wooden caps

Sailors & Other Sea Travellers - Superstition & Folklore

 "Red skies at night, sailor’s delight. Red skies at morning, sailor take warning.


Davy Jones is a popular character in sailor’s yore, especially of the gothic variety. Davy Jones’ Locker, is an idiom for the bottom of the sea: the state of death for drowned sailors. The origins of the name are unclear, and many theories have been put forth, including:

  • An actual David Jones, who was a pirate on the Indian Ocean in the 1630s.
  • A pub owner who kidnapped sailors and then dumped them onto any passing ship.
  • The incompetent Duffer Jones, a myopic sailor who often found himself over-board.
  • Or that Davy Jones is another name for Satan or "Devil Jonah”, the biblical Jonah who became the “evil angel” of all sailors. Due to this, sailors with the name “Jonah” were bad luck to have abroad.

Upon death, a wicked sailor’s body supposedly went to Davy Jones’ locker (a chest, as lockers were back then), but a pious sailor’s soul went to Fiddler’s Green (in maritime folklore it is a kind of afterlife for sailors who have served at least 50 years at sea).

At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.

Dolphins and albatrosses were said to be the reincarnated souls of dead sailors; and sailors could not kill either of them. 

Mermaids & Mermen

The legend of the mermaid, a creature with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a fish, has circulated the worlds oceans as far back as 5,000 B.C.

One of the earliest scientific accounts of the mermaid was documented by the great historian Pliny The Elder in 586 A.D. Pliny the Elder was convinced of the existence of mermaids and described them as “rough and scaled all over.” Since that time, and well before, thousands of sailors across the globe have reported seeing mermaids swimming off the bows of their ships. Even the famous Christopher Columbus reported an encounter with a mermaid; in January of 1493 Columbus reported that he saw three mermaids fin the ocean just off Haiti.

Mermaids were often considered lucky, but not universally. In Trinidad and Tobago, sea-dwelling mermen “were known to grant a wish, transform mediocrity into genius and confer wealth and power." Mermaids appear in British folklore as unlucky omens, both foretelling disaster and provoking it.

Sailors would look for mermaid’s purses (the egg case of a skate, ray or shark; one of the most common objects washed up on the sea) on beaches for signs of mermaids in the area.


Traditionally, a type of kobold, a Klabautermann, lives aboard ships and helps sailors and fishermen on the Baltic or North Sea in their duties. He is a merry and diligent creature, with an expert understanding of most watercraft, and an unsupressable musical talent. He also rescues sailors washed overboard. The belief in Klabautermanns dates to at least the 1770s.

A carved Klabautermann image, of a small sailor dressed in yellow with a tobacco pipe and wooden sailor’s cap, often wearing a caulking hammer, is attached to the mast as a symbol of good luck

However, despite the positive attributes, there is one omen associated with his presence: no member of a ship blessed by his presence shall ever set eyes on him; he only ever becomes visible to the crew of a doomed ship.

More recently, the Klabautermann is sometimes described as having more sinister attributes, and blamed for things that go wrong on the ship. This incarnation of the Klabautermann is more demon- or goblin-like, prone to play pranks and, eventually, doom the ship and her crew. This deterioration of image probably stems from sailors, upon returning home, telling stories of their adventures at sea.

Sailor Tattoos

Sailors believed that certain symbols and talismans would help them in when facing certain events in life; they thought that those symbols would attract good luck or bad luck in the worst of the cases:

Sailors, at the constant mercy of the elements, often feel the need for religious images on their bodies to appease the angry powers that caused storms and drowning far from home.

The images of a pig and a hen were good luck; both animals are not capable of swimming, but they believed that God would look down upon a shipwreck and see an animal not capable of swimming and would take them into his hand and place them on land. Sailors had the belief that by wearing the North Star, this symbol would help them to find his or her way home.

The Flying Dutchman

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship  that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. The myth is likely to have originated from 17th-century nautical folklore. The oldest extant version dates to the late 18th century. Sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries reported the ship to be glowing with ghostly light. If hailed by another ship, the crew of the Flying Dutchman will try to send messages to land, or to people long dead. In ocean lore, the sight of this phantom ship is a portent of doom.

 Some say that The Flying Dutchman was used for piracy and was loaded with gold and other loot. While travelling with a load of treasure, unspeakable crimes were committed on board the ship, thus making it cursed forever.

"originally a vessel loaded with great wealth, on board of which some horrid act of murder and piracy had been committed” and that the apparition of the ship “is considered by the mariners as the worst of all possible omens.

Other variations of the legend say that the Captain of The Flying Dutchman refused to go to port in the face of a horrible storm and as a result the entire ship perished. Others claim that the ship was not called The Flying Dutchman - that instead it was the name of the captain of the ship. Eventually, as people passed the legend down through the generations, the story of The Flying Dutchman referred to the ship.


Bad luck:

  • No bananas on board -  At the height of the trading empire between Spain and the Caribbean in the 1700’s, most cases of disappearing ships happened to be carrying a cargo of bananas at the time.
  • No women on board - Women were said to bring bad luck on board because they distracted the sailors from their sea duties. This kind of behaviour angered the intemperate seas that would take their revenge out on the ship. However, images of naked women were carved onto the bow of the ship because the woman’s bare breasts  "shamed the stormy seas into calm" and her open eyes guided the seamen to safety.
  • No whistling on board - Mariners have long held the belief that whistling or singing into the wind will “whistle up a storm”.
  • Deathly lexis - At sea, some words must be strictly avoided to ensure the ship and crew’s safe return. These include obvious ones like “drowned” and “goodbye”. If someone says “good luck” to you, it is sure to bring about bad luck. The only way to reverse the curse is by drawing blood.
  • Lurking sharks - A shark following the ship is a sign of inevitable death.
  • Unlucky days:
    - Fridays: Fridays have long been considered unlucky days, likely because Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday.
    - Thursdays: Thursdays are bad sailing days because that is Thor’s day, the god of thunders and storms.
    - First Monday in April: The first Monday in April is the day Cain slew Abel.
    - Second Monday in August: The second Monday in August is the day the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.
    Superstitious sailor believed that the only good day to sail on was sundays.
  • Changing the name of the boat - Boats develop a life and mind of their own once they are named and Christened. If you do rename the boat- you absolutely must have a de-naming ceremony. This ceremony can be performed by writing the current boat name on a piece of paper, folding the paper and placing it in a wooden box then burning the box. After, the ashes were scooped up and thrown into the sea.
  • Red heads - Red heads were thought to bring bad luck to a ship if you happened to encounter one before boarding. However, if you speak to the redhead before they get the chance to speak to you, it is cancelled out.

Good luck:

  • It is good luck to spit in the ocean before you sail.
  • Coins thrown into the sea as a boat leaves port is a small toll to Neptune, the sea god, for a safe voyage.
  • Horseshoes on a ship’s mast will turn away a storm.
  • Cats brought luck. If a ship’s cat came to a sailor, it meant good luck.
  • Pouring wine on the deck will bring good luck on a long voyage.
  • It is often considered lucky to touch the collar of a sailor’s suit.

traveler--3326  asked:

Hello! I'm not sure how much you know about the 1848-50 California gold rush, but as a native Californian, I've always been fascinated by the topic. My question is multifaceted. For one: how big would miners plots of land along the various rivers be, and would people actually live on the same plots that they mined for gold? Also, what would it be like for a young woman and/or young men and children in an area like this?

Hello there! Well, aren’t you in luck because we have the Archivist from @scriptlibrarian answering this one! The Archivist has also studied history and has got your back so just read on!

There is gold in them darn hills!

Quick history of the California Gold Rush.  In 1848, John Marshal found flecks of gold in the American River, just below the Sierra Nevadas, in Coloma California, while building a water powered sawmill for John Sutter.

Just days after he discovered the gold, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the Mexican-American War, giving California to the United States and essentially the gold.

The discovery of Gold shaped California into the state is today.  California saw the largest migration influx in the history of the United States.  In 1848 there was roughly 157,000 people in California (150,000 Natives, 6,500 Spanish/Mexican, 700 American/Non-Native).  Within 20 months the Non-Native Population soared to 100,000 and by the mid 1850’s was past 300,000.  This massive population influx put California on fast track to Statehood, and with the Compromise of 1850 California was allowed into the Union, just two years after the land was acquired, as a Free State - leading a imbalance in Free vs Slave States.  

So now that we got background history established let’s look at your questions.

How big would miner’s plots of land along the various rivers be…

I admit, I dug around for this information and beyond going into deep dark storage and digging out (pun intended) my books from school … the best answer I could find is - depends.

Yeah I hate that also.

A miner would first have to  Staking a Claim, which involves first the discovery of a valuable mineral in quantities that a “prudent man” would invest time and expenses to recover them. Then mark the claim boundaries, with wooden posts, capped steel posts, both of which must be four feet tall, or stone cairns, which must be three feet tall. Then filing a claim with the land management agency (USFS or BLM), and the local county registrar.   

There are four types of Land Claims, a miner could make:

  • Placer (minerals free of the local bedrock, and deposited in benches or streams) - This would be your typical visual of Gold Miners.  Bent over a stream with a pan, looking for flexs or small nuggets of gold. 
  • Lode (minerals in place in the mother rock) - next stage up.  The Miner has a section off shoot of the river, and is breaking up the rocks looking for veins of gold.
  • Tunnel (a location for a proposed tunnel which claims all veins discovered during the driving of it) - This would be someone with enough capital to start mining operation looking for gold, and could hire workers.
  • Millsite (a maximum five acre site for processing ore) - This is a full on organization, that is mining not just gold, but other minerals as well.  Has a team of miners, and likely a full town surrounding it to supplement the miners.

So if your character would need to find the gold, stake out his claim, then register it.  Depending on how much gold found, expense to work the land, and fees for the register - would determine the size of his land claim.

Would your character live in the same spot as they mine?

Yes, they would have a camp with a tent and supplies near by, so they could work their claim dawn to dusk.  They did this for a variety of reasons:

Ease of access to the claim.  The last thing anyone wanted to do was hike in and out of the area, wasting precious time traveling when they could be mining.

Protecting their assets.  If they are away from their claim, someone could sneak in and mine the area, or re stake the claim stating it was abandoned.

Also, what would it be like for a young woman and/or young men and children in an area like this?

The Gold Rush was not really a place for children. It was a brutal work, and a very lonely existence.  Many men left their families behind in hopes of making it rich to bring back the gold to them.   

That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t women in the camps.  

At one point there was a call out to women to go to California, because there was a fear men would do ‘untold’ things without the calm and stable influence of a woman (not many headed the call).

There were wives that worked the claims with their husbands, and likely even a few who took over the claim after he died.  Though this was dangerous as she would be on her own, and had very little rights to the land.  

Most of the women seen in or around the camps were washers, cooks, those seeking out a living for their family.  These women came with their husbands, fathers, brothers and ended up making the money for the family to survive, while the men panned for gold.

By the 1850’s there were roughly 1000 women working in and around the mines, but they were still a small part of the population, and  by the 1860’s they were less than 19% of the population of California.

A good resource to look into the role women played in the Gold Rush would be They Saw the Elephant: Woman in the Gold Rush by JoAnn Levy.

Now as for young men, it would depend on what you mean by young men?  

There were many teenage boys out in the fields, either they came with their father or ran away from home. The Gold Rush was an opportunity to make it rich fast, and men from all walks of life, old and young found their way to California.

Children were less likely in the mines or panning for gold.  If the whole family was in the gold fields, the younger kids would be with mom, helping with cooking, washing, etc.  Older boys maybe 12ish would be with dad.  There are not many accounts, but it didn’t mean they weren’t there.  

William Tecumseh Sherman - the future Civil War General, worked in San Francisco during the Gold Rush as a banker, and had his two young sons with him during the time, while his wife and daughter stayed back East.  Now this was in the city and not the gold fields.  Women, kids and families were very common in San Francisco.

In contrast Ulysses S. Grant was in the Army at the time, stationed in the gold fields and had left his family behind.  This also led to him being discharged from the Army, because of his drinking problem, as he had never done well being away from his wife, Julia.

Irony both men would come together a decade later, a friendship that some say changed the world.  But that is another essay.

Some interesting facts about the Gold Rush that could be helpful.

  • The Gold Rush attracted immigrants from around the world, by 1850 more than 25 percent of California’s population had been born outside the United States. As the amount of available gold began to dwindle, miners increasingly fought one another for profits and anti-immigrant tensions soared. In 1850 California’s legislature passed a Foreign Miner’s tax, which levied a monthly fee of $20 on non-citizens, the equivalent of more than $500 in today’s money. That bill was eventually repealed, but was replaced with another in 1852 that expressly singled out Chinese miners, charging them $2 ($80 today) a month. Violence against foreign miners increased as well, and beatings, rapes and even murders became commonplace. However no ethnic group suffered more than California’s Native Americans. Before the Gold Rush, its native population numbered roughly 300,000. Within 20 years, more than 100,000 would be dead. Most died from disease or mining-related accidents, but more than 4,000 were murdered by enraged miners.
  • Early sections of San Francisco were built out of ships abandoned by prospectors. The Gold Rush conjures up images of thousands of “’49ers” heading west in wagons to strike it rich in California, but many of the first prospectors actually arrived by ship. Within months, San Francisco’s port was teeming with boats that had been abandoned after their passengers, and crew headed inland to hunt for gold. As the formerly tiny town began to boom, demand for lumber increased dramatically, and the ships were dismantled and sold as construction material. Hundreds of houses, banks, saloons, hotels, jails and other structures were built out of the abandoned ships, while others were used as landfill. Today, more than 150 years after the Gold Rush began, archeologists and preservations continue to find relics, sometimes even entire ships, beneath the streets of the City by the Bay.  Map of where ships can be found in San Francisco
  • Mining wasn’t cheap! Most of the men who flocked to northern California arrived with little more than the clothes on their backs. Once there, they needed to buy food and supplies, which San Francisco’s merchants were all too willing to provide for a cost. Stuck in a remote region, far from home, many prospectors coughed up most of their hard-earned money for the most basic supplies. At the height of the boom in 1849, prospectors could expect prices sure to cause sticker shock: A single egg could cost the equivalent of $25 in today’s money, coffee went for more than $100 per pound and replacing a pair of worn out boots could set you back more than $2,500.
  • The merchant’s made the money not the miners.  As the boom continued, more and more men got out of the gold-hunting business and began to open businesses catering to newly arrived prospectors. In fact, some of America’s greatest industrialists got their start in the Gold Rush. Philip Armour, who would later found a meatpacking empire in Chicago, made a fortune operating the sluices that controlled the flow of water into the rivers being mined. Before John Studebaker built one of America’s great automobile fortunes, he manufactured wheelbarrows for Gold Rush miners. And two entrepreneurial bankers named Henry Wells and William Fargo moved west to open an office in San Francisco, an enterprise that soon grew to become one of America’s premier banking institutions. One of the biggest mercantile success stories was that of Levi Strauss. A German-born tailor, Strauss arrived in San Francisco in 1850 with plans to open a store selling canvas tarps and wagon coverings to the miners. After hearing that sturdy work pants, ones that could withstand the punishing 16-hour days regularly put in by miners, were more in demand, he shifted gears, opening a store in downtown San Francisco that would eventually become a manufacturing empire, producing Levi’s denim jeans.
  • And to prove how fate is fickle - the man who’s name will always be associated with the California Gold Rush - John Sutter - died in poverty.  As news had spread about the discovery of gold on his property, within months, most of his workers had abandoned him to search for gold themselves, while thousands of other prospectors overran and destroyed much of his land and equipment. Faced with mounting debts, Sutter was forced to deed his land to one of his sons, who used it to create a new settlement called Sacramento. Sutter Sr. was furious—he had hoped the town would be named after him—but he had more pressing concerns. Nearly bankrupt, he began a decades-long campaign to have the U.S. government reimburse him for his financial losses, to no avail. While thousands became rich off his former land, a bitter Sutter retired to Pennsylvania and died.

I hope this information is helpful, and will give you some insight of the world during the California Gold Rush.

Some great sources to check out:

Women in the Gold Rush

Summary of Gold Mining Techniques

Articles on the Gold Rush

History Channel’s Gold Rush

[ alright alright we’re doing this !! i hope you’re all ready for me looking eternally afraid in every ooc post from this account because, my boy pino is always afraid™. with that said, hello, i’m vapz, she/her, back at it again with another yoko taro muse and dead inside. i’m shy but i always like getting to know people, so if you wanna, feel free to follow over at @ takakunaru on twitter! i also write lui and 9s here!

with that out of the way, please like this for a starter with pinocchio! he’s extremely passive and currently very startled but it’s ok, we’ll make this work. capping at five for now, non-existent castmates exempt! ]


hey guys i finally did the thing
we are gonna jumping into that hole

im gonna put those info here for everyone to now (armor and weapon are mentioned, respectively):

@haruhi-akira - Garnet Necklace and Toy Hammer • Red Soul
@hiroshi-taro - Worn Jacket and Old Camera • Purple Soul
me - Colorful Shoelaces and Plastic Ruler • Blue Soul
@amehimesblog (she hasnt been active on tumblr but im tagging her anywayyy) - Wool Scarf and Classic Kendama • Aqua Soul
@xxkaibutsukoxx - Baseball Cap and Wooden Bat • Green Soul

and yes we are trash under a hole

43 minutes

So a month or two ago I went to the opera, expecting to be entertained. Little did I know I’d be sobbing for an hour over some poor girl who goes mental and takes drugs to join her dead son in heaven, only to realise by commiting suicide she’d actually be condemning herself to an afterlife in hell. Fun times. I came home emotionally drained but inspired to start this fic. I found it the other day and decided to finish it.

Owen stepped onto the porch, his army uniform still on, his boots heavy against the wooden planks and his cap in his hands. The lights from the living room of the dream house were illuminating his path and he could see Amelia pacing up and down the area where the table and chairs once sat. He frowned at her odd behaviour before speaking up.

“Hi,” he said, clear but quiet.

She turned around and he had to take a deep breath to prepare himself for the sight. Mascara was running down her cheeks and her eyes were red raw from the tears. Her hands were shaking and her whole body looked weak. He could see that she’d lost weight since he’d been away, making her a little too tiny for comfort. He tried to maintain eye contact with her but she was all over the place, her pupils dilating wildly along with her nervous body movements.

“Are you… are you ok?” he asked. It was at that point he saw an empty packet with remnants of a suspicious white powder on the floor nearby. He picked it up and knew. He didn’t know when she’d taken it or at what point of her high she was on, but he knew she wasn’t ok. She wasn’t looking at him, wasn’t talking and didn’t seem to be aware of his presence.

Owen took four long strides to reach her body and wrapped it up in his, needing to hold her, wanting to comfort the empty hole she was trying to fill. She protested, resisting with her arms and attempting to squirm her hips free, but he held on.

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