Photographer Ann SophieLindström spent several months documenting a group of horsemen in North Philadelphia who have been countering crime through their love for horses. For more riveting photos of the equestrians of North Philly, here’s this week’s Spotlight essay from Emily Anne Epstein.
A stallion named Dusty rears up as Jamil Prattis, 25, leads him to the lot across from the Fletcher Street Stables, October 19, 2013. Jamil became involved with the horses when he was 12 years old, after he saw a group of urban cowboys riding through the streets of North Philadelphia. (Ann Sophie Lindström)
Coolest underreported internet mystery: Mortis.com. Some people on 4Chan’s paranormal board found the website Mortis.com, which just had a graphic of the word “Mortis” and a place to enter a username and password. They and the people on the electronics board both tried to get in to the site, but failed; they did find, however, that the email address email@example.com had several terabytes of uploaded data attached to it (for those unaware: a terabyte is an amount of data equivalent to roughly 500 hours of HD video).
They started digging more and found the website was registered to a number of different people and companies. All of the “companies” were non-existent, with their addresses being empty buildings and vacant lots, and all of the people it was registered to were apparently deceased except for some guy named Thomas Ling. Depsite looking pretty hard, they were never able to find much at all about Thomas Ling, except that he had a number of other similiarly strange websites registered in his name. Apparently someone managed to get in touch with Ling at one point and harass him, and Ling claimed the site was used to just store wedding photos and similar things, which makes no sense for several reasons.
Allegedly, the FBI got interested in the website for some reason and it got pulled down within days. It was evantually put back up with a Brazilian domain (Mortis.com.br, where it is now) with a countdown that went on for over two years. The countdown ended on 12 April 2015, and nothing of significance happened. Now, all that’s on the website is the “Mortis” image, and most of Ling’s other websites are gone (with the noticeable exception of Eternalknight.com).
I should note that the sourcing on all of this is mostly gone at this point, as the entire original investigation took place on unarchived 4Chan posts, but still. Because interest in the mystery has faded over time, there’s still a lot of loose ends left.
The other day I mentioned here that Helga was, for once, genuinely happy. As I’ve been rewatching old Hey Arnold! episodes these days I have to say that, well, it happened more often that I remembered.
Maybe because I had in mind Helga as bully, angry Helga, frustrated Helga, anxious Helga, and overall, mad Helga going to lenghts to keep her sensible side hidden at all costs, something which played to the hilt which would make for the most riotous episodes.
But then, there were also the Helga who was one more among the other kids, at school or at the playground: sure she still has her distinct snarky attitude and frown, but he gets along reasonably well with the others.
There are episodes, like Arnold’s Thanksgiving in which, while still being the Helga we all know, she’s able to keep a rather civilized, and thoughtful, conversation with Arnold.
In fact, if you check episodes in which Helga is not in the foreground, you can see a more relaxed Helga,
Take, for instance, Dangerous Lumber: the team of Fourth Graders has to play against the always fearsome Fifth Graders just as Arnold considers quitting the game because he hits too hard and does not want to hurt people.
Helga here is a real team player and also, on certain moments, the team leader: while the team is a rather democratic affair, we’ve seen already that she’s at home giving directions (here in Arnold Visits Arnie, for instance). She has, after all, Big Bob’s genes which tend to lead rather than follow.
(As an aside: Helga being a good team player and also being able to take the lead is a key element in Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie in which she’s pretty kick-ass, but I won’t spoil anything here, guys, just see it for yourselves!)
But back to the episode: the team makes a home run? Yes! we get Happy Helga
The team wins? Everyone is exultant, Helga too
More happy Helga as she and the team relax after the game with Yahoo Sodas
If you see what I mean, Helga playing and having fun, no hiding, no obsessing over Arnold. A more relaxed Helga.
Bonus image with a more typical Helga stance showcasing her awesome spitting skills
They say the Fair Folk give journalism majors a lot of grief.
Truths exposed in writing, forms cemented in photographs, stories stripped of flowery prose in favor of concise words. The Fair Folk generally looked down on journalism itself with disdain.
Which made one wonder who would choose to pursue this particular academic career at Elsewhere University.
Some reporters argue learning among the harshest critics on Earth would leave them more than prepared for life beyond the University. Some photographers believe this is the only place on earth to capture something truly extraordinary. Some designers heard even the programs here behave differently, and the words and photos laid out on a screen became something more on paper. Some simply hadn’t known any better.
Bernadette hadn’t known any better.
Elsewhere was affordable, the journalism program seemed decent enough. She liked writing, but did not enjoy chasing victims of the Fair Folk people down for interviews. She liked photography, but knew her writing skills were stronger. So she fell in an unlikely place, a copy editor for the student newspaper. Well, one of. There were many papers, and she’d nearly joined the most prominent one. But the students who worked for it all shared the same bright green eyes, and the rest of the University seemed to avoid that paper like the plague.
Still, she needed experience to graduate in this field, right? Maybe they got a group discount on colored contacts, who knows. People in college are weird like that.
An upperclassman had saved her from venturing too close to THAT paper. He realized she had no salt, no iron, no idea what she had enrolled into. But, like finding her niche, she adapted. Survived her first year without tragedy. (The same could not be said for Sherry from across the hall. One of the Fair Folk had complimented her eyes, and asked if she could have them. Sherry, who hadn’t known any better, jokingly said sure. It’s been months since anyone’s seen Sherry.)
For the most part, the Fair Folk did not venture close to the newsroom. The room itself had been smartly moved the moment time began to behave differently. It was now just a cramped, previously vacant classroom, but with lots of windows. Access to the outside world seemed to weaken the chance of a space being manipulated by time.
Or maybe that was a comforting lie.
It was a lazy Saturday, salt lines had been neglected and Bernadette was alone when one of the Fair Folk waltzed inside. Silver nitrate burns on her hands betrayed him immediately. His hair was was a dark, voracious black that seemed to leach color from the world around it. His razor-sharp smile held too many teeth. His skin seemed almost translucent.
“What are you working on?”
A voice that seemed to come from everywhere, and nowhere. Bernadette hadn’t given him more than a cursory glance before returning to the story on the screen. If she was afraid, she didn’t show it.
“Editing a story.”
“Chopping up pretty words in favor of boring ones?”
She smirked, adding punctuation to a sentence.
“I like to think of it as finding the best words. No sense in having a bunch of empty, meandering words when you can sum them up with one. For instance, I hate the word ‘very.’ It tells me there’s a better word, but the author hasn’t thought of it.”
The boy hummed at this, an unnerving sound, mulling it over.
“So what if I told you I find this veryboring?”
“I’d say I’m sorry you find it dull.”
His head tilted with mild interest. It then turned to sniff at her messenger bag, disgust showing at his inability to open it. She had always been particularly careful about her sigils and rowan. Bernadette hadn’t missed this display, tugging the bag out of arm’s reach before slipping a hand inside. Wordlessly, the boy was handed two sealed pads of butter. It was always good to have butter or cream on hand, in case you were taken. Some Fae found stealing humans more fun than actually keeping them and, in such a case, freedom could be easily bought.
The boy grinned, ripping off the seals and lapping it up like a ravenous dog, teeth razor sharp and dripping. All the while, Bernadette kept editing the story. When every last molecule of butter was gone, he tossed the packs over his shoulder, turning full attention back to her.
“What if I said I’m very tired?”
The boy threw his head back and laughed, sounding like a chorus of the damned, far too many sharpened teeth glinting in the afternoon sun.
“Perhaps this isn’t so dull. What’s your name?”
“Timmy,” Bernadette answered without skipping a beat. His grin widened.
“No, it’s not. I bet Timmy is that reporter you don’t like. You’d be very mean to give me his name.”
She grinned in return, not at all fazed he knew there was someone here she loathed. The Fair Folk always knew something about something.
“I can be devious sometimes.”
He laughed even harder, the room seeming to shake with the thunderous sound.
“What did Timmy do?”
“He’s a narcissist and a douchebag. Timmy encouraged one of our first-year photographers to capture Genevieve on camera for his story, and we haven’t seen the photographer since.”
The boy whistled, every gap of razor teeth producing a different tone. Her days of playing clarinet had long since passed, but she could have sworn every tone was sharp.
“Genevieve does not like cameras. But she loves names. Perhaps a trade…”
Four days later, Timmy vanished, and Bernadette opened her dorm room to find the photographer on her futon, paper white and shoveling ramen noodles like he hadn't eaten for week. Knowing how obscure time can be in Elsewhere, it definitely could have been a week. His hair now turns green on Tuesdays and bank holidays, but he’s otherwise no worse for wear. And his hands are always burned. Always.
Every once in a while, when the salt lines are neglected, the boy with many voices returns. He has new phrases for her to deconstruct every time.
Plants and herbs are a common ingredient in many forms of magic. Whether you are making incense, stuffing a sachet, or brewing a folk remedy, if you practice long enough, you’re eventually going to have a use for them. When that’s the case, you’ll want to use the best possible ingredient.
While store bought herbs will do in a pinch, I prefer to harvest my own. This way: you can be confident of freshness, you can establish a relationship with the donor plant, and you can harvest with intent, contributing to the power of the destined spell. Your spell work begins with the gathering of components, so treat the activity with the focus it deserves.
The first thing you will need is a cutting tool. Some traditions recommend the use of a sickle-shaped tool with a white handle, called the Boline. Here’s an example of what one looks like:
Personally, I don’t recommend the use of a Boline. Here’s why:
They tend to tear the plant instead of cutting it. The jagged edges this leaves behind are more prone to infection, and susceptible to insect attack.
They’re conspicuous, and the layman may mistake it for a weapon. Enjoy explaining to a cop that it is a “special knife for witchcraft”.
They require considerable care to keep sharp
If your beliefs don’t specifically demand the Boline, I instead recommend a pair of garden pruning shears with white handles. They are affordable, inconspicuous, and designed to do as little damage as possible to the plant.
Once you’ve chosen your knife, you should consecrate it. It should never be used for any purpose other than the harvesting of plants. When it isn’t in use, store it near your altar.
Next, you’ll need something to carry your herbs in. I use a large linen hip bag with an over the shoulder strap. You’ll also need some twine or string to divide the herbs you’ve collected, and a “harvest journal” so you can take note of the location of plants you find.
Finally, you need an offering to thank them for their gift. In magic, there is nothing without sacrifice. In the store, you pay with money. In nature, you can pay with fertilizer. I generally carry around a re-purposed water or soda bottle filled with fertilizer mix.
Finding Your Herbs
Some of us are lucky to live close to forests or natural fields on public land, but for many it can be a challenge to source wild herbs.
If you live in a city, find out if there are any nature trails or reserves in your area, then check what their policies are. You can also search for vacant lots, or neighbors with a green thumb. Make sure to ask before helping yourself! Sometimes you can find areas beneath power lines where herbs and flowers are allowed to grow freely. Taking plants from those areas is usually allowed.
You should try to avoid harvesting near a road (where the plants will have taken in a lot of pollution), from very small plants, or plants that appear to be sick. You don’t want to eat a sick plant, and you don’t want to kill a plant by taking from it. A good rule of thumb is to never take more than 25% of the plant’s total growth.
Before you cut the plant, you should take some time to connect with it. Examine it to see if it is healthy. Take your time identifying it. Feel the plant’s energy and let it get to know you. Once you’ve determined that the plant is a good candidate, you should ask its permission to take it.
This process is intuitive. Some believe you should ask aloud, others that you can ask silently, communicating with the plant by focusing your intent. Let the plant know what you want to use it for, and invite it to participate with you. Then, wait a few minutes and listen for a response.
You should get an impression on whether or not it is okay. This could come in the form of a sensation, such as an inviting warmth, or a chill that turns you away. It could just be a sense of satisfaction. Trust yourself and go with what you sense is right. If you feel unsure or anxious, find another plant.
Using your sharp implement, make a clean, angular cut near a joint. This will make it easier for the plant to heal and regrow. You will want to choose a portion of the plant that is not the oldest (dark and woody), and not the youngest (the lightest with the most budding leaves). A good middle-aged branch is best. Be sure to never take more than 25% of the total plant growth.
While you are harvesting the plant, you should focus yourself on the intent of the spell you’re collecting it for. If you’re gathering chamomile for a healing tea, visualize yourself getting well. If you’re casting a money spell, see yourself getting that big cheque! If the goal is a love spell, see yourself with your ideal partner.
No specific goal? If you’re harvesting for general purposes or to replenish your stock, you can focus on the properties of the plant, and enforce your intention that it should lend strength to your work.
Tie the plants that you have collected into a bundle so that they wont get lost in your other herbs when you put them in your carrying bag.
Having taken from the plant, you should give thanks for the gift. Tell it that you’re grateful, and assure it that it wont be misused. Then, provide payment!
Pour the fertilizer you brought at the roots of the plant. If you stumbled upon the plant accidentally and don’t have your fertilizer with you, make some other form of offering. Traditionally, a small coin at the base of the plant can show your willingness to give. Don’t litter! The scrap of paper or cloth in your pocket is probably not a suitable offering.
Before you go, spend a moment tending to the plant. Clear debris from around it, untangle it from choking weeds and pluck off any dead matter. Practice respect by leaving it in better condition than it was when you found it!
Storing and Preparing for Use
To use the herbs fresh, simply wash them in cool water and pat them dry. They can be kept lively for a few days by putting them in a vase of water and keeping them in a cool area (if your fridge isn’t too cold, that’ll do nicely).
If you wont be using them within a few days, or want to put them in a sachet, tea or incense, you will probably need to dry them.
Tie a string around the base of a bunch of the washed, dried herbs and suspend them upside down in a warm place with good ventilation. To avoid collecting dust, I like to tie brown paper bags over them. Check them once a week, and take them down when they are dry and brittle, but before they turn to powder beneath your thumb. The length of time they’ll take to dry will vary widely based on your climate and the thickness of the plant.
When they’re dry, keep them in a labeled, airtight container for up to six months.
Record any observations you make while working with the herb along with it’s location in your harvest journal. If the plant is particularly fragrant or effective, write it down so you know to go back! If it doesn’t work well for you, make note of that, too.
And that is how you harvest herbs for magic! Happy Crafting!
The 1,000-square-foot (92-square-metre) house was built on a slender vacant lot on Adeline Street, in the city’s Upper Hill neighbourhood. The building is clad in white-stained cedar and is topped with a sharply gabled roof. Protruding window boxes gesture toward the neighbourhood, and “balance the needs of openness and privacy”.