The Paranormal

Lodestone: Show Me The Way!

My lodestone
My lodestone

This lumpy little piece of rock is my lodestone. I bought it because I like the idea of the lodestone leading you where you need to go and attracting good fortune to my life. And I thought, hey, for $1, why not?

The name “lodestone” goes back to Middle English, and means “course stone” or “leading stone”.ย  It received this name after ancient peoples discovered the magnetic properties of the stone, and suspended so the stone could turn freely, it created the first compasses.

They weren’t, however, the only ones to imbue to stone with magical properties. We’re all fairly familiar with the idea that lodestones have the ability to attract good things (fortune, money, success, and love). They were also believed to be powerful amulets. Alexander the Great had his troops wear them to protect against djinn. Legend even has it that after Christ’s crucifixion, his body was laid out on an alter made of magical lodestone.

Both the Chinese and Romans valued them for their properties of attraction. The Chinese made wedding rings out of them, and the Romans made statues of Mars and Venus out of lodestone. This relates to the belief that there were male and female lodestones. Hence the stones may be used individually or in matched pairs. Whereas feminine stones were rounded, male stones were (unsurprisingly, perhaps), more phallic in shape, announcing the manhood.

Lodestones have also traditionally been used in various methods of divination (other than compass form). The Chinese were the first to discover the “directive” properties of the stones. The stone was also used in a form of divination known as “Lithomancy”, which is the art of divining from stones and gems. Listening to it, one could hear the voices of gods, and even the downfall of Troy is said to have been divined using a lodestone.

And, if that wasn’t enough, the lodestone was also used in medicine and healing, as it was believed it could draw away pain and disease with the same powers of attraction it uses to bring good things to its bearer.

As for my lodestone, it doesn’t appear especially magnetic, so I’m not sure what good it will bring me – and I want to be sure to keep it away from my electronics (since a magnet next to a computer doesn’t sound like anything good). It is more round then “phallic like,” so I think it’s a female, and I think I’ll call her Wilma. Not sure if she’ll bring me anything great in life, but it is a curiosity, and who knows, perhaps there is something good being attracted this way even now. ๐Ÿ™‚

So, what do you think? Think I got the particulars of my stone correct? Do you have a physical or a metaphorical lodestone? Any information I’ve missed?

Thanks so much for reading. Have a great day, and may plenty of good be attracted your way. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog? Have a good one.

If you’d like to learn more about lodestones, try:

 

Regency and Research, The Paranormal

The Pig-Faced Woman: Found it!

466px-The_Wonderful_Mrs._AtkinsonHave you ever found a little tidbit of research only to completely forget where or when you saw it? What you have here has eluded me for months. I originally read of this legend in Captain Rees Howell Gronow’s reminiscences. Behold: The pig-faced lady.ย  I finally found word of it (and was jumping up and down), at Pig-faced women on Wikipedia.

For me, it’s perfect: Regency + paranormal = fantastic!

The story goes that the story originates in Holland, England, and France simultaneously in the late 1630s, of a noblewoman with a lovely human body, but the head of a pig. Perhaps her unfortunate appearance was the result of a curse; that is unclear.ย  When she married, her husband was given the choice: she could appear beautiful to him, but pig-like to others, or pig-like to him, and beautiful to others. When he told her the choice was hers rather than his, the curse was broken (at which point I can only surmise she became beautiful … or maybe the story is more Shrek like).

(Sorry, I digress … all wound up with Coke and finally having found this legend!)

Anyway, the legend appears again in Dublin in the early 19th century, giving the pig-faced woman a name: Griselda Steevens. This poor woman was said to be quite shy and reclusive, often remaining in her carriage while her servants gave alms to the poor. While it’s unclear whether the rumors of her having a pig-face began while she was still alive, there are stories that dismayed (obviously!) about the idea people had about her, she took to intentionally showing off her face in public, and even commissioned a painting of herself for the hospital she had built. But alas, without avail, as locals still preferred the image of the woman with a pig’s head in the tavern across the way.

Then it shows up again in London, 1814-1815 when there were rumors a pig-faced woman was living in Marylebone. Her existence was widely reported, included many alleged portraits and sketches of her. During celebrations following the end of the Napoleonic wars, traffic was tied up, and it was said that in one of the carriages was a woman with a pig’s snout protruding from beneath her poke bonnet.

“It was rumoured that during the illuminations which took place to celebrate the peace, when a great crowd had assembled in Piccadilly and St Jamesโ€™s Street, and when carriages could not move on very rapidly, โ€œhorresco referens !โ€ an enormous pigโ€™s snout had been seen protruding from a fashionable-looking bonnet in one of the landaus which were passing. The mob cried out, โ€œ The pig-faced lady !โ€”the pig faced lady! Stop the carriageโ€”stop the carriage!โ€ The coachman, wishing to save his bacon, whipped his horses, and drove through the crowd at a tremendous pace; but it was said that the coach had been seen to set down its monstrous load in Grosvenor Square.”

[Source: Reminiscences of Captain R. H. Gronow, being anecdotes of the camp, the court, and the clubs at the close of the last war with France. Gronow. p111-113: Now I can’t lose it again!]

Belief in pig women was so widespread, that often at fairs, charlatans purported to “show” one, which were usually shaved bears they dressed up in women’s clothing. Even Dickens was said to have commented on the prevalence of the legend, remarking that every age had its own pig-lady (pardon the paraphrase).

But, belief in their legend declined eventually, leading to the last “serious” work about their existence in 1924. This was in a book Ghosts, Helpful and Harmful by Elliot O’Donnell, a supernatural researcher. He claimed there was a ghost of a pig lady in a haunted house in Chelsea. Perhaps we have seen the last of the pig-lady, but I’m sure glad I found her again! I can’t wait to tell her story. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have you ever lost that juicy tidbit of research? Have you ever heard of the pig-faced woman?

Thanks for reading. And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog. Have a great week!

 

The Paranormal

Myth as Paranormal Fact?

Hey, look at this – I’m actually posting when I’m supposed to, instead of late! (Yes, we’ll see how long this lasts).

Anyway, today’s post was inspired by a posting by Aaron Sagers – it may well inspire a few posts. It’s rather cute and interesting, so here’s the link:

“Top 10 Paranormal Myths” by Aaron Sagers

Back yet?

So, I wanted to consider his myth #1: Paranormal Facts Exist. He says there is no clear evidence and that facts for the paranormal don’t “quite” exist yet. Not sure I entirely agree with that. Is there evidence like Big Foot’s corpse or a vampire giving interviews (beyond the fictional kind)? No. However, I think there is some form of evidence: the myths.

As humans, we’ve long attempted to explain the inexplicable, to find ways to understand our world. Along the way, we’ve created myths and legends to help give explanation. While some of them we’ve perhaps grown out of (like that whole world-is-flat notion), others persist.

Some stories that resonate with us … or which we can’t quite find evidence to throw away yet.

Take vampires and werewolves. There are myths around the world that offer different variations on the same theme. Most compellingly, despite the variations, there are consistencies too (such as in the blood-sucking part). Is it because this legend calls to some deep-seated, primitive fear, such that we can’t ignore it? Or have there been actual incidents? Can’t know that for sure, I suppose. Not without evidence. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Then there are other legends, like the wailing banshee, the Loch Ness, the windigo. These are legends were perhaps someone encountered something on some deserted moor, or in a deep, dark wood. Who are we to know that they didn’t? What makes these “reports” any less credible than alien abductions or alleged miracles? Who is to say that any – or all – are not true?

So much as it seems I am a believer, I like to think of myself as someone who would like to believe … but retains a healthy dose of skepticism.

What about you?

Thanks for reading – despite it being such a short post today. And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog?

Have a great week. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Paranormal

Some Recommended Reads

Okay, so I’m fresh out of monsters today – or monstrous research (don’t worry, I’ll have more soon.)

So, thought I’d share some of the great reads I’ve been enjoying this summer.

51T6dDa3BTL._AA200_First up, Amanda Steven’s Graveyard Queen series. I started with The Kingdom. Second in the series, and my favorite even after reading the remainder of the books. As a writer, I learned a huge amount just reading these books about how to create fabulous setting – and how it’s really supposed to work. But that was while enjoying a great story about a mysterious young woman who professionally restores graveyards and can see ghosts – but tries to pretend she can’t. The atmosphere and the creepy-yet sweet – yet funny combination of the story and writing was so unusual and engaging, as soon as I finished one book, I had to have the others … and now I eagerly anticipate the fourth! Beware: these books are deliciously addictive. ๐Ÿ˜‰

 

Recently, I’ve found myself engaged by Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. I’m becoming more of an urban fantasy fan, and I like my reads 517c8apFNlL._SL200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU15_AA200_funny, as this one is. The first book in the series is Hounded. Herein you meet “Atticus Oโ€™Sullivan, rare book salesman, herb peddler, and 2,000 year old druid โ€“ the last of his kind”(source: Kevin Hearne’s site). They’re set in the modern day, where gods of every size and denomination romp around. There’s a talking hound, and a lot of fun mythology and geek-culture references. I enjoy that the stories are fun, yet make me laugh and think, written in a funny, easy-to-enjoy style. I’m finished up to book 3, Hammered, which was my favorite one yet.

Hope you enjoy – and hopefully more beasties and paranormal beats for you next week. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are some of the books you’re reading now? Any you’d recommend?

Thanks for reading – and sharing. Have a great week!

The Journey to Publication

On Lady Luck’s Bad Side

Do you believe in a deity or force that somehow controls your luck and good fortune? Maybe whether good things come your way or not? I know I use and have heard terms like your guardian angel / deity of choice / Lady Luck / Good Fortune is looking out for you when good things happen. Then there’s life under a black cloud or enmity of a deity or that somehow the “universe” is out to get you when things look bad.

You may have noticed today’s post is, well, really late. It’s been kind of one of those weeks / months here at our house. For me, I’m not sure whether it’s autumn sneaking up (which means it’s bad big brother winter is lurking nearby), and being stuck in rewrites now for what’s just passed the one year mark. Hubby is likewise having a hard time at work, and it’s unusual for both of us to be down at the same time.

Just look for the black cloud, and you could probably follow it to our house.

But here’s the thing: while I may say that some supernatural / outside force is what somehow forces us to be unhappy, that’s total B.S. While I don’t think the universe is out to get us, I also don’t think it much cares what we do. What matters most is how we deal with it at the end of the day (either in a literal sense of end of the day, or metaphorically looking back over the course of our lives).

WE decide whether we are happy or satisfied. WE decide to be happy … or conversely, to be unhappy. So if there is a black cloud or grumpiness demon, we attracted him with our own grumpy-ass nature and decisions.

Sure, it can be annoying as all heck to consider that gee, I’ve decided to be unhappy? But it can also be empowering, because it means we have the choice to remember to be grateful for all the wonderful things that ARE in our lives, rather than focusing on the less-than-perfect aspects.

So anyway, I’m going to go out with a broom on the roof now and shoo that cloud away – and grumpiness demon, I’m after YOU next. Then I’m going to sit down and get to work, and figure out how to make my writing better (and finish the darned rewrites!), as well as make my life better by focusing on the good bits rather instead.

What about you? Dark clouds on your horizon, or are things sunny and clear? Do you truly believe you can determine your own happiness?

Love to hear from you. And thanks for stopping by. Oh, and if you’re new and like the post, why not follow the blog?

Have a great week, all, good, bad, or ugly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Paranormal

Ghosts and Shivers

What is it about a good ghost story we can’t resist ?

Yesterday I sat outside, reading ghost stories and shivering on my front step (the weather was more like late September than late July). Ridiculous? Absolutely, and yet inside, in the six-year-old house my husband and I literally built with our own two hands, I found myself looking around corners and swearing I saw something in the shadows.ย  And yet, I kept reading. Why?

I wonder if it’s that fact that not a lot of us can claim to have met a werewolf or vampire or other paranormal-type creature (if you can – share! and you must lead a much more interesting life than I!). Still, most of us know someone who’s had some kind of ghost/spirit/unexplained type experience, or we’ve even had them ourselves. Somehow this seems to make the possibility of someone else’s story all the more intriguing … and potentially, all the more belieavable. I was reading “More Ghost Stories of Alberta” by Barbara Smith, so ghost stories about my home province, and including places I’m very familiar with, which certainly helps to make them more “real.”

I found myself shivering (and not just from the ridiculous weather) over the mini-tale of a couple in Edmonton who were awakened very early by their alarm clock – a clock neither of them had set. That wasn’t nearly as strange as the little boy they spotted at the end of the bed, dressed in striped pajamas. He suddenly raced across the room and slammed the ringing alarm clock with such force, it broke. Then he gave them a smirking grin, and vanished.

Or what about the story told by a woman about her grandfather. As a young child, around the turn of the century, the grandfather lived on a farm, and one day found himself home alone, his parents out. Fire broke out in the home. Young and frightened, he didn’t know what to do, and thought maybe he should stay in the house and wait for his parents to come and rescue him. Then suddenly a beautiful woman appeared out of nowhere and told him to run. He did. And survived when his parents wouldn’t have been able to get back in time, and when the house burned completely to the ground – and would have taken him with it. No one ever saw the mysterious woman then or since.

Both are equally intriguing tales, though certainly one has a darker edge to it. How delicious to consider them as “seeds” for a future story. Or just appreciate them for what they are: unexplained stories as they stand.

What about you? Do you believe in ghosts? Do you have any of your own ghost or otherwise unexplained stories? Come on, share, you know you want to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

And hey, like the post? Why not follow the blog so you never miss another. Thanks for reading, and have an awesome week. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Paranormal

Random Scribblings pt 1: Potential Paranormal Villains

Do you have one of those weird books where you scribble down random research notes or thoughts that occur to you for the next book, potential characters, interesting species? I do. It’s a mess of a thing (I’m going to get more organized, I swear … one of these days). But, it does provide for interesting reading when you go back and wonder, what, exactly was I thinking when I wrote THAT?

It also sometimes becomes the short-hand for just the type of creature / paranormal I was looking for. Perhaps today’s post will help you, since I’m sharing my potential list of รผber bad-guys (or who knows, they could become the hero). ๐Ÿ™‚

Asahkku – name of an ancient Babylonian disease demon, considered responsible for tuberculosis. (Wasn’t sure I wanted everyone getting sick, but if you do, hey, this one has potential.)

Asto Vidatu – from Persian myth, this is a demon, chief agent of supreme evil, and his name means “Disintegrator of Bodies” (sounds like fun at a party, huh?). He is given the task of consuming those destined for hell, and was eventually venerated as the God of Death. (Just to let you know, this program wouldn’t allow the correct spelling. It’s actually A-S-T-O with a line on-top, then V-I-D-A with a line on top – T-U. Sorry, I have no idea what the letters with a line on top are called.)

Irra – A disease demon in Babylonian myth, particularly known for the plague.

Kikiades – a name for demons in the folklore of modern Greece. The name means “Bad Ones.” (Doesn’t this scream with potential for some kind of gang of sexy men? So much so, wonder who’s found it already?)

Namtar – An Egyptian demon, guardian of the underworld. In ancient Mesopotamia, the name meant “That Which is Cut Off.”

The Seven Whistlers – A group of evil spirits in the folklore of Worcestershire, who manifest on stormy nights or at sunset. They portend misfortune and disaster to any who hear their shrieks and whistling across the skies. They come one by one. If all seven should come together, the end of the world is nigh. (Yes, I’ve probably mentioned them before. Who can resist what sounds like Snow White’s seven evil dwarfs? They even whistle as they work … at ending the world.)

Dragon of the Apocalypse – an apocalyptic beast (bet you didn’t see that coming what with the name and all). Many serpent-like beasts mark the potential apocalypse. (And I’m a sucker for dragons, which is why this guy gets listed).

So, do any of these fellows catch your attention, grab you imagination? How do you keep track of your supernatural world or find potential myths and legends to work with?

Thanks for reading, and have an awesome week. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Paranormal

Do you Believe? Normal vs Paranormal

Do you believe in magic and the paranormal?

Do you believe the ghost stories you’ve heard are true? Do you search for fairies? What about monsters? Do you believe in witches and sorcerers? Do you believe in powers like telepathy, prophecy, and others? Do you believe there is some other explanation for some events that science can never approach? Do you believe a kernel of truth lies at the heart of myth and legend?

Well, do you?

It’s a funny thing that when I’ve met “true believers,” they’re often labelled as flakes, a bit naive at best for not simply accepting the mundane, secular world we live in dominated by science and technology. Children are allowed to exercise their imagination and believe in all that the world has to offer, all it could offer. But when we enter adulthood we are expected to set aside these beliefs and naivety and understand that is it science, logic, and the mundane that provide our answers. Then you have those who throw themselves towards the other end, the self-proclaimed skeptics who don’t believe in anything, and will be sure to tell you so (doth the lady protest too much?).

I would like to believe, but I’m not sure if I do or not. While I have faith in other beliefs, I do not believe fairies inhabit my garden (if they did, I’d hope my gardens looked a heck of a lot better, and would a bit of weeding kill them?).

Surely where there is smoke there is at least a bit of kindling. How else do we have strangely similar legends of creatures like vampires and werewolves across great distances, on almost every continent, in every language? They have different names, but the similarities are there. Can coincidence correctly explain all of these myths? What truths lie beneath?

Do I believe that every ghost story I’ve ever heard is true? That every myth I read is based on complete and utter certainty, cold-hard fact? Certainly not – but then, I have a hearty skepticism whenever anyone purports to know the one and only “truth.”

And yet …

Shortly after my paternal grandmother passed away, and our family was gathered at her home for the funeral, there were a few rather odd things that happened. Each and every one of us grand-children won a stuffed animal at one of those claw-game things. Then there was the brick found in the washing machine (though seriously, I have no idea how that would be connected; it was just weird).

And then there are the places I have traveled, where the hairs on the back of my neck have whispered that I was not alone. There are rooms in houses I did not want to be alone in, and could never explain why. I have felt the weight of an animal against my feet while I sleep, but I look to find no animal there. I have heard footsteps on a basement floor in the concrete hallway outside my bedroom door. And the half-dim of an almost burned out light bulb always makes me shudder – it’s the lighting of my nightmares, when I finally open the door to investigate those footsteps.

Do I believe? Perhaps. Or perhaps I merely want to, and at times need to. Is it only the yearning for something more, something outside what we can see and define with our limited means?

What about you? Do you believe in magic and the paranormal? Are you a believer? Or, are you a skeptic?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have a magical week. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh, and if you liked the post, why not sign up to follow the blog? Have a good one.

The Paranormal

Treasure Hunting: Paranormal Style

Beads were my treasure here; I love things in little jars too. :)
Beads were my treasure here; I love things in little jars too. ๐Ÿ™‚

I consider myself something of a treasure hunter. I love nothing better than hunting through thrift stores, second hand shops, and garage sales. I tingle with glee at the notion of an “emporium” (wonderful things when they deliver on the name, but beware of those who thought it was a good name, but are not “real” emporiums). With delight and pride I show off my “treasures” that I’ve gotten – always better if they were an exceptionally good deal – and can’t wait to find my next one.

Now, I’m pretty good at spotting the finds. But some supernatural powers might help.

Take the demon Seere. If you want or need something – whether it be things you’ve lost or treasures never before seen – he’s the demon for you, since that’s his particular speciality. Best of all, he’s in the transportation game too, so he can deliver! Although a powerful prince, he’s indifferent to good natured. He might be your guy.

Next we have the Kazna Peri, a demon who’s name means “Treasure Devil” in folk believes of the Cheremis / Mari people of the former Soviet Union. Now, technically he won’t happily lead you to the treasure, since he has a nasty tendency of hoarding and guarding his treasure until it lifts from the ground so he can roast it over a blue flame for some tasty eats. If you’re lucky enough to take his place before he eats all the treasure between Whitsuntide (seven weeks after Easter) and Midsummer’s Day (usually June 24), it’s all yours! Then again, something that eats roasting and potentially molten treasure, well, can we say big teeth and a potentially fire-proof disposition?

And of course, who can neglect a classic like the good old Leprechaun? Beware though, whether you’ve captured this fellow and interrupted his shoe-mending, he can be tricky and the whole pot-of-gold thing could be just stories. The leprechaun loves to play tricks, merely pretending to tell you where the gold is, when all the while he’s leading you on.

Unfortunately, many paranormal creatures like the Brownie or other household spirits and creatures tend only to give luck and good fortune to their household owners. And the rest? Well, they seem to be more into eating the treasure or keeping it out of human hands. Myself? I think I’ll stick with thrift shops and my own eyes-for-a-deal super power.

What about you? Are you a treasure hunter? What supernatural powers would you look for to help on your search? Heard of any good paranormal creatures with an eye for treasure?

I love to hear from you – so come on, leave a comment! And hey, if you enjoyed this post, why not sign up for the blog? We’ll have lots of fun, promise. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for reading, and have a great week.

The Paranormal

Weird Wednesday: Luideag, the Rag

160-Beggar-Women-with-Cup-and-Spoon-q85-389x500
Source: http://www.fromoldbooks.org/
Check out all the free scans of historic etchings, like this one of two beggar women from “Callot’s Etchings” (1635)

Today we feature a nasty female demon named Luideag.

From Scottish Highland folklore (specifically out of the Isle of Skye), she’s an evil demon who’s name means “The Rag.” She took the form of a human woman dressed in ragged and worn clothing, with the not-so-pleasant intent of causing the death of any human within her power.ย  (From: Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia by Carol Rose.)

What I find particularly interesting about this legend is that she’s quite similar to some legends about the Morrigan, one of the more powerful fairy queens of legend, and sometimes associated with the King Arthur Legend. Like Luideag, the Morrigan sometimes disguised herself as an old washerwoman at the side of a river, washing the clothes of the soldiers who would die there. Obviously quite creepy for the soldiers passing by her.

The disguise as a woman in rags seems to reference the general fear of the poor – and especially old women who might turn out to be riches. Perhaps there is some hint that because she’s poor and in rags, there is something inherently threatening about her. If she is ragged and dirty, she is diseased. If she’s diseased, it’s probably something you can catch just by being near her – especially with the lack of understanding related to disease transmission prior to around the mid-nineteenth century.

The fiction writer in me wonders, what’s this demon’s story?

Demons themselves, while we commonly accept today as “evil,” were not always so. Instead, some of what we consider “angels” could have fallen into this category, simply a different category of demons that tried to help humanity (or at least not cause them harm.) But, I digress.

So, what makes this demon kill those she has within her power? Is she simply hungry for power over someone, anyone? Has she gotten some bad press after a few of her friends died horrible, tragic deaths? Why doesn’t her name show up in the other mythology books? Is this just a pseudonym for the Morrigan (now THERE is a woman with a story!)?

I also wonder about the impact of this creature who is largely a scary female demon. While this particular creature doesn’t seem to attack specifically men (and there are plenty who do, especially wielding feminine wiles), there is something significant about her being female. Is she more frightening because she is female? Going back to the historical fear of old women who might be witches, or the general fear of disease, is this what makes her frightening? Would this demon have been as frightening a legend had it disguised itself as a little old man? Although with mortality rates and men historically dying younger, is it more likely that you’d find an old woman rather than an old man?

What do you think? What’s this demon’s story?

Thanks for reading, and hope you have an awesome week. And hey, new to the blog? Enjoy the post? Why not sign up to follow!

What do you think?