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Bone and Sickle

A History and Arts podcast
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Episodes of Bone and Sickle

Something a little different for the Halloween season: horror hosts and their evolution in the early years.  We’ll be doing a second episode (out before Halloween) rounding out our survey to include the horror hosts of the 1960s. Included in th
Ghost trains and real-life railway terrors intermingle in this episode’s exploration of old train-wreck ballads, nervous and funereally obsessed Victorians, urban legends involving train deaths, and more. Mrs. Karswell begins our show reading a
Duties in the library unfortunately prevent us from presenting a regular episode at this time, but to fill the gap, we’re offering listeners a taste of the short bonus “Marvelous & Rare” episodes all our $4-and-up Patreon subscribers hear every
Bird-women hybrids of Greek legend and Russian folklore are uniquely ambivalent, sometimes bringing death and destruction and at others, prophetic wisdom and the joy of Paradise. The two Greek species we treat are sirens and harpies, both at ti
A dybbuk is a “clinging spirit” of Jewish folklore, a ghost that can possess a human host. Stories of dybbuks (pl. dibbukim in Hebrew for sticklers) date to the 16th century but have never traditionally included the idea of trapping a dybbuk in
Messages delivered by the extraterrestrials Ashtar and Orthon to Contactees of the 1950s represented a sort of repackaging of 19th-century Theosophy, a philosophical descendent of the Rosicrucianism of the 1700s. After our previous epiosde exam
The esoteric teachings of Theosophy, particularly those regarding Venus, were surprisingly influential on the tales told by flying saucer Contactees of the 1950s and ’60s. We begin with a quick review of Theosophy and its principles as defined
Cases of madness and even murder were associated with Hexerei, a form of witchcraft brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants.  Following up on our previous examination of the tradition of Braucherei or Pow-Wow as practiced in 18th and 19th
Stories of witchcraft and folk-healers in early Pennsylvania are surprisingly plentiful. In this episode, we examine the state’s German-American tradition of Braucherei that spawned these tales. The practice came over with immigrants from Germa
Emperor Nero’s reputation for wickedness and depravity had already attained mythic status within a century of his death, making him a prototype for early Christian beliefs regarding the Antichrist. We begin the show with a look at the role pois
We’re doing something different this time out. As we are celebrating Bone and Sickle’s third anniversary on April 30, we’re taking a week or two off to rejuvenate and prepare new material for year four. To fill the gap, we’re offering listeners
In this episode, we continue our survey of supernatural sailors’ lore of the North with a look at mermen, Iceland’s “evil whales,” and sea-draugs. After a brief audio tidbit recalling our previous discussion of the  Norse World Serpent, Jörmung
The Kraken is only one of the monsters said to inhabit the storied northern seas of Scandinavia. This episode is the first of two that will examine fantastical nautical tales of these regions. We begin with a bit of dialogue about the Kraken ut
The mythology of bees has been tied for centuries to notions of the otherworld and death.  In this episode we trace some of that folklore along with examining some highly peculiar uses of honey. Horror or sci-fi films referencing bees exploit t
Medusa was one of the Gorgons, creatures originally considered quite monstrous, who over the centuries came to be humanized and even regarded as beauties transformed into snake-haired villains. In this episode, we’ll dig back to the most ancien
The motif of lovers retaining the head of a decapitated partner is surprisingly widespread. In this — our romantic Valentine’s Day episode  — we have a look at old ballads, literature, fairy tales, legends, and even a few historical anecdotes i
The macabre feelings stirred by waxwork figures go far beyond their use in horror films, back to the Terror of the French Revolution, and beyond to their use as funeral effigies and in magic rites of popular Italian Catholicism and Roman-Etrusc
Four our third year, we embrace the old tradition of seasonal ghost-storytelling. This year Mrs. Karswell reads for us a tale written by Edmund Gill Swain, from his 1912 collection Stoneground Ghost Tales (“Stoneground” here being the name of a
Books of cautionary stories for children were a popular Christmas gift in Victorian times. These tales of misbehaving children and the tragic consequences of their deeds, like the Krampus myth, served as not-so subtle reminders of parental expe
Harlequin is an enigmatic figure with roots in dark folklore of France, specifically that of the Wild Hunt (Chasse Sauvage) a nocturnal procession of ghosts or devils, particularly associated with the time around Christmas and New Year.  The my
In southern Italy, belief in witchcraft  has a long history, much of it centering on the town of Benevento, about 30 miles east of Naples. From a 1428 testimony by accused witch Matteuccia da Todi, we have the first mention (anywhere in Europe)
As a short holiday bonus, we’re offering this special episode examining some obscure aspects of Halloween as manifested in our lives today. Forgotten traditions associated with the holiday arise in surprising forms many of us may not initially
Midnight Spook Shows featured stage illusions borrowing from techniques used in fraudulent seances alongside vaudeville-style comedy and burlesque. Performances were staged in movie theaters, paired with a film screening, usually but not exclus
The gibbet was a hanging iron cage used to display the corpses of criminals in 18th and early 19th-century England. To be thus “hanged in chains,” in the judicial jargon and thinking of the day, subjected the criminal to an extra measure of pos
We’re doing something different this time out. Bone and Sickle is taking off the rest of September to allow time for Mr. Ridenour’s research and Mrs. Karswell apiary maintenance. To fill the gap, we’re offering listeners a sample of the short b
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