Friday, October 19, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Ghost By Any Other Name Still Will Haunt You

Ever done a ghost tour, or been on a paranormal investigation?  Listen to some ghostly tales told before a fire burning in a hearth? I’ve done all three myself. Ever had a feeling of being watched or even dread wash over you—though the dread may be unintentional, as the phantom may not be evil. What are spirits, ghosts, phantoms, and the other various names gave them? Are they each something different, or really a single entity with just many titles?

In traditional belief, a ghost is the soul of a deceased person or animal that can appear, in visible form or other manifestations, to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: The mode of manifestation in photos or seen by the living’s eyes can range from an invisible presence, shadow people, translucent or wispy shapes, and orbs, to realistic, life-like visions—solids. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as a séance. Paranormal investigators use equipment to find proof of paranormal activity and to make contact with phantoms.

In many tales, ghosts were often thought to be deceased people looking for vengeance, or imprisoned on earth for bad things they did during life. The appearance of a ghost has often been regarded as an omen or portent of death. Seeing one's own ghostly double or "fetch" is a related omen of death.

Another widespread belief that concerns an apparition is that it is composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material. Early beliefs were that ghosts were the person within the person (the person's spirit), most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person's breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist. This belief may have also fostered the metaphorical meaning of "breath" in certain languages, such as the Latin spiritus and the Greek pneuma, which by analogy became extended to mean the soul. In the Bible, God is depicted as animating Adam with a breath.

Ghosts are also termed spook, spirits, phantoms, fetch, haint (a common feature of southern oral and literary tradition), wraith, revenant, apparition, specter, shade, and entity. Poltergeist, German for a “noisy spirit,” is for a spirit said to manifest itself by invisibly moving and influencing objects. The Bell Witch was considered a poltergeist.

Most times, a poltergeist is just mischievous, although there are instances of it being sinister, not unlike the Bell Witch. Was the Bell Witch a poltergeist or more along demonic lines? Good question. It was an entity that tormented a pioneer family that lived in what was then Red River, Tennessee in 1817-1827 ( Red River is now known as Adams, Tennessee). It was substantiated by eyewitness accounts (other than the family), affidavits, and manuscripts written by those who witness the phenomenon. More about this interesting tale can be found in author Pat Fitzhugh, The Bell Witch: The Full Account.

Besides the poltergeist phenomena, there are three other types of hauntings. First are residual hauntings. These are a recorded playback of what happened in the past. Maybe it could even be a time warp (one idea of mine, though I can’t prove this, who knows, a feasible one like any other theory). There is no interaction with the living -- the ghost does not see or hear you because the ghost is not actually there. Only his/her energy remains, it is a remnant of his living form that you are seeing, just like when you watch a video. This cycle continues in the same place at usually the same time of day or year indefinitely until the energy is exhausted or diminishes to a low enough level that it is undetectable by human perception. One account of residual hauntings is the Union soldiers marching into Centre Hill Mansion in Petersburg, Virginia every year at a certain time on January 24th. An interesting fact about the steps the soldiers march up is that they are not even the original staircase from the Civil War era, but new ones put in by Charles Davis. And yet, like clockwork, the soldiers march up those steps at the same time each January 24th.  None died, but after the fall of Petersburg, Centre Hill became occupied by Union troops, led by General George L. Hartsuff. President Abraham Lincoln visited Centre Hill on April 3, 1865, to go over the local situation with General Hartsuff. This meeting took place only eleven days before Lincoln’s assassination.  The museum holds a Ghost Walk each year on one special date. 

Traditional, or intelligent, hauntings are the second. Whether actual human spirits that had not crossed over into heaven and had some unfinished business with a living person, or a message they wanted to deliver before they could move on, or even those that just want to stay in a place they lived in life or be on our plane of existence (more and more, I suspect they can travel back and forth between here and the “other side.” These ghosts will unlock doors and open windows, run the faucets and even interact with you directly because they are an "intelligent" presence, the personality of a person who was once alive but has stayed behind rather than passing over.

The third type of haunting, and undoubtedly the most frightening, is a demonic, or inhuman, haunting. To me personally, I think when a human was evil in life, they too would be considered under demonic. There have been stories of where priests have gone in to exorcize a possessed person, and instead of an inhuman demon, this one claims to be the parent or someone alive once, tormenting the person. 

The entity is similar to a traditional haunting because the spirit is intelligent and are existing in the present moment with you. These spirits are malevolent and hostile, suffering from psychological instability or distress stemming from an unresolved conflict with the people who are being subjected to the demonic activity. Demonic presences tend to be ‘unleashed' in order for them to manifest. This is one reason why the use of an Ouija Board is customarily discouraged among many ghost hunters. So if you find one in the game section of the store, don’t buy one. Not understanding and without protection, one can open up a portal, letting in things they can not handle and most times, demonic in nature.

With Halloween upon us, ghosts are on people’s minds. When you answer the knock at the door to hand out treats to the trick-or-treaters or head out for a Halloween party, enter that haunted house or step upon the trail of the haunted trails attraction, do be unnerved if you see shadows move in the darkness. It might be shadow people. Spirits roam Halloween as the legends claim that the opening of the veil is more certain on Samhain than any other night.  So maybe, just maybe, you did see something out of the ordinary that is not a person in costume.

After all, the dead want to party just like the living—right?

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Forget Godzilla, the Gashadokuro is Japan's Real Giant Monster!

The Japanese always had giant monsters attacking them. Although, one of the first terrors wasn't radioactive reptilian or a bug or a dragon, it was the gashadokuro. The tales of the gashadokuro goes back over 1000 years to a bloody rebellion against the central government by a samurai named Taira no Masakado. His daughter, Takiyasha-hime, was a famous sorceress. When Masako was eventually killed for his revolt, his daughter continued his cause. Using her black magic, she summoned a great skeleton to attack the city of Kyoto. 

The Japanese have many wild and wonderful legends of ghostly beings, known as Yokai.  One of the most malevolent of them all is the Gashadokuro.  The name literally translates to “starving skeleton”, but that doesn’t do this spirit justice.  Known also as Odokuro, which is apt, as it means “giant skeleton”.  The Gashadokuro is, in fact, a gigantic skeleton that roams the streets after midnight and bites off the heads of anyone unlucky enough to get in its way. It is usually found near mass-graves or battlegrounds and has no diet, but still enjoys feasting on human beings!

The name came from the fact that it’s created from the bones of people who have died of famine.  When a village, for example, dies of starvation, there is a good chance the rotting bones will knit together to form a Gashadokuro, which will then seek to fulfill its unending appetite.  The resulting skeletal ghost is said to be fifteen times the size of a man (or about 90 feet tall!).

if being a giant skeleton wasn’t bad enough, the Gashadokuro is completely invisible before it strikes.  The only way to know one is close is to hear the sound of bells ringing in one's ears just before it attacks.  Shinto charms may also make the monster visible.  There’s no real way to defeat these monsters; escape is the only way to survive an encounter with them.  Laying the bones to rest with offerings of food may work, but the giant ghosts are very difficult to defeat.  Otherwise, eventually, these creatures will burn themselves out, the spiritual energy necessary to hold together all of the bones finally giving way, and they collapse.

The origin of the Gashadokuro is shrouded in mystery, but one possible explanation comes from 10th century CE. During a very bloody conflict within Japan’s government (which are quite common in the island nation’s history), the daughter of a warlord sought to protect her father and castle from an invading army by summoning a giant skeleton.  She used a spell inscribed on a scroll and the skeleton appeared from a dark void to attack the soldiers.  There is the famous woodblock painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, titled Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre that depict this event.  It is said that after this mythical battle, Gashadokuro were unleashed upon the world.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Author Book Signing of Ghost Books at Barnes and Noble Saturday

It's October, and with Halloween at the end of the month. A good time to read ghost stories and urban legends. Not just for Halloween, but signed, they make great Christmas gifts as Christmas is not far behind October.

I'll be signing copies of all of my nonfiction ghost books at the Barnes and Noble at Chesterfield Town Center this Saturday, October 13, 2018, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. That's Haunted Richmond, Haunted Richmond II, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths, and True Tales, Virginia's Haunted Historic Triangle: Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown, and Other Haunted Locations, and Paranormal Petersburg, Virginia, and the Tri-Cities Area. 

So come by and get a book, and there'll be chocolate too in my shadow person candy dish!

Barnes and Noble,
11500 Midlothian Turnpike
Richmond, Virginia 23235
Bookstore Phone: 804-794-6640

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Dark and Terrible Thing Is Coming! (Original Poem by Pamela K. Kinney)

"A Dark and Terrible Thing is Coming!"

It’s coming,

Like a terrible thing

It’s scary,

Dark, and with a toothy grin.

So you better beware,

Have everything ready

Decorate appropriately,

For the end is near.

Just remember one thing,

It only comes but once a year

Halloween, costumed in orange and black,

A mask upon its gruesome face

Ringing your doorbell with persistence,

Innocent child or demonic being

Feed it candy, just to be safe.

Trick or Treat.

 I hoped you enjoyed this poem I wrote, "A Dark and Terrible Thing Is Coming!" It's an original poem and copyrighted to me, so do share the link with friends, not the poem, please. Thank you. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

It's Ghostober at Last!

Welcome, October, my spooky friend. 

Author Appearance at Monster Fest in Chesapeake, Va. October 6, 2018

Monster Fest returns for its 15th year. The one-day horror convention's free and open to the public, family friendly, with panels, costume contests (one adult, other for children), trick-or-treating at some of the vendors form the kids (must sign up first), and movies. It will be held as always at Chesapeake Central Library, 298 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, Virginia.
I'll have two tables-one for my books that Ill be selling and will sign, and the other for Paranormal World Seekers paranormal reality show--with its DVDs for sale, including the new Barons Pub of Suffolk, Virginia investigation for sale. And I will be moderating a panel on Frankenstein the novel by Mary Shelley, joined by two other writers. It happens at 4:00 p.m.

For further information on programming and what vendors or guests will be there: 

Monday, September 24, 2018

I Have a Poem in a Newly Released Anthology on Kindle

I have a poem, "Warrior Not Forgotten," included in this Kindle eBook just released and it is free until 11:59 p.m. PST Tuesday the 25th. After that, it's 99 cents. (The poem is not paranormal/horror related but about soldiers/veterans). The Kindle includes 2 poems and 4 stories-all entered in the local Richmond chapter's contest for the statewide Virginia Writers Club's Golden Nibs contest. Only the first place winners went on to the state level (mine is one of those).

The Virginia Writers Club Richmond Chapter Golden Nib Contest 2018 by [Smith, Carol, Beightol, Henrietta, Dixon, Luther, Kinney, Pamela K., Wentzel, Frank]

Friday, September 21, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Ravens on My Mind

In honor of Ravencon that I will be at later today and rest of the weekend, I will blog about myths and legends of the raven.

Because of its black plumage, croaking call, and diet of carrion, ravens has long been considered birds of ill omen and of interest to creators of myths and legends.

The raven is the national bird of Bhutan, and it adorns the royal hat, representing the deity Gonpo Jarodonchen (Mahakala with a raven's head; one of the important guardian deities of Bhutanese culture.).  As a carrion bird, ravens became associated with the dead and with lost souls. In Sweden, they are known as the ghosts of murdered persons.

In Irish mythology ravens are associated with warfare and the battleground in the figures of Badb and Morrígan. The goddess An Morrígan alighted on the hero Cú Chulainn's shoulder in the form of a raven after his death. 
Ravens were also associated with the Welsh god Bran the Blessed (the brother of Branwen), whose name translates to "raven." According to the Mabinogion, Bran's head was buried in the White Hill of London as a talisman against invasion. The name of the god, Lugh, is also derived from a Celtic word for "raven." He is the god of the sun, and the creator of the arts and sciences.  He is depicted as giant and the King of the Britons in tale known as the Second Branch of the Mabinogi. Several other characters in Welsh mythology share his name, and ravens figure prominently in the 12th or 13th-century text The Dream of Rhonabwy, as the army of King Arthur's knight Owain.

According to legend, the Kingdom of England will fall if the ravens of the Tower of London are removed. It had been thought that there have been at least six ravens in residence at the tower for centuries. It was said that Charles II ordered their removal following complaints from John Flamsteed, the Royal Astronomer. However, they were not removed because Charles was then told of the legend. Charles, following the time of the English Civil War, superstition or not, was not prepared to take the chance, and instead had the observatory moved to Greenwich.

The earliest known reference to a Tower raven is a picture in the newspaper The Pictorial World in 1883.[  This and scattered subsequent references, both literary and visual, which appear in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century, place them near the monument commemorating those beheaded at the tower, popularly known as the “scaffold.” This strongly suggests that the ravens, which are notorious for gathering at gallows, were originally used to dramatize tales of imprisonment and execution at the tower told to tourists by the Yeomen Warders. There is evidence that the original ravens were donated to the tower by the Earls of Dunraven perhaps because of their association with the Celtic raven-god Bran. However wild ravens, which were once abundant in London and often seen around meat markets (such as nearby Eastcheap) feasting for scraps, could have roosted at the Tower in earlier times. 

During the Second World War, most of the Tower's ravens perished through shock during bombing raids, leaving only a mated pair named "Mabel" and "Grip." Shortly before the Tower reopened to the public, Mabel flew away, leaving Grip despondent. A couple of weeks later, Grip also flew away, probably in search of his mate. The incident was reported in several newspapers, and some of the stories contained the first references in print to the legend that the British Empire would fall if the ravens left the tower. Since the Empire was dismantled shortly afterward, those who are superstitious might interpret events as a confirmation of the legend. Before the tower reopened to the public on 1 January 1946, care was taken to ensure that a new set of ravens was in place.
To the Germanic peoples, Odin was often associated with ravens. Examples include depictions of figures often identified as Odin appear flanked with two birds on a 6th century bracteate and on a 7th-century helmet plate from Vendel, Sweden. In later Norse mythology, Odin is depicted as having two ravens Huginn and Muninn serving as his eyes and ears – Huginn being referred to as thought and Muninn as memory. Each day the ravens fly out from Hliðskjálf and bring Odin news from Midgard.

The Old English word for a raven was hræfn; in Old Norse it was hrafn; the word was frequently used in combinations as a kenning for bloodshed and battle.

The raven also has a prominent role in the mythologies of the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, including the Tsimishian, Haida, Heiltsuk, Tlingit, Kwakwaka'wakw, Coast Salish, Koyukons, and Inuit. The raven in these indigenous peoples' mythology is the Creator of the world, but it is also considered a trickster god.[ For instance, in Tlingit culture, there are two different raven characters which can be identified, although they are not always clearly differentiated. One is the creator raven, responsible for bringing the world into being and who is sometimes considered to be the individual who brought light to the darkness. The other is the childish raven, always selfish, sly, conniving, and hungry. When the Great Spirit created all things he kept them separate and stored in cedar boxes. The Great Spirit gifted these boxes to the animals who existed before humans. When the animals opened the boxes all the things that comprise the world came into being. The boxes held such things as mountains, fire, water, wind and seeds for all the plants. One such box, which was given to Seagull, contained all the light of the world. Seagull coveted his box and refused to open it, clutching it under his wing. All the people asked Raven to persuade Seagull to open it and release the light. Despite begging, demanding, flattering and trying to trick him into opening the box, Seagull still refused. Finally Raven became angry and frustrated and stuck a thorn in Seagull's foot. Raven pushed the thorn in deeper until the pain caused Seagull to drop the box. Then out of the box came the sun, moon, and stars that brought light to the world and allowed the first day to begin.

In the Talmud, the raven is described as having been only one of three beings on Noah's Ark that copulated during the flood and so was punished. The Rabbis believed that the male raven was forced to ejaculate his seed into the female raven's mouth as a means of reproduction. Interestingly according to the Icelandic Landnámabók – a story similar to Noah and the Ark, Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson used ravens to guide his ship from the Faroe Islands to Iceland.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Binging on Horror: 13 Scary Films, Plus One More

Image result for ghost watching a scary movie on TV

I know there are many more good horror films, but here are thirteen, plus one more to get you started on binging for Halloween, beginning in September.

1. The Haunting (1963). Based on the novel, The Haunting of Hill House. Don’t rent the 90s stinkero remake. Get this one. But with Netflix to have The Haunting of Hill House as a TV series to binge watch beginning October 12, 2018, I think going back to watching the black and white film is perfect now. Premise: Dr. Markway, doing research to prove the existence of ghosts, investigates Hill House, a large, eerie mansion with a lurid history of violent death and insanity. With him are the skeptical young Luke, who stands to inherit the house, the mysterious and clairvoyant Theodora and the insecure Eleanor, whose psychic abilities make her feel somehow attuned to whatever spirits inhabit the old mansion. As time goes by it becomes obvious that they have gotten more than they bargained for as the ghostly presence in the house manifests itself in horrific and deadly ways. The film doesn’t need special effects to scare you. So grab this film, turn off the lights, huddle on the couch or your favorite chair, and be prepared to be frightened.

2. Dog Soldiers (2002). No this is not a military film, though there are English soldiers in it. Plus a pack of werewolves they end up battling for their lives. And all set in the Scottish wilderness. Intense, this is one of the best werewolf horror films I have seen in a while. 

3.  An American Werewolf in London (1981). A horror film with werewolves that will make you think twice about traveling to English and hiking through it with your buddy at night and during a full moon.

4. Cabin the Woods (2011): The premise sounds old hat in horror films: “Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.” But honestly, it takes a surprising about-face, added with a dash of Lovecraft. I loved it. 

5.  30 Days of Night (2007). This is a vampire film that is intense from beginning to end. If you are looking for those breaks in humor, forget it, this movie won’t give it to you. If you’re looking for vampires that sparkle, forget it. These vamps are vicious and out for one thing you can give them, and it is not to love, but blood.

6.   Psycho (1960). Premise: a young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother. Though black and white, this Alfred Hitchcock film will scare you as only Hitchcock can. Famous for the shower scene.

7.  Evil Dead and Evil Dead II (1981 and 1987–both by Sam Raimi). First one is more grade-B horror, while the second one, a kind of remake has humor in it. The second one is the movie that made Bruce Campbell a B-movie icon and won Sam Raimi a whole lot more directing gigs. This film has equal parts humor and gore, but when the scares happen, they happen on a grand scale. Ever wondered what it would be like to fight your own hand? You won't have to wonder anymore after watching this movie. But still, I thought I point out the first one, too.

8.  28 Days Later (2002). Undead, or zombies as they are calling the ghouls of these films these days, this is a good one. Many movies have tried to recreate what a major city could look like after an apocalypse, but not many do it as hauntingly well as Danny Boyle's "28 Days Later." The terrifyingly fast zombie-like creatures roaming the landscape proved to be so effectively scary that the movie spawned a wave of movies featuring fast-paced zombies. And the zombies don’t have to die to change and are logical in why they act the way they do.

9.   The Descent (2005). This movie will terrify you if:  1) You’re claustrophobic. 2) You’re scared of the dark. 3) You have a fear of being trapped under the earth.  4) You have a fear of being trapped under the earth with vampire-like creatures that can see you but you can’t see them. netflix has the sequel that you can watch too.

10. Trick 'r Treat (2007): Now it's after Labor Day, we can go full blown Halloween crazy. Premise: Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pulls a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. Perfect Halloween horror tales that will make you nervous about answering the door to trick-or-treaters.

11.  Alien (1979): “No one can hear you scream,” as the crew is stuck on a mining spaceship nowhere near Earth, where they run across something on a planet, what remains of a giant alien and what appears to be eggs or weirdly shaped rocks. One of the objects opens and something leaps from it to clasp onto the helmet of the crewmembers. Nostromo battle something that proves ET is not so friendly.  

12. John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982): This science fiction body horror movie is based on the short story, “Who Goes There” by John W. Campbell that I had read back in college in an anthology, and John Carpenter's version is a more faithful adaptation than the 50s version with James Arness. It will make you question if your friend is really your friend or something that may want to take over the Earth.

13. A Quiet Place (2018):  Another science fiction horror movie with monstrous killing aliens. Premise: On a devastated Earth overrun by lethal and ever-hearing predators of a possible extraterrestrial origin, the Abbotts and their children struggles to survive in a desolate world in a new era of utter silence. As this new type of invader is attracted to noise, even the slightest of sounds can be deadly; however, it's been already twelve months since the powerful monsters' first sightings, and this resilient family still stands strong. To learn the rules of survival in this muted dystopia is essential; nevertheless, an otherwise joyous event is threatening an already frail stability. Now, more than ever, don't make a sound.

I am adding a 14th movie: Halloween (1978): with the new film by John Carpenter that says all but the first film never happened, where Jaime Lee Curtis returns and ready to battle Michael,  and releasing close to Halloween this October, this is a good time to watch the original film. Premise: This American slasher film directed and scored by John Carpenter, starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her film debut. The film tells the story of Michael Myers, who was committed to a sanitarium as a child for the murder of his older sister Judith Myers but escapes back the house he grew up in on Halloween.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Ghoulish Last Friday in August

"They are neither man nor woman
They are neither brute nor human
They are Ghouls" 
— Edgar Allan Poe

Image result for ghoul images

When George Romero's Night of the Living Dead came out, the press called the undead zombies. Except Romero never coined them that term. Instead, he had called them ghouls. Which would be the right term, as zombies are connected to voodoo and are people drugged and controlled, not flesh-eating monsters.

What are ghouls? A ghoul is a legendary evil being that robs graves and feeds on corpses.  It is one who shows morbid interest in things considered shocking or repulsive and supposedly lives in burial grounds. 

In Arabic folklore, ghouls are a type of jinn that could change their shapes but had one unchanging feature: donkey's hooves for feet. Even more horrible, it kills young children and even can lure unwary folk into abandoned places. By extension, the word ghoul is also used derogatorily to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger.
Ghoul is from the Arabic ghul, from ghala "to seize." It is even thought to come from Gallu, a Mesopotamian demon. In Sumerian and Akkadian  mythology, the Gallus (also called gallu demons  or gallas [Akkadian: gallû]) were great demons/devils of the underworld. Their job was to haul off unfortunate victims to the underworld and even accompanied Istar when she headed down to the underworld.

The ghul is a fiendish type of jinn believed to be sired by Iblis, known to the Devil in Islam. A ghoul is a desert-dwelling shapeshifting demon that can assume the guise of an animal especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead, taking the form of the person most recently eaten. In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is ghilan. In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.

In stories and films, I think Gollum is the closest to the idea of a ghoul, and I wouldn't be surprised this is what Tolkien had in mind when he wrote him into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. What other beings in books or TV or film, do you believe are ghouls?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Is There a Sturgeon Swimming in Your Full Moon?

August's full moon is the Full Hay Moon, also the Full Sturgeon Moon. The fishing tribes are given credit for the naming of this moon, since the sturgeon, a large fish of the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water, were most readily caught during this month. Other tribes across America gave August’s full moon different names. For example, the San Ildefonso and San Juan tribes called this month’s moon the Wheat Cut Moon. The Dakotah Sioux tribe called August’s full moon the Moon When All Things Ripen. And the Ojibwe tribespeople called it the Blueberry Moon. It happens August 26, 2018.

For thousands of years, people have looked up at the moon and wondered about its divine significance. No surprise many cultures had lunar deities - that is, gods or goddesses associated with the power and energy of the moon. If you're doing a moon-related ritual, in some traditions of Wicca and Paganism you may choose to call upon one of these deities for assistance.

Alignak is the god of both the moon and weather. He controls the tides, besides also earthquakes and eclipses. In some stories, it is told that he is also responsible for returning the souls of the dead to earth so that they may be reborn. Alignak may appear in harbors to protect fishermen from Sedna, the wrathful sea goddess.

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt. As her twin brother, Apollo, was associated with the Sun, Artemis became connected to the moon in the post-Classical world. During the ancient Greek period, although Artemis was represented as a lunar goddess, she never gotten portrayed as the moon itself. In post-Classical artwork, she is depicted beside a crescent moon and is often associated with the Roman Diana as well. Like Artemis, Diana began as a goddess of the hunt who later evolved into a lunar goddess.
Cerridwen is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge in Celtic mythology. Besides the giver of wisdom and inspiration, she is often associated with the moon and the intuitive process. As a goddess of the Underworld, Cerridwen is often symbolized by a white sow, which represents both her fecundity and fertility and her strength as a mother. She is both Mother and Crone; many modern Pagans honor Cerridwen for her close association to the full moon.

Chang'e of Chinese mythology was married to the king Hou Yi. Although he was once known as a great archer, later Hou Yi became a tyrannical king, spreading death and destruction wherever he went. People starved and were brutally treated. Hou Yi greatly feared death, so a healer gave him a special elixir that would allow him to live forever. Chang'e knew that for Hou Yi to live forever would be a terrible thing, so while he slept, one night she stole the potion. When Hou Yi saw her and demanded the return of the potion, she immediately drank it and flew up into the sky as the moon, where she remains to this day. In some Chinese stories, this is the perfect example of someone making a sacrifice to save others.

In Aztec stories, Coyolxauhqui was the sister of the god Huitzilopochtli. She died when her brother leaped from their mother's womb and killed all of his siblings. Huitzilopochtli cut off Coyolxauhqui's head and threw it up into the sky, where it remains today as the moon. She is typically depicted as a young and beautiful woman, adorned with bells and decorated with lunar symbols.

Hecate was venerated as a mother goddess, During the Ptolemaic period in Alexandria, she was elevated to her position as goddess of ghosts and the spirit world. Many contemporary Pagans and Wiccans honor Hecate in her guise as a Dark Goddess, although it would be incorrect to refer to her as an aspect of the Crone, because of her connection to childbirth and maidenhood. It's more likely that her role as "dark goddess" due to her connection to the spirit world, ghosts, the dark moon, and magic. 

Thoth was an Egyptian god of magic and wisdom, and appears in a few legends as the god who weighs the souls of the dead, although many other stories assign that job to Anubis. Because Thoth is a lunar deity, he is often portrayed wearing a crescent on his head. He is closely associated with Seshat, a goddess of writing and wisdom, who is known as the scribe of the divine. 

Sina is one of the best-known Polynesian deities. She resides within the moon itself and is the protector of those who might travel at night. Originally, she lived on earth but got tired of the way her husband and family treated her. So, she packed up her belongings and left to go live on the moon, according to Hawaiian legend. In Tahiti, the story goes that Sina, or Hina, simply got curious about what it was like on the moon, and so paddled her magical canoe until she got there. Once she had arrived, she was struck by the moon's tranquil beauty and decided to stay.

Last, is Selene. She is the sister of Helios, the Greek sun god. Tribute got paid to her on the days of the full moon. Like many Greek goddesses, she had a number of different aspects. At one point she was worshipped as Phoebe, the Huntress, and later was identified with Artemis. Her lover was a young shepherd prince named Endymion, who was granted immortality by Zeus - however, he was also granted eternal slumber, so all that immortality and eternal youth were wasted on Endymion. The shepherd was doomed to sleeping in a cave forever, so Selene descended from the sky every night to sleep beside him. Unlike most other lunar goddesses of Greece, Selene is the only one who is actually portrayed as the moon incarnate by the early classical poets. 

But the moon has more to do with superstitions and legends besides as a diety:

The word lunatic comes from the Latin luna. This is because it was believed that people were more likely to exhibit aberrant behavior during a full moon. Although studies have been done showing that emergency room visits and accidents are increased during the full moon period, there has yet to be conclusive evidence for causation. Of course, with the full moon at some point being a part of a werewolf ‘s transformation, maybe this is what they thought.

The moon seems to have an effect on animals as well as people. A Florida expert on animal behavior reports that hamsters spin in their wheels far more aggressively during the moon's full phase. Deer and other herbivores in the wild tend to ovulate at the full moon, and in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the full moon is mating time for coral. Werecoral?

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, was inspired by the strange -- and yet very true -- case of Charles Hyde, a London man who committed a series of crimes at the time of the full moon.

A British legend tells that if Christmas falls on the day of a dark moon, the following year's harvest would be a bountiful one. In some parts of the British Isles, it is believed that a waxing moon on Christmas will ensure a good crop the next fall, but a waning moon indicates a bad one will happen.

When a halo is seen around the moon, in some countries this means bad weather is coming.

The first time you see a crescent moon for the month, take all your spare coins out of your pocket and put them in the other pocket. This will ensure good luck for the next month.

It is believed that the fifth day after a full moon is the perfect time to try to conceive a child.

Offerings are made to the ancestors on the night of a full moon in some Chinese tales.

The moon is held captive by a hostile tribe in some Native American legends. In the tales, there is a pair of antelope who hope to rescue the moon and take it to the village of a good tribe. But Coyote, the trickster, interferes. The antelope chase Coyote, but he throws the moon into a river each night, always out of reach of the antelope.

The night of the full moon is believed to be a good time for divination and scrying, so if you want to find some things out, a good time to do so.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Author Appearance at Fandom Fest in Newport News, Virginia August 25, 2018

I'll be at this event happening this Saturday at the Grissom Library branch of the Newport News Public Library, 366 Deshazor Drive, Newport News, Virginia. The event is free, and I will have copies of my books for sale and to sign. (If you have any copies of any of my books-do bring by and I will sign them for you, too.) And selling Paranormal World Seekers DVDs. I will be doing panels too. 
Fandom Fest's Schedule of Events*
10–11:45 a.m. & 1–5 p.m.: Screenings
10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.: Photo Booth
10 a.m.–5 p.m.: Random Fandom Crafts
10 a.m.–5 p.m.: PS4 VR gaming
11 a.m.–12 p.m.: Panel: What Makes Strong Female Characters in Fandoms?
12–1 p.m.: Theme Song Trivia
1–2 p.m.: Escape the Room
2–3 p.m.: Superhero Storytime
3–4 p.m.: Panel: Modernizing Classic Fandoms
4–5 p.m.: Panel: How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
* schedule may be subject to change

Friday, August 17, 2018

Supernatural Friday: A Good Possibility that Ghosts Might Be Haunting Your House With AC More Than Normal, that Bigfoot Might Be Thinking About It, Too

It's hot and humid the past couple of days here in Virginia. Summer can be Hell, literally.  Do ghosts or cryptids feel the humidity like we humans do?

I mean, spirits are those mortals who passed away from our plain of existence. Supposedly, you no longer need to eat, drink, or have any other mortal body functions. Do they still feel, even if it's a sort of memory? I always asked that question during a paranormal investigation when we're either sweating due to extreme heat or freezing to death. I haven't gotten an answer to that question yet.

What about Bigfoot or a lake monster, or even the Mothman? Because he's called the Jersey Devil, does that means if New Jersey's weather is in the 100s, he's fine, because we equate him being called a devil with Hell? And Hell means hot--right? 

I know that the Sasquatch has to feel the heat, with all that fur/hair covering its body. As for the lake or sea serpent, it can duck beneath the surface to keep cool--unless the water levels start dropping. So the next time you decide to overwater your lawn, think of that poor lake monster who might die due to hardly any water in its environment.

I'm not even going to talk about aliens or UFOs, even though I think the Mothman is an alien more than anything paranormal. Like any tourist to somewhere else, they'll just have to do their research on what sort of clothing they should pack for the weather in their suitcases!

Next time, you relax in your AC or stay indoors in your heated house during the winter, think about all those phantoms, monsters, and extinct beasties that have to suffer the weather too.