Resurrection Mary

 

His name was Vince. By day he worked as a mild mannered bookkeeper for the infamous Chicago Stockyards — those that fueled the meat packing industry and gave us the name “Hog Butcher To The World.”  Vince, however, liked to reassure people he worked “Nowhere near the slaughter houses.” But most of the time he figured it was best to not mention his place of employment at all. Especially in polite conversation, when he hoped to make acquaintances with young ladies…  Which was his exact intention one spring evening in 1939 when he cruised out to the Oh Henry Ballroom.

A fan of the big bands,  Vince loved nothing more than to patronize Chicago’s many dance halls, tap a toe, and if he was lucky, get a pretty girl to dance with him.

And so, nothing was so very strange about that one Saturday night when a restless Vince slicked his hair with Bryl Cream, put on his best double breasted suit, and headed out to his favorite  jitterbugging joint. The Oh Henry Ballroom was located in the suburb of Justice, Illinois, just southwest of Chicago on Archer Avenue.

Vince spent a while grooving to the music and drinking Cuba Libres (rum and cokes) before he spotted one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She was wispy and ethereal, what Vince would call “a real looker,” a blue eyed blonde dressed in a white ball gown and fancy silver dancing shoes.

Vince could not resist. He approached her, and, wanting to appear cool, said as casually as he could manage: “Hey, it ain’t right to stand still for Count Basie. Why don’t we cut a rug on this one?”

The girl agreed. The couple danced to a few loud, fast numbers. When the band took a break, Vince began a conversation. He found out her name was Mary and she lived in the Brighton Park neighborhood of Chicago’s south side, somewhere near south Damon Avenue. Vince was from the same neighborhood.

The band played a slow, romantic ballad and the couple danced cheek to cheek. It was then that Vince noticed that Mary’s hands were cold and her skin brittle. Much colder and more brittle than they should have been, for Mary could not have been more than twenty or twenty one years old.

Vince sensed that she seemed self conscious as he cringed at her cold skin, so he made a joke. “You know what they say? Cold hands means  a warm heart.”

Mary smiled. The couple spent the rest of the night dancing together and when the ballroom closed, Vince offered her a ride home.

Mary gave Vince her exact address on south Damon. Vince knew the neighborhood well. A straight shot down Archer Avenue, not a bit out of his way. However, on the ride home something strange happened.

Vince was driving down Archer when they passed Resurrection Cemetery, the graveyard of Chicago’s Polish community. Mary insisted that Vince stop the car there.  Vince was baffled, but, not wanting to upset her, he complied. Mary opened the door, and stepped out of the car.

She looked at Vince, her eerie ice blue eyes piercing.

“I have to go now. You can’t follow me, so don’t try.”

With that, she turned and walked up to the cemetery gates. She put one hand upon the iron chain that bound the gates together. She then disappeared.

At this point the dumbfounded Vince began to wonder if someone had slipped a mickey into his Cuba Libres. He was terrified, but determined to solve this mystery. Not only was there the weirdness of her disappearing, but since she had danced with him all evening, Vince had an optimistic hope of beginning a relationship with this lovely girl.

Vince spent the rest of the night driving his Chevy up and down Archer Avenue, looking for a blond girl in a white dress. He drove until dawn, and then, when the cemetery gates opened, he entered. There, among the cement angels and monuments engraved with a variety of old world names like Barankowski, Ignasiak and Janulewicz, he explored.

The morning sun reddened his sleepless eyes. The Bryl Cream of the night before had lost its effect and Vince wandered, hair falling on his face, clothes disheveled and stubble of a beard now sprouting on his cheeks.

There was no sign of Mary.

Vince decided to drive to the address Mary had given him.

He drove to south Damon Avenue and parked the car. The street was a chain of near identical brick bungalows separated by narrow concrete gangways. Only the porch and lawn decorations differentiated the houses – American flags, statues of the Virgin Mary, velvet portraits of an all seeing Jesus whose eyes seemed to follow him as he walked up the street.

Finally he came to Mary’s “house”. He rang the doorbell.

The woman who answered looked (as you may have guessed) like an older version of Mary. Her mother! That, of course made perfect sense. Vince would introduce himself as politely as possible and inquire after the daughter, who no doubt had somehow made it home by now.

“Is Mary home?” Vince asked.

The woman stood silent for a few moments, then a look of fresh grief spread across her face. “Mary doesn’t live her anymore,” she said.

“She… She doesn’t?”

The woman took a deep breath. “My daughter Mary died in a car accident four years ago. Who are you?”

Vince, who feared for his own sanity as well as his reputation as a “normal” person, made up an elaborate lie on the spot:

“I knew Mary in high school,” he said.

Vince claimed he had been Mary’s friend, but lost touch with her when he went to attend college downstate. He said he had only recently moved back to Chicago, and sought to rekindle their friendship.

Mary’s mother invited him into the house. The first thing Vince noticed was a framed photograph hanging on the wall.  It was indeed the same girl he had danced with the night before.

Mary’s mother went on to explain that, four years ago, Mary had gone out dancing at the Oh Henry Ballroom with a boy she had been dating. Sometime in the course of the evening, Mary had gotten into an argument with the boy. Mary stormed out of the Ballroom. Even though it was winter, she did not bother getting her coat. She wandered down Archer Avenue, dressed only in her gossamer white ball gown and silver slippers. It was then she was struck by a hit and run driver and instantly killed.

Mary’s family, who were of Polish descent, had her buried in Resurrection Cemetery. Her ghost has ever after been known as “Resurrection Mary.”

** NOTE: There are many similar stories of Resurrection Mary that have circulated over the years. Several people have claimed to see “a woman in a white gown” hitchhiking near Archer Avenue. Some have even claimed to pick her up. She inevitably pulls the same stunt Vince witnessed; asking to be let off near the cemetery, upon which she touches the gates and disappears.

I chose to relate Vince’s story because it seemed to have the most character. Vince was a patron of Chet’s Melody Lounge which is located across the street from Resurrection Cemetery.

Photo of Chet's Melody Lounge - Justice, IL, United States

According to patrons and bartenders, Vince told his story in the Melody Lounge for fifty years until his death sometime in the 1990’s. Reportedly, he told it in intimate detail and each time, looked as if he had, indeed, seen a ghost!

The bartenders at the Melody Lounge began a tradition which they keep to this day. Every Sunday, they mix a Bloody Mary for Resurrection Mary. The set the drink on the edge of the bar in hopes that Mary might show up and drink it. So far, no luck.

Vince never returned to the Oh Henry Ballroom. The place was later renamed The Willowbrook Ballroom, and remained open as a dance and banquet facility until it was destroyed by a fire in 2016.

Vince also never located Mary’s grave. He was apparently too spooked by the whole incident, plus he never asked her mother her last name (as this would have trapped him in the lie…)

For the record, I have two grandparents and a few other relatives buried in Resurrection Cemetery. I have also been dancing at the Willowbrook Ballroom. However, on no occasion have I see Mary, not near the ballroom, not on Archer Avenue, nor in the cemetery.

But hey! I am still a believer. Who doesn’t love a great ghost story? 🙂

Do you believe?

 

 

 

 

 

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Thirty-Three: The Spooky Side

 

In just thirty-three days, the ghostly and ghoulish festivities of Halloween will be upon us! Are you prepared? In honor of Halloween I will be posting  Halloween countdowns to help get you in the mood. Stay tuned for all things Halloween —  the macabre, the mystical and the mythical, as well as the silly, the satirical and the sadistic!

I thought a countdown of 33 days would be a good place to start. Why 33?  Well…  The number 33 has a sacred and spooky history.  According to some numerologists, 33 is the most significant of all esoteric numbers. It is an important part of many spiritual, occult and religious practices.

First of all, three is a magical number. In Faerie tales, we get three wishes.

We are given three tasks, and the “third time is a charm.”  Baseball gives a chance for three strikes before you are “out”. Mother, father, and baby makes three, thus ensuring the continuation of humanity.  Three is part and parcel of our culture. In Tarot, three is the Empress, who gives birth to all human creativity.

Three is also significant to many religions. Christianity uses the Trinity of three — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Pagan faith involves the veneration of the Maiden, Mother and Crone, as attuned to a woman’s life cycles and the phases of the Moon. Three is great on its own, but two threes put together is considered extremely powerful. Two threes facing each other make a mirror-image design that is said to represent the ancient Hermetic maxim  “as above, so below.” The heavens mirror the earth; the spirit world reflects the human world. This maxim is often shown as the Tree of Life. (Note the outline, 3 and inverted 3.)

Thirty-three was also important in English literature. The number is often hidden within significant texts. Take Shakespeare, for example.  In Julius Caesar, Caesar himself is stabbed 33 times.  The ghost of Caesar visits Brutus in a passage that starts with a 33-character sentence: “That shapes this monstrous apparition.” Brutus recovers from the shock and addresses the ghost in a 33-word sentence: “It comes upon me. Art thou any thing? Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil, that makest my blood cold and my hair to stare? Speak to me what thou art.” 

In Hamlet, Horatio first questions the Ghost in a 33 word sentence: “What art thou that usurp’st this time of night, together with that fair and war like form, in which the majesty of buried Denmark did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee, speak!”  Horatio also addresses the ghost in a 33 word sentence as he leaves: “O, speak! Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life, extorted treasure in the womb of earth, for which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,speak of it: stay, and speak!”  The number here is used to represent the link between normal, waking life and the ghostly realms.

Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queen is full of allegory and characters ranging from King Arthur to Gloriana (Queen Elizabeth I). In Book 3 Canto 3 (3 + 3 = 33) the opening line begins with a 33-letter sentence: “Most sacred fyre, that burnest mightily.” Spenser linked the number 33 with the concept of a human spirit and at the same time a mirror image in the celestial realm.

Fun Facts:

  • Jesus is said to have performed 33 miracles. He was crucified at age 33.
  • The mystic Edgar Cayce wrote that there were 33 incarnations of Jesus.
  • According to some Islamic teachings, when people reach Heaven they will exist permanently at the age of 33. (Sounds good to me!)
  • The Ancient Hindu text of the Rig Veda describes “33 deities”. 11 are of heaven, 11 are of earth and 11 are of the realm in-between.
  • In Buddhism, the goddess and bodhisattva Kuan Yin is said to take on 33 different likenesses.
  • The Tibetan Book of the Dead tells of 33 heavens ruled by Indra (the Protector) and another 33 ruled by Mara (the Evil One.)
  • The ancient city of Babylon was very near the 33rd-degree latitude line, while modern Baghdad is on the 33rd parallel. This area was once thought to be the Garden of Eden.
  • Dallas, Texas, the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, is on the 33rd parallel. The date of his assassination, November 22, or 11/22 adds up to 33. (I know! Creepy…)
  • A complete sequence of human DNA contains 33 turns.
  • There are 33 vertebrae in the human spine. In India, it is believed that vital spiritual energy which must be awakened is located at the base of the spine. This coiled-up energy is known as Kundalini. Through Yoga practices, this energy ascends to the brain and beyond.

 

Pretty cool stuff, huh? I bet you’ll never think of 33 in a mundane way again! Enjoy this day as a “sacred countdown” to the sacred festival of Halloween 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Wedding and a Funeral

 

All eyes will be on St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle next Saturday, May 19, 2018 as Prince Harry ties the knot with his American princess, Meghan Markle.

The event has been dubbed the ‘wedding of the century’ – much in the same way the wedding of Harry’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer back in 1981 was the ‘wedding of the (20th) century’.  These nuptials, however, are filled with controversy.

In case you have been living under a rock, or missing the News, I will fill you in on the juicy details.

Former bad boy and beloved troublemaker Prince Harry – AKA Henry Charles Albert David Windsor, Prince of Wales – announced his engagement to American actress Meghan Markle on November 27, 2017.  Harry’s former outrageous antics include underage drinking, pot smoking, dressing as a Nazi for a costume party, and being photographed naked after he lost at a game of ‘strip billiards’ in Las Vegas.

Prince Harry Blames Wild Behavior On Princess Diana's Death

But now!

In making Meghan his bride, Harry the rebel is breaking with tradition, big time!

First of all, Meghan is an ‘older woman’. (Only by three years. But still.) Second of all, Meghan is a divorcee. (Not such a big deal, considering Harry’s father is also a divorcee who married a divorcee.) Meghan was an actress. (Gasp! Luckily she quit that scandalous profession.)  She is an American, she is of mixed race and a commoner.

Meghan is not the first American commoner to enter the Royal Family. Before her there was Wallis Simpson, who in 1936 famously caused Kind Edward VIII to abdicate his throne in order to marry her. (Read more about Wallis Simpson HERE.)

Neither is Meghan the first woman of mixed race. Before her there was Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who married King George III in 1761.  Charlotte was a direct descendant of  Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.  Harry is also a descendant of Queen Charlotte, so technically Harry is part black too. Albeit some 250 years past. (Read more about Queen Charlotte HERE.)

Perhaps the most controversial thing about Meghan is that she was raised Catholic. Prior to 2015, the law would have forbidden Harry from marrying outside the Anglican Church. The new law declared that the reigning monarch would be considered ‘defender of the faiths’ rather that ‘defender of The Faith’ (meaning only the Anglican Faith). Hence Catholicism is sort of okay.  Although Henry VIII is perhaps turning in his grave. Read on.

Some people are welcoming this new, 21st century style marriage with open arms, while others have condemned it. And yet! There is one more, less talked about ‘controversy’ that everyone seems to be ignoring, except those of us who are (like me!) rabid Tudor fans.

The glaring elephant in the room here is… NOT Meghan’s background. Consider this: The royal wedding will occur on PRECISELY THE SAME DATE that QUEEN ANNE BOLEYN was BEHEADED AT THE TOWER OF LONDON!!

Cue eerie organ music.

What were they thinking? This is surely bad luck. The ghost of Anne has been known to haunt various locales in and around London. These include:

  • Hever Castle, her childhood home
  • Blickling Hall, her alleged birthplace
  • The Tower of London, where she was executed
  •  Windsor Castle, where Anne and Henry resided during their marriage

Was it unwise of Harry and Meghan to choose this ominous date? Are they stealing Anne’s thunder in doing so? Will there be consequences?

Maybe not.  After all, Anne, like Meghan, was a bit of an ‘outsider’ herself when she decided to wed the still married King Henry.

Anne Boleyn became a lady in waiting in the court of Henry’s wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, in 1521. Henry was anxious that Catherine (also an ‘older woman’ being six years Henry’s senior) was unable to bear him a son. By 1527 Henry was questioning the validity of his marriage and set his sights on the younger and presumably more fertile Anne.

Henry begged Catherine for a divorce. She said no way.  Henry began a relationship with Anne, flaunting her in public and taking her on various outings. In the meantime he started bugging his religious people, Cardinal Wolsey in particular, to figure out a way that he could get a ‘legal’ divorce from Catherine. Wolsey petitioned the Pope. The Pope said no way.  England was a Catholic county, divorce was impossible.

Henry and Anne got married anyway, in a secret ceremony which took place on November 14, 1532. Henry was of course, still married to Catherine.

Anne soon became pregnant. There was a second wedding service, which took place in London on January 25, 1533. Henry was of course, still married to Catherine. Eventually Henry decided to break from the Catholic Church and create his own church where he was essentially the Pope.

And you thought Prince Harry was controversial?

To make a long story short, Anne gave birth to a daughter Elizabeth, but ultimately failed to give Henry a son. So… Henry needed to get out of that marriage too. He got his legal counsel to nail Anne and several men on charges of adultery/ treason. These so-called adulterers even included Anne’s brother George Boleyn. All were arrested, taken to the Tower and executed. Anne was the last to die, thus leaving her to witness the long line of bloodbaths. She was beheaded on May 19, 1536.

But the restless spirit of Anne is far from dead. According to eye witness accounts, Anne has been known to haunt the Tower of London.

In one story, a Captain of the Tower Guard claimed he saw a light flickering in the Royal Chapel one night.  The chapel was locked, so the Captain tried to find the source of the light by climbing up a ladder and looking inside. He then saw a wondrous sight; a procession of Knights and Ladies dressed in ancient costumes were parading around the chapel.  Their leader, he claimed, resembled Anne Boleyn from the portraits he had seen. The procession soon disappeared.

In 1864, a soldier, on duty near the Lieutenant’s lodgings, made another sighting of Anne’s ghost. He claimed to have seen an intruder, the pale figure of a woman. He confronted her but when she refused to respond he plunged his bayonet into what he thought was her flesh.

To his complete shock, the weapon went straight through her. There was another witness to this event; an officer stationed in the Bloody Tower claimed to have seen the whole incident from his window and verified the soldier’s story.

Blickling Hall in Norfolk is believed by many historians to be Anne’s birthplace. Each year on May 19th, Anne is said to return to Blickling Hall in a carriage drawn by six headless horses and driven by a headless coachman. The carriage gallops up the driveway to reveal a headless Anne sitting inside. She is dressed in white and holds her severed head in her lap.

When the carriage reaches the front doors, Anne goes inside where she roams the halls until daybreak.

Also on May 19 Anne’s brother, George, has been seen being dragged across the countryside by four headless horses. His headless ghost then wanders around the grounds of the Blickling estate, pleading for justice.

Blickling Hall is also said to be haunted by their father, Sir Thomas Boleyn. (Sir Tom, it should be noted, dropped the ball on his own children, choosing not to come to their defense when they were accused of incest, adultery and treason. Instead he sided with Henry, mostly to save his own skin and stay in the King’s good favor.)  Some say Thomas Boleyn is the driver of the coach that delivers Anne to Blickling Hall. After dropping Anne off at the front doors at midnight, Sir Thomas continues on. He is pursued by hoards of screaming demons who condemn him for his betrayal of his family.  According to this legend, Sir Tom is forced, as his penance, to drive the spectral carriage over 12 bridges between Wroxham and Blickling for 1,000 years.

But Blickling Hall is safely far away. What about Windsor Castle, where the wedding of Harry and Meghan will actually take place?

Anne’s ghost has reportedly been seen standing at a window in the Dean’s Cloister of Windsor Castle. Henry VIII also haunts the castle — guests claim to have heard his  footsteps echo along the corridors. Henry, who in life suffered ill health and a painful leg wound due to a jousting accident, has apparently brought these ailments with him to the afterlife. The ghost of Henry moans and groans as he miserably drags his ulcerated leg  behind him through the hallways.

And that’s not all.

The ghost of Queen Elizabeth I haunts the Royal Library of Windsor Castle as well.  Bess’ heels have been heard clicking along the floorboards in a steady gait. Her ghost then appears, passes through the library and disappears into an inner room.

Bess’ ghost has been seen standing at a window in the Dean’s Cloister, wearing a black dress with a black lace shawl. Since Anne has also been seen in the Dean’s Cloister, perhaps mother and daughter have reunited in the afterlife.

But all that is old history. Surely the date of Anne’s execution should have no bearing upon the date of this current wedding. Right?

It is interesting to note that Prince Harry is a descendant of Anne Boleyn. How so, you ask? Well…

It seems Queen Elizabeth II (Harry’s Grandma) is related to Anne Boleyn through the children of her sister, Mary. Mary Boleyn, we may recall, is famous for having an affair with King Henry before Anne came into the picture.

The Queen Mother (Harry’s Great Grandma) is descended from Catherine Carey, the daughter of Mary Boleyn.

Furthermore…

Catherine Carey was the mother of Lettice Knollys, the Countess of Essex. Lettice, who was Queen Bess’ cousin, was also her Lady in Waiting. Lettice made the great mistake of marrying Robert Dudley, Master of the Horse, who was Queen Bess’ favorite, and also rumored to be Bess’ lover.

And you thought Meghan Markle was controversial?

Needless to say, Bess disapproved of the marriage.  Lettice was banished from court, never to return again. Bess, however, forgave Robert and restored his position.

But back to the blood line. Queen Elizabeth II, and hence Prince Harry, descend from the Boleyn line through Lettice Knollys. In further controversial news, a very high degree of probability exists that Mary Boleyn’s children, Catherine and Henry Carey, were the illegitimate children of Henry VIII. This is because Mary’s pregnancies coincided with the time she was having an affair with Henry.

Therefore:  the current Queen of England can presumably claim descent from Henry VIII both through her patriarchal line (via Margaret Tudor who married James IV of Scotland) and through her matriarchal line by way of the Queen Mum.

Got that? Prince Harry descends from both the Boleyn and Tudor bloodlines.  With all this haunting going on – perhaps it would have been wise for him to choose a less ominous day for his wedding…

Come what may, Meghan and Harry are very much in love, and they will be married next week. We wish them the best of luck!

What do you think of Meghan, Harry and the hauntings? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Anne Boleyn Speaks

 

Anne Boleyn pd

To say the King fancied me is an understatement. To say he loved or adored me is misleading as well.   In truth, King Henry the Eighth was obsessed with me. Obsessed in a way most would consider quite unnatural.  This of course was no fault of his own. He was but human.  Yet his obsession would lead to the transformation of an entire empire.

It is true I was beheaded. But my kind never dies. We dwell in the weft and weave of all we once were.   I am in the creaks of staircases, the plaster of palace walls, the jewels of the crown.  My tale, albeit tragic, is one of pride and power.

My  influence remains, even to this day.  But I will start at the beginning.

Everything  about King Henry was exciting. He was a man of risk and bold adventure.  His palace was  magnificent; floors of dark oak, velvet draperies and crystal chandeliers.  He wore robes of sable, chains of gold, ruby rings. I  was no stranger to luxury,  having  lived a good deal of my life  in the French court where I served as a handmaiden to the Queen Mary and  Princess Claude. When I came to Henry’s palace I determined I’d have the finery of a queen, for nothing else would do.

In my French education I had learned courtly ways, the manners and expectations of the high born.  I knew, only too well, the fate of girls who gave favors to a king.  Once bedded, never wedded.  I liked to say that as a joke though it was not really funny.  Such had been the  fate of my sister Mary, a concubine, once mistress to the King, but later tossed  aside with a bastard in her womb.  Mary Boleyn is remembered as nothing more than a  whore. I vowed such would never happen to me!

And so it was, when King Henry took a liking to me, I determined I would have no intimacy with him until he’d wed me in a proper church.   In his lust Henry pursued me and I teased him. Oh how I teased him!  For I knew the truth;  a woman’s tease is the most powerful thing in all of this world.

 

teasing

 

One small problem was, of course, that Henry was already married. His first wife,  Queen Catherine of Aragon, refused to grant him a divorce. Indeed, the Pope  himself refused to grant Henry a divorce!   And so Henry, after much distress and mounting desire for me, decided to finally break from the Church of Rome.

“Damn the Pope, damn them all,” he declared. “I will have you, Anne Boleyn! I will have you, even if I must create my own church in order to do so!”

And that was exactly what Henry did; he created his own religion, declared himself divorced from Catherine and became the sole ruler of both church and state.  All this was, of course, the result of  my masterful seduction.

We  were wed far away from the palace at the white cliffs of Dover. After that, and only after that, did I agree to share Henry’s bed. It was then also that he noticed my sixth finger, the tiny web of flesh that grew from my hand.

 

six fingers

I was an expert at hiding it, wearing long sleeves that slipped far past my wrists.  It was an unsightly thing but it was my branding. It spoke of my true identity. Times being what they were, executions rampant, we witches lived in the shadows.

King Henry, however, was  infatuated and made no matter of my finger. To him it was a mere peculiarity, a fetish. He invented ways to incorporate it in our sex play and I daresay it pleased him immensely.

 

 

Henry-meets-Anne-the-tudors-16255141-500-214

 

Soon, much to Henry’s delight,  I fell pregnant.

More than anything in the world, Henry wanted a son. A legitimate male child could be the only proper heir to the throne of England. So said the law.  In his hope and anxiety Henry convinced himself that our child was a boy.  And so, when my daughter, the red haired Elizabeth arrived in this world, wailing with a voice as big as the sea, Henry was mortified.

“The next child shall be male,” he said crisply.  This even before he first held Elizabeth in his arms.

The next child. Ha!  Little did my husband know, there would be no next child!  I’d make sure of it.   What followed were a series of miscarriages and stillbirths.  With each one Henry despised me more.

A son.  Oh, I could very well have given Henry a son!  It took no more than a poultice of rooster’s blood placed under a man’s pillow for seven nights in a row.  (After which he must be fed snake meat, precisely seven hours before the act of intercourse. Any proper witch knew this!)  It was a simple spell.   My own mother had used  it to conceive my brother George. It worked without fail.

Why did I not use it, you ask?  Why not indeed?  I had the future of England in my very hands!  But you see, that was precisely my reason; the future of England.

Three years passed and I bore no more children.  It was then that Henry decided he’d need a new wife.  He set his sights upon  the Lady Jane Seymour. She was a mousy little thing, hardly a comparison to the likes of me.   But my fate was already cast and I knew Jane would be Henry’s next wife.

There were many in the palace who turned against me.  Many  who spread lies and rumors. By then all knew of my sixth finger. They accused me of witchcraft, saying I had charmed the King into our very marriage.

It was true, of course, that I was a witch. That much I could not help, being born into the line of Howard on my mother’s side. Every female of the Howard line inherited some measure of the witch blood. I had been graced with plenty.  My daughter Elizabeth had even more! For this reason I knew she must be queen.  She would command the winds and the seas. With her psychic powers and gift of sight she would become the best spy in all the world.  Elizabeth would use her power for goodness and treachery alike,  for all is fair in love and war.

Once I had birthed Elizabeth nothing else mattered. In fact, I would have been quite content to age gracefully, take my place as consort, outlive my husband and watch my daughter rule gallantly.

But no.  Henry would not have it.

He needed a reason to execute me and having nothing better to accuse me of, he chose adultery.  For my part, I had always been faithful. And yet, Mark Smeaton, my  court musician was accused of bedding me.  This was quite outrageous!   Master Smeaton was a lover of men, he cared only for men, that was plain as the day is long. He had not an inkling of interest in my flesh nor that of any woman.    Despite this he was my good friend, keen to serenade me, frequently relaying the gossip of the palace.  Such brought his downfall.

 

seranade

Another accused was my brother George. My own brother!  Although I had lived at French court and I will admit to many peculiar tastes in the bed chamber —  incest was certainly not among them!  George was horrified.

 

boleyn

Under the King’s law Mark and George were tortured, and torture back then was quite gruesome.  The rack, thumbscrews, the iron maiden and strappado.  The twisting and popping of fingers, pricking of blades, arms dislodged from sockets. Stretching of flesh till torsos were disfigured  beyond recognition. Blood poured and wails of pain resounded until finally Mark and George confessed to vile acts they had never committed.

torture 1

 

And me?  My fate was to be the executioner’s block.

My husband, in his grudging mercy, had been kind enough to bring a skilled executioner from France; one so swift with a sword that my head would be gone before I realized he had sliced me.  My death, however, would not be a true death.  I knew this and made a joke of it till the very end.

 

neck.gif

 

Years later, when my daughter Elizabeth finally took her rightful place on the throne, she employed a magi by the name of Master John Dee.

john dee pd

This was much to my delight, for Master Dee, being skilled in all manner of conjuring and summoning, was one of the rare beings who could contact my spirit and allow my return to the earthly plane. And so it was I reunited with my Elizabeth!  I appeared to her in the flesh, for the crossing of dimensions is quite easy if one has a proper conjurer.  (The afterlife is not so very different from this life as humans know it; although it is a good deal easier and far more fun. )

 

ghost-of-the-renaissance public domain

 

Elizabeth had also employed a privy council, a collection of old gentleman, gray haired and sensible. From these she ostensibly took direction.  Yet it was I who truly advised her.

It was I who told  Elizabeth never to marry.  A husband, I cautioned, would take all her power. And most likely  her head as well!  (You see I am quite the jester. Perhaps I missed my calling in life.)   But in seriousness,  Elizabeth would have no man to command her!   And if any questioned this decision, she would merely claim she was ‘wed to England’.   That silenced their criticisms.

It was I who advised Elizabeth on war and peace, economics and all matters of state. My daughter served a reign of over forty five years. During that time she brought England to glory, winning wars, sustaining a solvent treasury and establishing the strongest navy in all the world.

My only regret was that Elizabeth had birthed no legitimate heir. There had been babies born to her, oh yes!  Boys and girls alike, delivered in secret, hidden by midwives. My daughter was a woman of passion. No virgin she, despite what historians claim.  The Howard line was kept alive by Elizabeth!   But upon her death the crown had no recognized successor.  Elizabeth’s council  decided upon  James of Scotland.  For my part I had no say in it.

Alas, James was a poor ruler, no friend of the people, certainly no diplomat.   To make matters worse, James  had put more witches to death than any other monarch in the history of Great Britain!

king-james

His line obviously could  not be permitted to last!   And so it was I cast a spell, and James’ sons were usurped from the throne.  England was thrown into civil war.  All this could have easily been avoided if only they had left a witch in charge!  Foolish men.

Yet our power would be restored.

red head

 

In the twentieth century, another great female would come to power.  This woman would  be descended through the line of Howard. (Leave the blood work and DNA to a genealogist. It is complicated! Suffice it to say, this is true and none should challenge me on this fact! )

This new queen would also serve a term of over forty five years.  By the end of her reign England would once again be restored to peace and prosperity.

This new monarch would  be called Elizabeth.

PF74-Queen-Elizabeth 2 pd

 

 

 

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Obsessed

Friend, Foe, or Otherwise?

 

haunted-castle public domain

The wind whipped steady at my door                                                                                                       and the floor                                                                                                                                                   creaked like dead wood. Warped. Rotted in                                                                                              sodden gray light

miasma from a                                                                                                                                     chasm, ringing night sweats.  “Friend, foe, or otherwise?” I murmured to the                            darkness. No answer.                                                                                                                         Silence grinding  a place                                                                                                                  where Poe’s  raven would have been welcome. Dark wings                                                               or anything                                                                                                                                                     I could see.

But no. This guest of a ghost                                                                                                             trickster, lights flickering dim.                                                                                                               And yet.

I welcomed it.

The old house no longer empty.

ghost-of-the-renaissance public domain

This poem is in response to the Daily Prompt Guest