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Strange days indeed

Nobody told me there’d be days like these
Strange days indeed — most peculiar, mama

Was I reading, meditating, or praying at that moment? I can not say. I can not recall. At the time, it did not seem especially significant.

I heard it first before, and below me. A few hundred metres distant. The clear, sharp sound of a horse’s hooves. A horse well shod — the distinct sound, one can tell. First cantering, then trotting, cantering, then trotting again, on the road’s hard-packed stony clay.

The sound came loudly on the still mountain air. I could not help but have my awareness drawn to it, for a short while. The road below, invisible from my rocky perch, screened from view by the forest of trees.

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Yet my eyes turned down — and more, I shifted to the edge precarious of my rock — to track the sound. From the south east, moving westwards, on the dead end mountain road directly below the ridge line on which I sat.

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I paused, pleasantly distracted, only long enough to absorb it. To appreciate, to embrace the experience of it. Such a distinct sound, rhythmic, and melodic, on a breathless day. So near, and so clear. That is, in contrast to the faint hum of traffic on the freeway, some five kilometres distant as the crow flies. Or the soft crunch of rubber on gravel, travelling over from the northeast, as and when a rare vehicle descended the main forest road. This horse and its rider — for a rider such a well shod, and deliberately paced horse must have — the nearest human contact I had sensed for some hours.

Human? I had no cause, and gave no pause, to entertain this question. Not at the first.

Very shortly after, I heard it again. Above, and behind me. Even closer this time. For now, the horse’s hooves beat out their rhythm on the same dead end road I had travelled, to reach my present place of rest. Cantering, then trotting, cantering, then trotting again. Drawing ever nearer, now from the north east westward.

I paused once more, to welcome the sound. To let it flow through me — how pleasantly — as I embraced it.

For a moment, I wondered if the horse and rider might come all the way to the very end of the road, and spy the narrow single track behind the public lookout’s safety rail, leading the hundred or so metres down along the ridge line to my hidden position.

But then, having again accepted the appearance of the horse and its rider, my attention returned again, to my former activity. Only some time later did it occur that these twin appearances were not so easily explicable.

This was not the only welcomed, and yet, in hindsight, strange, happening of the afternoon. There was also, shortly after, a gathering. A drawing extraordinarily near to me, of the birds.

It is, of course, not unusual for tiny birds to appear nearby, flitting, peeping, and chirping, chasing insects through the trees surrounding my favouritely frequented rock of seclusion. As I sit or lie reading, meditating, contemplating, or (sometimes) dozing, my stillness draws little notice, gives no cause for alarm. Birds will often alight in trees close by, to be startled sometimes by my movement in turning towards their sound; at other times, confident to return my gaze briefly, before moving on.

But never before have so many, come so near.

A mere handful of feet from where I rested, indeed, just above my head, almost within arms reach, a branch overhangs.

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Presently, after the sound of hoof beats behind me again disappeared, just as suddenly as they had appeared — how, and where, questions not yet occurring — a tiny bird drew my eye, darting in for landing, in a tree just in front and to my left. No more than three or four metres away. A Scarlet Robin, I believe. Black, with white, and a bold red breast. Not unlike the colours of Psalmistice.

Shortly it departed, only to be replaced by others, of different kinds. Variously, they perched briefly to observe me, before merrily flittering from branch to branch. Perhaps, or so it seemed, sporting with each other, while occasionally performing remarkable aerobatic feats in pursuit of near-invisible black dots of flying food. And all this immediately before me; not beside, or behind. In the stillness of this day, with rarely a hint of softly disturbed air, and my senses acutely tuned, every movement I could hear.

After some time enjoying this surge of feathered activity, I felt a certain compulsion. To lay down, rest, and look up. I reclined on the rock, the back of my head nestled on the thick protective sleeve of my motorcycle jacket.

Almost immediately, a little nondescript bird alighted in the leaves just above my head.

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For some time it moved about in the leaves above, looking at me, and the world around. And once again, when it moved on, others immediately came to take its place. Most spectacularly, a pair of colourful Eastern Spinebills, who darted and hovered about the foliage, so nearly within touching distance that I felt it almost possible to reach up, and gather them in hand.

Shortly after their departing, the keenness of my interest in bird appreciation beginning to wane, I turned to reading the book I had brought along. A book loaned to me, with enthusiastic endorsement, the previous day. A book about angels.

In time, I came upon a discussion of the biblical tale of Elisha’s servant. When the king of Syria sent “a great host” to capture the prophet Elisha, his servant, on seeing the army surrounding the city, was stricken with panic (2 Kings 6:8-17):

And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.

And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Earlier in his life, Elisha had experienced something very similar, when his own master, the prophet Elijah, had been taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12):

And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

Now, shortly after the event where Elisha’s panic-stricken servant was enabled to see the “horses and chariots of fire round about”, who were there waiting to protect them, these strange horses make yet another appearance.  The Syrian army had moved on to lay siege to the city of Samaria. Eventually, four lepers decided it would be better to go to the Syrians and hope for mercy, than to remain in the city and surely die of hunger (2 Kings 7:3-7):

And they rose up in the twilight, to go unto the camp of the Syrians: and when they were come to the uttermost part of the camp of Syria, behold, there was no man there.

For the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us.

Wherefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their asses, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life.

These accounts call to mind another, from the visions of St. John (Revelation 19:14):

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.

Later in the afternoon, while meditating peacefully, all of a sudden, a number of questions began to dawn on me, concerning the hoof beats heard previously. Not only questions, but also, observations.

I know every road in this neck of the woods.

When I first heard the horse, it was moving towards the dead end of the road below the ridge line. But I never heard it returning again. Rather, the sound had stopped somewhere immediately in front, perhaps slightly to the right of and below my position. At the time, I did not really think anything of it, perhaps assuming it had simply stopped somewhere to rest.

Did the horse remain somewhere down there all afternoon? If it moved on, how could I not have heard it?

I could clearly, though faintly hear the hum of freeway traffic some five kilometres away.

And yet, the sound of those hoof beats had appeared quite suddenly to my awareness, ringing out loud and clear, only when it was, to my best estimate, no more than 500 metres distant, at about the near 180* turn in the lower road, where it rounds the end of the ridge line. If it had come along that road, then how could I not have heard it to my left as well, as it travelled along the other side of the same ridge line, no further distant than when I heard it so clearly?

Then too, what of the horse behind me? Its sound had also appeared very suddenly to my awareness; loud and clear, and very near. At other times, I could hear the sound of tyres crunching on gravel on the main forest road, perhaps a full kilometre away, from which both the lower ridge line road and the upper road both diverge. So, how could I not hear the horse approaching from behind, on the upper road, until it was, again, within no more than 500 metres of where I sat?

Moreover, I did not hear the horse below departing. And the time interval between hearing both sounds, was, I am sure, much too short for even a galloping horse to traverse all the way back along the lower road, ascend the main forest road, and then traverse in along the upper road behind me. Much less, do so silently.

Was there a second horse, then?

I have visited this place countless times, and never seen nor heard a horse there before. It was a Wednesday, not a weekend. What odds an equestrian, much less two, separately, choosing to ride way out here in the middle of the week?

And if, by some chance, there were two horses, then why did each of them — or their riders — just happen to alternate between a near identically-sequenced canter, then trot, canter, then trot, and this only upon reaching a position that, again, just happened to be so nearly equidistant from my position, and nearing the dead end of each road?

I know this place, this area, much too well to be easily self-deceived.

Indeed, so intrigued was I, as to just how these events might be rationally explained, on the way home that evening I used my motorcycle’s trip meter to go out of my way, and confirm the distance between where I had been sitting, and the approximate position on the low road where I first heard the sound of hoof beats approaching. Some four point five kilometres.

No lone horse that I know of could have travelled that distance, in that time interval. Much less in silence, for most of its journey.

There are no alternate roads, or trails. Certainly, none that a horse could travel over — and up — more quickly, and silently.

And if two horses, then why did I not hear either of them depart? Indeed, when these thoughts began to dawn on me, I left my rock for a time, to walk back up the ridge line to the upper road, just to see if a horse was there. Later, on departing, I spent some time riding around looking for any horses or equestrians who may have been about.

I was alone.

There is no doubt that I was fully awake, at all times, throughout the afternoon.

I did not begin to read about angels and “horses of fire” until after hearing these sounds, and in the moment, thinking nothing of them.

What did I hear?

And what of all those birds, gathering so near?

I cannot say.

Strange days indeed.

 

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6 thoughts on “Strange days indeed

  1. kevin Moore says:

    The four horses of the apocalypse came to mind, but you heard only two [ to come? ] This interpretation I go along with in so far as his indication of the relevance of Jeremiah 50 & 51 [Russia and alliances and the kings of the Medes ] Note that president Putin did not put an embargo on wine!

    Third Seal of Revelation –

    When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!” (Revelation 6:5-6)

    When the third seal is opened, (black horse), Russia will attack the US (with an alliance of nations, see Jeremiah 50-51) and damage grain production (US and Canada) to the extent that it will take a day’s wages to buy a day’s wheat or barley. But certain areas of the world, that produce wine and oil, will not be damaged.

    Fourth Seal of Revelation –

    When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth (Revelation 6:7-8).

    When the fourth seal is opened (pale horse), Africa will plunge into catastrophic levels of death from wars, famines, pandemics [Ebola? KM] and wild animals.

  2. kevin Moore says:

    My eyes widened when I opened the first link. I have passed it on for others to make of it what they will.
    Thankyou.

    • In the final link, there is a brief reference which implies that olive oil from countries other than just Greece may be exempted (all?) —

      “Parmesan cheese is banned, but Italian olive oil isn’t.”

  3. kevin Moore says:

    RECAPPING —

    THE FALL OF BABYLON, JEREMIAH 50 and 51 – BY WATER

    2 Peter 3:8-9 “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance”.
    .
    Matthew 16:21 “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
    .
    Mark 16:9 “And having risen early on the first of the sabbath. He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast even demons”.
    .
    My intuition tells me it is now early in the third day — “But to you who fear My name the Sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in His wings.” Mal. 4:2
    .
    Gal.6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
    ——-
    Matthew 20:18-19 “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the nations to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again”.
    .
    .
    It is now early into the third day.
    .
    Mal 4:1-2
    “For behold, the day is coming, Burning like an oven, And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,” Says the LORD of hosts,“That will leave them neither root nor branch. “But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out
    And grow fat like stall-fed calves.”

    In 1991, at the start of the Canaanite owned Banks war on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Jeremiah chapters 50 and 51 struck me on analysis as being especially significant in that they show what I see as the final stages of Canaan’s Babylonian rule over the whole Earth.
    .
    I later read a piece in Halley’s Bible Handbook which said – “These two chapters pronouncing the doom of Babylon were copied in a separate book and sent to Babylon, in a deputation headed by King Zedekiah, seven years before Nebuchadnezzah burned Jerusalem. The book was to be read publicly, and then in solemn ceremony, sunk, tied to a stone in the Euphrates, with these words, “Thus shall Babylon sink and not rise”.
    .
    Jeremiah 50:29 “Call up the archers against Babel all ye that prepare for conflict a bow, besiege it all around. Let none thereof escape,recompense her according to her work and according to all that he hath done, do unto her, for she hath been haughty against our Father even against the Sacred Man of Israel. Therefore her young men shall fall in the streets, and her men of war shall be silenced in that day says our Father Lord God of armies; for your day has come, the time I will punish you. And the haughty one shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up”.
    .
    Who are the “archers” ? Ishmael – Abrahams son ……….Genesis 21:20 “So God was with the child and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness and was an archer”. Strongs 693 [aw-rab ] means to lurk or lie in wait .694 [ar-awb] means “ambush”. 7198, Archer, means “bow-bender”.
    .
    Jer. 50:9 “For, lo, I am stirring up a company of great nations from a northern land against Babylon, and they will array against her. From there shall she be captured”.
    .
    Jer. 50:15 “Shout [ split the ears ] against her all around. She has given her hand, her foundations have fallen [feet of iron mingled with clay].
    .
    Jer. 50:17 “Israel is a scattered sheep, by lions driven away. First, the king of Assyria devoured him; and this last Nebuchadrezzah of Babylon has broken his bones”.[ see Daniel 6:24 ]
    .
    Jer. 50:21 “Go up against the land of Merethaim [symbolic Babylon], against it, and against the people of Pekod [symbolic Babylon], waste and destroy after them, says God, and do according to all that I have commanded you”.
    .
    Jer. 50:23 “How the hammer of the whole earth is cut in two and broken”. [This is Vulcans hammer, the god of confusion.]
    .
    Jer.50:24 “I have laid a trap for you, and you are also captured, O Babylon, and you did not know…….”
    .
    Jer.50:27 “Put to the sword all her bulls” [leaders – mighty ones].
    .
    Jer. 50:33-34 The Jubilee has passed, the Redeemer now pleads for the sons of Israel and Judah [Jerusalem – let plead for peace and prosperity] and gives turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon. See Leviticus 25:47
    .
    Jer. 50:35 “A sword is on the Chaldeans, states God and on the residents of Babylon and on her head persons of any rank”.
    .
    Jer. 50:41 “Behold a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be stirred up from the farthest parts of the earth”.
    .
    Jer. 50:43 “The king of Babylon has heard their announcement and his hands [not loins as in Daniel] became feeble, anguish took hold of him”. See Daniel 5:6 & 4:19-27 for the future of Babylon.
    .
    Jer. 50:46 “At the sound of the capture of Babylon the earth shall tremble, and a cry is heard among the nations”.
    .
    Jer. 51:5 “For neither Judah nor Israel has been forsaken by his God, by the Lord of armies, though their land was filled with guilt against the Sacred Man of Israel”.
    .
    Jer 51:6 “Flee out of the midst of Babylon”
    .
    Jer.51:7 “Babylon was a golden cup in the hand of God, making all the Earth drunk.The nations have drunk of her fermented wine therefore the nations are insane”.
    .
    Jer. 51:8 “Suddenly [see Jer.51:63, Rev.9:14, Exodus 51:1] Babylon has fallen; [only one fallen here as opposed to two in Revelation] and it is broken” [see Daniel 6:24 & 11:45].
    .
    Jer. 51:11 “Sharpen the arrows, fill the shields, God has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes [descendents of Abraham] for His plan is against Babylon to destroy it”.

    Jer. 51:12 “Prepare the ambushes……[Arabs, Strongs 694]
    .
    Jer.51:27 “Call the kingdoms of Ararat [Armenia], Minni [Armenia] and Ashkenaz” [descendent of Japheth – Japhethites went to their allotment northwards and settled in regions around the Black and Caspian seas and became progenitors of the caucasian races of Europe and Asia. Gog and Magog are descendents of Japheth].
    .
    Jer.51:28 “Consecrate against her nations with the kings of the Medes”.

    Jer.51:32 “…….and that the passages are siezed. And they have burned the reeds with fire” [reeds = enclosed waters = Persian Gulf and Reed [Red] Sea]. The ambushers [Arabs] have trapped Babylons ships [confined in Oreb] at the passages,poured oil on the water and set it on fire? “And the men of war are terrified”.
    .
    Jer 51:34 “He has swallowed us like a jackal..” Strongs Hebrew concordance 8577 indicates that it is not a jackal but a large snake,which reminds me of the symbolic snake in the protocols of zion. “The dragon of the Greeks” says Pausanius, was only a large snake – “The Two Babylons” page 226.
    .
    Jer.51:41 “How Sheshach [symbolic Babylon] is captured”.
    .
    Jer.51 42 “The sea has come up over Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of its waves.” [In the Wizard of Oz the wicked witch of the west is “liquidated” by Dorothy throwing a bucket of water over her.]
    .
    Pillars on St. John the Divine Cathedral [ Jeremiah 51:42-44 ]
    .
    http://vigilantcitizen.com/sinistersites/sinister-sites-st-john-the-divine-cathedral/
    .
    http://c5c5c5.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/the-un-meddling-with-religion-part-5/
    .
    http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/HAR002.htm
    .
    Jer.51:64 “Then you shall say, “Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary.” Thus are the words of Jeremiah.
    .
    Revelation 18:21-24. “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore…….23 ……For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived…..24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”
    .
    Jer.51:46 “And lest your heart faint and you fear the announcement that shall be heard in the land, the announcement shall come in a year, and after that the announcement shall come in another year; and there shall be violence in the land, ruler against ruler”.

    ……..

    Rev.17:17 “For God gave it into their hearts to do his mind – to act in one mind – and to give their kingdom to the beast. And the woman whom you saw is the great city [New York = 666 in english gematria] having a kingdom over the kings of the Earth [Canaanite owned Banks/UN]
    .
    “I sit as a queen and am not a widow”. “She is the express image of the beast that had the wound by the sword and did live”. See page 63 of “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop. “Before 72 judges in Egypt, he, Nimrod was found guilty and put to death. His dead body was cut into pieces and different parts were sent to different cities around the country. This was done to be a terror to any who might after tread in his steps. From then paganism had to operate in secret, thus the “Mystery Babylon” under seal of secrecy and oath was born”.
    .

    From,
    “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop, p.77
    .

    “……..In Egypt she was styled Athor——i.e., “the Habitation of God”. to signify that in her dwelt all the “fulness of the Godhead.” To point out the the great goddess-mother, in a Pantheistic sense, as at once the Infinite and Almighty one, and the Virgin mother, this inscription was engraven upon one of her temples in Egypt: “I am all that has been, or that is, or that shall be. no mortal has removed my veil. The fruit that I have brought forth is the Sun.”
    .

    From “Am,” “mother,” and “arka,” “earth,” you get “Amarka,” “The Mother of the Earth.”, alias Rhea, Cybele etc, The Mother of Gods and Men, alias the Roman Catholic Mary, the “queen of heaven” [Jeremiah 44:17,18,19,25], and most surely these manifestations which all represent Nimrods wife are represented by the “Statue of Liberty” in New York harbour. [ note 1, p.77. The Goddess Mother of Habitation” – “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop.]
    .

    and from the same book page 158 — The Golden Cup —- Revelation 17:4
    .

    “……….Thus then the cup bearing goddess was at once Venus, the goddess of licentiousness, and Nemesis, the stern and unmerciful one to all who rebelled against her authority.
    .

    How remarkable a woman, whom John saw [Rev.] described in one aspect as the “Mother of harlots” and in another as “Drunken with the blood of the saints!”

    Jer.51 42 “The sea has come up over Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of its waves.” [In the Wizard of Oz the wicked witch of the west is “liquidated” by Dorothy throwing a bucket of water over her.]
    .
    Pillars on St. John the Divine Cathedral [ Jeremiah 51:42-44 ]
    .
    http://vigilantcitizen.com/sinistersites/sinister-sites-st-john-the-divine-cathedral/
    .
    http://c5c5c5.wordpress.com/2010/09/23/the-un-meddling-with-religion-part-5/
    .
    http://www.nyc-architecture.com/HAR/HAR002.htm
    .
    Jer.51:64 “Then you shall say, “Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary.” Thus are the words of Jeremiah.
    .
    Revelation 18:21-24. “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore…….23 ……For your merchants were the great men of the earth, for by your sorcery all the nations were deceived…..24 And in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.”
    .
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1984/why-does-water-make-the-wicked-witch-of-the-west-melt

    Why does water make the Wicked Witch of the West melt?
    January 1, 2002
    Dear Straight Dope:

    “I’ve never understood why The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West melts when Dorothy splashes water onto her face. I’ve only seen the MGM movie and have never read the books, so I might be missing some essential tidbit of info, or maybe I’m just an underread fool who can’t pinpoint the tiniest bit of symbolism or metaphor, but so what? Could you please fill me in?
    — C.M.M, Ithaca, New York

    I was going to tell you to go read the book, you ignoramus, but then I realized the book isn’t clear either. By “the book,” of course, we mean The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, published in 1900 and a children’s favorite ever since.
    Probably everyone in the western world knows the story through the movie, although the book still has a huge audience of new and repeat readers each year. Dorothy confronts the Wicked Witch of the West, throws a bucket of water on her, and the Witch melts into a puddle of scum. Note that it’s not just “splashing some water on her face,” she gets doused with a whole bucket, in both book and movie. But still, why should water affect her so?

    The book provides a few hints:
    (1) When Dorothy first arrives in Oz, her house falls on and kills the Wicked Witch of the East. After Dorothy has some conversation with the Munchkins and the good Witch of the North, they noticed that “the feet of the dead Witch had disappeared entirely and nothing was left but the silver shoes.” The Witch of the North explains that “She was so old that she dried up quickly in the sun.”

    We note the reference to being “dried up.” (As an aside, the silver shoes in the book became ruby slippers in the movie. Margaret Hamilton, who played both Wicked Witches, was a fan of the Baum books and asked the producer Mervyn Le Roy why the shoes had been changed to red. She reported that Le Roy said that in Technicolor red stood out better against the Yellow Brick Road than did silver.)

    (2) When the Wicked Witch of the West has captured Dorothy and her friends, she enslaves Dorothy for a time, so the reader has a chance to observe the witch’s behavior. (The movie alters this scenario.) The Witch lusts after the silver shoes but “was too much afraid of the dark to dare go in Dorothy’s room at night to take the shoes, and her dread of water was greater than her fear of the dark, so she never came near when Dorothy was bathing. Indeed, the old Witch never touched water, nor ever let water touch her in any way.”

    This doesn’t tell us why water is so potent against the Witch, but it set the stage, and lets us know the Witch is aware of water’s power over her. We also note that the Wicked Witch is afraid of the dark, an amusing reversal of expectations.

    (3) “Once the Witch struck Toto a blow with her umbrella and the brave little dog flew at her and bit her leg, in return. The Witch did not bleed where she was bitten, for she was so wicked that the blood in her had dried up many years before.”
    First, note that the WWW carries an umbrella, instead of the more traditional broom. This ties in neatly with her fear of water. (The movie, sadly, reverts to the traditional image of a broom.)
    Second, note that the Wicked Witch of the West was, like her sister the Witch of the East, “dried up.”

    (4) After Dorothy throws the bucket of water on her:
    . . . the Witch began to shrink and fall away. “See what you have done!” she screamed. “In a minute I shall melt away.”
    “I am very sorry, indeed,” said Dorothy, who was truly frightened to see the Witch actually melting away like brown sugar before her eyes.
    “Didn’t you know water would be the end of me?” asked the Witch, in a wailing, despairing voice.
    “Of course not,” answered Dorothy; “how should I?”
    How should she, indeed? The obvious response, it seems to me, is that the Witch was was so “dried up” that the contact with water disintegrated or dissolved her, much as a dried up parchment would crumble to ash if hit with a stream of water.
    Going one step further, Dr. Douglas A. Rossman, writing “On the Liquidation of Witches” in the Baum Bugle, Spring 1969, suggests that the melting of the Wicked Witch is a chemical process. Normally, the molecules of a substance (or Witch) stick to each other, a phenomenon called adhesion. However, adhesion may be broken down by water or by some other powerful force (such as a house falling from the sky). The Witch has no blood or other bodily fluid; little is holding her molecules together. The water breaks down the weak adhesion of her body so that she melts away. Son of Dex says this is similar to the way sugar dissolves in water. Similarly, the impact of Dorothy’s house landing on the Wicked Witch of the East breaks down the adhesion of her molecules, so she crumbles to dust.

    On a more symbolic level, there’s a long tradition of water being antithetical to witches. A commonly prescribed trial for an accused witch was the ordeal by water: the suspect was tied up and tossed into a river. If she floated, she was guilty, and would be burned at the stake (hence, the water-and-fire making a neat little symbolism). If she sank and drowned, shucks, guess she wasn’t a witch after all. Water is associated with baptism, and thus the water of the river rejects the witch as satanic. This type of trial was carried out as late as the 1690s.

    Robert Burns, writing a note to his poem “Tam O’Shanter” in 1790 says: “It is a well known fact that witches, or any evil spirits, have no power to follow a poor wight any farther than the middle of the next running stream.” So the association of water as hostile to witches is a long-standing tradition that Baum possibly drew from.
    Taking a different tack, Celia Anderson, in “The Comedians of Oz” (Studies in American Humor, Winter 1986-87), notes gleefully that the Wicked Witch “is justly destroyed by that emblem of household drudgery, a bucketful of water.” This is more amusing since, in the book, the Witch enslaves Dorothy and forces her to perform menial household chores.

    Henry Littlefield, in “The Wizard of Oz: Parable on Populism” (American Quarterly, Spring 1964), posits that the Witch symbolizes malign Nature. (Cecil cited this article in his column about Oz symbolism.) She “uses natural forces to achieve her ends,” including wolves, crows, and bees, all of which tormented American settlers of the late 1800s. Water represents the most precious commodity to the drought-ridden farmers on the great plains. Thus, water brings an end to hostile or malign nature. Baum himself lived in Aberdeen, South Dakota, from 1888 to 1893, and so was well aware of the Great Plains symbolism.

    Tying this all together, we can say that water represents life, while witches are the apotheosis of death and decay. Light chases away darkness, good triumphs over evil (eventually, one hopes), and water melts witches. QED.

    Please, any wiccans reading this, we DON’T need any mail about how wiccans are maligned or stereotyped by Baum’s story. Notwithstanding the movie, Baum’s Wicked Witch is quite different from the fairy-tale wicked witch, although it draws heavily on that tradition. Baum’s Wicked Witch of the West is petty, afraid of the dark, selfish, and mean–a spoiled child, in many ways, and very much Baum’s own creation. We’re also aware that wiccans aren’t really melted by water, thanks very much.

    If you enjoyed the Oz book(s) and movie, you might also like Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, a “biography” of the Wicked Witch of the West from childhood to Dorothy.

    REFERENCES:
    The Annotated Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, edited and with notes by Michael Patrick Hearn, W.W. Norton Company, New York, 2000.

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