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Episode 53 of 82

Episode 53 - The History of Headless Horseman

station description Explore the dark corners of the world.
Lunatics Radio Hour
Duration: 52:13
Abby & Alan lose their heads over the history behind the headless horseman myth we know and love. Lunatics merch, available here! From the Episode: Consider donating to The American Indian College Fund and your local food banks. Watch Queer Ghost Hunters. Follow @embodyheaven on IG for an
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Abby & Alan lose their heads over the history behind the headless horseman myth we know and love. Lunatics merch, available here! From the Episode: Consider donating to The American Indian College Fund and your local food banks. Watch Queer Ghost Hunters. Follow @embodyheaven on IG for an Astrology Reading. --Check out Abby's book Horror Stories here. Available in eBook and paperback.Music by Michaela Papa & Jordan Moser. Poster Art by @pilar.kep.Lunatics Magazine is available here. Subscribe to our newsletter! Follow us on Instagram @thelunaticsproject and on YouTube - Films About Lunatics.--Consider helping Black Trans folks by donating to the Marsha P Johnson Institute.Subscribe to Anti-Racism Daily - a daily email newsletter from Nicole Cardoza.Also, consider donating to The Loveland Foundation, a fund that provides therapy for Black women. Support the show (
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Yeah, you're probably familiar with the legend of sleepy Hollow and the tail of Ichabod Crane. I am. Thank you. But headless horseman are mythical figures that have appeared in legends since ancient times. Today we're going to talk about several historical iterations of this myth in the modern pop culture that those tales inspired. Okay, so we're going to break this out sort of into different regions in the folklore associated with those regions though. The first is irish. If I'm remembering correctly, the Headless horseman is a type of spectre known as a dora hand wow, is that correct? Did you just look that up? No. Yeah, because now, because now we're back into, we're back into the fe. Yeah, exactly. That's why we're starting there as I wrote on my paper, let's start with something familiar. You may remember from our Celtic mythology episode that Alan just talked about the fe known as the Dullahan or dark man from irish folklore, you had it right on the head. Well, this is what happens when you just played countless hours of Castle Vania. You get attacked by the dullahan, which is this asshole on a horse with no head. Yeah, and you can hit them but it doesn't stop. It sounds pretty traumatic. I mean he's not that hard. Okay. Uh, so the dual hand is a dark spirit that brings death indicate to the irish countryside. It dresses in black and rides a horse as it looks for souls to claim. A dullahan is known as a dark fae and it's often seen carrying its own head under its arm. The decapitated heads of dual hand are haunting in their own way. Besides being totally removed from the body, they are known to have a sinister grin and eyes that dart back and forth, surveying all of its surroundings. The eyes are also illuminated so you can always see them coming even in the dark. Sounds like a Jack O lantern. Yeah, yeah. I mean in some in a lot of depictions it is depicted with the Jack Jack lantern head, there's a benefit to their missing heads. Dual hands can now lift their heads up high and use their notoriously sharp vision to see much further than they'd be able to if their heads were still attached to their necks. There's also a special significance to this headless horseman because the irish people believe that the head was the home to the soul. In battles, victors would often remove the heads of fallen soldiers to keep as trophies. They thought these heads would act as a source of power and supernatural protection. They're not wrong. No, I mean maybe or maybe it's a curse to steal somebody's head. Had you have heads here that act as protection. Is that why you said that? I mean, one can dream. Yeah. So he has a horse whip that's composed of human spines. Horse whip, You know, like when a riding crop, no, was the horse whipped then like a whip to horse whip? It's a riding crop. It's like a little, okay, that's for a racing horse. But I'm talking about like A normal horse from the frigging 14,000,000, you would use an actual whip to whip your own horse. I wouldn't, I'm not a monster, but people did well get up. I don't know, hang on. Very interesting. So a horse whip. So a riding crop is a very short horse whip. Okay, so I'm right, you are there, they are different things. Yes, Okay. And they're used in different applications. It's believed that when the dual hand stops writing, he calls out a name and that person dies immediately. Okay. In later versions, a dullahan is seen writing a coach known as a silent coach or death coach. Dullahan can appear as feminine or masculine versions of this myth say that wearing gold or wielding gold maybe the only thing that can help save you from the call of a dullahan. However, if you are unlucky enough to innocently cross paths with one without being a target, but just say you get in the way they may spare you, but at a high price your site. Oh, they take your eyes. Well, now you may be wondering how the dullahan will blind you. And that's a very good question on its got this rusty spoon, they may throw blood in your face or they may hit you with their human spine whip. Either way, it's not a very good situation. Human spinal, that's pretty pretty metal. It's very metal. There is no way to hide from the dullahan. They don't need to see you to kill you, only to say your name. The dullahan act as a grim reaper of irish folklore. So do they speak out of their severed head or little stump on their neck? Know their head is active, their head is alive, like remember how the eyes are darting? They use it to see. It's still like in this folklore, it's still connected. It's like an active part of the body. It's just separated. Got it so well in, you know, the traditional american, headless horseman, he's just without a head. No, he's not, he's a pumpkin, he's got a pumpkin in place of his head, but it's not his head. Yeah. What's been Americanized as with all things? Right, Have you ever worn a pumpkin on your head? No, I have. Okay, tell us what it's like. It's kind of grass makes your hair or what? I imagine. So, yeah, I have some friends, whoever you're carve out like pumpkins backwards so that the stump is on the or the handle. What about the stem is on the top? That's right. You have to do it from the bottom and then wear them around like Brooklyn and still get pretty funny, like series of videos, but uh in practice, it's a little bit gross. I'd imagine so. Well, okay, shall we talk about welsh and irish folklore? I thought we were just talking about irish folklore. You're right. Should we talk about fell in english folklore? Sure. You may remember reading Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in english class in high school. I did. Uh Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is 1/14 century authority in poem in the poem, one of the knights of Arthur's round table, challenged to a duel by an unknown green knight. The proposal is that Sir gallon will be able to strike the Green Knight one time and then a year and a day later, the Green Knight will be able to strike for gallon one time gallon accepts, and he is able to behead the green knight with his super sharp axe with one blow. Right? So this is like a they're not they're not jousting no, or with his sword or whatever. So they went straight for the malay, Right? So they had 11 strike and his weapon was so sharp that he immediately beheaded the Green nights head, so he just let him get a free hidden. Yeah, that was the arrangement. So sir gallon gets to strike the Green Knight today, once a year and a day from today. The night the Green Knight gets to strike Sir gallant. Got it. And he's like, good luck with that because you don't have a head, right? So it's sort of like a dual, but with a lot of pre a lot of additional conditions, it's like, it's like dueling with pistols, but you get the free shots right? But here's the plot twist. The Green Knight picks up his head and places it back on his neck and leaves. What a cheater! Uh freaking sore loser. Yeah, he's taking his ball and going home. Yeah, exactly. So then Gowen goes on a super super, super long journey to find the Green Knight right through. It's like Zelda, he's out there, he's in the wilderness. He's traveling, he's really nervous about this guy coming back after him. I'm saying just like the traveling part like through the wilderness. But why is he traveling? Because he's trying to find this night, this green Knight that just fucking bested him in front of all his friends. I don't think he bested him. He cut off his head. He just happened to be able to pick it up afterwards, Right? He was like, yeah, you're an idiot. Oh, so he's taunting him to go and goes on a journey to find the Green Knight after he locates him, The Green Knight explains that he was transformed by King Arthur's sister, our very favorite morgan le fay to have these magical powers. Oh, so he came in cheating. That's what I'm saying. Yeah, he knew he was a cheater. He also reveals that this was all a plot to expose how chivalrous King Arthur's knights really are and obviously they are right? So Gowen cuts off Green Nights head, then goes on a crusade to hunt down the reanimated corpse of this guy and it takes him like, you know the best part of a year? Sure, it's a true Zelda mission. Okay, He makes good time. It's like me playing breath in the wild, got it maybe shorter than that. But how does that prove that kaolin is chivalrous, so we don't need to get stuck in the particulars of the poem. Right? The the idea is that this was an auditorium poem that is very old. That has the same idea of decapitation and being able to live without a head and having that kind of like a mechanic in the storytelling. Got it. So, no horses were involved in this tale. No, but it's a very, very famous tale that is still taught to this day in school, which is why I'm mentioning it, got it, which I did a whole project on, but I have no memory at all of so drunken college years. I think it was high school drunken high school years. My parents are going to think that for the last few episodes to keep talking they're going to think I was wild and I was not, it wasn't Scottish folklore so we don't have a ton of information around the Scottish headless horseman of legend. But it's super interesting and it comes up kind of a lot online even though there's not a lot known about it. Okay what you got? He is known as a man named U N. E W A N. Who had aspirations to be the leader of his clan right? He was sort of like a normal level guy and he really wanted to be the leader. Real go getter. Yeah. He had ambitions. Yeah. How did straight the top? That's right. Except during a battle on the isle of Mall yuen. And his horse were decapitated. They were both decapitated with one fell swoop. Uh One fell swoop. Who did it a great night. The green Knight. Just kidding. Um You know it was a a battle and of course U. N. And his headless horse still haunt the area looking for their lost heads. So that's the island isle of Mall. Did you know that the japanese actually have a special sword made for decapitating horse and rider in one fell swoop. Really know it's called the san pacto which might sound familiar from video games and nana mae but the real life origins of it are just pretty badass. Yeah. And so do you know like it was, I assume it was meant for battle. Yeah. I mean when you're faced with a cavalry charge, the person on the horses at great advantage to the person who's, you know, without. So that's why, you know, the, the uh european battle lines would have the pike man because you know, you just make the big line of pikes, what's up Eichmann? It's, you know, like uh well they will be holding pike, so it's basically like a long spear that has some extra broad heads on it and it's one of the great, one of the, its main uses is to unseat cavalry. Oh God, I got it interesting, but it's made to be used from the ground. The japanese just went for a much more badass approach when just having this really heavy sword that with just one swing just cuts through the horse's head and the rider. That's brutal. That's really brutal. It reminds, it doesn't remind me of this, but it makes me think of the battle scene from Lord of the Rings when finally all the horses come down the hill and you're like yeah you know it's a good feeling. It's a good scene right? Because the orcs form they form lines with pikes and spears and all those things and you know the first, well they just crashed through but that's basically just the european approach to it. Interesting. Yeah. So it's very interesting actually because it leads into our final folklore which is the american legend. Okay, so before we talk about the legend of Sleepy Hollow, we're going to talk about the story that inspired the legend of Sleepy Hollow. This written by Washington Irving. So when was the original story written? It was published in 1820. Oh but all of this that we're going to talk about that inspired it obviously happened before all of that. You picture pre America America. Really actually, I don't know I I maybe I'm just so tied up with the johnny Depp movie. Well so the inspiration happened around the Revolutionary War. Um but before we get into that, so I actually visited the grave of Washington Irving because it's in a sleepy hollow cemetery in sleepy hollow new york which you can go to and take tours of if it's not Covid. And we took like a midnight lantern, you know, nighttime tour of the cemetery. That's cool. Yeah it's not that far out of the city, it's super um like full of interesting graves. It's a huge cemetery and it's very well preserved, very new England. E uh lots of really crazy different mausoleums and gravestones. This is grave grandiose. No it's a little small. I mean they've kind of had like a wrought iron fence around it. Now there's a lot of really, really important rich other people that are buried there. Um And as part of it so it pale so it looks like an old gravestone compared to those graves. Um And they actually is part of the tour they at least at the time would bring you into one of the mausoleums and closed the door. And it was the mausoleum of the guy who was in Dark Shadows which was that vampire like soap opera? Dark Shadows. Yeah my mom used to watch it so I used to watch it with her and they have like his name was what was it, the actor who played Barnabas Collins. Um You go into his grave or his mausoleum, they have like a little shrine to him set up in there and they closed the door and it's kind of creepy. But the reason why they do it because it's like a big open mausoleum that you can go into. What's interesting. We actually talked about dark shadows on the vampire episode because that soap opera inspired a bunch of people who are like real vampires to come out and have a community. Has there been any kind of resurgence in the modern community about real life? Headless horseman? Should we started, should we start a community? I personally don't resonate with that, but I, you know, I don't, I want everyone to live their lives. I agree. Yeah. Well let us know if you need help facilitating a meet up and we can we can jump in Doula hands anonymous. Yeah, it's a cool cemetery after Covid. Go get a tour support them. Um And all of the like tour guides are like a, you know, feeder people. So it's a very fun experience. We're going to look back at the Battle of White Plains during the Revolutionary War. It's interesting because of the battle that we're gonna talk about, this is a real thing that happened, obviously Took place on October 28, just a few days before Halloween, which is why we end up seeing this like Jack O'lantern pumpkin motif over and over again. Okay. And it's obviously it's a creepy thing, but that sort of started its association with Halloween where people celebrating Halloween back then I think so, with Jack lanterns and pumpkins and yeah, I think they would have been. Yeah, that's pretty cool. Yeah, as as we know from our history of Halloween episode, that's right, it does go back quite far, but it's still interesting to there's that colonial America celebrated Halloween in a very similar way we do. I mean, have you seen on Reddit, there's old Halloween photos from that time and it's like the most fucked up disturbing. It looks like it looks like everybody's leatherface. Like they're wearing the craziest these kids are wearing, the craziest, scariest, weirdest costumes. Everything is like creepy clown, but like they're really intense. They're hard to look at. Sometimes there's like whole tons of footage or photos of that you can find in like weird archives and stuff. So there was a Hessian horseman who fought in this battle and I will tell you I was going to see if you knew what it was. The heck is a Hessian, a Hessian soldier were german auxiliary fighters that served for the british during the Revolutionary War. How about that? Hessian Hessian german auxiliary. So they were Germans. Huh? German mercenaries. They were Germans that were fighting for the british, fighting for the british. Okay, so they were soldiers. Yeah. So in the Battle for White Plains, one hess and trooper lost his head to a cannibal. His body was buried in the old dutch church of Sleepy Hollow. But his head had been blasted into so many pieces on the battlefield that it wasn't able to be collected and you can see where this is going. It was believed that he would rise from the grave trying to find his head as they do because this happened so closely to Halloween. Sometimes the headless horseman is portrayed holding a pumpkin for ahead because he could grab one as a proxy while on the hunt of his.
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