2017 – Ringing in the New Year!

PrintWith the advent of a new year, sensibilities rise to the forefront of our mind. Perhaps more than a birthday, the new year sings its own reverie to get our ducks in a row, to begin again to tow the mark, bids us to turn the page and start anew. Yes, the new year taunts us to envision the horizon and see the future by improving our focus. The festivities are over – winter is settling in and she proves to be a preponderance of resolution our inner being innately underscores in its need for reparation toward the achievement of our newest creative seeds and their triumphant emergence in the springtime for summer’s consumption and fall’s exuberance.

As a fledgling entrepreneur / small business connoisseur, having experienced equally great successes and failures, it is time to embrace the season and refresh business acumen, ideologies and direction. It is time to take successes into the future, and to comprehend lessons-learned from entrepreneurial failures of the past, in order to benefit clients, customers, readers and authors universally in our future.

In order to enact benefits, change is required. So, throughout the month of January 2017, change is the plan of the hour. And, will be introduced as the month progresses to enrich government and commercial clients and customers, as well as literary and non-fiction readers and authors.

Both dpInk Company Ltd. and DonnaInk Publications, L.L.C. wish each of you happiness, prosperity, and health throughout 2017!

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The New Orleans Axeman

the-axemanOn May 22, 1918, Joseph Maggio and his wife Catherine, would meet gruesome fates at the hands of a fledgling serial killer: The Axeman of Louisiana.  The Maggios’ were asleep in their home, on the corner of Upperline and Camp streets, when their murderer broke in and sliced their throats with a straight razor. Catherine’s lacerations were so deep that her head was nearly severed.  Dissatisfied with his handy work, the Axeman decided to add his very own special touch by bashing in the heads of his victims with an axe.

The fledgling serial killer, now having committed the first of many heinous acts, found himself longing for the taste of blood again, just a few short weeks later.  During the wee hours of June 27, the Axeman would strike again.  Louis Besumer and his mistress, Harriet Lowe, were bludgeoned with an axe while they slept, ironically with the very axe that Besumer owned.  Both survived the attack,  Lowe died in August due to complications during surgery in attempt to repair damage done during the attack.

On the same day that Harriet Lowe passed, the Axeman sought out another victim.  28 year old, pregnant woman, Elmira Schneider, woke to a dark figure looming over her.  She was then bashed in the head repeatedly with a bedside lamp.

Just a few days after on August 10, Joseph Romano, an elderly man that was living with two of his nieces, was attacked in his sleep with an axe.  Romano survived for a couple of days before dying from his injuries.

It seems that our mysterious Axeman had had his fill.  Several months passed without incident; the streets of New Orleans had settled into a false sense of security.  On the night of March 10th, 1919 screams racked Jefferson Avenue as the Cortmiglia family woke to discover an intruder inside their home.  Charles, Rosie and their young daughter had all been attacked with an ace.  Charles and Rosie would survive but their young daughter died on the scene.

It seems, at this point, that our Axman was more than amused with himself.  Three days after the Cortmiglia attack the infamous “Axeman Letter” makes it’s appearance:

Hell, March 13, 1919

Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman.

When I see fit, I shall come and claim other victims. I alone know whom they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with blood and brains of he whom I have sent below to keep me company.

If you wish you may tell the police to be careful not to rile me. Of course, I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigations in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to not only amuse me, but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don’t think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship with the Angel of Death.

Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to pass over New Orleans. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a little proposition to you people. Here it is:

I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have just mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of your people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and it is about time I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fancy.

The Axeman

 

One would imagine that the Axeman passed the next few weeks hidden in plain sight, observing the chaos that he had created among both the community and law enforcement.  Giddy with his handy-work, his thirst for violence peaked once more.  On August 10th 1919 the Axeman broke into the home of Steve Boca then attacked him while he slept with of course, an axe.  Boca also survived the attack but because of his injuries, could not recall any of the details.

Sarah Laumann, another of his victims who would recover with no recollection of the event, was attacked just a few weeks later.  On the night of September 3rd, neighbors of Laumann who had come to visit, broke down the door when she did not respond.  Laumann was found unconscious in her bed with sever head trauma and missing several teeth; a bloody axe was discovered on the front lawn.

On the night of October 27, 1919, the Axeman would commit his last “verified” attack, resulting in the murder of Mike Pepitone.  Pepitone had been asleep in his bed, next to his wife, who was spared from the attack.  Mrs. Pepitone awoke during the attack and witnessed the assailant flee from the scene but could give no definite description.

 

Many have both analyzed and speculated the identity and motivation of the Louisiana Axeman.  Regardless of his methods or madness, his identity and motivations remain a mystery.

Among one theorist is a dear friend of mine, Todd C Elliott.  Todd published a well researched, factual timeline of the true Axeman murders.  Elliott manages to bind the loose strings of this Louisiana mystery as he investigates all victims and suspects.  “Axes of Evil” is an insightful view of this well known, unsolved “Urban Legend”  Check out his book here!

Urban Legends of Louisiana – The Rougarou

rougarouHere’s another Louisiana legend that varies from community to community.  As a matter of fact, there are nearly as many versions of the legend as there are variations in spelling the name, Rougarou.

This legend took root in Midieval French culture and was born into Louisiana when the first French Canadian immigrant settled among us.  To the French settlers, the tale was spun to keep children in line and out of the woods, especially at night.  To locals, well versed in the effects of VooDoo, the Rougarou became an even more fierce creature.  Said to stand between 7 and 8 feet in height, the beast has a human body but the head of a wolf, with razor sharp teeth and glaring red eyes.  Some believe that you must not look into the eyes of the Rougarou, lest you befall the curse and become one yourself!

There are several theories on how to become a Rougarou.  First, If you were to kill a Rougarou, you could become infected with the curse if you are exposed to its’ blood.  To further this belief, If one were to kill a Rougarou and witness the beast returned to its’ true form, he should not tell anyone of the encounter for 1 year and a day else he would see the same fate.  Other legends, no doubt put in place by the Catholic church, states that if one does not abide by the rules of Lent for seven years, he will become a Rougarou.  And yet another version of the legend says that a person who is turned into a Rougarou is cursed for 101 days, upon the last day the curse is passed to the first victim that the beast draws blood from.  The Rougarou will then permanently return to his human form, the victim will turn into a Rougarou at sunset that day.  Lastly, it is said that one can be cursed by a witch an become a Rougarou as well.

So, what do you do if you are turned into a Rougarou?  I’m glad you asked!  Legend states that you will retain your human form during daylight hours, though you will appear quite sickly to those around you.  At night you will prowl around the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, and sometimes within the city of New Orleans itself.  In these areas you most certainly would not be alone in your prowling however, you would likely be the only one searching for prey, human prey that is!  The Rougarou is said to have and insatiable hunger for blood and unfortunately, it seems to search out those that he knows in his human form to feed upon.

Though there are some parallels between the Rougarou, Vampires and Werewolves, the three are not the same.  The Werewolf has an intolerance for silver, the Vampire detests holy relics, garlic, silver and sunlight.  I have only found these references to talismans used to ward off the Rougarou; a man would place a leaf inside of his wallet, a woman would paint a hexagon beneath her bed.  I don’t know about you, but I find these two forms of protection a bit on the weak side for my liking!

So how would one defend himself against this beast?  Looks like to me, you would have to kill it!  So silver bullets are out and so is the good old stake through the heart approach.  Thank God the Legends are thorough!  Cajun Legends state that the Rougarou must be decapitated and his body mutilated or burned, to keep him dead!

So when and where was the last Rougarou spotted?  Well, it has been a very long time and there is no photographic evidence as found in the case of the Honey Island Swamp monster (sometimes claimed to be akin to the Rougarou).  However, let’s not write the creature off just yet!   Since the massive flooding brought about by hurricane Katrina, there have been reports of something large moving about in the swamps just beyond the suburbs of New Orleans.  Howls and screeching noises can be heard echoing through the bayous at night beneath the Louisiana moon!  Perhaps this is the resurgence of the Rougarou, warning the inhabitants of the suburbs to stay out of the swamps, especially at night!

“Assured” eternal resting places……..

bars    Many cultures have taken precautionary measures concerning the passing of those suspected to be vampire.  For thousands of years mankind has cast spells, installed talismans or amulets, prayed on and otherwise thrown the proverbial  “kitchen sink” at final resting places of those thought to be infected by vampire.  Any inkling of a suspicion would result in desperate, and might I add, futile attempts to entomb “infected” corpses beneath the earth, never again to rise in search of blood.

 

 

spellProof can still be found in faded artwork within the ancient tombs of Egypt.  Many tombs have ancient spells which not only prevented the dead from rising but also insured that evil spirits could not penetrate tomb thus inhabiting the body that had been laid to rest within the tomb.  Within the archives of this blog you can find legends about Egyptian Vampire legends such as Menes and Sekhmet.

 

 

 

polish     In Slavic cultures, corpses of the undead still lie beneath mounds of rubble, their mouths held agape by bricks, their bones pinned to the ground by stakes and spikes.  Burial rituals vary from region to region, evidence of such can still be found today.  Some of which has been preserved by man, some of which is presently being excavated.

 

 

 

 

 

c4     Later in Victorian times, cages were installed over mortared grave sites, intent on  preventing the dead to rise.  Though an entirely explanation has been given to prevent panic within the public.  “Some” say that the cages were installed to prevent robbers from desecrating the graves and removing jewelry or other valuables that had been placed in the coffin with the deceased.

 

 

 

decap     Those suspected, in some cultures, were not necessarily “bitten” by one of the undead.  Many believed that it was possible to become vampire after having passed violently, or by suicide.  Extreme measures were sometimes executed to insure that the deceased would not rise from their graves.  In some cases the head would be removed and placed face down between the feet of the corpse.  Many rituals included removing the heart, sometimes burning it, or the entire corpse.

 

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Vampire Warfare

sexy     As difficult as it is to comprehend, there are those among the living who refuse to succumb to the embrace of the immortal.

For those of you who insist on stockpiling garlic cloves and spend your evenings whittling stakes, I thought you would have interest in knowing the history concerning Vampire repellents!

As you well know, legends of the undead have existed for nearly as long as mankind has walked the earth. Artifacts have been excavated from ancient dig sites which validate their long-lived legends.  Not all of these ancient relics exalt their existence, some, in fact, were created with the intention of protecting the bearer from the wiles of the blood sucking wretches that were known to both civilize and destroy.

The Lilith Amulet

lilith-51     This particular amulet (and others like it) were excavated at a burial site in Ur; it is dated back beyond 2500 B.C.E.   Lilith and her children were said to roam the land during this era.  (More information on the Legend of Lilith can be found in my past blogs)  It was a well known fact, in these times, that Lilith herself vowed no harm would come to those who wore the amulet, particularly pregnant women or their infant children.

Scarab Amulet

scarab     Also found in the same and later eras was the Scarab amulet.  Both the Egyptians and Sumerians associated the Scarab with the sun God Ra.  Ra was given praise for rolling the new sun across the sky therefor renewing the bodies of his worshipers both is a physical and spiritual sense.  The light of Ra’s sun was known to cleanse both humans and earth of the evil spirits that roamed the land during the dark hours.

Garlic

garlicherb     Everyone knows that Vampires detest even the sight of Garlic, but why?  Garlic was known to be a sacred herb, so highly regarded was it’s worth that half of the pyramid builders wages were paid in garlic.  The herb was used in the embalming process; it was believed that its powers would repel evil spirits from inhabiting the bodies of the deceased therefore prohibiting the soul of that person from finding his way back to his body in the afterlife.  The mystical powers of garlic do not end here.  Amid many other beliefs, ancient Europeans knew that the pungent aroma would deter blood sucking insects.  Other cultures, along with that of the Egyptian lore, believed that garlic cured infections and killed bacteria.  It was in early European legends where the conception of Vampirism was first initiated via a virus.

Crucifixes, silver and sunlight

crucifixsilversun    Three of the most commonly known Vampire deterrents known through history all hale from the same legend.  The story of Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ, is one of the more well known Vampire origination theories.  Judas, after having been paid in silver coins to betray Jesus, was so distraught by his own actions that he hanged himself in a nearby tree.  This is where the story ends in most traditional religious literature.  Ah, but as legend would have it; there is always more.  After Judas’ soul abandoned his body, God brought him back to life, in a matter of speaking.  Judas was cursed by God to wander the earth in darkness until the day of reckoning.  In his eternal wandering, Judas would know the pain of losing all he knew and loved lest he cast his own curse upon them.  Never again would Judas feel the warmth of the sun on his face and forever he would thirst for the blood of the living.  It is because of Judas’ betrayal that Vampires loathe the symbol of the cross and silver, it is an ever present reminder to them of how they came to be the tormented souls that they are.

Running water repels Vampires

river     This belief stems from both Greek and Asian legends.  It was thought that the purity of running water was seen as offensive to the Vampire.   The Greeks would often relocate those suspected of being or becoming Vampire to isolated islands with the belief that they would not be able to tolerate the salt water for long enough to make their return to the mainland and feast on those that had opposed them.

Wooden Stakes through the heart

stake     The act of staking or impaling has endured for centuries, even in the time of ancient Babylonia.  The belief was a stake driven through the heart of a possessed or reanimated body would rid it of the evil that had claimed it.  Later in European regions, anyone that dies while suspected of being or becoming one of the undead was typically staked to the ground and decapitated thus preventing the body of rising from its grave.

Vampires and OCD

seeds     European folklore concerning Vampires often depicts them with arithmomania, such as a compulsion to count seeds or grains of rice.  It was for this reason that seeds would be scattered about the grave of those suspected of being or becoming Vampire.  Legend states that the newly undead would be so distracted by counting that they would never make it far from their grave before sunrise.

 

 

So there you have it, the history behind most of the well known Vampire deterrents known throughout legend and lore.  Much more information concerning the legends of Vampire origination can be found by searching my blog.