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Old 10-30-2009, 09:28 AM   #1  
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Default Favourite Halloween Spooky tales.

Here's my favourite as it's a local legend for me.

Black Annis.

Annis has borne many names over the years - Black Anna, Black Anny, Black Agnes as well as Cat Anna. Her dwelling was a cave (called Black Anna's, or Black Annis's Bower) in the low-lying Dane Hills on the outskirts of Leicester. Annis is supposed to have clawed the cave out of the sandstone rock using naught but her long, and very sharp, nails. At its mouth grew a pollarded oak in which Black Annis crouched in order to pounce on unsuspecting children. These she carried off into her cave, sucked them dry of blood and ate their flesh before draping the flayed skins of her victims out to dry on the oak's branches. She wore a skirt sewn from the skins of her human prey. As she also preyed on animals, local shepherds blamed any lost sheep on her hunger. Many a generation of Leicester's young, if either naughty or out after dark, were told, 'watch out or Annis'll get you'.

By the late 19th century her cave was filling-up with earth. A housing estate, built just after the first world war, now covers the area. A 19th century eye-witness said the cave was 4-5 feet wide and 7-8 feet long and 'having a ledge of rock, for a seat, running along each side'. A tunnel was said to connect Black Annis's Bower with Leicester Castle and she had the free-run of its length (1).

An account of Annis was related by an evacuee to Ruth Tongue in 1941(2): Three children were sent out by their wicked step-mother to collect fire-wood. As night descended they feared to see Black Annis who only came out after dark for, it was said, 'daylight would turn her to stone'. They heard a snuffling and, through a hole in their witch-stone, saw Black Annis. Unable to escape her whilst carrying the ******s, they dropped them and ran. Annis bloodied her legs on the bundles and, mumbling and cursing to herself, went to her bower to rub her legs with salve. Then she came back for the children and caught-up with them at their cottage door. Their dad came out with an axe and hit Annis full in the face. She began to run for her cave shouting 'Blood! Blood!' but just then the Christmas bells began to peal and she fell down dead.(***)

The evacuee claimed Annis's howling could be heard as far as five miles away and, when Annis ground her teeth the sound was so loud that all the people had time to lock and bar their doors. The evacuee also said, because the people didn't have window-glass in those days, witch-herbs were tied above the apertures to stop Annis reaching inside with her very long arms and grabbing their babies. This was why Leicester cottages only had one small window. Annis was said to be very tall with a blue face and long white teeth(2). Other descriptions say Annis's teeth were yellow rather than white and that she only had one eye. All agree her face was hideous and blue(3).

A Leicestershire poet, John Heyrick Jnr.,(18th century) wrote of her:

'Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew In place of hands, and features livid blue Glar'd in her visage; while the obscene waist Warm skins of human victims close embraced.'(1)(1A excerpt)

In history

Although the origins of Annis story are - as is the nature of folk-lore - unknown, there were two fifteenth century women who it has been suggested might be the origins of Black Annis. It is likely that Annis's tale existed in the 15th century and the women's' lives became part of the folk-lore. The first is a Dominican nun, Agnes Scott, who lived as an anchorite and is described as a 'hermit of the forest'. She wore the long black habit of her order and died in 1455. Swithland's church bears a brass plaque in her memory as well as a three foot veiled statue of her. From a translation of the Latin inscription Agnes is surmised to have lived in a cave near the Dane Hills and from there ran a leper colony(1&4). Unfortunately the connection between her and Black Annis was made by Robert Graves, poet and writer. His insight may have been visionary - it may have been nothing more than poetic licence(6). Nevertheless, an interesting speculation.

The second woman is rather more tenuous in her association with Black Annis for she is the witch or wise-woman who foretold Richard III's death. As he rode over Leicester's Bow Bridge on his way to the Battle of Bosworth, his spur/foot struck a stone on the bridge. The wise-woman told how, on his return, it would be his head that hit that stone. When Richard's corpse was brought back over Bow bridge his head did indeed hit the same place (5). A tablet was put on the bridge (newly-built last century) saying "his head was dashed and broken as a wise-woman (forsooth) had foretold, who before Richard's going to battle being asked of his success said that where his spur struck his head would be broken" (7).

So who else has a tale to tell that could send shivers down our spines this Halloween?

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Old 10-30-2009, 04:14 PM   #2  
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I loved that! Thanks for sharing. In my part of the world, the story of a witch woman is about La Llorona.....It's funny how many of these stories scare kids into making good choices. Stay away from the arroyos or La Llorona will drag you in.....

A version of La Llorona from

La Llorona was a caring woman full of life and love, who married a wealthy man who lavished her with gifts and attention. However, after she bore him two sons, he began to change, returning to a life of womanizing and alcohol, often leaving her for months at a time. He seemingly no longer cared for the beautiful Maria, even talking about leaving her to marry a woman of his own wealthy class. When he did return home, it was only to visit his children and the devastated Maria began to feel resentment toward the boys.
One evening, as Maria was strolling with her two children on a shady pathway near the river, her husband came by in a carriage with an elegant lady beside him. He stopped and spoke to his children, but ignored Maria, and then drove the carriage down the road without looking back.

After seeing this Maria went into a terrible rage, and turning against her children, she seized them and threw them into the river. As they disappeared down stream, she realized what she had done and ran down the bank to save them, but it was too late. Maria broke down into inconsolable grief, running down the streets screaming and wailing.

The beautiful La Llorona mourned them day and night. During this time, she would not eat and walked along the river in her white gown searching for her boys -- hoping they would come back to her. She cried endlessly as she roamed the riverbanks and her gown became soiled and torn. When she continued to refuse to eat, she grew thinner and appeared taller until she looked like a walking skeleton. Still a young woman, she finally died on the banks of the river.

Not long after her death, her restless spirit began to appear, walking the banks of the Santa Fe River when darkness fell. Her weeping and wailing became a curse of the night and people began to be afraid to go out after dark. She was said to have been seen drifting between the trees along the shoreline or floating on the current with her long white gown spread out upon the waters. On many a dark night people would see her walking along the riverbank and crying for her children. And so, they no longer spoke of her as Maria, but rather, La Llorona, the weeping woman. Children are warned not to go out in the dark, for La Llorona might snatch them, throwing them to their deaths in the flowing waters.

Though the legends vary, the apparition is said to act without hesitation or mercy. The tales of her cruelty depends on the version of the legend you hear. Some say that she kills indiscriminately, taking men, women, and children -- whoever is foolish enough to get close enough to her. Others say that she is very barbaric and kills only children, dragging them screaming to a watery grave.
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