Halloween Story – The Magic Spell

Until my father’s death, my family lived on a profitable little farm in Killarney, Ireland. Mother would never discuss the nature of his demise or the enchanted manner in which a magic spell had changed me from a boy into a small cat. Even as a cat, she loved me as a son. As time passed, Mother grew frail and I grew into a fine fluffy black cat and a fine reputation as a hunter…

One day Mother called me to her bedside. “Tabkins, Tonite is Halloween, and I can no longer provide our bread and cheese. You must restore our good fortune tonite, or surely we will both perish.” And, so, she recounted the Halloween tale of trickery and enchantment, deviltry and a magic spell.

Some years ago, our farm possessed six orange trees, three cows and a potato patch. A wicked green leprechaun from a nearby mountain-top, coveted, our land, but father repeatedly rebuffed his guiles. So, with trickery and  a magic spell, the evil creature caused him to fall into the river. Then, with a magic wand, he changed me from a comely youth into a black cat. Though the world profited by the addition of an exceedingly good-looking cat, my father drowned. The leprechaun then cast a spell that prevented our six cows from giving milk. The orange trees ceased to bear fruit and the potato patch gave only scant potatoes.

“You must find the leprechaun,” Mother said, “and retrieve the magic wand. Perhaps it will restore you to a human lad and our land into a profitable farm.” The tears in her eyes wrenched my heart, and yet I trembled in horror at the thought of facing the evil creature.

She lifted her frail hand. “Make your way to yonder mountain. High on the top beside a river, you’ll find a cave where the wicked leprechaun dwells,” she said. “Perhaps you can trick him into revealing where he hides his magic wand and can retrieve it. Go, now, Tabkins. Our future lies in your paws.”

Knowing that setting a leprechaun against a small cat, no matter how exceedingly good-looking, my feline cunning would be sorely tested if I was to fool the evil leprechaun and live to tell the tale. With every step toward the leprechaun’s cave, I considered how I might dupe the leprechaun into stealing his magic wand.

“Halt. Who goes there?” The wicked leprechaun called from beneath the log that spanned the river. “Answer, Cat, or I’ll turn you to stone.”

Panic seized my heart. An idea popped into my furry head. “I’m just a harmless pussy-cat out for a stroll. My, what a lovely river you have here, Sir Leprechaun.” (I’ve been told a little honey-talk is always good to sooth a malevolent spirit.) I sashayed across the log, humming, Katie From Killarney, and bowed low. “My name is Tabkins. Pray tell, what might your name be, kind sir?”

The leprechaun’s eyes narrowed. “My name is Merichandrick. What do you seek?”

“Perhaps a spot of tea? I’m weary from my travels.” With a twitch of my whiskers, I looked wistfully toward the cave, conveying abject vulnerability and friendship.

“Come on in, then, and I’ll light the fire,” said he, his green mouth atwitch. I feared he had an ulterior motive.

I followed him, wary of any plan he might have to toss me into his stew pot. I scanned the cave, keeping one eye on my host.

The imp pointed toward his fire. “Sit over there.”

“Oh, what a lovely bird,” I posited, sidling closer to a green and red parrot, hanging from a golden hook. Where was he hiding that blasted magic wand? In a chair near the back of the cave, lay a pot of gold and something long and thin poked from beneath a red blanket. Aha!

The little man turned. “Will you be after spending the night?” A wicked glint gleamed in his eye.

“If I’m so invited,” says I with a yawn, patting my paw against my mouth, “Let us drink our tea and I’ll curl up for the night just yonder on your lovely red blanket.”

He shook his mop of green curls. “Not there,” he shrieked. “Best you should sleep closer to the fire. where it’s warmer.”

“As you wish, and I thank you kindly for the hospitality,” says I. Oho! Once the little man sleeps, I’ll snatch the magic wand from beneath the blanket and skedaddle, thinks I.

My host poured two mugs of tea and shoved one toward me. Expecting a trick, I sneezed, and as he reached for a handkerchief, I switched the mugs. Indeed, the mug he intended for me was drugged. Soon after the evil goblin drank, he fell into a stupor. Without further ado, I grabbed the magic wand, printed with the magic words on its side, and raced back down the mountain.

Back at the farm, Mother waved the wand and spoke the magic words. I was instantly changed back to a young man, even more exceedingly handsome than before. Soon, the cows gave milk, the orange trees bore fruit, and this spring, we had a bumper crop of potatoes.

We hear that the leprechaun still lives on the mountain with his parrot, but now that he has lost his magic wand, and his complexion has turned a sallow yellow, he is embarrassed, and rarely leaves his cave.

If our future fortune should fail, the cows dry up again, or the potato crop falters, the wicked yellow leprechaun still has a pot full of gold, and…. I know where he lives.

 

Halloween Memories

Michael – 1964

 

As I child of the 1950’s, I remember how we I dressed as ghosts, hobos, cowboys or Cinderella at Halloween. Properly attired, we went trick or treating as soon as the sun went down. Invariably these trips were made alone or in groups of two or three, but without chaperones, since our parents stayed home to dole out the goodies to other trick-or-treaters.

I recall how we tromped through the neighborhood, knocking on doors. Our decorated brown paper bags were soon filled with cookies, cupcakes, oranges and often, homemade fudge or even a candy covered apple. It wasn’t unusual to be invited in to show our costumes to elderly family members.

I remember the moon was always full, big and round and yellow with the face of the Man in the Moon watching benevolently as we tromped the streets.

Halloween these days? Kiddies are still at the door, but there is always a parent hovering on the sidewalk to keep predators and kidnappers at bay. Good-hearted grandmas no longer offer cookies, unwrapped candy, or cupcake treats because any such treat would be suspected of Ricin poison, or a razor blade hidden inside, or even Fentenyl. Children wouldn’t dare enter a neighbor’s house to show their costume to an aged parent, lest there be a depraved, perverted felon lurking in a dark closet.

Even the custom of trick or treating has come into displeasure and is often substituted with private school parties, church carnivals with tailgate trick or treating, and prizes for every kid.

Now, you might think it odd that this article is about Halloween customs from yesteryear. My main subject is not the practices of Halloween. Instead, it’s about that pesky full moon I thought I remembered shining down on every Halloween trek through the neighborhood. Apparently, my memory is dwindling with old age.

One day, I wondered how often we had a completely full moon on Halloween. Imagine my surprise when Google research reported that the moon is actually completely full-on October 31st only four or five times each century! Whoa! Who knew?

The last time we had such a full Halloween moon was on October 31, 2020. The next full Halloween moons are scheduled in 2039, 2058, 2077, and 2096. Now, if I knew a whit about the sun, moon and stars, rotation of the earth, planets or the galaxy, I could probably give you a reasonable explanation for such a rare occurrence, but since I don’t, you’ll have to do your own Google research to understand the why of it.

Children will celebrate Halloween this year differently than my childhood Halloweens. One more childhood memory bites the dust. One more pleasure our grandkids will never experience, like playing outside and not coming home until dark, or selling lemonade on the corner. These days, parents would be arrested for child endangerment for the former, and a City Seller’s Permit is required for the latter. And they say this is progress?