Legend of Stingy Jack • The Story of Jack of the Lantern

A jack o' lantern wearing a hat in blue light.

Legend of Stingy Jack • The Story of Jack of the Lantern

Stingy Jack was a drunkard who was known to frequent various villages in Ireland. He was a nuisance with a reputation for being manipulative, deceptive, and general societal runoff.

Satan Hears of Stingy Jack’s Misdeeds

Stories of Stingy Jack’s misdeeds were the everyday talk of the townsfolk, to the point where Satan could not help but overhear a conversation or two in which Jack’s deviant behavior was the focus.

Was Stingy Jack Really As Bad As They Say?

However, Satan was unconvinced that this Stingy Jack could be as vile and manipulative as the legends would have it. Thus he decided to investigate and find out if Stingy Jack lived up to the name he was being given.

A lit jack o' lantern in front of a white picket fence at night.

Stingy Jack Runs into Satan

Stingy Jack, drunk and hobbling through the countryside one day came across a corpse lying on the cobblestone path he was traversing. Upon closer inspection, the corpse revealed itself to be none other than Satan himself.

A Deal with the Devil

He decided to make one final plea to Satan — take Stingy Jack to the local pub so that he could enjoy himself one last bit of ale before his trek into the Underworld. Shock and woe overcame Stingy Jack, as he mournfully realized that if this was Satan, his time had come to an end and Satan was here to harvest his soul.

Stingy Jack Persuades Satan to Transform into a Silver Coin

Satan, feeling quite agreeable today, decided it was a reasonable request so he took Jack to the local pub so that he could enjoy one last drink. A few drinks later at the pub, it was time to pay the tab. Stingy Jack persuaded Satan to pay by suggesting Satan turn himself into a silver coin.

Stingy Jack traps Satan

Satan, a little impressed by Jack’s assertiveness and the boldness of the request did just that. Jack then promptly stuck the silver coin into his pocket which contained a crucifix. Here, Satan found himself in a bit of a predicament — he was now trapped.

Satan Makes A Deal with Stingy Jack for Freedom

Unable to escape, Satan decided to bargain a deal with Stingy Jack: free him from prison, and he would delay coming for Jack’s soul for ten years. Stingy Jack agreed, and Satan was freed.

Stingy Jack’s Bill Comes Due

Like clockwork, ten years later Jack indeed ran into Satan again. He knew what this meant – his borrowed time was now up, and this time his soul was sure to be harvested.

A jack o' lantern draped in faux spiderwebs.

Plotting A New Deception

As Satan was making arraignments to take Jack’s soul, Jack came up with an idea — he would tell Satan he was hungry and request that Satan get him an apple from a nearby apple tree to satiate his hunger before his descent into the Underworld.

Satan Trapped by Stingy Jack Again

Unwittingly, Satan agreed. As he was climbing the apple tree to procure Jack’s apple, Jack quickly surrounded the tree with crucifixes. Again, Satan was trapped.

Stingy Jack Frees Satan on One Condition

Wholly embarrassed, Satan decided to broker another deal with the wily Jack for his freedom. Jack agreed to free Satan, but only on the condition that he never tries to harvest Jack’s soul again. Satan had no choice but to agree.

A jack o' lantern sitting in grass outside at night lit by lights in the background.

Another Demon Claims Stingy Jack’s Soul

However, another demon was coming for Stingy Jack’s soul — the demon of his rampant alcoholism. Jack eventually succumbed to his debilitating addiction it took his life.

God Refuses to Allow Stingy Jack into Heaven

As his soul arrived at St. Peter’s Gate, his entrance into Heaven was curtailed. Not surprisingly, God let Stingy Jack know that because of the sinful, deceitful, alcohol-driven life Jack had led there was no place for Jack in heaven.

A bird's eye view of two jack o' lanterns surrounding by fall leaves and branches.

Stingy Jack Barred from Entering Hell

Barred from Heaven, Stingy Jack tried his luck at the Gates of Hell, but there was a problem — Satan had already agreed not to take Jack’s soul into Hell. Satan had no choice but to fulfill this obligation. Stingy Jack was in a quandary; he could not enter Heaven or Hell. Thus he was stuck traversing the Netherworld for eternity.

The Birth of Jack of the Lantern

To warn others, Satan gave Jack an ember housed in a hollowed-out turnip to light his way throughout the netherworld, as well as warn others that Jack was a permanent citizen of the world between Heaven and Hell. As such, Stingy Jack eventually became known as Jack of the Lantern.

A jack o' lantern near lit candles.

FDA Disclaimer

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy, or content.


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Oshun and Pumpkin Mythology

Oshun is a Yoruban river goddess (orisha) of fertility, love, and wealth and is intricately connected to the magic of pumpkins. As legend would have it, she even stores her magical tools and ingredients in a pumpkin.

Oshun’s Sacred Fruit

Pumpkins are sacred to Oshun, and the pumpkin fruit and its seeds are all considered children of Oshun. Therefore it is important not to consume pumpkin or pumpkin seeds when beseeching the help of Oshun as she finds this quite offensive.

Pumpkin Offerings for Oshun

There are certain magical spells and offerings, however, that you can employ that will garner Oshun’s attention according to your specific needs. As she is a river goddess, the river is where she would receive these offerings.

Three pumpkins — large and small — resting on a haystack with strings of orange lights in the background.

Offerings for Conception and Wealth

For instance, if you’re looking to conceive, take a whole pumpkin, smear it with honey and throw it into a river for Oshun’s blessing on your fertility efforts. When looking for wealth, throw a handful of pumpkin seeds into the river.

Offering Oshun Pumpkins to Attract Love

If you carve the name of the one you wish to love into a pumpkin and throw it into the river, Oshun will be more than happy to assist you with your courtship.

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Typical of Yoruba culture are patakis – myths or legends that explain how a Yoruba deity came to be closely associated with or favor a certain food. Oshun is no exception to this rule, and there exists a tale that explains her deep connection to pumpkins.

The Most Beautiful Calabaza in Oshun’s Field

According to the mythology, Oshun had a calabaza (pumpkin) field that she cared for with much love and attention. One of her pumpkins became big, plump, and beautiful, much to the jealousy of the other pumpkins, who saw fit to harass and insult this pumpkin.

Oshun Shows Pity on the Beautiful Pumpkin

Eventually, the abuse became too much to bear, and the beautiful pumpkin cried out to Oshun. Oshun took pity on the pumpkin and brought it inside to sleep with her in her bed. This frustrated Oshun’s husband, Orunmila, who angrily threw the pumpkin onto the floor.

A person in a white lace dress holding a medium-sized pumpkin near her lower torso.

The Beautiful Calabaza Seeks Revenge

The pumpkin was furious at her treatment at the hands of Orunmila and sought her revenge the next day by stealing money from Orunmila that he desperately needed to pay his gatekeeper, Echu.

The Pumpkin Stokes the Fires of Animosity

But Echu was not sympathetic. He demanded Orunmila pay him or he would do whatever he needed to ruin Orunmila and Oshun’s marriage. This enmity proved to be a fortuitous outcome for the pumpkin, and she proceeded to stoke the fires of animosity.

Adding Alcohol to the Fire

The pumpkin supplied Echu with an ample amount of liquor to stimulate his malcontent but made him ensure he would not harm Oshun. Echu, fueled by an alcohol-laden haze, cycled out of control as Orunmila’s fortunes, too, began to turn for the worse with the loss of his finances.

Two bright orange pumpkins on a dark gray wooden surface.

Orunmila Confronts a Drunk Echu

The two eventually collided, as one day, a broke and destitute Orunmila returned home and tripped over a deeply inebriated Echu lying on his floor. Orunmila confronted Echu, asking him why in the world he was lying drunk on Orunmila’s floor.

Echu Blames the Pumpkin for His Drunkenness

Echu, speaking through his drunken stupor, placed the blame on the pumpkin and told Orunmila to ask her. So Orunmila went to Oshun and requested that Oshun interrogate her pumpkin and ask her how she was responsible for Echu’s debilitated condition.

Oshun Confronts the Pumpkin

Oshun confronted the pumpkin with these inquiries. The pumpkin was unwilling to admit to the charges placed before her but eventually gave up that she did steal money from Orunmila, but only to give the money to Oshun.

An assortment of different types of pumpkins.

Slicing the Pumpkin Open for the Truth

Oshun was unconvinced the pumpkin was telling the truth, and after a while of chasing her fleeing pumpkin around the house, she captured the pumpkin and sliced her open to discover what secrets the pumpkin had been keeping from her. Within the pumpkin now split in twain were two gold coins she had stolen from Orunmila.

Oshun Eats the Pumpkin and Becomes the Guardian of Money

So, perhaps as a punishment or probably because there’s no good reason to let a good pumpkin go to waste, Oshun consumed the pumpkin. It is through this tale that Oshun came to be known as the Guardian of Money.

Rows of ripe pumpkins in a field.

Pumpkin Fun Facts

Pumpkin seeds are also known as pepitas in North America, from the Spanish pepita de calabaza, which means “little seed of squash.”

What Parts of the Pumpkin Are Edible?

All parts of the pumpkin plant — seeds, shell, leaves, and flowers — are edible.

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FDA Disclaimer

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and do not render medical or psychological advice, opinion, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a medical or psychological problem, you should consult your appropriate health care provider. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Links on this website are provided only as an informational resource, and it should not be implied that we recommend, endorse or approve of any of the content at the linked sites, nor are we responsible for their availability, accuracy, or content.


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