Friday, December 09, 2016

Supernatural Friday: It's a Season of Cheer; a Season of Fear....

It's that time of the year to smooch under the mistletoe, shop for loved ones and go view Christmas lights on the Tacky Lights Tour. The season is full of good tidings and happiness, nothing scarier than what might be inside that special gift from Santa Claus. Or that you might receive cold in your sticking for being bad and not good this year. Right?






WRONG! People in olden days didn’t stay indoors due to the “frightful” weather, but more because it might have been cold and dangerous outside. They knew in their hearts that dark forces lurked amidst the shadows of the snow drifts. Winter Solstice (December 21) was seen as a time when the fabric between the mortal world and the world of malicious spirits became thin enough for things to snatch unwary victims. Though the fiends are lout all winter, still, this time prove to be the scariest. When many gathered together to celebrate, it was hoped that the dark spirits would realize with all that din that there were too many bodies inside or caroling outside to grab one person. Another custom practiced was doors were flung open at midnight to let out trapped evil spirits caught inside the building. A candle was left burning in the window all night to insure good luck for the family inside. Any candle that burned out before dawn was deemed a bad sign. 




Another thing said is that those born on Christmas are apt more to see a spirit than those not. But they have nothing to fear from any ghost if they chance to encounter one. They are also protected against deaths by drowning or hanging.


Witches are a part of Christmas too—through our very own Christmas ornaments, or balls. In Scotland, people used to wear them around their necks to ward off witches. It was also believed in Scotland and Canada that if a witch touched one, her/his soul would be caught within the ball forever. 



A witch ball is a hollow sphere of plain or stained glass hung in cottage windows in eighteenth-century England to ward off evil spirits, witch's spells, or ill fortune, though the witch's ball actually originated among cultures where witches were considered a blessing. Witches would usually "enchant" the balls to enhance their potency against evils. Later, they were often posted on top of a vase or suspended by a cord (as from the mantelpiece or rafters) for a decorative effect. Witch balls appeared in America in the nineteenth century and were often found in gardens under the name "gazing ball,” something that has come back, as I bought one last summer to place in my own garden. However, "gazing balls" contain no strands within their interior. According to folk tales, witch balls would entice evil spirits with their bright colors; the strands inside the ball would then capture the spirit and prevent it from escaping. 




Witch balls sometimes measure as large as seven inches (eighteen cm) in diameter. By tradition, but not always, the witch ball is green or blue in color and made from glass. There have been others made of wood, grass, or twigs, instead of glass. Some are decorated in enameled swirls and brilliant stripes of various colors. The gazing balls found in many of today's gardens are derived from silvered witch balls that acted as convex mirrors, warding off evil by reflecting it away. 


Because they look similar to the glass balls used on fishing nets, witch balls are often associated with sea superstitions and legends. The modern Christmas ornament ball is descended from the witch ball. According to an ancient tale, the ornament was originally placed on the tree to dispel a visitor’s envy at the presents left beneath the tree.


Besides the ball, mistletoe was also considered a powerful charm to be used against witches, along with lightening. The lightening? Is it connected, as maybe caused by a witch? Good question.


This time of year also has ghost stories told. Just as much as Halloween. Charles Dickens’ novel, the Christmas Carol, Is proof of that. Those Victorian people did more than go Christmas caroling or drank mulled wine by the roaring fires. There’s even that line in It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year song that goes "There'll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmas long, long ago." There are novels and anthologies that come out this time of the year, ghostly fiction or horror stories. One book of fiction I found is Christmas Ghosts, edited by Kathryn Cramer and David G. Hartwell. I ordered for myself, a ghostly tale set during Christmas time for my Kindle, The Carousel by James Cessford. The eBook intrigued me to read it and it was not a bad price. Search Amazon or your local brick and mortar independent bookstore for other Christmas ghost stories to buy and read.



Besides, ghost stories, there are other dark myths and legends concerning with Christmas. In the olden days gone by in Finland, they believed in Joulupukki. Pagan people used to have festivities to ward off evil spirits. In Finland these spirits of darkness wore goat skins and horns. In the beginning this creature didn't give presents but demanded them. The Christmas Goat was an ugly creature and frightened children. It is unclear how this personality was transformed into the benevolent Father Christmas. Nowadays the only remaining feature is the name. The process was probably a continuous amalgamation of many old folk customs and beliefs from varied sources. One can speak of a Christmas pageant tradition consisting of many personages with roles partly Christian, partly pagan: A white-bearded saint, the Devil, demons, and house gnomes. Nowadays the Joulupukki of Finland resembles the American Santa Claus. This reminds me of Black Peter and the Krampus, both being Santa’s “evil twin.” In many areas of the world, it is said that St. Nicholas has a companion. This companion is Krampus, though another version is Black Peter, or Zarte Piet or Zwarte Piet. Black Peter is associated with the Netherlands and has dark skin. Krampus isn't a man though. He has horns, goat hair, hooves, and claws. Just like a demon. His job is to accompany St. Nicholas and to warn and punish bad children. He is said to carry a basket on his back where he will place the bad children and take them to Hell to be tossed into the pit. Puts a frightening twist on “have you been naughty or nice!” Krampus originates from Krampen--meaning claw. Young men dressed up in goat skins and masks they spend two weeks making and on December 5th go out to scare all and carry out "birching," mainly on young girls.




So, besides a season of “good tidings,” it is also a time of terrible fear. So get your children in at night and make sure they are good. And do the same for yourself. For you never know if that shadow moving along the street past your front yard is just someone looking at your Christmas lights, or something else waiting to get you! Happy holidays.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My Bringing Horror out of Darkness Talk at North Chesterfield Road Library Tonight

I will be talking tonight about writing horror at Chesterfield County Public Library's North Chesterfield Road branch, in their meeting room. That will be from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. The address is 325 Courthouse Road, North Chesterfield, Virginia 23236.  It's free, but you need to preregister at http://chesterfield.evanced.info/signup/eventdetails?eventid=7675&lib=1008&return=  or call the librry branch about it at (804) 318-8499. I won't be selling my books, but you can bring any copies you have and I will sign, plus I am giving away two horror fiction books of mine to be signed.


Pamela K. Kinney, author of horror novels and true-life ghost books, will discuss the pleasures of writing horror; the legacy of classic writers like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley; and how modern writers like Stephen King and Virginia author Elizabeth Massie show there's more to monsters than just scaring people. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Supernatural Friday: The Holidays Aren’t the Holidays Without Holly and its Berries!



There is an old wife’s tale; lots of holly berries means a big freeze is on the way. Now, is this true? If there are masses of red berries on the holly bushes and trees this year, does that mean we are set for another cold winter?

Holly is one of the best-known evergreens because of its association with Christmas. There are over 500 different species of holly or Ilex. Hollies are dioecious, meaning there are both female and male plants, which cannot bear fruits without the other growing close by. The berries are poisonous to humans. But they are one of the few berries available in the winter and birds love them. This is may be one of the reasons why Christmas cards often illustrate birds and holly together. 

Sometime, there are no berries on the bushes or trees. One, natural reason is if there are no berries on yours, the bush or tree may be male and simply cannot produce berries. It also means that if all your holly bushes do not have berries, that they may all be male or they all may be female. Without any male holly bushes nearby, the female holly bushes will not produce berries either. Another reason for berry-less holly bushes might be due to the weather. If it is cold or rainy when the holly was blooming, this can prevent insects or wind from spreading the pollen, or the cold may injure the blossoms. Like in Virginia, there has been a lot of rain this year.

Though holly is brought into the house for its shiny green leaves and berries, which reflect the light and add color to the dark days of Yule, there is another significance as well. Christian symbolism connected the prickly leaves with Jesus' crown of thorns and the berries with the drops of blood shed for humanity's salvation. While holly is most often pictured as having red berries, the berries come in other colors too. One tradition say that white berries represent Jesus' purity, green berries the cross of wood, while black berries his death. 

Yet, there’s reference to these two plants in a pre-Christian celebration, where a boy would be dressed in a suit of holly leaves and a girl similarly in ivy, to parade around the village, bringing Nature through the darkest part of the year to re-emerge for another year's fertility.

Holly was the sacred plant of Saturn and used at the Roman Saturnalia festival to honor him.  Romans gave one another holly wreaths and carried them about, decorating images of Saturn with it.


Holly was also brought into the house variously to protect the home from malevolent faeries or to allow faeries to shelter in the home without friction between them and the human occupants. Whichever of prickly-leaved or smooth-leaved holly was brought into the house first dictated whether the husband or wife respectively were to rule the household for the coming year.


In Celtic mythology the Holly King was said to rule over the half of the year from the summer to the winter solstice, at which time the Oak King defeated the Holly King to rule for the time until the summer solstice again. These two aspects of the Nature god were later incorporated into Mummers' plays traditionally performed around Yuletide. The Holly King was depicted as a powerful giant of a man covered in holly leaves and branches, and wielding a holly bush as a club. He may well have been the same archetype on which the Green Knight of Arthurian legend was based, and to whose challenge Gawain rose during the Round Table's Christmas celebrations.
The folklore of the holly is not solely connected with Yuletide festivities. Like the belief is that if you hung holly over your bed, you would have good dreams. Like several other native trees, it was felt to have protective properties. There were taboos against cutting down a whole tree. A reason for this might be to obstruct witches known to run along the tops of hedges, though more practically farmers used their distinctive evergreen shapes to establish lines of sight during winter ploughing.
Folklore suggested that the wood of the holly trees had an affinity for control, especially of horses, and most whips for ploughmen and horse-drawn coaches were made from coppiced holly, which accounted for hundreds of thousands of stems during the eighteenth century.



Holly trees were traditionally known for protection from lightning strikes, to which end they were planted near a house. In European mythology, holly was associated with thunder gods such as Thor and Taranis. We now know that the spines on the distinctively-shaped holly leaves can act as miniature lightning conductors, thereby protecting the tree and other nearby objects.

Whatever the stories about the holly berries or greenery, it is definitely believed that it makes for beautiful, natural decorations at Christmas time.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Get Any of My Print Books on Sale at Amazon Through Today

Amazon is having for this Black Friday through Cyber Monday. From now until November 28th (2:59am EST), you can get $10 off any print book purchase of $25 or more on Amazon.com if you use the promo code HOLIDAYBOOK. 

That means you can get any of my print books, the 

nonfiction ghost books or my fiction during this sale for

$10 off. You can find any of the books here at my Amazon 


Amazon's Terms & Conditions

▪ To use this promotion, you must enter "HOLIDAYBOOK" at checkout under the "Gift cards & promotional codes" section to receive $10 off any books purchase of $25 or more.
▪ This offer is valid on print books only. Excludes eBooks and Audiobooks, Book Rentals and Amazon Gift Cards.
▪ The promotion is valid for a limited time, on orders placed between November 24, 2016 at 12:01am EST and November 29, 2016 at 02:59am EST. Amazon reserves the right to modify or cancel this offer at any time.
▪ Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by Amazon.com.
▪ Limit one promotional code per customer and account.
▪ Each code may be used only once and may not be combined with other offers.
▪ The maximum benefit you may receive from this offer is $10.
▪ Offer good while supplies last.
▪ Offer is non-transferable and may not be resold.
▪ If any of the products or content related to this promotion are returned, the value of the offer will be subtracted from your return credit.
▪ This promotion may not be combined with other offers, including promotional certificates.
▪ Items must be purchased in a single order and shipped at the same speed to a single address.
▪ If you violate any of the Terms & Conditions, the promotion will be invalid.
▪ Void where prohibited.
▪ Shipping charges may apply to discounted and free promotional items.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Feeling Like Testing a Curse?



Ever feel like testing to see if a curse will work? Check out the following ghost story.


Curse of the Three Sisters in Northern Virginia


Another tale of the Algonquian tribes is about a curse by three Algonquin women that apparently seems to still work today. This curse concerns three large granite rocks that rise out of the water between Virginia’s shoreline and Washington D.C. The story takes place a hundred years before Jamestown had been settled by the white man.

Though the land was rich with farmland and game and everyone did well, peace did not reign here. To the north were the Iroquois and Susquehannocks and they would raid the Algonquin tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy in the Virginia area, the battles fierce and bloody.

After a long siege, one Powhatan chief felt it was safe enough for his warriors and him to hunt for food. He forbidden though, three of his young sons to go with them, feeling they were not old enough to defend themselves if trouble came.

The young men decided to show their father how well they could go out and bring enough fresh fish to feed the women, children, and old men in the village. They did this after the hunting party left.

Now the greatest abundance of fish lived in the waters near the northern shore where the Susquehannocks warriors might still be. Using a canoe, they pushed it into the river and struck out. Not long after, a Susquehannock scouting party captured them and they were brought before the village, tortured, and killed. Of the villagers, three young daughters of the village shaman who were in loved with the young men watched with horror and growing anger.

They devised among themselves that they would cross the river to the village of the Susquehannocks to demand the warriors that killed the men they loved. They would take them back to their village to beguile them with their beauty and their fathers’ medicine. But afterwards, they would kill them by a long, agonizing death.

The sisters lashed several logs into a raft and pushed it from shore. But the current from the river proved too strong and fast and soon, they found themselves racing downstream. Still angry over the senseless deaths of the men they loved, the sisters cursed the river and said if they couldn’t cross it, no one would ever be able to do so.

The raft broke up and they sank to their deaths. The curse became true as one flash from a lightning struck the spot where they went down. That night the storm continued and the river’s waters went crazy. The following morning all grew calm as the sun rose into the sky. But three boulders had rose out of the spot where the sisters drowned, boulders that hadn’t been there before.

From that time on, the rocks take their toll on those who dare to try and cross the river there. A growing list of those victims who died is added to a growing list by local law enforcements—many fishermen, swimmers, and boaters. Old-timers claim that you can hear moaning over the Potomac during a storm, warning of another impending drowning.

In 1972, when they tried to construct a bridge to span the river, it became interrupted by one of the worse storms ever. Whitecaps surged on the water and lightening struck the spot where the bridge supports were starting to be built. The water surged and swept away the construction framework. Funny thing, the bridge was to be called “Three Sisters Bridge.”


Next time you feel you want to test an Native curse work, try swimming in the Potomac where three sisters had died.

Supernatural Friday: Feeling Like Testing a Curse?



Ever feel like testing to see if a curse will work? Check out the following ghost story.


Curse of the Three Sisters in Northern Virginia


Another tale of the Algonquian tribes is about a curse by three Algonquin women that apparently seems to still work today. This curse concerns three large granite rocks that rise out of the water between Virginia’s shoreline and Washington D.C. The story takes place a hundred years before Jamestown had been settled by the white man.

Though the land was rich with farmland and game and everyone did well, peace did not reign here. To the north were the Iroquois and Susquehannocks and they would raid the Algonquin tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy in the Virginia area, the battles fierce and bloody.

After a long siege, one Powhatan chief felt it was safe enough for his warriors and him to hunt for food. He forbidden though, three of his young sons to go with them, feeling they were not old enough to defend themselves if trouble came.

The young men decided to show their father how well they could go out and bring enough fresh fish to feed the women, children, and old men in the village. They did this after the hunting party left.

Now the greatest abundance of fish lived in the waters near the northern shore where the Susquehannocks warriors might still be. Using a canoe, they pushed it into the river and struck out. Not long after, a Susquehannock scouting party captured them and they were brought before the village, tortured, and killed. Of the villagers, three young daughters of the village shaman who were in loved with the young men watched with horror and growing anger.

They devised among themselves that they would cross the river to the village of the Susquehannocks to demand the warriors that killed the men they loved. They would take them back to their village to beguile them with their beauty and their fathers’ medicine. But afterwards, they would kill them by a long, agonizing death.

The sisters lashed several logs into a raft and pushed it from shore. But the current from the river proved too strong and fast and soon, they found themselves racing downstream. Still angry over the senseless deaths of the men they loved, the sisters cursed the river and said if they couldn’t cross it, no one would ever be able to do so.

The raft broke up and they sank to their deaths. The curse became true as one flash from a lightning struck the spot where they went down. That night the storm continued and the river’s waters went crazy. The following morning all grew calm as the sun rose into the sky. But three boulders had rose out of the spot where the sisters drowned, boulders that hadn’t been there before.

From that time on, the rocks take their toll on those who dare to try and cross the river there. A growing list of those victims who died is added to a growing list by local law enforcements—many fishermen, swimmers, and boaters. Old-timers claim that you can hear moaning over the Potomac during a storm, warning of another impending drowning.

In 1972, when they tried to construct a bridge to span the river, it became interrupted by one of the worse storms ever. Whitecaps surged on the water and lightening struck the spot where the bridge supports were starting to be built. The water surged and swept away the construction framework. Funny thing, the bridge was to be called “Three Sisters Bridge.”


Next time you feel you want to test an Native curse work, try swimming in the Potomac where three sisters had died.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Bird of Thunder

With the American Thanksgiving next week, I am blogging about another sort of big bird, the Thunderbird.



If you ever read Indian myths, then you heard of the thunderbird. It is described as a large bird, capable of creating storms and thundering while it flies. Clouds are pulled together by its wing beats, the sound of thunder is made by its wings clapping, lightning flashes from its eyes when it blinks, and individual lightning bolts are made by the glowing snakes that it carries around with it. In masks, it is depicted as many-colored, with two curling horns, and, often, teeth within its beak. The Lakota name for the Thunderbird is Wakį́yą, a word formed from kįyą́, meaning “winged,” and wakhą́,“sacred.” The Kwakwaka’wakw has many names for the Thunderbird and the Nuu-chah-nulth gave it the name of Kw-Uhnx-Wa. The Ojibwa word for a thunderbird that is closely associated with thunder is animikii, while large thunderous birds are known as binesi.
Although associated most of the time with the Plains Indians, the Thunderbird was also known to the Algonquin-speaking peoples.  However, like most Native American cultures on East Coast (except maybe Iroquois), little is now known of their beliefs. 
In regards to the Thunderbird, this much is known: This fearsome being that resembles a winged man or an immense bird causes fear and dread. The myths tell that it is known to actually kill and eat humans from time to time.


There once existed a gigantic bird in North America. Called the Teratornis Merriami, it stood five feet tall and had a wingspan of twenty-four feet and had the long narrow beak of the predator bird, too. Bones of this bird and humans have been found in the same areas together. Maybe the ancestors of the Native Americans today killed these giant birds for their feathers or myths of the Thunderbird arose due to the birds kidnapping their children and stock.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Supernatural Friday: Monsters' Hunting Season (Original Poem)




Enjoy this original poem by me for Supernatural Friday. Do share the blog link ans not the perm, so others cab con and read it.


"Winter is Coming, That Mean's It's Soon Hunting Season"

Winter’s not here yet, 
It's just autumn
But the leaves are dropping
And winter's cold fingers touches my skin.
Nothing to fear,
Except freezing to death;
Right?
But the coldness
Brings the monsters
They want to play;
Play with you
In so many ways.
Less people in the woods,
It’s Sasquatch’s time.
Werewolf is drawn
To towns full of human prey.
Ghosts don’t feel
So they hunt, cold or hot
Zombies?
They can eat anytime!
As for vampires
They’re icebox cold too.
So who told you winter’s safe?
It’s just another hunting season
For monsters!