Friday, March 30, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Blogiversary Party This Weekend at Haunt Jaunts Blog

Author P.W. Creighton (Nightfall) and I will be judges of the writing contest portion for this cool Blogiversary party on Haunt Jaunts blog this Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Come have fun, there'll be goodies, and more. Plus submit a writing piece: open to two categories: fiction (any genre) and travel. There will be a $5 entry fee, with all entry fees being donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. There will be two winners, one in each category (fiction and travel). They will each receive a $25 gift Amazon.com card, and the winning pieces will be published on Haunt Jaunts.
There's also a calendar: Are you a jaunter who likes taking pictures of haunted places? Want to share your images with others and have it seen in a calendar?
Haunt Jaunts is going to look for pictures to include in its first calendar.
These calendars will be for sale, however $5 from each one will be donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, a cause near and dear to Haunt Jaunts’ heart. (Literally. H. J. had a tumor grow just over my heart. Thanks to research strides made in part by organizations like the LRF, it’s why she’s still here today.)
If you’re photo is chosen, you’ll receive a copy of the calendar
(which at this point is looking to be a $15 value).
More information plus check it out at: http://is.gd/GjMBIc

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WEIRD WEDNESDAY



Admit it--you wanna jam on these furry guitars.

Join Haunt Jaunts' Blogiversary This Weekend: Submit Fiction Story Or Travel Piece for Writing Contest



Author P.W. Creighton (Nightfall) and I will be judges of the writing

contest portion for this cool Blogiversary party on Haunt Jaunts
blog this Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Come have fun, there'll be goodies,
and more. Plus submit a writing piece: open to two categories: fiction
(any genre) and travel. There will be a $5 entry fee, with all entry fees
being donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. There will be
two winners, one in each category (fiction and travel). They will each
receive a $25 gift Amazon.com card, and the winning pieces will be
published on HJ.
There's also a calendar: Are you a jaunter who likes taking pictures of
haunted places? Want to share your images with others and have it seen in
a calendar?
Haunt Jaunts is going to look for pictures to include in its first calendar.
These calendars will be for sale, however $5 from each one will be
donated to the Lymphoma Research Foundation, a cause near and
dear to Haunt Jaunts’ heart. (Literally. H. J. had a tumor grow just
over my heart. Thanks to research strides made in part by organizations
like the LRF, it’s why she’s still here today.)
If you’re photo is chosen, you’ll receive a copy of the calendar
(which at this point is looking to be a $15 value).
More information at: http://is.gd/GjMBIc

Friday, March 23, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Skinwalkers





Witches known as skinwalkers who can alter their shapes at will to assume the characteristics of certain animals are in religion and cultural lore of Southwestern tribes.

In the American Southwest, the Navajo, Hopi, Utes, and other tribes each have their own version of the skinwalker story, but they all end up to the

same thing--a malevolent witch capable of transforming itself into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird, or any other animal. The witch might wear the hide or skin of the animal identity it wants to assume, and when the transformation is complete, the witch inherits the speed, strength, or cunning of the animal whose shape he/she has taken.

Navajo skinwalkers use mind control, make their victims hurt themselves

and even end their lives. They are considered powerful, able to run faster than a car and jump mesa cliffs without any effort at all. No faster than a speeding bullet and able to leap tall buildings like Superman, but not much lesser.

For the Navajo and other tribes of the southwest, the tales of skinwalkers are not mere legend. There’s a Nevada attorney, Michael Stuhff, one of the few lawyers in the history of American jurisprudence to file legal papers against a Navajo witch. He often represents Native Americans in his practice and understands Indian law. He knows and respects tribal religious beliefs.

As a young attorney in the mid-70s, Stuhff worked in a legal aid program based near Genado, Arizona, many clients being Navajo. He confronted a witch in a dispute over child custody. His client was a Navajo woman who lived on the reservation with her son. She wanted full custody rights and back child support payments from her estranged husband, an Apache man. At one point, the husband got permission to take the son out for an evening, but didn't return the boy until the next day. The son later told his mother what had happened. He had spent the night with his father and a "medicine man." They built a fire atop a cliff and, for many hours, the medicine man performed ceremonies, songs, and incantations around the fire. At dawn, they went to some woods by a cemetery and dug a hole. The medicine man placed two dolls in the hole, one dark and the other made of light wood. The dolls were meant to be the mother and her lawyer.  Sruhff didn’t know how to approach this, so he consulted a Navajo professor at a nearby community college.

The professor told him it sounded like a powerful and serious ceremony of type, meant for the lawyer to end up buried in the graveyard for real. He also said a witch could only perform this type of ceremony only four times in his life, because if he tries it more than that, the curse would come back on the witch himself. Also, if the intended victim discovered about it, then

the curse would come back onto the person who had requested it.

Stuhff filed court papers that requested an injunction against the husband and the unknown medicine man, whom he described in the court documents as "John Doe, A Witch,” to let the husband know he know what he and the witch had done. He described the alleged ceremony in detail.

This upset the opposing attorney by the motion, as did the husband and the presiding judge. The opposing lawyer argued to the court that the medicine man had performed "a blessing way ceremony," not a curse. But Stuhff knew that the judge, who was a Navajo, would be able to distinguish between a blessing ceremony, which takes place in Navajo hogans, and a darker ceremony involving lookalike dolls that took place in the woods near a cemetery. Which he did. Before the judge ruled though, Stuhff requested a recess so that the significance of his legal motion could sink in. The next day, the husband agreed to grant total custody to the mother and pay all back child support.

Stuhff took it as serious as the husband did, because he learned that sometimes witches will do things themselves to assist the supernatural, and he knew what that might mean.

Whether or not Stuhff believed that witches have supernatural powers, he acknowledged the Navajos did. Certain communities on the reservation had reputations as witchcraft strongholds and the lawyer wasn’t certain that the witch he faced was a skinwalker or not. "Not all witches are skinwalkers," he had said, "but all skinwalkers are witches.

Skinwalkers are at the top, a witch's witch.

Skinwalkers are purely evil in intent. That they do all sorts of terrible things---make people sick and they commit murders. They are also graverobbers and necrophiliacs. Greedy and evil, to become a skinwalker, they must kill a sibling or other relative. They supposedly can turn into were-animals and travel by supernatural means.

Skinwalkers possess knowledge of medicine, medicine both practical (heal the sick) and spiritual (maintain harmony). The flip side of the skinwalker coin is the power of tribal medicine men. Among the Navajo, medicine men train over a period of many years to become full- fledged practitioners in the mystical rituals of the Dine' (Navajo) people.

But there is a dark side to the learning of the medicine men. Witches follow some of the same training and obtain similar knowledge as their more benevolent colleagues. But they supplement this with their pursuit of the dark arts. By Navajo law, a known witch has forfeited its status as a human and can be killed at will.

Witchcraft was always an accepted, if not widely acknowledged part of Navajo culture. The killing of witches were historically accepted among the Navajo as it was among the Europeans." At oe point in history, thre was the Navajo Witch Purge of 1878. More than 40 Navajo witches were killed or "purged" by tribe members because the Navajo had endured a horrendous forced march at the hands of the U.S. Army in which hundreds were starved, murdered, or left to die. The Navajo were confined to a bleak reservation that left them destitute and starving at the end of the march. They assumed that witches might be responsible for their plight. They retaliated by purging their ranks of suspected witches. Tribe members reportedly found a collection of witch artifacts wrapped in a copy of the Treaty of 1868 and "buried in the belly of a dead person."

In the Navajo world, there are as many words for the various forms of witchcraft as there are words for various kinds of snow among the Eskimos. If the woman thought a man was adan'ti, she thought he had the power of sorcery to convert himself into animal form, to fly, or become invisible.

Few Navajo want to cross paths with naagloshii (or yee naaldooshi), otherwise known as a skinwalker. The cautious Navajo will not speak openly about skinwalkers, especially with strangers, because to do so might invite the attention of an evil witch. After all, a stranger who asks questions about skinwalkers just might be one himself, looking for his next victim.

In the legends, it is said they curse people and cause great suffering and death. At night, their eyes glow red like hot coals. It is said that if you see the face of a Naagloshii, they have to kill you. If you see one and know who it is, they will die. If you see them and you don't know them, they have to kill you to keep you from finding out who they are. They use a mixture that some call corpse powder, which they blow into your face. Your tongue turns black and you go into convulsions and you eventually die. They are known to use evil spirits in their ceremonies. The Dine' have learned ways to protect themselves against this evil, always keeping on guard."

Although skinwalkers are generally believed to prey only on Native Americans, there are recent reports from non-Indians claiming they had encountered skinwalkers while driving on or near tribal lands. One New Mexico Highway Patrol officer told us that while patrolling a stretch of highway south of Gallup, New Mexico, he had had two separate encounters with a ghastly creature that seemingly attached itself to the door of his vehicle. During the first encounter, the veteran law enforcement officer said the unearthly being appeared to be wearing a ghostly mask as it kept pace with his patrol car. To his horror, he realized that the ghoulish specter wasn't attached to his door after all. Instead, it ran alongside his vehicle as he roared at high rate of speed down the highway. The officer said he had a nearly identical experience in the same area a few days later. He was shaken to his core by these encounters, but didn't realize that he would soon get some confirmation that what he had seen was real. While having coffee with a fellow highway patrolman not long after the second incident, the cop cautiously described his twin experiences. To his amazement, the second officer admitted having his own encounter with a white-masked ghoul, a being that appeared out of nowhere and then somehow kept pace with his cruiser as he sped across the desert. The first officer told us that he still patrols the same stretch of highway, but is petrified every time he enters the area.

Once Caucasian family still speaks in hushed tones about its encounter with a skinwalker, even though it happened in 1983. As they drove at night along Route 163 through the Navajo Reservation, the family felt that someone was following them. As their truck slowed down to round a sharp bend, the atmosphere changed, and time itself seemed to slow down. That's when something leaped out of a ditch.

"It was black and hairy and was eye level with the cab," one of the witnesses recalled. "Whatever this thing was, it wore a man's clothes. It had on a white and blue checked shirt and long pants. Its arms were raised over its head, almost touching the top of the cab. It looked like a hairy man or a hairy animal in man's clothing, but it didn't look like an ape or anything like that. Its eyes were yellow and its mouth was open."

The father described as a fearless man who had served two tours in Vietnam, turned completely white, the blood drained from his face. The hair on his neck and arms stood straight up, like a cat under duress, and noticeable goose bumps erupted from his skin. Although time seemed frozen during this bizarre interlude, the truck continued on its way, and the family was soon miles down the highway. Days later, the family awoke to the sounds of loud drumming at their home in Flagstaff. They peered out their windows and saw dark forms of three men outside their fence, trying to climb the fence to enter the yard and inexplicably unable to cross onto the property. Frustrated by their failed entry, the men chanted as the terrified family huddled inside the house.  Strange about this was if skinwalkers, why not assume a shape of a bird nd fly over the fence? No mention either of police called. One family member said she called a Navajo friend who walked through the house and said they were skinwalkers, that the intrusion failed because something protected the family. She admittd that it was all highly unusual since skinwalkers rarely bother non-Indians and performed a blessing ceremony.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

WEIRD WEDNESDAY


Hasn't anyone told this lady it might be easier to use her hands?

It's the First Day of Spring!


It’s the first day of spring. For me, I woke up to heavy fog. But fog or not, spring was here. To tell the truth, it had been here for a couple of weeks as flowers bloomed and plants popped out of the ground. The temperature been warm too.

While most of us think of it in terms of flowers, grass needing mowing, birds chirping in the early morning, and warmer temperature, there’s more to it than that. It’s also about the equinox.

The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” There are two equinoxes every year – in March and September – when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal. Seasons are opposite on either side of the equator, so the equinox in March is also known as the "spring equinox" in the northern hemisphere. However, in the southern hemisphere, it's known as the "autumnal (fall) equinox". The Southern Hemisphere: (Australia, New Zealand, South America, Southern Africa). The Northern Hemisphere: (USA, Central America, Canada, Europe, Asia, northern Africa).

The spring and fall equinoxes are the only dates with equal daylight and dark as the Sun crosses the celestial equator—12 hours – all over the world. At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun.

But, though accepted, it isn't entirely true. In reality equinoxes don't have exactly 12 hours of daylight. On these two days, the geometric center of the sun is above the horizon for 12 hours, and one might think this would indicate that the length of the daylight would be the same. Sunrise is defined as the instant when the upper edge of the sun's disk becomes visible above the horizon – not when the center of the sun is visible. In the same sense, sunset refers to the moment the upper edge disappears below the horizon. At both instances, the center of the sun is below the horizon, and therefore the equinox day lasts a little longer than 12 hours. The Sun is visible longer than 12 hours on an equinox because the Earth's atmosphere refracts sunlight. Refraction causes the Sun’s upper edge to be visible from Earth several minutes before the edge actually reaches the horizon. In the evening, we can see the sun for several minutes after it has actually dipped under the horizon. This causes every day on Earth, and not just the equinoxes, to appear at least 6 minutes longer than it actually is.

The March equinox occurs the moment the sun crosses the celestial equator. It’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north. This happens either on March 19, 20, or 21 every year. On any other day of the year, the Earth's axis tilts a little away from or towards the sun. But on the two equinoxes, the Earth's axis neither tilts away from nor towards the sun.

Equinoxes – along with solstices – have been celebrated in cultures all over the world for as long as we have written history. One of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.

In the northern hemisphere, the March equinox marks the start of spring and has long been celebrated as a time of rebirth. Many cultures and religions celebrate or observe holidays and festivals around the March equinox, like the Easter and Passover.

What does spring mean to you. And how do you celebrate it?


HAPPY SPRING!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ravecon Having a Book Drive and a Children's Writing Workshop This Year

Ravencon is a science fiction, fantasy and horror convention in Richmond, Virginia,  in addition to their Charity Auction this year Saturday, April 14th of their convention, is also going to be hosting a book drive. If you have any gently used books that you would like to donate, you can send them to me. Just email me for my address. And if any author who has a children's book or YA, you can donate that too. After all, it will reach your readers. If you are attending the convention, you can bring the books there to give.

All books that collected will be passed along to BOOKS ON WHEELS, a local charitable organization in Richmond. In concentrating in working with youth, Books on Wheels strives to encourage young people to read and to learn skills that they can use for the rest of their lives.

RavenCon hopes to use this book drive as a means to continue encouraging young people to develop a love for the written word. They are also planning a special Children's Writing Workshop this year.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Review of Mistress of the Topaz, a Fantasy by Betty Cross






Mistress of the Topaz is a fantasy novel by Betty Cross. At the beginning of the novel, Promono-Dei is crowned World-Queen.  She decides she wants to avenge her father by going to war and defeat Nobalos’ allies, one by one. But she confronts a more dangerous coalition that includes Nobalos’ powerful but wavering ally, Âryoso-Rûn, King of Roude-Kî. But even before Âryoso-Rûn’s army can arrive, her soldiers have already been back by Nobalos’ other forces. While  Kordo-Strî’, a council member of Nobalos works to get others with the power of her mind to do what she feels is good for her in the long run, her husband has invented Malga’s first steam-powered warship for the Nobalon Navy. Will Promono-Dei and her forces (that includes her lover) be able to topple Nobalos before the first steam-powered ship sails, or will she have trouble of betrayal from one of her allies?

Amidst medieval warring, religions and myths, Ms. Cross brings to life a high fantasy novel. Though fairies and dwarves don’t inhabit this like a Tolkien work, it is closer to something that George RR Martin mixed with Dune might end up when a dash of the Arabian Nights are thrown in.

Not too bad, I didn’t rate it five dragons, but four, due a few details. I do look forward to the sequel by Ms. Cross.




You can get Mistress of the Topaz on KINDLE , NOOKBOOK, and at her publisher, Double-Dragon.



Friday, March 16, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Legends and Myths of St Patrick's Day




Once upon a time, blue was the color to wear. That's right, not green, but blue! Because blue was the color of Ireland's flag. It was changed to green most likely due to the shamrock.

St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland. Except that would be hard, as there never been snakes in Ireland. Separated from England and the Continent thousands of years ago, Ireland emerged from the Ice Age snake-free.

And forget that cute little guy on the Lucky Charms cereal box. Leprechauns are not cute or nice. Like many fairies, they were brutish and nasty, besides being short too. They were the grumpy, insufferable, alcoholic elves in employ of other fairies. They made shows for the fairies (why they're called cobblers) and guarded their treasure vigorously. Unfortunately to their eternal frustration, their treasure was revealed by rainbows. Next time you watch that horror film, Leprechaun, the actor plays the true fey being.

But no matter if myth or truth, enjoy the day and dance a little jig. Just don't overdo the green beer and Irish food.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY.
ERIN Go BRAGH!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Gracie, The Ghost Dog—Guest Blogger Sofie Couch

Welcome my guest blogger for today’s Supernatural Friday as she blogs about “Gracie the Ghost Dog.”

True story. When one of my kids asked for a dog, I naively made the bargain whereby if she saved enough money to fence in our entire one acre yard, I would buy the dog. A year later, the eleven year old came back to cash in on the bargain. Of course, I thought the dog-shopping process would be protracted. (I hoped it would be.) Her list of dog qualities were pretty steep. She wanted a large breed, a female, but the runt of the litter. It was a karmic joke when the first Great Pyrenees breeder I called had only one puppy left – a female, but the runt of the litter.

I had my own list of demands too. Puppy training was a must! So with our new puppy, we headed off to the local PetSmart puppy bootcamp. Gracie, as the wee-one had been dubbed, was miss mellow from the get-go. Truly, we could not have found a better dog for our family. She was easy to train, quiet, rode well in the car – everything you could ask for in a dog. On the way to puppy training every week, she was content to ride in the back of the car, only standing to look about when we stopped at intersections… with the exception of one intersection. The first time I stopped at the light at PetSmart, she stood, looked to the left, her little question-mark tail at attention, and barked her little head off. (Not literally. That would be a whole different sort of “ghost dog” story.) How odd?

The light changed to a green arrow, we moved off, and she stopped barking. The next week on our trek to puppy bootcamp, Gracie rode in the back of the car, standing to look around at all of the intersections, and at the one light next to PetSmart, she focused on the left side of the road and started barking her head off again. I’m a slow study. It took the full six-weeks of puppy boot camp for me to finally try to figure out what she might be barking at. On the left side of the highway at that particular intersection is Holly Memorial cemetery. Still a slow study, I looked for the fluttery flag, or family of squirrels that could be drawing her attention. We drew-up alongside family cars with squealing children. We pulled up beside other pets in cars. We tried to draw her out with pedestrians and bicyclists – nothing. Only the Holly Memorial Cemetery, and only when we were stopped long enough for her to glance to the left.

So we decided to put the fun theory to the test. (I was still resistant to the notion that the dog could be barking at anything other than a wreathe or a tombstone shadow, despite the fact that Holly Memorial has no tombstones and flowers are all mounted in small, matching bronze vases on each grave.) It was on a lark that I indulged the kids and pulled into the local churchyard. We sat in the car, motor running, with the graveyard off to the side. The puppy stood up in the back when we stopped, casually looked around, focused on something in the church cemetery, and started barking her head off!

Nope. Can’t be. We drove a few miles further, (the dog settled down as soon as we pulled out of the parking lot,) and we headed for the next church, and I instructed the kids, no one was to look around in any direction. Everyone eyes forward. Don’t speak, don’t react. At the next church, we had to pull onto the gravel drive that circled the graveyard. Sure enough, the dog stood, focused on the graveyard and started barking her head off.

Since that time, we entice the dog to perform her “parlor trick” for anyone in the car with us when we have to stop near a graveyard. We draw the dog into her routine on purpose with an accuracy rating of about 8 out of 10 times. The wee puppy is now nearly a hundred pounds. She is still considered small for her breed. And sure, we might be, unconsciously, giving her some sort of cue to “perform”, but maybe, just maybe, she’s trying to teach us a thing or two about what she sees that we don’t.



Book Blurbs:

MOONSHINE: The Prequel

Rivanna Rivers wants to find the father who left her saddled with the same name as a local tributary.

Matt Maddox wants to avoid going to jail, but that's hard to do when your family invites scandal, your brother drops dead in the arms of a minor, and you produce moonshine to support your family.

Annabelle Freeman just wants to get through "back-to-school" night without anyone discovering that she buried her grandfather in the garden.

With a little help from those in the next realm, they learn they all have three things in common: family, moonshine, and murder.


Excerpt from MOONSHINE:

A voice pounded in my head, wanting to have his story revealed… through me!
And then I felt it again.
The man’s spirit drifted up from his body and hovered from some spot overhead. He came down, brushed past Mama, then settled inside my body. I could sense him stretching his fingers, like he was trying to fit himself into a tight glove, his chest pressing behind my chest, his neck stretching inside of mine before moving out again.
And he whispered.
“Tell him. Theresa is alive. Acknowledge the child.”
Then repeated the words, then repeated them again, then again, and again…


Find Moonshine on KINDLE



ANGELS UNAWARES: Fall for Grace

Grace Breeden sees dead people. But why then can't she see her late mother? "Blue guys" as Grace refers to them, roam the earth searching for their opportunity to transcend, but one particularly persistent blue guy is shadowing Grace, involving her in near misses that lead her to surmise that there's something a bit "grim" about this specter. Keeping her friends close and the angel of death closer, she tries to save her living family from the reaper, but someone, or something is threatened by her gifts... and wants her dead, because she knows, sometimes, “dead men do tell tales.”

Find Angels Unawares on Kindle and in paperback at AMAZON


About Sofie Couch:

Sofie Couch is raising a “para normal” young adults… and writes in the same genre. Her latest release, MOONSHINE: The Prequel, is part of a three book series, preceded by ANGELS UNAWARES: Fall for Grace. She is also published in sweet, contemporary romance as Annette Couch-Jareb. When not following the mystic muse, she can most often be found at www.sofiecouch.blogspot.com, being distracted by little sparkly things.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

WEIRD WEDNESDAY




Check out this chicken. I could say photo shopped, except I have seen a snake with two heads years ago in a zoo and seen other animals born with extra somethings.  At least the bird can run away faster from the fox!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Laurel Winner of Racel Coles' Guest Blog for Supernatural Friday

Laurel, you are the winner of Rachel Coles' guest blog for Supernatural Friday. You won the eBook of  her new release, PAZUZU'S GIRL. Plus contact me offline with your email for Rachel to send you your prize--my email is in my profile. 

Friday, March 02, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Sumerian and Mesopotamian Underworld-Rachel Coles


Author Rachel Coles is my guest blogger for Supernatural Friday today. Leave a comment and be entered to win an eBook of her YA paranormal romance novel, Pazuzu's Girl.


Hi Pamela, thank you for hosting me on your blog for Supernatural Friday!

For this Supernatural Friday, I wanted to introduce folks to the Sumerian and Mesopotamian Underworld, known also as Irkalla or Arallu, and the goddess responsible for the Underworld, Ereshkigal. The concept of the Underworld explained in many of the tablets is not like the Christian concept of hell, almost the opposite in one critical way. One of the worst punishments was to be denied entrance. No one wants to be dead, unless they can be a vampire like those romanticized in shows like True Blood. But as it is an inevitability, the Underworld was a necessity for most people. It was somewhere people could go afterwards, home for the dead, someplace they belonged, whether saints or sinners.

However, unlike European Christianity, people who had died in particularly terrible ways which would distress the spirit or people who had not been buried properly, would not go to the Underworld. They would wander the earth as dangerous spirits known as ekimmu. They had no place to go, and so would take revenge on the living and linger around the human world, feeding off the people they haunted. They were believed to have possessed people and caused the possessed to do terrible things. They brought disease, and they could suck the life out of people as they slept. They were in some ways similar to the Western perception of vampires, except that they did not suck blood, and were not undead. They had no corporeal bodies. They were invisible, which in my mind is worse. You can drive a stake through a vampire, or at least punch him before he kills you. But ekimmu had no bodies. Like certain Japanese types of ghosts, these were bodiless spirits that could reach through the veil of death and affect the living. Despite that the Underworld was never described as a happy place, the ekimmu appeared to be some of the most unfortunate of the denizens of the dead. In Pazuzu's Girl, the victims of Lamashtu died and were consumed by the demoness. So they became ekimmu. After such a terrible fate, they were corrupted and denied entrance to the Underworld since they would be uncontrollable. And as Queen Ereshkigal said, she didn't want to be a prison warden. 

The Underworld was presided over by Ereshkigal. She was described as the elder sister of Inanna, goddess of love and war. Ereshkigal was the only one who could pass judgement on the dead and determine their fate in the Underworld, whether they would be rewarded or punished according to their deeds. She had two husbands. Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven who corresponded to the constellation Taurus, and was the monster sent against the hero Gilgamesh for rejecting the marriage advances of her sister Inanna. Her second husband, Nergal was a god of war and pestilence. But for the most part, Ereshkigal appeared to be dominant in her rule of the underworld. One interesting feature of her reign in the Underworld was that she began as a sun goddess. Much like the Greek Persephone, she was lured to the the Underworld by the dragon Kur who was in love with her. He trapped her and by the time her brother Enki went to rescue her, it was too late. She had transformed into a goddess of death. In Pazuzu's Girl, she is manipulative, and harsh, but not really characterized as evil. When I wrote about the Anunnaki, the Children of Anu the creator god, I thought of them as primal forces, or in some cases processes conforming to principles like entropy. Absu, one of the most ancient gods, was referred to as the primal waters, before things had form. So I thought of him as an ally to a goddess like Ereshkigal, whom I thought of as a force similar to the super black holes at the core of galaxies, or maybe even at the core of the universe, absorbing light and matter. In some ways, this was how I envisioned the Underworld. I thought of these gods literally as supernatural, not as outside nature, but supremely basic nature, the very essence of physics and natural forces.

And in much myth, gods transformed in successive waves of invasion and assimilation in regions like Mesopotamia, into demons. One intriguing demon, the subject of various supernatural thrillers like the Exorcist, was Pazuzu, Demon of Famine and Pestilence, and the Southwest Wind. He was characterized in the archaeological finds as being emaciated, having a canine or lion's face, and locust wings. People in the ancient world dreaded locusts because in many cases, it meant starvation after the insects had devoured their crops. Pestilence often followed on the heels of famine as starving people fell to disease. However, one of the most interesting features of Pazuzu was that while perceived as terrifying and evil, he was also used for protection. Amulets of him were used to ward off his even more evil wife Lamashtu, who was believed to target infants and mothers, probably by childbed fever and sudden infant death syndrome. I always wondered what kind of a strange marital relationship such creatures might have. And one thing that has been speculated occasionally is that there could be a link between an ambiguous character in Sumerian myth called the Imdugud Bird or Anzu Bird in the Assyrian version, and Pazuzu, demon of the desert wastes. Anzu/Imdugud was ambiguous because on the one hand, he stole the Tablet of Destiny from the king of the gods Enlil, and was destroyed for it by Ninurta. But on the other hand, he did good things, such as reward the father of Gilgamesh by leading him from the mountains back to the army from which the warrior had been lost.

Now, I'd like to introduce you to some of the gods and demons of Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon, at least as I imagined them, and how they might deal with the modern world. In this story, which began as my parental forecasting of what we might be facing as we raise our future teenager, the Assyrian demon Pazuzu, hides in suburban Denver, where he has to raise his very human-like, very teenage daughter, while escaping from his demonic wife Lamashtu. Here is a description of Pazuzu's Girl:

Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager, Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.

Then something interesting happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow, the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny? How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse...or a blessing?


Blurb:
Morpho Wilson thought her life was difficult enough. Her father is Pazuzu, the Mesopotamian demon of plague and the Southwest wind. As a teenager Morpho struggles against her father, while trying to adjust to high school in a new neighborhood. The family is constantly moving in an attempt to elude Pazuzu’s murderous ex-wife, a demoness known for killing children.

Then something unique happens. A socially-impaired classmate becomes so intrigued by Morpho that he pursues her, despite the mystery surrounding her family and the danger that accompanies it.

But before their romance can grow the demoness tracks Morpho down, and now only needs an ancient artifact called the Tablet of Destiny to complete the destruction of the world. The tablet confers on its owner the ability to control the fate of everything and everyone on earth.

Once the tablet is discovered in the Middle East, the oldest and most powerful gods begin a battle for its possession, with the human population caught in the middle. Morpho, her family, and her new friend must decide, do they escape from the horrifying demoness or fight for their own destiny. How far will Pazuzu go to save his daughter from a hellish fate? Will his banishment from Heaven so many millennia ago end up being a curse...or a blessing?


Pazuzu’s Girl Excerpt:
Morpho shook out her brilliant blue hair in front of the mirror behind the door of her pink room. She threw on her torn leather jacket over a ruffled pink sock that passed for a mini-dress. She flounced down the stairs, grabbed her Tinker Bell backpack and the peanut butter toast her father’s servant had left, and plopped her skateboard on the tiles of the front porch. One of them dislodged as she jumped the board down the steps.

 A loud chatter emerged from the thousands of grasshoppers that hid throughout the partially eaten lawn and manicured bushes. She heard them as though they spoke in English.

I know you’re mad at me, but was that really necessary? Lugal just fixed those. Are you angry with him as well?  A couple of grasshoppers fluttered after her and hitched a bumpy ride on the strap of her pack before crawling up to her shoulder.

She rolled her eyes and did a rattling jump just for their benefit. “No, Dad. I’m not mad at him. And not everything I do is just to piss you off.” Her lips set in a grim line and she rode in silence.

The grasshoppers twittered and hung on as she took the curbs as hard as possible. Then to what do we owe your sunny mood?

She glowered. “I’m a freak. We are freaks.” She whirled her finger in a circle to include everyone around her in freak-dom.

You dyed your hair blue. That’s generally not what people do when they are trying to avoid attention,  her dad gently reminded her.

“I’m laying my cards on the table. We have to replace the lawn and shrubs every couple days because you eat everything in the yard. And everyone thinks Lugal is your love slave. Our differences aren't exactly ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ By the way, we got another fine from the stupid housing association. They’re threatening to send pest control.”The grasshoppers chirped. “I’ll deal with them. And I thought you liked Lugal.”

“I do like him. But you might want to let him know everyone thinks he’s your boyfriend, partner...whatever.” She flipped her board up and stormed into the school hall, late for class, as the grasshoppers flitted away. 

*   *   *
Thousands of grasshoppers emerged from nooks and crannies throughout the denuded sod in front of 248 Rowan Street, Ken Caryl, Colorado. As they flooded into the hallway of the house from the moist April breeze outside, the swarm of glittering wings and golden-brown bodies condensed into the figure of a tall thin man with golden eyes, black hair and slightly canine features around the mouth. Pazuzu, Demon of the Air and the Southwest Wind, stalked into his suburban home to deal with the four-hundredth letter from his homeowner's association and ruminate on how to handle an angsty teenage daughter.

Lugal, an equally tall, sturdy man with dark features and a hawk's nose, dropped to his knees and bowed his face to the floor as Pazuzu entered. His palms flattened on the ground in obeisance. His right hand was marred by rough white scar tissue across the palm and wrist. “Lord, what is your will?”

Pazuzu motioned the man to his feet. “I accept your loyalty,” he nodded, “but you have not bowed to me since the first time we met, except when you have done something you knew would displease me. What have you done?” He glowered.

Lugal raised a carefully-groomed eyebrow and his eyelid twitched for a moment. “I have not seen such a look on your face for many years. I thought you might benefit from an old formality.”

Pazuzu's lips curled up in a smile that looked like a grimace. “Did you see Morpho's attire? We are supposed to maintain a low profile!”

 Lugal's white teeth flashed and the other eyebrow rose. “Forgive my impudence, Lord, but have you seen some of the other children at the high school? She is fitting in.”

Pazuzu met the dark man’s eyes and they both burst into deep rolling laughter. Pazuzu sank down into the tasteful but nondescript kitchen chair and picked up the HOA letter. He took the content in at a glance and tossed it back on the table. “She told me about this.”

“What will you do?” Lugal brought pungent-smelling cardamom tea to the table.

“I will be the indignant homeowner at one of their silly meetings. They have been fining us since we arrived more than a year ago. It gives them something to do and makes them feel important, happy with their power. Happy neighbors are quiet neighbors.”

“But they have threatened to hire extermination services.” Lugal sipped his tea, watching Pazuzu warily.

Pazuzu leaned forward slightly, and his golden irises lit from within, then faded. “I will dissuade them.”

 Lugal was silent for a moment. “Has there been any sign of her? Of the Scourge? My spies have detected nothing yet.”

Agitation distorted Pazuzu’s lips into a snarl, making him look more canine than ever. “No. Not aside from the usual events in the news lately. The bombings, the shootings, in many of the nations near the old kingdom, near Uruk. I see nothing direct, only her influence.”

“She is subtle. That is how she gained her power before you left her. What will you do should she find Morpho?”

Pazuzu’s eyes flashed and a rasping breeze lifted in the room. Lugal quietly placed his scarred hand on the napkins to keep them from skittering off the table. Pazuzu’s voice was like the sound of a million furious, buzzing insects as he answered, “I will protect my child.”

Pazuzu's Girl is available on Amazon, KindleBarnesandNoble-Printand Nook, and  the  Journalstone  website. It is available in both paperback and e-book. We're doing an e-book giveaway today. If you get the book for the giveaway it would be really terrific to hear what you think! Please review it on any of the above sites or on Goodreads .

I want to thank Pamela again for hosting me today on Supernatural Friday!

Rachel Cole


Rachel’s Biography:
Rachel Coles lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and young daughter. She was trained in cultural anthropology and epidemiology, and currently works in public health. She and her husband love watching and reading science fiction, urban fantasy and horror, and challenging each other with obscure geek trivia. They are also proudly raising one of the youngest Trekkies in the state. If you want to talk with Rachel Coles, she can be found on Facebook as Rachel Bernstein Coles, on Twitter as rcoles66, or on her website at http://www.rachelcoles.wordpress.com