Monday, July 8, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Demons

As many of you know, I am what I call a Christian Wiccan. I believe in God, but I also believe in the magic that can be found in the natural world. I also have this tendency to search into the weird, the unusual. What brings this subject to light recently? Well, two things actually. I’ve just started watching Supernatural on Netflix. I know, I know—seriously? O_O And also, the stay at my parent’s house.

Many years ago, as a young(er) woman, I dabbled more in spellcraft. Always positive, but definitely not Christian. I looked into past lives and astral projection, among other things. Don’t know if it was my dabbling or what, but something sparked something’s interest.

One night, as I lay sleeping in my basement bedroom, I got an odd feeling, like I was being watched, not to be cliché. I glanced up and my eyes were drawn to a dark corner. Well, the entire room was dark, as it does not have windows. This particular corner was darker than most, a small recess that gave onto the closet on the other side of the wall. The closet was one of the open kind, so no worries about monsters residing therein. 

However… in that corner, two red eyes stared at me. My heart raced. I didn’t dare run, afraid that it would chase me. Slowly, I reached for the Bible, which I always kept in the bookshelf headboard of my bed. I clutched that book to my chest and squeezed my eyes shut, before reciting the simple phrase, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you, demon, to leave this place and never return.” I repeated the phrase three times and opened my eyes. The corner was once more black, the presence gone.

For some reason, whenever we visit my parents, my boys don’t want to sleep in that room. Could have something to do with me telling them that story. But I also tell them that I haven’t seen the demon since that one night. I sleep there when we visit. Nothing. I also haven’t practiced any religion in over a decade. Well, except a couple of cleansing rituals at my house, when the kids were too freaked out over a scary movie. It harmed nothing and eased their minds.


So what about you? Have you ever experienced anything supernatural (no pun with the show intended)? Have you ever seen something evil? A devil, demon, or some other such entity? Have you ever summoned something, intentionally or not?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Check-In, July 3rd

Weight:

Weight is up to an embarrassing 201.6 once again. Those trips to visit my dad really do me in. He buys donuts, which are my kryptonite, and every time I would offer to cook something healthy, he would say, “let’s go out to dinner.” Invariably, we would wind up at some Italian restaurant.

I don’t know what is keeping me from logging my food into MyFitnessPal again, but I am just going to have to start. Partially, I think that it’s been due to being away, and partially probably to all the activity of late. Not only is my younger son spending the summer with his grampa 1200 miles away, but my older son is going away for a total of nearly a month to two different, very intensive trainings. Add my trip to Chicago, with the return happening the first day of school, then top it off with the (exciting, but sad) news of my hubby’s promotion and transfer. The boys and I will stay in Florida for the teen’s final year of school while hubby will be living about halfway up the coast. Hubby’s promotion means that we also have to sell the house that we just bought last year, although we have to time that with me and the younger boy moving north to be with hubby. The house needs major cleaning and clearing out, ‘cause we are some serious pack-rats; but a cluttered house doesn’t show well. So, yeah, busy and stressed, and stress eating.

At any rate, I am back on the exercises. Gotta tell you, forty sit ups after two weeks of none was not easy. But I did them, and that’s what’s important. I also completed most of my usual calisthenics routine. The treadmill is back to one hour every other day. The fight to get back to what one friends calls “one-derland” is on.

Writing:

It’s nice that, sometimes when I screw up in one area, I shine in another. This is one of those times. So far this month, I have written 2592 words; since last week, I have written a total of 3905 words. All of those words have been in Quantum Kiss. One thing that’s helping is that I decided to join Camp NaNoWriMo, in which we are attempting to write a total of 50K words by July 31st, beginning on July 1st.

For this week, with the holiday, and the teen heading off to one training on Saturday, and hubby leaving out for a week on Monday, the writing is slow-going—I know, I know, not so slow if I’m churning out in one week what I have been doing in two weeks or a month. Our daily goal in Camp is 1613. The nice thing, and one I didn’t think I’d like, is that they assign you to a “cabin”, where you can check in with others and motivate each other. Our cabin is having a slow start, but that happens.

My goal is to finish Quantum Kiss this month and begin to really focus on Druid, my Western. A friend of mine even made me a sig and avi set, as well as a book “cover” to display on my Camp profile once I’ve finished Q.K.

Prompt: It’s 1776. You are a loyalist married to a rebel. Or vice versa. How do you feel about your mate? Are you worried for them? Hopeful that they’ll be killed?


Vocab: Loyalist: One who remained loyal to the British government during the American Revolution.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Druids

Well, I’m back from Connecticut, and settling back into life in Florida once more, albeit with an insanely busy summer ahead. One part of my busy-ness is Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts today and carries on until July 31st. During those thirty-one days, our goal is to write fifty thousand words, just as in the November NaNo.

One of my personal goals for the month will be to finish my WIP, Quantum Kiss. Another goal will be to get deep into my Western paranormal romance, Druid (temporary title). With that on my mind, I thought it might be fun to explore the druids in this week’s Mysterious Monday. I was right, and I was also very, very wrong. Druids are so steeped in legend and myth that you might as well research the unicorn for facts. Mind, you’ll probably find out more about the unicorn that is actual fact than you will about druids.

Druid, by Edli on DeviantArt


One thing that makes finding information on druids so difficult is that their learning was all done in secret, the wisdom passed down to students who had to memorize the knowledge—nothing was written down anywhere that we know of.

It is odd, therefore, that we have such definite ideas in our heads about what they looked like and some of their more blood-thirsty practices. Most of us, when we think of druids, think of an old man with a long, flowing white beard; actually Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movies is a great example of our preconceptions. At least as far as looks go.

Another notion many of us think of when we hear the word “druid” is the wicker man, full of victims who will be burnt as offerings to the Celtic gods. While human sacrifice may indeed have been practiced, just as it was in many primitive societies, there is no proof that the druids were any more or less blood-thirsty than any other religion at that time. Sacrifices were made to the gods to try to win their favor; the more important the sacrifice, the more likely the god would listen, so it is very possible that humans were sacrificed when the stakes were high.

Druids are associated with oak and mistletoe—both of which are important in old Celtic religions. Oak is one of the strongest trees and grows for many years, while mistletoe is an herb used for healing of many ills. Druids were said to practice and teach in springs and groves, sometimes in caves.

Druids are most closely associated with the countries of Britain, Ireland, and France (at the time, named Gaul). They are purported to have lived and worshipped from around 800 B.C. until around 45 A.D.; not necessarily coincidentally, the latter date is around the time of some of the Roman invasions of Britain.

Julius Caesar wrote about the druids, and it is from him that we learn that these priests were very wise, involved in the teaching of bards and minstrels, as well as the settling of disputes. Druids were so well respected that they could actually stand between two armies and stop the fighting. They had a very civilized and forward-thinking system of law, but it did have a mystic edge to it, in that they believed so strongly in the immortality of the soul, that a debt from one life could be paid in the next one.


Personally, when I think of druids, I think of a Merlin-esque figure (from the movie Excalibur, not the recent show on BBC). I think of a man steeped in learning, in the ways of the natural world as well as the metaphysical one—yes, the Merlin of Excalibur fame fits the profile, but he was once a young man, learning the ways of the druid. What about you? What do you think of when you think of druids?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Merrows

Photo by Victor Habbick.
Found on freedigitalphotos.net
This mermaid picture is the closest royalty-free
picture I could find to a merrow.


Another day late post. I’m so sorry. I’ll be staying with my dad for another week and a half. While I’m here, it’s been difficult to find time to write. My father is a wonderful man, but he’s ever been the restless sort. If I don’t do chores for him while he’s at work, he’ll come home and do them; I don’t want that, as I feel it’s the only way to really “pay” him for mine and my son’s stay here. He doesn’t want any pay, but I hate to take and not give—it’s just who I am. I am also here to work on helping him clean up some of my mother’s items now that she is in a nursing home. If I don’t step in, he’ll have photos and interesting family history in the garbage.

He’s also from the generation and class that has this image that if you’re not doing physical labor, you’re not working. Since my sales business and my writing career both involve a lot of time on the computer, either typing letters or stories or blogs, or contacting folks, or taking classes, I have to almost “hide” my computer activities in my basement bedroom. I don’t want to stay downstairs too much, though, as I am here to visit as well as doing the cleaning up of thirty years in one home. So please bear with me for the next couple of weeks, until I can get home and settled once more. I appreciate your continued support.

At any rate, continuing the watery Irish mythology theme, this week’s Mysterious Monday focuses on merrows. Merrows share many similarities to both mermaids and selkies. These half-fish, half-human creatures sat on rocks, luring sailors to their deaths on the nearby obstructions.

Male merrows are purportedly drunkards who wait for ships to sink and then liberate the doomed ships of their supplies of whiskey and brandy. The males are described in very uncomplimentary terms—sometimes as having a red nose from their drinking, sometimes as being completely covered in green scales with green hair. They are also said to have pig-like features and long, pointy teeth.

Female merrows, however, are quite beautiful—more the pity and curiosity that the males are so hideous, then. They have the upper torso of a human and the lower torso of a fish; fine webbing is found between their fingers. The female merrow usually wears a red cap and sometimes a dark cape which covers a bright white gown. It sounds like the merrow is a bit more modest (or cold) than her counterpart in Greece.

Like the selkie, a human male may find that which holds her magic, in this case, her red cap. Should he do so, the merrow will become his willing and submissive wife, but—also like the selkie—she will return to sea immediately upon finding her cap. Unlike the selkie, she does not remember her sea home while in her role as fisherman’s wife.

Sailors who tried to steal the merrow’s cap were taking quite a risk. As members of the magical Sidhe-folk, a merrow’s temper was as changeable as the sea. One moment, she could be sitting on the rocks, singing a lovely tune in her beautiful voice; the next, she could tear the mortal apart. Only if he was lucky enough to snatch her cap and make her his bride would she become docile. On land, she would age like a normal human, but once she found her cap and returned to the sea, all of her mortal years would fall away and she would become immortal once more.

With all these magical creatures finding the sources of their magic and leaving, it does make one wonder why the mortals kept these items, instead of destroying them. A number of reasons come to mind:

  • Bragging rights: “My wife’s a merrow!” “Prove it!” And he brings the lads home from the pub, pulls the cap from hiding, and shows it about while they all oooh and aaah.
  • Insurance: Since these men are heartless enough to woo a female by trickery and theft, it’s not a stretch to think that they might want to make sure that they can get out of the marriage should something better come along, or should they decide they don’t like being married all that much.
  • Idiocy: If they have to steal the merrow’s cap to find a bride, they might not be the brightest bulb in the box.
  • Cover story: What better alibi for your wife deciding to leave you than to claim that she was a magical creature who found the source of her magic and returned home? Also good for a man who kills his wife, especially if he’s already claimed that she was a merrow or selkie.

Do you believe in the magic of the sea? Or do you find a more pedestrian explanation for these myths?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five for Friday: Early to Rise

I am, of necessity being a mom, an early riser. For many years, I worked second shift and burned the candle at both ends, but I have to admit that there are things I like about getting up early.

Peace: The house and the neighborhood are so quiet with everyone still abed. I love that sense that you’re one of the only ones in the world at that moment. This stillness is where I can get a lot of my creativity onto the page (or the Word doc). It’s a great time to get chores started, too, like the laundry—things that won’t disturb others and that take time to do.

Sunrise: Some days when I get up, it’s still dark outside. There’s something magical to me about those two times of day when it is neither day nor night. Sunrise is one of those times, and as the light fills the horizon, it refracts and paints the sky with such beautiful pastel colors. Even the streaks of white that dance across the blues and pinks and lilacs have an almost ethereal quality to them.

Coffee: There’s just something to be said for that first cup of coffee, drunk in the stillness of the early morning. The scent as it fills your nostrils is so tantalizing that it is almost a reward in and of itself. The first sip that nearly burns your lips and trails the most pleasant warmth over your tongue and down your throat makes life worth living. Whether you like it black, black with sugar, or with just cream or with cream and sugar, coffee makes the morning.

Time: It’s odd how some mornings, time seems to become mired in cold molasses, allowing you to enjoy the wee hours even more. This morning is such a one for me. As I write this, I’ve been up now for over two hours. I’ve gone to Dunkin Donuts with my dad, driven him to work, showered, dried my hair, checked my emails, checked in on the Stargate forum that I hang out at, rebooted my laptop after an update, and am now sitting here, drinking my coffee still and writing this entry. What a fabulous morning so far.

Watching my boy(s) sleep. When they were babies, I would always check on my boys, every night, to watch them sleep for a bit. The innocence of their slumbering forms always tugged at my heart. These days, with the youngest being nearly a teen-ager and the oldest nearly a man in legal terms (both this September, in fact), I give them their privacy. But there is just something so beautiful about seeing them asleep, that I am almost happy when I have to act as their alarm clock and wake them. I don’t feel this way every day, mind, and certainly not when I wind up being the alarm with the snooze that gets “hit” every few minutes, but today is one of those nice days.


Well, there’s this week’s FFF. I am off now to re-wake the pre-teen and get out the door to get my dad’s car serviced. See you all next week. Have a great week-end!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday Check In: A Day Late and 1200 Miles Away...

Weight:

I’ve tried to keep the food intake down this week, but I’ve been very naughty on the carb front. Between that and going out to dinner with hubby to Olive Garden, I wound up with a gain over last week. I’m back to 200.8. Not thrilled. Not that I did anything about it yesterday. Got up and had no time to exercise, as I had to catch a plane to Connecticut with my youngest son. He’s spending the summer with his grampa. We ate a very, very quick McSandwich for breakfast. Lunch/supper was at a very nice restaurant. I was hungry, so I had an appetizer of New England Clam Chowder. Ate a relatively healthy lunch of braised herb salmon and asparagus, with a small bit of smashed potatoes. Dessert was an issue. Lava cake and ice cream, split with my son. Oy vay! Connecticut’s gonna be hard.

On the plus side, despite the rain and chill keeping me from walking around the hilly neighborhood and the lack of exercise equipment at the house, I should be able to get over to the local YMCA. My dad said that they have a two week free trial that I can participate in. Failing that, the local gym has a 10 day free trial. I’m hoping the Y has a pool; although there is a town pool, it’s so far been cold and rainy and the town pool is outside.

The other thing going for me is that my dad is a diabetic. I know that sounds wrong, but what I mean is that there’s not a whole lot of sugary crap food around his house. Now if I can just get him to stop feeding my son and I like we’re starved and having a low-sugar attack, we’ll be fine.

Words:

At least I’ve gotten some words written this week. I got up a couple of mornings and knocked out some writing while waiting for the teen to get ready to leave for school. I also wrote one day in a notebook while I was at an amusement park with my son and his friend. With all of that, and despite getting ready for my trip to Connecticut, I still managed to pop out 1823 words. I was super-proud that all of the words were in my sci-fi romance instead of all over the place. Now, not all of it was in a direct timeline from point A to point B, but still…

These next couple of weeks will be a challenge to find writing time, as I am at my dad’s to help him clean out some of my mom’s stuff. Mom is in a nursing home and neither knows about nor wants (when she does know about) a good percentage of her things. She has resigned herself to being in the home and knows that she has no room for many of her things, most of which she has not even seen, let alone used, for several years.

There are also the numerous dusty items that are found when one has been living in the same home for dozens and dozens of years. I need to help Dad sort through a lot of that stuff while I'm here, and since he'll be working during the day for the next couple of weeks, it's pretty much on me. 

Vocab: Conflagrate: to be on fire.

Story idea: A dragon walks into a pub…

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Selkies

Very late this week. Sorry! Monday snuck up on me and tackled me in almost dog-like fashion, licking my face and wagging its tail until I was nearly overcome.

Photo courtesy of savit keawtavee at freedigitalphotos.net


At any rate, this week I decided to talk about selkies. In Irish myth, a selkie (also known as a silkie) was a sea creature that took the form of a seal. Most often, we hear tales of the female selkies, who come ashore to dance in the moonlight after shedding their skins. If a man is lucky enough to capture a selkie’s seal skin and hide it from her, the selkie will become his wife. She will make a good, if melancholy, wife, who yearns to return to her sea home. When and if she finds her pelt, she leaves the man behind, sometimes taking their children with them, sometimes leaving the children at home.

Less often, we hear of male selkies, who come ashore in search of dissatisfied women, mostly fishermen’s wives. Apparently, the male selkies hide their pelts a bit better than their female counterparts because we don’t often hear of the males being kept in sexual slavery. Or it could be that we don’t hear of this because the selkie male would get chased off by some unhappy husband. The human women can “call” a male selkie by going to the beach at high tide and shedding seven tears into the water.

Personally, I think the whole thing stinks. The selkie females being taken against their wills, and the males taking advantage of over-worked, over-wrought, over-anxious wives. Now, admittedly, these stories originated in a time when being a wife was little better than being a slave in many instances, a time when women were little more than chattel, but my modern female back goes up when I read about some man taking the selkie female’s freedom. Not real pleased at the casual display of cheating by the selkie males and human women, either.

So why am I thinking of selkies this week? Frankly, I’m not 100% sure, but a selkie tale is playing at the edges of my consciousness, teasing, dipping its head above the waves to disappear an instant later. I would like to write a tale where there does not seem to be so much casual disregard for the feelings of the human or the selkie. My interest could be because of my research on Hy Brasil last week, where I delved into some Irish myths, a favorite past-time of mine since childhood. It could be because of the deluges of rain we’ve had the past few days that are making me think of gathering the local fauna into pairs whilst I work on a construction project of approximately forty cubits by forty cubits using gopher wood.

At any rate, the selkies are close cousins to the other water spirits, one of whom I almost wrote for my NaNoWriMo project last year, and will probably pursue this year. I’m always interested in the myths and legends of the northern peoples, be they Celts of any flavor, Lapps, Scandinavians, or Russians. Such a rich breeding ground of stories that could use a little brushing off and modernizing, or just a nice little re-telling. 

How about you? Do you use myths and legends for your story ideas? Or do you just like to read the stories of others? Do you have a “go to” culture that you prefer?