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.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Supernatural Friday: Slender or Tall, He's Out to Scare You!

The Slender Man is an urban legend of a mythical creature often depicted as a tall, thin figure wearing a black suit and a blank face. According to the legend, he can stretch or shorten his arms at will and has tentacle-like appendages protruding from his back. Depending on the interpretations of the myth, the creature who seems to be no unlike the men in black ufo stories can cause memory loss, insomnia, paranoia, coughing fits (nicknamed “slendersickness”), make photograph/video distortions, and can teleport at will.  Where he comes from is as much a mystery as what he wants. All that is known is that there is evidence of him existing for far longer than one would expect. Those who see him often wind up missing or worse, their mutilated bodies are impaled upon a tree, their organs removed, and then replaced in a systematic way. Supposedly, sightings of this creature have been seen in many places around the world, including the United StatesNorway, and JapanThe story goes that those who have seen him are frequently found to be maniacally writing strange messages, and drawing mad scribbles of a dark, faceless figure. It is advised that one stops investigating too much, otherwise will find that you become the subject of unwanted interest. There will be a horror movie coming out next week in movie theaters, Slender Man. You can view the trailer here: Youtube.

Supposedly, in June 2009, a “’paranormal pictures” photoshop contest was launched on the ‘Something Awful’ Forums. The contest required participants to turn ordinary photographs into creepy-looking images through digital manipulation and then pass them on as authentic photographs on a number of paranormal forums. Something Awful users soon began sharing their faux-paranormal creations with layered images of ghosts and other anomalies, usually accompanied by a fabricated witness account to make them more convincing. One of the forum users on June 10th had posted two black and white photographs of unnamed children with a short description of “Slender Man” as a mysterious creature who was stalking the kids in the photographs. Another user of the forum reused the Slender Man character for his own story. The original thread, which still remains active today, extends for 46 pages as of June 2011.

The creation of “Slender Man” may have inspired an ongoing series of amateur adventure games titled “Chzo Mythos.” Published by Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw in 2003, one of the main villains is called Cabadath. It is also referred to as “Tall Man.Making his first in-game appearance in Trilby’s Notes, the character was portrayed in the third installment as a tall, thin man dressed in a long, black, high-collared coat with tails that reach to the floor and having a blank face.

But this slender man or tall man has more far-reaching stories from old legends. There is Der GroßmannGerman for “The Great Man,” is often translated as The Tall Man, too. It is rumored to be a German folklore concerning a tall boogeyman existing since the 16th century. The Tall Man also abducts children, just like the Slender Man is supposed to. There is a horror film about the Tall Man, called “The Tall Man,” that came out in 2012: Even the fiend in the Phantasm movies is called the Tall Man.No doubt, the game developers took this being and using “Slender Man” for the name of their villain, put him into their game. 

From what I could find, there are some old legends for the Great Man or tall Man, but I suspect that the Slender Man has been fabricated on more and more in modern times, with help by the Internet, not unlike the Bunnyman of Virginia. 

But just in case I am wrong, if you see an extremely tall, thin man dressed all in black not far from a children’s playground, maybe you should take heed. Especially before you forget. . .