Thursday, May 24, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Mermaids and Mermen Are Just Fish Stories, Right?

Mermaids and even mermen, are legendary beings of the sea, the upper part human, the lower half from the waist down, a fish’s tail.  In the book, Arabian Nights, mermaids are described as having "moon faces and hair like a woman's, but their hands and feet were in their bellies and they had tails like fishes." Currently, a TV show on Freeform, Siren, is a paranormal with mermaids. Season One just finished. A movie that won the Academy Award for Best Picture this year, The Shape of Water, obviously inspired by a movie from the 50s, The Creature of the Black Lagoon (another merman), shows these beings of the sea are not slowing down.

Creatures half-human and half-fish in form have been in stories for thousands of years. The Babylonian deity, Era or Oannes, the Fish-god is depicted as having a bearded head with a crown and a body like a man, but from the waist downwards he has the shape of a fish." Greek mythology contains stories of the god Triton, the merman messenger of the sea. Several modern religions including Hinduism and Candomble (an Afro-Brazilian belief) worship mermaid goddesses to this day. There is the 1836 tale by Hans Christian Anderson, “The Little Mermaid, which became a Disney movie and one of its princesses. You can read the original story HERE. It is not sweet and lovely fairytale, but can be scary, most of all, she kills herself.

Mermaids can wander on land, as told in many tales. But they must be very careful not to lose their fish tail while wandering about on land, because without it they would be unable to return to their underwater realm. Same goes for selkies—only it is their sealskin. 
In folklore, mermaids became associated with misfortune and death, luring errant sailors off course and even onto rocky shoals. This happened in Greek myths, with the sirens. Some say it was their siren songs that these creatures could lure the men in. 

Mermen also have a frightening reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships and drowning sailors. Such as the Blue Men of the Minch, whom are said to dwell in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. They look like ordinary men (from the waist up anyway) except for their blue-tinted skin and gray beards. Local lore claims that before laying siege to a ship, the Blue Men will challenge its captain to a rhyming contest. Now if the captain is quick enough of wit and agile enough of tongue, he can outsmart the Blue Men and save his sailors from a watery grave. Another merman-like male being is the sorcerous Finman. it is said the Finwife began life as a mermaid. Their myth comes from the Orkney Islands. The story goes that they are mistrusted by mortals and have magic. That they have unparallel boating skills, as well power over storm and sea. These beings are also noted shapeshiftersThe Finfolk were truly amphibious. The Finfolk led a nomadic lifestyle, but spent long Orkney winters in the luxury of Finfolkaheem, a majestic city of unknown location, supposed to be at the bottom of the sea. The tales of storytellers tell that this fantastic undersea kingdom has massive crystal halls and ornate gardens of multi-colored seaweed. Lit by the phosphorescent glow of the sea, Finfolkaheem was decorated with swathes of draped curtains whose colors shifted like the ever-changing shades of the "Merry Dancers" - the Aurora Borealis. Towers of glistening white coral spiraled upwards, encrusted with pearls and precious gemstones. The kingdom was so rich that giant pearls were littered everywhere, often ground up by the merfolk to provide the powder that was scattered over the mermaids' tails to give them their sparkling sheen. In the waters surrounding Finfolkaheem, the Finfolk raised sea-cattle and magical sea-horses. Like the true gentry of their underwater world, they herded whales - from which they extracted milk - and, mounted on their aquatic steeds, would often hunt the animals of the sea using otters in place of dogs.

During summertime, the Finfolk returned to Orkney. It is there that they took up residence on their magical island home, Hildaland - one of Orkney's magical vanishing islands. it has been said that Hildaland was later taken from the Finfolk and renamed Eynhallow. 
Two distinct of these kinds of fairy folk are within the ranks of the Finfolk - the Finman and the Finwife. Though tales of the Finmen make up most of the bulk of the folklore and are standard in their descriptions of the gloomy creatures. 

Like fairies of the land on the Orkney Islands, they also steal away mortals. Once caught, they spirit away their captives and transport them to their hidden island homes. It in these places that the unfortunate mortals are forced to remain for the rest of their days, usually as wife or husband of one of the Finfolk. It is no doubt, how the people of Orkney Island explained drowning deaths.

Japanese legends have a version of merfolk called kappa. Said to reside in Japanese lakes, coasts and rivers, these child-size water spirits appear more animal than human, with simian faces and tortoise shells on their backs. Like the Blue Men, the kappa sometimes interacts with humans and challenge them to games of skill in which the penalty for losing is death. Kappa are said to have an appetite for children and those foolish enough to swim alone in remote places — but they especially prize fresh cucumbers. 

P.T. Barnum displayed the Feejee Mermaid in the 1840s, becoming one of his most popular attractions. People paid 50 cents, hoping to see a long-limbed, fish-tailed beauty combing her hair. Instead, they saw a grotesque fake corpse a few feet long, with the torso, head and limbs of a monkey and the bottom part of a fish. To modern eyes it was an obvious fake, but it fooled and intrigued many at the time.

Today, it is said manatees and even dugongs may have been the animals mistaken for being mermaids and mermen. Dugongs are enormous vegetarians can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior— though the dugong's tail is fluked like a whale's. There are three species of manatee, distinguished primarily by where they live. The West Indian manatee ranges along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil. The Amazonian manatee species inhabit the Amazon River and the African manatee swims along the west coast and rivers of Africa. Manatees are large, slow-moving animals that frequent coastal waters and rivers. These attributes make them vulnerable to hunters seeking their hides, oil, and bones. Manatee numbers declined throughout the last century, mostly because of hunting pressure. Today, manatees are at-risk. Though protected by laws, they still face threats. The gentle beasts are often accidentally hit by motorboats in ever more crowded waters, and sometimes become entangled in fishing nets. Both the dugong and the manatee are related to the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar in appearance or behavior.

Whether real or not, Mermaids and mermen still fascinate us  from all the books, TV shows, movies, and more that have and will continue to come out.

Science Fiction Yard Sale Saturday, May 26, 2018 in Virginia Beach, Virginia

Just heard that the Science Fiction Yard Sale was in the Virginia Pilot today and the owner of the home, Liz Albitz, and Starfleet Atlantic president Joy Dean, were interviewed on a local news channel in Hampton Roads last right. You can watch it HERE. Last time after 20 years for this annual event, so come on down and check all the vendors out this Saturday, May 26th. I'll be there, selling my books and Paranormal World Seekers DVDs, plus some other things, too.

Buy a copy of this urban fantasy novel, get it signed, and you will also get a stuffed eyeball!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Supernatural Friday: However You Call It, It’s Still Aswang to Me!

The Aswang is a flesh-eating, shapeshifting monster. During the day, Aswangs appear as regular townspeople. Although they’re shy and somewhat reclusive, they can have jobs, friends, and even families. It’s at night people have to worry, for Aswangs shift into eerie predatory forms and go hunting for human prey, preferring children and pregnant women for their flesh and blood.

The Aswang is a cryptid born out of Philippine folklore. Stories of this terrifying creature date back as far back as the 16th century, when Spanish explorers created the first written record of the monster. The explorers noted that of all the monsters in the Philippine folklore, the Aswang was the most feared by native people.

The creature’s name comes from the Sanskrit word “asura,” meaning demon. This terrifying monster is also sometimes called the tik-tik or the wak-wak. These names come from the sinister sounds the monster is said to make while hunting.

It can take the form of a woman during the day, but at night, it might appear as a bird, a pig, or a dog. Different regional versions of the creature are said to take different forms. The tik-tik and wak-wak become large birds, while the zegben (sometimes described simply as a companion of the monster) takes on the form of a Tasmanian devil. And as I stated earlier, these monsters have also been reported shifting into pigs and dogs. No matter which animal form it takes, the Aswang differs from a regular animal in various disturbing ways. Most Aswangs have long, proboscis-like tongues, and are frequently described as walking with their feet backward. They have also been depicted as being so thin that they can hide behind bamboo posts. Both the wak-wak version of the Aswang and the manananggals, a different monster, leave behind half of their human torso when they transform into a predatory form during the night.

Besides shapeshifting, Aswangs also can transform into other objects. It’s common for an Aswang to transform plant material into a doppelganger of one of its victims, to hide the evidence of its feeding habits from locals. These doppelgangers might replace corpses, which Aswangs often consume, or they might replace living people. If the doppelganger replaces a living person, it will return to the person’s home, get sick, and die.

Another tactic Aswangs use to disguise themselves is to use sinister vocal tricks. The closer fearsome predator draws to its victim, its call grows quieter and quieter, so its victim is tricked into thinking the monster is getting further away.

The Aswang’s hunting prowess is almost as frightening as its ability to hide itself in plain sight. Aswangs do like to dine on corpses, fetuses, and small children. They often appear at funeral wakes or at the bedside of pregnant women to eat. The Aswang uses its proboscis like tongue to suck blood from its victims or suck a fetus from a pregnant woman’s womb. They also have superhuman strength during the nighttime.

A person transforms into this deadly predator by tying a fertilized chicken egg to his or her stomach. After some time, the chick passes from the egg into the stomach. Once this has happened, the remaining eggshell is buried in a bamboo tube, along with coconut oil and chicken dung. The person now has the powers of an Aswang.

A dying Aswang can also pass its powers along to someone else if it wishes. The Aswang holds its mouth close to a chosen person, and the chick inside the monster’s stomach hops into the mouth of the new person.

The first step towards ridding a town of this deadly assailant is identifying the monster. There are several ways in which you can do this. Aswangs generally have bloodshot eyes, since they have been awake hunting all night. In addition, it is said that if you look directly into an Aswang’s eyes, your reflection will appear upside-down. The most common method of detecting Aswangs, however, involves using albularyos oil, a special oil made of coconuts and holy plants. This oil is said to boil whenever an Aswang is near.

Aswangs are repelled by garlic and religious artifacts like western vampires are, and are at their weakest during the day, while in human form. They can be killed by decapitation or by being struck with a whip made from a sting ray’s tail.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Supernatural Friday: More to Fear Than Hurricanes in the Caribbean, There's the Bermuda Triangle Too!

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle is in the Caribbean area. This is the area where planes, ships and people have vanished. In almost every account of the mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, you'll see reference to the fact that it is one of only two places on Earth (the other being the Devil's Sea off the coast of Japan) where a compass points to true north rather than magnetic north. Theorists say that this causes compasses to malfunction and ships and planes to get off-course. It’s not on any official map and you won't know when you cross the line. The Bermuda Triangle is located off the Southeastern coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean, with its apexes in the vicinities of Bermuda, Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. It covers roughly 500,000 square miles. Since a magazine first coined the phrase "Bermuda Triangle" in 1964, the mystery has continued to attract attention. Digging deeper into most cases, one finds most have viable explanations. Either they were never in the area to begin with, they were actually found, or there's a reasonable explanation for their disappearance.

Does this mean that there aren’t unexplained disappearances? Scientists have documented deviations from the norm in the area and have found some interesting formations on the seafloor within the Bermuda Triangle's boundaries. Many think of the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, as an "imaginary" area. The U. S. Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle and does not maintain an official file on it. However, within this imaginary area, many real vessels and the people aboard them have disappeared without explanation. The area may have been named after its Bermuda apex since Bermuda was once known as the "Isle of Devils." Treacherous reefs that have ensnared ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it. The past 100 years, there have been a lot of occurrences. The U.S. Coast Guard says there’s hasn’t. Who is telling the truth?

It was in 1975 that Mary Margaret Fuller, editor of "Fate" magazine, contacted Lloyd's of London for statistics on insurance payoffs for incidents occurring within the Bermuda Triangle's usually accepted boundaries. According to Lloyd's records, 428 vessels were reported missing throughout the world between 1955 and 1975. I am sure more have been reported since to the 21st century.  

The mystery of the Triangle took hold with the first famous disappearance of five Navy Avengers who disappeared in 1945. The cause of the disappearance was tabbed "pilot error," but family members of the pilot leading the mission couldn't accept that he had made such a mistake. They got the Navy to change it to "causes or reasons unknown." 

Reporter E.V.W. Jones compiled a list of "mysterious disappearances" of ships and planes between the Florida coast and Bermuda. It was two years later, that George X. Sand wrote an article for "Fate Magazine." "Sea Mystery at our Back Door,” was about a series of strange marine disappearances, each leaving no trace at all, that have taken place in the past few years" in a "watery triangle bounded roughly by Florida, Bermuda and Puerto Rico. In 1964, "Argosy Magazine" gave the triangle its name in an article titled "The Deadly Bermuda Triangle" by Vincent Gaddis. More articles, books, and movies have appeared, suggesting theories ranging from alien abductions to a giant octopus.

Now some of the disappearances blamed on the Triangle weren’t near the area. One was the famous Mary Celeste from 1872. This was a yacht found floating on the sea, no one on board. Everything exactly as they had left it. Though blamed on the Triangle, it has been found hundreds of miles away. To this day, there have been books about it, even a chilling children's book,  The Mary Celeste: 

An Unsolved Mystery from History by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple.

Other disappearances have no explanations, while some do. Like the U.S.S. Cyclops during WWI. The ship served along the eastern coast of the United States until January 9, 1918. At that time, she was assigned to the Naval Overseas Transportation Service and was scheduled to sail to Brazil to refuel British ships in the southern part of the Atlantic. She set out from Rio de Janeiro on February 16. But after she stopped in Barbados from March 3 to 4, the ship was never seen or heard from again. All 306 passengers and crew had vanished—no trace, no reason.

The next happened to be the most famous Bermuda Triangle mystery of the five missing Navy Avengers of Flight 19 in 1945. The story of Flight 19 is usually summarized this way: a routine patrol set out on a sunny day with five highly experienced student pilots. Suddenly, the tower began receiving transmissions from the flight leader that they were lost, compasses were not working, and "everything looked wrong." Never seen again, extensive Navy investigations turned up no clues to explain the disappearance.

Lieutenant Charles C. Taylor led the mission, which included several planned course changes. They departed at 1:15 p.m. on December 5, 1945. At 3:00 p.m., Lieutenant Robert F. Cox was flying over Fort Lauderdale, Florida when he heard a signal that he thought was from a boat or plane in distress. He called Operations at the Naval Air Station to report. He told Taylor to fly with the sun at his left wing and up the coast until he hit Miami. Taylor answered that they soared over a small island and they saw no other land in sight. If he was over the Keys as he had said, however, he should have seen several islands as well as the Florida peninsula.

With less than two hours' flying time until they ran out of fuel, Taylor described a large island to Operations. Assuming this was Andros Island, the largest in the Bahamas, Operations sent Taylor a heading that would take him to Fort Lauderdale. Apparently this heading was correct, because once Flight 19 assumed the new course, Taylor's voice began coming in stronger over the radio. Taylor, however, didn't believe this course was right and after a few minutes said that they "didn't go far enough east. Turn around again and go east. We should have a better chance of being picked up closer to shore." With this move, transmissions began to weaken as they flew out of radio range in the wrong direction. For unknown reasons, Taylor ignored the standard flying procedure of flying west if over water and east if over land. Two PBM-5 Mariner seaplanes went out to search the area, but one exploded soon after takeoff. The other never located Flight 19.

Another story concerned the S.S. Marine Sulphur Queen, a tanker bound for Norfolk, Virginia from Beaumont, Texas. It carried 15,000 tons of molten sulfur in heated tanks. Last communication took place on Feb. 3, 1963, when its captain radioed a routine position report. The message placed her near Key West in the Florida Straits. She never reached Virginia.

Three days after the position report, Coast Guard searchers found a single life jacket floating 40 miles southwest of the tanker's last known position. It's likely that leaking sulfur may have caused an explosion. Escaping sulfur gas could have poisoned the crew and prevented them from sending a distress call. Officers on a Honduran banana boat reported to the Coast Guard that their freighter ran into a strong, acrid odor 15 miles off Cape San Antonia, the western tip of Cuba, just before dawn on February 3.

The area known for being infested with sharks and barracuda, not surprising that no bodies had ever been found. The U.S. Coast Guard History Archive lists the following items found from the Sulphur Queen: two pieces of board bearing the name of the ship, eight life jackets (some with rips believed caused by sharks’ teeth), five life rings, a shirt, one piece of oar, a oil can, a gasoline can, a cone buoy and a fog horn.

It was on a clear night in 1965 that a seasoned flying crew from the Air Force Reserve Command's 440th Airlift Wing flew from Milwaukee on way to Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. They landed as scheduled at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida at 5:04 p.m. and spent two hours and 43 minutes on the ground. They took off at 7:47 p.m. and flew south to the Bahamas. They never reached their destination. No indication of trouble and only routine radio communication. When they didn't land, radio traffic controllers started calling Plane 680. No response. A few scraps of debris were found, and those could have been tossed out of the cargo plane. Among those on board was an expert maintenance crew, so any problem, they could fix it. There never has been any explanation for the disappearance of Plane 680.

The Triangle has the highest UFO sightings. Good reason for the theory of alien abductions. But abductions aren't the only theory; some also have theorized that the Bermuda Triangle area is a portal to other planets. It is also believed that this area is home to the lost city of Atlantis and remnants of its advanced technologies. Famous psychic Edgar Cayce said that Atlantis had many modern-day technologies, including a death ray weapon, which he claims ultimately destroyed the city. There are those who say that the people who lived there were an alien race from the Pleiades star cluster. Cayce predicted that researchers would discover the western edge of Atlantis near the coast of Bimini, in the Bahamas. A road of stones was found there in 1968. The initial researchers and archeologists who studied the site, known as the "Bimini Road," put it down as a natural occurrence. Later investigations found evidence that supports the idea that the stones were shaped and placed there as a wall. The additional finding of a possible underwater city near Cuba adds fuel to the fire for those supporting the Atlantis idea.

According to legend and speculation, the city of Atlantis relied on the power of special energy crystals that were extremely powerful. Cayce supported this idea, and the discovery of a great underwater pyramid and crystal by Dr. Ray Brown in 1970 reinforced it. Scuba diving in the Bahamas, Dr. Brown said he found a large pyramid made of mirror-like stone. He entered it and saw a brassy metallic rod with a multi-faceted red gem hanging from the apex of the room. Directly below this rod was a stand with bronze hands that held a crystal sphere four inches in diameter. Brown removed the crystal, keeping it secret until 1975. Then he exhibited it at a psychic seminar in Phoenix, Arizona. He claimed that when one gazed into the crystal form, three pyramidal images are seen, one in front of the other with each decreasing in size. Some people reported to have seen a fourth pyramid in front of the other three after entering into deep meditative states.

The Fog: A Never Before Published Theory of the Bermuda Triangle Phenomenon by Rob MacGregor and Bruce Gernon talks of an "electronic fog" that both men experienced while flying in the Bermuda Triangle. Gernon and his father flew to Bimini on December 4, 1970. The skies were clear. Suddenly, they saw a strange cloud with almost perfectly round edges hovering over the Miami shore. As they flew over it, the cloud began spreading out, matching or exceeding their speed. They thought they escaped it at 11,500 feet, but only to discover that it had formed a tunnel. It seemed that was the only way they could escape it, so they went through the tunnel. Once inside, they saw lines on the walls that spun in a counterclockwise direction. Gernon's navigational instruments went haywire. The compass spun counterclockwise. Gernon reported that he "realized that something very bizarre had happened. Instead of the clear blue sky that we expected at the end of the tunnel, everything appeared a dull, grayish white. Visibility appeared to be about two miles, except nothing to see. Neither ocean, horizon, sky, only a gray haze.

When Gernon contacted Miami Air Traffic Control to get radar identification, the controller said that there were no planes on radar between Miami, Bimini, and Andros. Several minutes later, Gernon heard the air traffic controller acknowledge that a plane had been spotted directly over Miami. Gernon didn't think he could possibly be over Miami Beach, because it usually took 75 minutes to get to Miami and only 47 minutes had passed. The cloud tunnel began to peel away ribbons of fog. The instruments return to normal and as he looked down, Gernon spotted Miami Beach below. Loss of time was confirmed by their watches and the plane's clock. Gernon believe that the electronic fog had time travel qualities. He experienced the fog one more time when he flew with his wife. Other pilots claimed to have similar experiences in the area. Gernon believed powerful electromagnetic storms from within the Earth break through the surface and come into the atmosphere where they soon disappear, leaving the strange electronic fog. A Swedish scientist has said that magnetism is weaker in the triangle than anywhere else on Earth, a reason why the fog happens there more often than anywhere else.

Another interesting theory is blue holes. These are water-filled caves and cavities with blue coloration, and may be both a simple hole in the ground in the interior of islands (inland blue holes) and holes in shallow waters on the banks (marine or ocean blue holes). British scuba diver Rob Palmer directed a blue holes research center in the Bahamas for years. But in July 1997, the man failed to surface after a dive in the Red Sea, He was presumed dead. Some think that the blue holes may be related to or formed by micro-wormholes that are believed to exist in the area. It is even thought that these might even be transit points for UFOs arriving here from other dimension.

Now the plausible explanations for the incidents in the Bermuda Triangle—this includes explanations given by the U.S. Navy and Coast –Guard—are due to human error and environmental effects. The area is one of the most highly trafficked for amateur pilots and sailors, so more traffic leads to more accidents and disappearances. 

Another possible reason for the Triangle’s area to be subject to these disappearances is violent and unexpected storms. Weather changes, too. Short but intense storms build up quickly, dissipate quickly, and go undetected by satellite surveillance. Waterspouts can destroy a passing plane or ship with no problem and is not uncommon. A waterspout is simply a tornado at sea that pulls water from the ocean surface thousands of feet into the sky. Other possible environmental effects include underwater earthquakes. Scientists have found a great deal of seismic activity in the area, plus have also spotted freak waves up to hundred feet high.

The underwater topography of the area may be a factor, going from a gently sloping continental shelf to an extremely deep drop-off. Some of the deepest trenches in the world are found right in the Bermuda Triangle. Ships or planes would sink into these deep trenches and never likely be discovered.

The Gulf Stream is extremely swift and turbulent. The Triangle is located along it. It can pose extreme navigational challenges, especially for inexperienced sailors. The Gulf Stream has been reported to move faster than 5 mph in some areas. This is more than fast enough to throw sailors hundreds of miles off course, especially if they don't compensate correctly for the current. It can erase any evidence of a disaster.

One more theory appears to hold promise for at least some of the disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle when scientists at Cardiff University discovered the presence of large concentrations of methane gas trapped in the ocean floor. This gas is due to dying and decomposing sea organisms. The sediment contains bacteria that produce methane. This accumulates as super concentrated methane ice, called gas hydrates. The layer of ice traps the methane gas, and scientists are studying it as a potential energy source.

Within seconds of a methane gas pocket rupturing, the gas surges up and erupt on the surface without warning. If a ship is in the area at the time, the water beneath suddenly become much less dense. The vessel could sink and sediment could quickly cover it as it settles onto the sea floor. Planes flying overhead could catch fire during such a blowout. Although he doesn't agree with the methane hydrate theory as an explanation for the Bermuda Triangle, Bill Dillon, a research geologist with the United States Geological Survey said that, "On several occasions, oil drilling rigs have sunk as the result of [methane] gas escape."
Pirates from historical times like Blackbeard or others like him may not be likely candidates for disappearances; pirates of modern times can be accused of this quite well. In the 1970s and '80s, drug runners often pirated boats to smuggle drugs. Also, as proven to pirates off coast of Africa, capturing prisoners off boats for other reasons, maybe even killing them and sinking them and the boats into the sea, or take them elsewhere to be dispose of.

There are about ten triangles around the earth. One second in disappearances is the “Dragon's Triangle.” It comes from a centuries-old Chinese legend of dragons living in palaces beneath the sea. The actual area encompasses a triangular line from western Japan north of Tokyo, to Guam to Taiwan. It, like the Bermuda Triangle, exhibits some magnetic anomalies, and vessels that pass through it have reported navigation and communication malfunctions. Reports of bright lights, volatile and sudden weather changes, unexplained sudden ocean swells, whirlpools, thick fogs, and storms coincide with disappearances of maritime vessels, aircraft, and tales of drifting, crewless ghost ships. 
The Dragon's and Bermuda Triangles align point to point through the center of the Earth, with the same latitude and longitude. Both are located at the eastern end of large continental masses, where the sea's currents are colliding with warm and cold water, over volcanic areas. Deep trenches are another commonality, with the triangle in the Pacific Ocean featuring the Mariana Trench, the deepest known point in all the seas. The Dragon's Triangle in particular, reports an ever-changing seascape with professionally charted landmasses and islands literally forming and disappearing overnight.
Kublai Khan made two unsuccessful attempts to take over Japan in the 13th century, but both attempts failed on the trip through these waters and over 40,000 crewmen were lost in the first attempt alone. The Japanese people believed that Nature intervened to protect them and attributed the victories to the “Divine Wind”. 

Although these theories (among others) probably account for disappearances in the area known as the Bermuda Triangle and also the Dragon's Triangle, many people still prefer to believe that aliens, electronic fog, or another supernatural phenomenon must be the cause. And who’s not to say they’re right or wrong? If nothing else, great background for fictional author of horror, science fiction and paranormal for their stories and novels, or  fascinating fodder for those to read in nonfiction books in cold or winter or on the beach. Though that may not be good to read if that beach is on an island in the Bermuda Triangle . . . so watch out for a mysterious cloud in the horizon.  You just might vanish without a trace. . .

Monday, May 07, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Fairy, Fae, Faery, It All Leads to the Little People

The term Faerie is derived from "Fé erie.” It means the enchantment of the Fées, while  is derived from Fay, derived from Fatae, or the Fates. The term originally applied to supernatural women who directed the lives of men and attended births. Now it has come to mean any supernatural creature tied to the earth, except monsters and ghosts. The modern term, “fairy,” was created, due to fairy tales.

In Ireland, the Faeries are called the Aes Sídhe (the singular being Aes Sídh). Sídhe happens to be the name for the earthen mounds and hills dotting the Irish landscape. Irish tales claim the Faeries live under these mounds, so the term "sídhe" has come to mean Faerie in general. The word also refers to the palaces, courts, halls, and residences of the Faeries. Fairies are also known b y other euphemisms, "the Fair Folk", "the Good Neighbors", "the Little Folk", "the Little Darlings", and "the People of Peace". The reason why: first is to avoid attracting their attention. The second was to avoid insulting them.

Thanks to legends and folklore of Scandinavia the elf was used the same way Aes Sídh was used in Ireland, to refer to any Faeries, and it was introduced to Britain by the Anglo-Saxons. English literature made the elves the diminutive fairies of Spenser and Shakespeare, which in conventional Faerie lore would be the equivalent of the little nature spirits.

There are tales in myths of how fairies came to be. The first way had them as fallen angels. A few did not follow Lucifer into Hell, but decided to reside on earth.

Second: It is explained them as the dead not good enough to enter Heaven, but too good for Hell. It is said they live in limbo as they recreate their former lives.

Third and last: This has them as children of Eve. She hides them from God, who curses her that the children she tried to hide from Him would remain hidden from her, and subsequently all Mankind.

Myth also divides fairies into three groups. This explains Faeries as an older race of people driven into hiding by invading newcomers. This old race continues to survive in part by stealing tools, food, animals, even woman and children from the invaders, attacking solitary travelers who wander into their territory, or haunting isolated farms where they do work in exchange for food. In time, the invaders come to think of these people as having supernatural powers, and develop traditions about them to protect themselves and try to stay out of their way. Of course, this may have occurred in Ireland, when the Mesolithic hunter-gathers were supplanted by Neolithic farmers sometime around 4500 B.C. Irish mythological history says defeated races retreated under mounds to become the Faeries (this is also in England too—the “little people” of mounds there). It was also said that Fairies might be a form of ancestor worship, especially forebears from a past "Golden Age" of heroic history. Legends and folktales tell how great kings and heroes entered Faerieland when they died, to establish new kingdoms under hills and mounds. Does this not also sound like what happened to King Arthur, taken to Avalon? But then the Celts were not only in Ireland, but in England and Wales then, too.  Same of some in Scotland. Anyway, the Irish generally believed that Faeries were the dead, and Faerieland was the afterlife. Even after their conversion to Christianity, the Irish continued to believe that most people when they died waited for the Last Judgment inside one or another Faerie mound. Last theory concerned that Faeries were dwindled gods. It  is said that generations of people retold their myths, changing them from deities to nature spirits, especially after the coming of Christianity. In Ireland, the legends and folktales say that the ancient Tuatha Dé Danann and Fir Bholg retreated under the mounds to become the first Faeries, and most mythographers believe they were the gods of the ancient Irish.

There is a connection in mythology of people and children being taken by fairies and coming back years later hardly aged. Sounds somewhat like alien abduction, doesn’t it? Fairies steal babies, leaving a changeling in the child’s place. Fairies stole young women as brides, or perhaps for other, less honorable purposes. In the aptly named tale “Stolen Bride,” a gang of fairies carries off a young woman, and something similar happens in "Jamie Freel and the Young Lady.” In both cases, the women are put under an enchantment that leaves them mute and confused.   And sometimes the women are left pregnant—like in alien abduction stories—only to lose the child one night after abduction.

Now in Virginia where I live, there is a state park that is named Fairy Stone State Park. It is the largest of Virginia's six original state parks, is home to its namesake "fairy stones." These rare mineral crosses and the park's scenic beauty, rich history and ample recreational opportunities make it a local and regional favorite. The 4,639 acres that make up the park were donated by Junius B. Fishburn, former owner of the Roanoke Times, in 1933. The Civilian Conservation Corps originally built the park, its lake and many structures still in use there.

For many years people held these little crosses in superstitious awe, firm in the belief that they protected the wearer against witchcraft, sickness, accidents and disaster. Fairy stones are staurolite, a combination of silica, iron and aluminum. Staurolite crystallizes at 60 or 90 degree angles, hence the stone's cross-like structure. Found only in rocks once subjected to great heat and pressure, the mineral was formed long, long ago, during the rise of the Appalachian Mountains. The stones are most commonly shaped like St. Andrew’s cross, an "X," but "T" shaped Roman crosses and square Maltese crosses are the most sought-after. The rare staurolite stones are found elsewhere but not in such abundance as at Fairy Stone State Park.

The Legend of the Fairy StoneMany hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign, fairies were dancing around a spring of water, playing with naiads and wood nymphs, when an elfin messenger arrived from a city far away. He brought news of the death of Christ. When these creatures of the forest heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept. As their tears fell upon the earth, they crystallized to form beautiful crosses. 

If you like to visit this park, find out more at the official website at

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Supernatural Friday: April 30th's Answer to October's Halloween?

Walpurgis (pronounced Val-purr-gess-nach-t) Night is April 30th (though it ends by the evening of May 1st. It is a holiday celebrated in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Typical holiday activities include the singing traditional spring folk songs and lighting of bonfires. People celebrate it in Germany by dressing in costumes, playing pranks on people, and creating loud noises meant to keep evil at bay. Gee, sounds somewhat like Halloween to me.

Many people also hang blessed sprigs of foliage from houses and barns to ward off evil spirits, or they leave pieces of bread spread with butter and honey, called ankenschnitt, as offerings for phantom hounds. This is to avoid bad weather and ensure good crops, farmers might put out bread with honey and butter in the fields. Extra care was taken to protect cattle from harm. Okay, not so like Halloween and yet, like it, too.

Other customs done during this time:
The lady of the house would customarily leap over her broom, plus old brooms would be burned. Walpurgisnacht fires were also used to burn anything that had worn out over the previous year, and straw men were made and endowed with things like illness and disease, even bad luck and burned in the fires as well. Another twist of pagan custom concerned that children would gather greenery from juniper, hawthorn, ash and elder trees, and hang this around the house and barn. Once upon a time these were considered offerings to the goddess, now they were used to frighten off witches and other evil spirits.

In Finland, Walpurgis Night and May Day are effectively merged into a single celebration usually referred to as Vappu. It is among the country’s most important holidays, although, initially, Walpurgis Night was celebrated by the Finnish upper class. Then, in the late 19th century, students (most notably engineering students) took up its celebration.

The origins of the holiday go back to pagan celebrations of fertility rites and the coming of spring. After the Norse were Christianized, they combined it with the legend of St. Walburga, an English-born nun who lived at Heidenheim monastery in Germany and later became the abbess there. Walburga was believed to have cured the illnesses of local residents in the area. Walburga is traditionally associated with May 1 because of a medieval account of her being canonized upon the translation of her remains from their place of burial to a church circa 870. Although it is likely that the date of her canonization is purely coincidental to the date of the pagan celebrations of spring, people were able to celebrate both events under church law without fear of reprisal.

On St. Walburga: St Walpurga was born in Devonshire, England in 770 AD. As a young woman she was sent to Mainz, Germany as a missionary under her uncle St Boniface. After leaving Mainz, she went to Heidenheim, Germany, where she was made the abbess of the local convent. It was said her brother was also the the head of the neighboring Monastery, and that after his death, she took over his position. In her time she oversaw the baptizing of many pagans in the local Heidenheim Brunnen.

After her death, the walls of her tomb began oozing a healing oil. Because of this miracle, she was canonized. They chopped up her body and dispersed across Germany and France to spread the miracle to everyone. Her feast day is May 1, and she is considered the Patron Saint of Coughs, Storms, Hydrophobia and Sailors.

The symbols associated with St Walpurga are the Spindle, Grain and a Dog. There are spindles and sheaves of grain carved into monuments or shrines devoted to her.  These symbols also overlap Pagan symbols; grain for good harvest, dogs (not cats) are considered the “familiars” for German Goddesses… and of course, the spindle is associated with Frau Holda (or Holga) of Grimm’s Fairy Tale fame.