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith inextricably linked: the famous rescue of John Smith by Pocahontas. As Smith tells it, he was brought in front of Chief Powhatan, two large stones were placed on the ground, Smith's head was forced upon them, and a warrior raised a club to smash in his brains. Before this could happen, Pocahontas rushed in and placed her head upon his, which stopped the execution. Whether this event actually happened or not has been debated for centuries. One theory posits that what took place was an elaborate adoption ceremony; its adherents believe that Smith's life was never in danger (though, he most likely would not have known that). Afterwards, Powhatan told Smith he was part of the tribe. In return for "two great guns and a grindstone," Powhatan would give Smith Capahowasick (on the York River), and "forever esteem him as his son Nantaquoud." Smith was then allowed to leave Werowocomoco.

Once Smith returned to Jamestown, Chief Powhatan sent gifts of food to the starving English. These envoys were usually accompanied by Pocahontas, as she was a sign of peace to the English. On her visits to the fort, Pocahontas was seen cart-wheeling with the young English boys, living up to her nickname of "playful one."

The English knew Pocahontas was the favorite daughter of the great Powhatan, and was consequently seen as a very important person. On one occasion, she was sent to negotiate for the release of Powhatan prisoners. According to John Smith, it was for and to Pocahontas alone that he finally released them. As time passed, however, relations between the Powhatan Indians and the English began to deteriorate, but Pocahontas's relationship with the newcomers was not over.

The English trading with the Powhatan Indians for food.

NPS Image

By the winter of 1608-1609, the English visited various Powhatan tribes to trade beads and other trinkets for more corn, only to find a severe drought had drastically reduced the tribes' harvests. In addition, Powhatan's official policy for his chiefdom was to cease trading with the English. The settlers were demanding more food than his people had to spare, so the English were threatening the tribes and burning towns to get it. Chief Powhatan sent a message to John Smith, telling him if he brought to Werowocomoco swords, guns, hens, copper, beads, and a grindstone, he would have Smith's ship loaded with corn. Smith and his men visited Powhatan to make the exchange, and ended up stranding their barge. Negotiations did not go well. Powhatan excused himself, then he and his family, including Pocahontas, departed into the woods, unbeknownst to Smith and his men. According to Smith, that night Pocahontas returned to warn him that her father intended to kill him. Smith had already suspected something was wrong, but was still grateful that Pocahontas was willing to risk her life to save his yet again. Afterwards, she disappeared into the woods, never to see Smith in Virginia again.

As relations between the two peoples deteriorated, Chief Powhatan, wearied of the constant English demand for food, moved his capital from Werowocomoco (on the York River) in 1609 to Orapaks (on the Chickahominy River), further inland. Pocahontas was not allowed to visit Jamestown anymore. In the fall of 1609 Smith left Virginia because of a severe gunpowder wound. Pocahontas and Powhatan were told that Smith died on the way back to England.

Pocahontas stopped visiting the English, but that was not the end of her involvement with them. John Smith recorded that she saved the life of Henry Spelman, one of several English boys who had been sent to live with the Powhatan Indians to learn their language and lifeways (Powhatan Indian boys had been sent to live with the English to learn about English ways and language as well). By 1610, Spelman did not feel as welcome among the Powhatan Indians and ran away with two other boys, Thomas Savage and Samuel (a Dutchman; last name unknown). Savage changed his mind, returned to Powhatan, and told him about the runaways. According to Spelman, Powhatan was angry about losing his translators and sent men to retrieve the boys. Samuel was killed during the pursuit, but Spelman escaped to live among the Patawomeck tribe (an outlying member of the Powhatan Chiefdom). His account says he made his way alone to the Patawomeck, but Smith, who spoke with Pocahontas years later, said she had helped Spelman get to safety.

How an adult Pocahontas may have looked.

Unknown British Museum

The years 1609-1610 would be important ones for Pocahontas. Pocahontas, who was about fourteen, had reached adulthood and marriageable age. She began to dress like a Powhatan woman, wearing a deerskin apron and a leather mantle in winter, since she was of high status. She might also wear one-shouldered fringed deerskin dresses when encountering visitors. Pocahontas started decorating her skin with tattoos. When she traveled in the woods, she would have worn leggings and a breechclout to protect against scratches, as they could become easily infected. She would have also grown her hair out and worn it in a variety of ways: loose, braided into one plait with bangs, or, once married, cut short the same length all around.

In 1610, Pocahontas married Kocoum, whom Englishman William Strachey described as a "private captain." Kocoum was not a chief or a councilor, though mention of his being a "private captain" implies he had command over some men. The fact that he was not a chief, and thus not high in status, suggests that Pocahontas may have married for love. Kocoum may have been a member of the Patawomeck tribe. He also might have been a member of her father Powhatan's bodyguards. Pocahontas remained close to her father and continued to be his favorite daughter after her marriage, as the English accounts imply. Although Pocahontas was the favorite daughter of the paramount chief, she still had the freedom to choose whom she married, as did other women in Powhatan society.

For the next several years, Pocahontas was not mentioned in the English accounts. In 1613, that changed when Captain Samuel Argall discovered she was living with the Patawomeck. Argall knew relations between the English and the Powhatan Indians were still poor. Capturing Pocahontas could give him the leverage he needed to change that. Argall met with Iopassus, chief of the town of Passapatanzy and brother to the Patawomeck tribe's chief, to help him kidnap Pocahontas. At first, the chief declined, knowing Powhatan would punish the Patawomeck people. Ultimately, the Patawomeck decided to cooperate with Argall; they could tell Powhatan they acted under coercion. The trap was set.

Pocahontas accompanied Iopassus and his wife to see Captain Argall's English ship. Iopassus' wife then pretended to want to go aboard, a request her husband would grant only if Pocahontas would accompany her. Pocahontas refused at first, sensing something was not right, but finally agreed when Iopassus' wife resorted to tears. After eating, Pocahontas was taken to the gunner's room to spend the night. In the morning, when the three visitors were ready to disembark, Argall refused to allow Pocahontas to leave the ship. Iopassus and his wife seemed surprised; Argall declared Pocahontas was being held as ransom for the return of stolen weapons and English prisoners held by her father. Iopassus and his wife left, with a small copper kettle and some other trinkets as a reward for their part in making Pocahontas an English prisoner.

After her capture, Pocahontas was brought to Jamestown. Eventually, she was probably taken to Henrico, a small English settlement near present-day Richmond. Powhatan, informed of his daughter's capture and ransom cost, agreed to many of the English demands immediately, to open negotiations. In the meantime, Pocahontas was put under the charge of Reverend Alexander Whitaker, who lived at Henrico. She learned the English language, religion and customs. While not all was strange to Pocahontas, it was vastly different than the Powhatan world.

During her religious instruction, Pocahontas met widower John Rolfe, who would become famous for introducing the cash crop tobacco to the settlers in Virginia. By all English accounts, the two fell in love and wanted to marry. (Perhaps, once Pocahontas was kidnapped, Kocoum, her first husband, realized divorce was inevitable (there was a form of divorce in Powhatan society). Once Powhatan was sent word that Pocahontas and Rolfe wanted to marry, his people would have considered Pocahontas and Kocoum divorced.) Powhatan consented to the proposed marriage and sent an uncle of Pocahontas' to represent him and her people at the wedding.

In 1614, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and was baptized "Rebecca." In April 1614, she and John Rolfe married. The marriage led to the "Peace of Pocahontas;" a lull in the inevitable conflicts between the English and Powhatan Indians. The Rolfes soon had a son named Thomas. The Virginia Company of London, who had funded the settling of Jamestown, decided to make use of the favorite daughter of the great Powhatan to their advantage. They thought, as a Christian convert married to an Englishman, Pocahontas could encourage interest in Virginia and the company.

Only image of Pocahontas done from life.

Unknown British Museum

The Rolfe family traveled to England in 1616, their expenses paid by the Virginia Company of London. Pocahontas, known as "Lady Rebecca Rolfe," was also accompanied by about a dozen Powhatan men and women. Once in England, the party toured the country. Pocahontas attended a masque where she sat near King James I and Queen Anne. Eventually, the Rolfe family moved to rural Brentford, where Pocahontas would again encounter Captain John Smith.

Smith had not forgotten about Pocahontas and had even written a letter to Queen Anne describing all she had done to help the English in Jamestown's early years. Pocahontas had been in England for months, though, before Smith visited her. He wrote that she was so overcome with emotion that she could not speak and turned away from him. Upon gaining her composure, Pocahontas reprimanded Smith for the manner in which he had treated her father and her people. She reminded him how Powhatan had welcomed him as a son, how Smith had called him "father." Pocahontas, a stranger in England, felt she should call Smith "father." When Smith refused to allow her to do so, she became angrier and reminded him how he had not been afraid to threaten every one of her people - except her. She said the settlers had reported Smith had died after his accident, but that Powhatan had suspected otherwise as "your countrymen will lie much."

In March 1617, the Rolfe family was ready to return to Virginia. After traveling down the Thames River, Pocahontas, seriously ill, had to be taken ashore. In the town of Gravesend, Pocahontas died of an unspecified illness. Many historians believe she suffered from an upper respiratory ailment, such as pneumonia, while others think she could have died from some form of dysentery. Pocahontas, about twenty-one, was buried at St. George's Church on March 21, 1617. John Rolfe returned to Virginia, but left the young ailing Thomas with relatives in England. Within a year, Powhatan died. The "Peace of Pocahontas" began to slowly unravel. Life for her people would never be the same.

A young Pocahontas.

Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star"

The Oral History

The recently published (2007) The True Story of Pocahontas: The Other Side of History by Dr. Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Silver Star," based on the sacred oral history of the Mattaponi tribe, offers some further, and sometimes very different, insights into the real Pocahontas.

Pocahontas was the last child of Wahunsenaca (Chief Powhatan) and his first wife Pocahontas, his wife of choice and of love. Pocahontas' mother died during childbirth. Their daughter was given the name Matoaka which meant "flower between two streams." The name probably came from the fact that the Mattaponi village was located between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers and that her mother was Mattaponi and her father Pamunkey.

Wahunsenaca was devastated by the loss of his wife, but found joy in his daughter. He often called her Pocahontas, which meant "laughing and joyous one," since she reminded him of his beloved wife. There was no question that she was his favorite and that the two had a special bond. Even so, Wahunsenaca thought it best to send her to be raised in the Mattaponi village rather than at his capital of Werowocomoco. She was raised by her aunts and cousins, who took care of her as if she were their own.

Once Pocahontas was weaned, she returned to live with her father at Werowocomoco. Wahunsenaca had other children with Pocahontas' mother as well as with his alliance wives, but Pocahontas held a special place in her father's heart. Pocahontas held a special love and respect for her father as well. All of the actions of Pocahontas or her father were motivated by their deep love for each other, their deep and strong bond. The love and bond between them never wavered. Most of her older siblings were grown, as Wahunsenaca fathered Pocahontas later in his life. Many of her brothers and sisters held prominent positions within Powhatan society. Her family was very protective of her and saw to it that she was well looked after.

As a child, Pocahontas' life was very different than as an adult. The distinction between childhood and adulthood was visible through physical appearance as well as through behavior. Pocahontas would not have cut her hair or worn clothing until she came of age (in winter she wore a covering to protect against the cold). There were also certain ceremonies she was not allowed to participate in or even witness. Even as a child, the cultural standards of Powhatan society applied to her, and in fact, as the daughter of the paramount chief, more responsibility and discipline were expected of her. Pocahontas also received more supervision and training; as Wahunsenaca's favorite daughter she probably had even more security, as well.

When the English arrived, the Powhatan people welcomed them. They desired to become friends and trade with the settlers. Each tribe within the Powhatan Chiefdom had quiakros (priests), who were spiritual leaders, political advisors, medical doctors, historians and enforcers of Powhatan behavioral norms. Thequiakros advised containing the English and making them allies to the Powhatan people. Wahunsenaca agreed with the quiakros. During the winter of 1607 the friendship was solidified.

Captain John Smith statue at Historic Jamestowne.

Sarah J Stebbins

The most famous event of Pocahontas' life, her rescue of Captain John Smith, did not happen the way he wrote it. Smith was exploring when he encountered a Powhatan hunting party. A fight ensued, and Smith was captured by Opechancanough. Opechancanough, a younger brother of Wahunsenaca, took Smith from village to village to demonstrate to the Powhatan people that Smith, in particular, and the English, in general, were as human as they were. The "rescue" was a ceremony, initiating Smith as another chief. It was a way to welcome Smith, and, by extension, all the English, into the Powhatan nation. It was an important ceremony, so the quiakros would have played an integral role.

Wahunsenaca truly liked Smith. He even offered a healthier location for the English, Capahowasick (east of Werowocomoco). Smith's life was never in danger. As for Pocahontas, she would not have been present, as children were not allowed at religious rituals. Afterwards, Pocahontas would have considered Smith a leader and defender of the Powhatan people, as an allied chief of the English tribe. She would have expected Smith to be loyal to her people, since he had pledged friendship to Wahunsenaca. In Powhatan society, one's word was one's bond. That bond was sacred.

The English had been welcomed by the Powhatan people. To cement this new alliance, Wahunsenaca sent food to Jamestown during the winter of 1607-08. Doing so was the Powhatan way, as leaders acted for the good of the whole tribe. It was during these visits to the fort with food that Pocahontas became known to the English, as a symbol of peace. Since she was still a child, she would not have been allowed to travel alone or without adequate protection and permission from her father. The tight security that surrounded Pocahontas at Jamestown, though often disguised, may have been how the English realized she was Wahunsenaca's favorite.

John Smith trying to get more food for the settlers.

NPS Image

Over time, relations between the Powhatan Indians and the English began to deteriorate. The settlers were aggressively demanding food that, due to summer droughts, could not be provided. In January 1609, Captain John Smith paid an uninvited visit to Werowocomoco. Wahunsenaca reprimanded Smith for English conduct, in general, and for Smith's own, in particular. He also expressed his desire for peace with the English. Wahunsenaca followed the Powhatan philosophy of gaining more through peaceful and respectful means than through war and force. According to Smith, during this visit Pocahontas again saved his life by running through the woods that night to warn him her father intended to kill him. However, as in 1607, Smith's life was not in danger. Pocahontas was still a child, and a very well protected and supervised one; it is unlikely she would have been able to provide such a warning. It would have gone against Powhatan cultural standards for children. If Wahunsenaca truly intended to kill Smith, Pocahontas could not have gotten past Smith's guards, let alone prevented his death.

As relations continued to worsen between the two peoples, Pocahontas stopped visiting, but the English did not forget her. Pocahontas had her coming of age ceremony, which symbolized that she was eligible for courtship and marriage. This ceremony took place annually and boys and girls aged twelve to fourteen took part. Pocahontas' coming of age ceremony (called a huskanasquaw for girls) took place once she began to show signs of womanhood. Since her mother was dead, her older sister Mattachanna oversaw the huskanasquaw, during which Wahunsenaca's daughter officially changed her name to Pocahontas. The ceremony itself was performed discreetly and more secretly than usual because thequiakros had heard rumors the English planned to kidnap Pocahontas.

After the ceremony a powwow was held in celebration and thanksgiving. During the powwow, a courtship dance allowed single male warriors to search for a mate. It was most likely during this dance that Pocahontas met Kocoum. After a courtship period, the two married. Wahunsenaca was happy with Pocahontas' choice, as Kocoum was not only the brother of a close friend of his, Chief Japazaw (also called Iopassus) of the Potowomac (Patawomeck) tribe, but was also one of his finest warriors. He knew Pocahontas would be well protected.


NPS Image

Rumors of the English wanting to kidnap Pocahontas resurfaced, so she and Kocoum moved to his home village. While there, Pocahontas gave birth to a son. Then, in 1613, the long suspected English plan to kidnap Pocahontas was carried out. Captain Samuel Argall demanded the help of Chief Japazaw. A council was held with the quiakros, while word was sent to Wahunsenaca. Japazaw did not want to give Pocahontas to Argall; she was his sister-in-law. However, not agreeing would have meant certain attack by a relentless Argall, an attack for which Japazaw's people could offer no real defense. Japazaw finally chose the lesser of two evils and agreed to Argall's plan, for the good of the tribe. To gain the Captain's sympathy and possible aid, Japazaw said he feared retaliation from Wahunsenaca. Argall promised his protection and assured the chief that no harm would come to Pocahontas. Before agreeing, Japazaw made a further bargain with Argall: the captain was to release Pocahontas soon after she was brought aboard ship. Argall agreed. Japazaw's wife was sent to get Pocahontas. Once Pocahontas was aboard, Argall broke his word and would not release her. Argall handed a copper kettle to Japazaw and his wife for their "help" and as a way to implicate them in the betrayal.

Before Captain Argall sailed off with his captive, he had her husband Kocoum killed - luckily their son was with another woman from the tribe. Argall then transported Pocahontas to Jamestown; her father immediately returned the English prisoners and weapons to Jamestown to pay her ransom. Pocahontas was not released and instead was put under the care of Sir Thomas Gates, who supervised the ransom and negotiations. It had been four years since Pocahontas had seen the English; she was now about fifteen or sixteen years old.
A devastating blow had been dealt to Wahunsenaca and he fell into a deep depression. The quiakrosadvised retaliation. But, Wahunsenaca refused. Ingrained cultural guidelines stressed peaceful solutions; besides he did not wish to risk Pocahontas being harmed. He felt compelled to choose the path that best ensured his daughter's safety.

While in captivity, Pocahontas too became deeply depressed, but submitted to the will of her captors. Being taken into captivity was not foreign, as it took place between tribes, as well. Pocahontas would have known how to handle such a situation, to be cooperative. So she was cooperative, for the good of her people, and as a means of survival. She was taught English ways, especially the settlers' religious beliefs, by Reverend Alexander Whitaker at Henrico. Her captors insisted her father did not love her and told her so continuously. Overwhelmed, Pocahontas suffered a nervous breakdown, and the English asked that a sister of hers be sent to care for her. Her sister Mattachanna, who was accompanied by her husband, was sent. Pocahontas confided to Mattachanna that she had been raped and that she thought she was pregnant. Hiding her pregnancy was the main reason Pocahontas was moved to Henrico after only about three months at Jamestown. Pocahontas eventually gave birth to a son named Thomas. His birthdate is not recorded, but the oral history states that she gave birth before she married John Rolfe.

In the spring of 1614, the English continued to prove to Pocahontas that her father did not love her. They staged an exchange of Pocahontas for her ransom payment (actually the second such payment). During the exchange, a fight broke out and negotiations were terminated by both sides. Pocahontas was told this "refusal" to pay her ransom proved her father loved English weapons more than he loved her.

Shortly after the staged ransom exchange, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and was renamed Rebecca. In April 1614, Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married at Jamestown. Whether she truly converted is open to question, but she had little choice. She was a captive who wanted to represent her people in the best light and to protect them. She probably married John Rolfe willingly, since she already had a half-white child who could help create a bond between the two peoples. Her father consented to the marriage, but only because she was being held captive and he feared what might happen if he said no. John Rolfe married Pocahontas to gain the help of the quiakros with his tobacco crops, as they were in charge of tobacco. With the marriage, important kinship ties formed and the quiakros agreed to help Rolfe.

In 1616, the Rolfes and several Powhatan representatives, including Mattachanna and her husband Uttamattamakin, were sent to England. Several of these representatives were actually quiakros in disguise. By March 1617, the family was ready to return to Virginia after a successful tour arranged to gain English interest in Jamestown. While on the ship Pocahontas and her husband dined with Captain Argall. Shortly after, Pocahontas became very ill and began convulsing. Mattachanna ran to get Rolfe for help. When they returned, Pocahontas was dead. She was taken to Gravesend and buried in its church. Young Thomas was left behind to be raised by relatives in England, while the rest of the party sailed back to Virginia.

Wahunsenaca was told by Mattachanna, Uttamattamakin and the disguised quiakros that his daughter had been murdered. Poison was suspected as she had been in good health up until her dinner on the ship. Wahunsenaca sank into despair at the loss of his beloved daughter, the daughter he had sworn to his wife he would protect. Eventually, he was relieved as paramount chief and, by April 1618, he was dead. The peace began to unravel and life in Tsenacomoco would never be the same for the Powhatan people.

Pocahontas statue at Historic Jamestowne.

Sarah J Stebbins


What little we know about Pocahontas covers only about half of her short life and yet has inspired a myriad of books, poems, paintings, plays, sculptures, and films. It has captured the imagination of people of all ages and backgrounds, scholars and non-scholars alike. The truth of Pocahontas' life is shrouded in interpretation of both the oral and written accounts, which can contradict one another. One thing can be stated with certainty: her story has fascinated people for more than four centuries and it still inspires people today. It will undoubtedly continue to do so. She also still lives on through her own people, who are still here today, and through the descendents of her two sons.

Author's note: There are various spellings for the names of people, places and tribes. In this paper I have endeavored to use one spelling throughout, unless otherwise noted.

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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A History of Elves

A History of Elves

Hi, dear friends and followers. I am pleased to see you here and welcome to my blog. Today I have a short review on the origin and history of elves. Thank you.

by Benjamin Radford, Live Science Contributor | September 16, 2013 07:06pm ET

Elves have been a popular subject in fiction for centuries, ranging from William Shakespeare's play "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the classic fantasy novels of J.R.R. Tolkien 300 years later. But it's only recently that elves have been confined to plays, books, and fairy tales: In centuries past, belief in the existence of fairies and elves was common among both adults and children.

Like fairies, elves were said to be magical, diminutive shape-shifters. (Shakespeare's elves were tiny, winged creatures that lived in, and playfully flitted around, flowers.) English male elves were described as looking like little old men, though elf maidens were invariably young and beautiful. Like men of the time, elves lived in kingdoms found in forests, meadows, or hollowed-out tree trunks.

Elves, fairies, and leprechauns are all closely related in folklore, though elves specifically seem to have sprung from early Norse mythology. By the 1500s, people began incorporating elf folklore into stories and legends about fairies, and by 1800, fairies and elves were widely considered to be simply different names for the same magical creatures.

As with fairies, elves eventually developed a reputation for pranks and mischief, and strange daily occurrences were often attributed to them. For example, when the hair on a person or horse became tangled and knotted, such "elf locks" were blamed on elves, and a baby born with a birthmark or deformity was called "elf marked."

Indeed, our forefathers trifled with elves at their peril. According to folklorist Carol Rose in her encyclopedia "Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins," though elves were sometimes friendly toward humans, they were also known to take "terrible revenge on any human who offends them. They may steal babies, cattle, milk, and bread or enchant and hold young men in their spell for years at a time. An example of this is the well-known story of Rip Van Winkle."

Evolving elves

Another type of elf emerged, one with a somewhat different nature and form than the mischievous and diminutive sprites of yore. Some elves, such as those depicted in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, are slender, human-sized, and beautiful, with fine — almost angelic — features. Tolkien's characters were drawn largely from his research into Scandinavian folklore, and therefore it's not surprising that his elves might be tall and blond. Though not immortal, these elves were said to live hundreds of years. They have also become a staple of modern fantasy fiction.

Gary Gygax, co-creator of the seminal role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons, was not only influenced by Tolkien's elves but also instrumental in popularizing them, even including elves as one of the character races (along with humans) that gamers could play.

In either form, elves are strongly associated with magic and nature. As with fairies, elves were said to secretly steal healthy human babies and replace them with their own kind. These changelings appeared at first glance to be human babies, but if they became seriously sick or temperamental, parents would sometimes suspect that their own child had been abducted by elves. There were even legends instructing parents on how to get their real child back from its elven abductors.

Each generation seems to have their own use for elves in their stories. Just as leprechauns have historically been associated with one type of work (shoemaking), it is perhaps not surprising that many common (and commercial) images of elves depict them as industrious workers — think, for example of Santa Claus' toymaking elves or even the Keebler cookie-baking elves. Folklore, like language and culture, is constantly evolving, and elves will likely always be with us, in one form or another.

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and author of six books including Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore. His website link below. 

You can also access the story of Chupacabra and The vampire beast in this blog.

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ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Wager

The Wager 

Hi, dear friends and followers. Today I have another fascinating fantasy poem, composed by me, for you. Take five minutes relax and enjoy. Thank you  

“Who can prove that fairies do not exist?”
Charlotte said as she laughed and danced in the woods.
At the end of a whirl, she stopped and turned,
her suitor, Donovan was close behind.
Her story resumed as they walked the worn pathway:

"In these woods most every night, 
forest spirits come to pass the time.
They meet, as we, and talk, and dance,
and share their joy and gaiety and mirth."
“Oh, my dear prince, my life is your life.
Here, in this wood, we can merge as one.
One with each other and one with the fairies."
Donavan stammers, then finds his voice:
"Certainly you jest, o mistress so coy.
Fairies exist, but as stuff of stories told:
legends for children by the storyteller's hearth."
"The joke of a whimsical time are they,
as legends do, they come and go.
In the course of time they are here and gone."
“Then come with me, Donovan!" Charlotte exclaimed. 
"Show you, I will, or are you afraid to discover,
that the fairies are real, as real as you and I?"
"What have you to lose, my precious prince?
Come, follow me," and she motioned onward.
Gracefully she passed, through thicket and sod,
weaving her way as though forest-born;
traversing as mist, with feet not on earth.
Charlotte suddenly stopped and to Donavan turned;
"Tonight is the full moon, the night of their dance;
pray, let us stay, and share in their joy."
Donavan spoke not a word of reply, 
and looked like he had not heard his lady's last
and hoped that her folly had in the wind passed.
But on her hips Charlotte placed her hands,
and with a sideways smile made him think again.
Her eyes fairly gleamed in the late day's sun 
as she resumed her trek to see the fairies dance.
She then turned toward the deepest, darkest woods.

Donovan followed, knowing full well
that wherever they went, they would need to walk home! 
"You will see, my prince, that your judgment has erred;
of things unseen, you surely will see,
when the fairies come to dance and play."
Charlotte danced as she walked and in pantomime did
the dance of the fairies she knew they would dance.
The shadows grew longer as evening's dark fell
when they arrived at the clearing, a brook by its side,
that made a crystalline sound no chime could ever make,
as over its stony bottom it flowed.

Charlotte sat upon the moss that grew near the brook,
and asked Donovan to join her, to savor the evening.
A breathtaking night it was, indeed,
with a star-laced sky and the sound of the brook
as the background for all of the night sounds of the forest.
For Donavan's heart, this place contained
all the magic he desired this night, he mused. 
No more was needed at this place or time,
least of all fairy magic - he laughed at that thought.
Holding hat to his chest, he bowed to her with a smile:
"One more thing, milady, to add spice to this night;
a wager, I think, to make the walk worth your while.
If the fairies do come, I shall buy for you
a new gown of your choosing, regardless of cost.
And your hand in marriage should you take a loss."
Charlotte laughed with abandon, "I will take that bet."
"A clever man you are, for I win either way!"
I would be a fool to let this wager pass --- "
Then stopped abruptly, turned and gave him her hand.
"It is done!" she exclaimed, then crossed her arms
and smiled the smile of a confident rival.
The evening grew thicker and a cool mist arose

and hung from the creek and gave the night a chill.
The damps got to Donovan, who had second thoughts:
"What a night to set out on so foolish quest."
But the cold from without was also within;
"No fairies will be out, even if they do exist.
They will be home, at hearthside, a place I now miss."
So Donavan thought, the wager made him stay.
And so they sat, close to each other for warmth.
The moonlight shone on the horizon's east
and it brightened the landscape as it cleared the trees.
"This was where it happened on that early August night,"
Charlotte said with confidence, though not sure she was right. 
Thus they sat waiting for an eternity or more - 
But the moon had only gone past midnight. 
Suddenly a sound, a distant air of music;
they came like marionettes, prancing, twirling!
They came with flashes of light and color,
As through the woods, in and around trees.

At the forest's edge, in a clearing by the brook, 
they played and danced and sang and cheered,
and Mother Nature's own joined in the chorus!
They fluttered in, carried on the mist,
as butterflies flutter, they came to the clearing,
dancing with joy in the air!
Several drew quite near to Charlotte and her prince.
For them, time stopped moving; the fairies made it so.
They were lost in a whirlpool that swirled in their minds
but were sure that they were sitting, together, at the brook.
Yet in the dance they were taken, like a leaf to the wind,
to join the merriment of the fairies on the brook's other side.

The night all about them moved but slightly;
and within the circle, time moved not.
Just as quickly as lightning one fairy approached;
it moved quicker than any eye can ever see.
To try to capture it would be like trapping a ghost;
a fool's errand, if there ever be.
Charlotte looked at Donavan, whose countenance had fallen.
"My sweet prince," she said, "I have won the gown!"
"But in this wager you have nothing lost,
For in marriage will I gladly take your hand.
And they danced in the air with fairy folk they met.
Two more believers in the fairy magic were they.
Composed by Cynthia© 

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ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ