Lunar Legends

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In Afrikaans we have a saying – jy is met die maan gepla. Translated it basically means you’re infatuated with the moon. It’s something you say to someone when they’re acting crazy or weird and blames the full moon for their behaviour.
Can human behaviour be influenced by the full moon?
The word lunacy is even derived from lunar. Police officers and medical staff in emergency rooms insists that when the moon is full there is a definite increase in violence, accidents, attacks and people acting mad. Doctors at the Bradford Royal Infirmary in the north of England did a study of patient records for two years. They found that dog, cat and rat bites during that time were twice as much during the full moon.
During a full moon you sleep 15% less. There are a lot of theories explaining this occurrence. One of them is the inner caveman predicament. During a full moon visibility is much better. Predators can easily find their prey. That’s why cavemen needed to sleep with one eye open during a full moon and be alert to protect themselves against wild animals.
That brings us to the full moon affect. During a full moon there is more positive ions in the air than negative ions. The latter has fewer side-effects. Positive ions have an effect on your physical and mental well-being. Too much positive ions cause anxiety, depression, violent behaviour and road rage. Some countries in the Middle East are even more lenient with criminals if the crime was committed during a full moon.
Whether we believe that cursed men changes into werewolves during the full moon or that the Nazi’s had a moon base, one thing is for sure. The moon will always fascinate us and are a convenient scapegoat for acting a little strange.

5 Terrifyingly Awful Books I Might Have Written In My 20s

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Tara Sparling writes

Bookshop ShelvesThere are very few writers who make it in their 20s. The few who do are endangered creatures; to be lauded, protected, and possibly locked up in a laboratory for serious scientific inquiry.

Many people believe that nobody should be writing about life until they’ve at least lived some. And indeed, many writers in their 20s encounter nothing but rejection, locked doors, and a tendency to gaze in the mirror a little too long as they wonder why the world doesn’t understand them.

However, a few others succeed. And I take my hat off to them (I am not feeling very well today, and am therefore wearing grotty clothing which do not bear description, but there is inexplicable comfort in sometimes wearing a hat indoors), because I would never have been one of them.

Instead, I am one of those long-time scribblers who spent their single-digit years writing cutesy stories, their…

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Ghosts of Prince Albert – Part 2: South African Ghosts

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In 1845 Queen Victoria gave consent that this tiny village in the Karoo be named after her consort, Prince Albert. After all these years the town seems unchanged with a mixture of Karoo and Victorian architecture. Thirteen buildings were declared national monuments. More importantly this town boasts with its own Ghost Walk Tour.

The town is filled with ghosts that seem happy and unwilling to leave this town either due to unfulfilled business or the desire to haunt the descendants of relatives and friends.

Firstly there is the doomed bride. She was killed in a coach accident on the eve of her wedding and now flits around the parlour of the house that is now the Fransie Pienaar Museum.

An elderly gentleman greets pretty ladies from the veranda of a house in Mark Street. When new owners of the house filled the veranda with bookshelves, our ghost showed his disdain by throwing the books on the floor. The owners accommodated him by giving him his own chair. It seemed to do the trick and he now happily guards the house. There is even a story that when they forgot to lock the door they will come home to find it locked with the key still inside the house.

In the old house of Dr. Mearns who treated wounded in the Anglo Boer War is the spirit of a young lady in a white nightie with lace at her throat. She is gleefully bouncing on the bed of Dr. Mearns. There is no record of who she can be.

A British soldier in full regalia marches up and down Bank Street during the midnight hours. It is rumoured that he is still protecting the bank where the money of the soldiers were kept.

There are always several soldiers haunting the tower of an old church in town which had been used as a hideout during the war.

The hotel is also the residence of a poltergeist that likes to fling vases against the wall, but politely removes the flowers first. He also makes scraping noises on the floor.

Between Prince Albert and Oudtshoorn is the Swartbergpass. It is a steep and treacherous road and people used donkey wagons to travel between the towns. Chrisjan Swanepoel travelled this road in 1901 and encountered a constable with a prisoner on his way to the local jail. The constable bragged that the prisoner wouldn’t be able to escape and waved his gun in the air. It went off and the stray bullet killed Chrisjan. To this day he still haunts the pass and many have felt his warm breath in their necks.

The most gruesome of all is the tale of the inn situated in the pass. Lonely travellers checked in, but never checked out. They were all murdered. A ghost took it upon himself to save travellers by taking the reins of their wagons and turning them around, trying to prevent them from going to the inn. This continued until the innkeeper was caught and tried for murder.

This may be a small town in the arid landscape of the Karoo, but the residents are colourful and full of otherworldly surprises.